Working with civic leaders and Coopisa, a health and social services organization that oversees refugee and immigrant health, Simms set up a camera in the local piazza of San Roberto, a small village in the Southern, Calabrian region of Italy that has embraced the incorporation of immigrants from African countries and the SWANA region. Standing in front of a green screen backdrop, participants answered the question: “If you could be anywhere right now, where would you want to be?” Through a post-production editing process their wishes were granted, transporting them to their fantasy locations, within the context of the place where they live.
As artists-in-residence, Anna Gruman and Jeannie Simms collaborated on a new video at the Brookline Arts Center. With current international border closings and racial and social injustices causing barriers to mobility across the United States, as well as an upcoming national election, the artists asked people the same question, “Where do you want to be?” Watch a trailer for the video here.
Anna Gruman is a video montage and installation artist from Somerville, Massachusetts. She grew up in a bilingual Italian household, and split her time between Italy and America. She is collaborating on a transnational documentary in Italy about the historical trauma and memory of the descendants of a mixed Socialist and fascist family history, dating back to WWII. She creates works in Cinema 4D, Virtual Reality, video, sound, narrative filmmaking, painting and illustration, and cultural theory with an interest in Marxism. Her work mixes tropes from television, theater, and adopts archival audio-visual materials into video montages that are displayed on obsolete technologies. She built an analog television transmitter to create an immersive installation with old tube TVs, which was shown at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter and at the Dorchester Art Project. She produced and performed in videos that aired on Cambridge Community Television. Combining her passion for intellectual investigation with her love of material play and showmanship, she hopes her work serves to spark people’s curiosity and critical discussion.
Jeannie Simms’ works are rooted in the history of photography and the moving image with interests in language, labor, citizenship and migration. Her work on same-sex marriage was featured on the BBC World News America television program. Past shows and screenings include the Currier Museum, the Provincetown Art Association & Museum, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), San Francisco Camerawork, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Courtisane Video and New Media Festival in Belgium, the ICA in London, the ARS Electronica Center in List Austria, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Alternative Film Center in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, Los Angeles County Exhibitions (LACE) and the Tufts University Aidekman Art Gallery. She completed a residency at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and received a film commission from the Nara International Film Festival in Japan. Simms has been funded by Art Matters, The Cambridge Arts Council, Tufts Faculty Research Awards, and a Daynard Faculty Travel Fellowship from the SMFA. Her writings have been published in the University of California Press Afterimage Journal and Make/shift Magazine. She is the Director of Graduate Studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University.