A Somatic Cinema
The medium of film is often, for Natasha Woods, a tool. Film mediates processes of aesthetic discovery, historical inquiry, and (inter)personal revelation. Rather than being ends in themselves, Woods’s three films—As/Is, Glimpses, and Sun Kisses—are critical components in a practice that prioritizes collaboration, experimentation, and intimacy.

As/Is and Glimpses loop on an imposing iron frame, forged with the help of Art Department staff member Paul Simon. The presence and recalcitrance of the iron challenge the viewer to consider how the filmic image is held and thus also how it has been produced. This charged confrontation between viewer and screen suggests the invisible efforts involved in the process of creating analog films. Woods would have us consider, too, the undisclosed, and often unknowable, labor required by caregiving and by organizing, respective themes of As/Is and Glimpses.

The experience of viewing Sun Kisses is similarly immersive. Woods has placed hammocks throughout the exhibition area to invite her audience to recline while watching the film. Here, space and film come together to generate a feeling of rest and restoration. This attentiveness to film’s environment, to what is present beyond the borders of the screen, recalls the work of Lina Bo Bardi, whom Woods encountered while in Brazil last fall. Though their artistic projects remain distinct, Woods’s affection for Bo Bardi stems from the Brazilian’s meticulous curation of exhibition space. Bo Bardi demonstrates, in Woods’s own words, an imitable “thoughtfulness in every detail.”

Because one’s experience of a film is so central to Woods’s practice, it seems necessary to note that gallery walls do not actually provide the best space for As/Is, Glimpses, or Sun Kisses. It is not, to be sure, a larger or grander gallery toward which the artist aspires. Rather, Woods would much prefer for her films to be seen in the wholly modest space of a living room, complete with a well-loved couch or, weather permitting, in a backyard. Living rooms and backyards allow friends and family to gather—over a bowl of soup, ideally—so that they can reflect, converse, and enjoy.

—Schuyler Black-Seitz

Artist Statement
Natasha Woods is a filmmaker invested in embodied forms of storytelling, focusing on how stories are passed down, remembered, how they are stored in our bodies and within landscapes. Her work oscillates between observation, portraiture, and within the personal. Using somatic approaches to filmmaking to explore possibilities of connection and expansion. She is drawn to the material qualities and limitations that exist within celluloid film that create a sense of warmth, intimacy, immediacy, and constraint. She is committed to using filmmaking as a tool for inquiry, healing, collective organizing, and worldmaking through a framework she calls Avant Gardens*.

*This was inspired by Scott MacDonald’s Avant Gardens essay in his book, The Garden in the Machine, A Field Guide to Independent films about Place.

About Glimpses...

Inspired by the films of Marie Menken and the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, Glimpses constellates different moments of history as it wanders through the Park of Roses, a public park in the heart of Columbus Ohio. The park was originally purchased by the city in 1944. A time when the park was used for Victory Gardens throughout World War II, this time, over 500 gardens were planted, providing food and nourishment to the community. Moving toward possibility, curiosity, and desire, the film decodes the promise of public parks without sacrificing the pleasures of lingering and looking. The film pays homage to a constellation of femmes who helped pave the way, including Marie Menken, famous for her spontaneous and free-form camera movements which inspired many notable filmmakers, though her influence often went unrecognized. She made “little films” for her friends with working-class sensibilities. She was known to invite people over for a bowl of soup and a screening of her work. Nourishment was also fundamental to the women involved in the Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, but bread alone was not enough. In their fight for a better wage, they demanded bread (home, shelter, and security) and "roses" (music, education, nature, books).  The slogan was coined by the American suffragist and workers' rights activist, Helen Todd and has been chanted by many protesters since.

About AS/IS...
A micro portrait, a moving-image zine, a family archive. Investigating threads of an intergenerational experience of four generations. The maker inserts herself through the invitation of having her subjects point the camera/mic back at her, embracing the dysfunction, and accepting her position in the family as it presently exists. ​​​​​​​

Made with Rose Qualley, Amanda Qualley, Tia Woods, Theresa Schmidt, Madison Schmidt, Cofie Woods.

Featuring Esmè + Zooey Woods and Malcom Ogbondah. 

Natasha Woods is a filmmaker and programmer currently based in Columbus, Ohio where she is in pursuit of her MFA at The Ohio State University. She received her BFA at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2019. Her early curiosities grew from the fields and landscapes of rural Iowa where she grew up in a blended family of factory workers and farmers. Her approach to filmmaking is somatic, one of deep listening and often an invitation to look closer and to move slowly. By centering the first-person and process based approaches, the camera becomes an extension and tool for her observation and inquiries for world making and questions of belonging. She has programmed a range of events and screenings at DIY and artist-forward spaces, including Cactus Club (Milwaukee, WI) and co-founded Cinéseries, a graduate-led effort hosted by The Wexner Center for The Arts (Columbus, OH). Her work has been screened in backyards and at various moving image festivals including Film Diary NYC, Athens International Film Festival, and Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, with the nomadic No Evil Eye Cinema.

Photo: Amber Elison