Over the Bent World
April 2, 2020
A short film by Micah and Whitney Stansell
Our work is partly anthropological in nature, responding to the effects of place or time, informed by environment, history, location and narrative traditions, and partly introspective, often exploring ideas of family, memories/histories, and ways of seeing or experiencing. We’re interested in how the history or experience of a place can be told visually. Our interest in the rich Southern tradition of storytelling and the way stories and histories must be pieced together and solidified in the hearer’s mind, and retold/passed along informs our approach to creating. While this tradition centers around oral or written stories, the narratives are often imagistic, so we have adapted this tradition into a visual form and applied it to making experiential, interactive work. Our work is deliberately open, leaving space for viewers to bring their own context to it, and inviting them to participate as creators.
We make work by existing in a space or community and learning about it by its artifacts and the stories of those who know it or have known it. Often, the work takes the form of large installations, intervening in public spaces – illuminating histories or experiences within those spaces. Even when the work is more sculptural or abstract, we use codified narrative elements to structure the work and respond to the place where the work is installed. This process is durational – it takes time to gather artifacts and stories and still more time to let those things gestate and bear forth. As such, our work usually requires multiple viewings to fully experience – the sound components are a good example of this; often accessed via headphones, with multiple options to choose from, hearing them all requires enduring the work multiple times. The works tend to unfold like a puzzle (albeit one that’s missing quite a few pieces), the more pieces that are added, the clearer the picture becomes.
About the Artist
Micah and Whitney Stansell are filmmakers and artists working in a variety of media from documentary to single and multi-channel film and video projections and installations. Inspired by both the visual and oral history of their families and the places that they have called home, their heartbreaking yet joyful work exudes a unity that is rare in any coupling. The Stansells’ work has been reviewed in numerous publications including Art in America, Moviemaker Magazine, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Creative Loafing, and BOMB Magazine. Exhibiting in public spaces as well as film festivals, galleries, museums, and contemporary art centers, the Stansell’s work has been experienced in cities around the world including Beijing, Vienna, New York, Toronto, and Atlanta. Recent honors include Forward Arts Prize, Special Juried Prize at the Atlanta Film Festival, Artadia Award, MOCA GA Working Artist Fellowship, the Herradura Art Prize, and a Student Academy Award Nomination for their graduate thesis film.