VIDEO PORTRAIT - CATHY SHI
This is a video portrait of Cathy Shi, an independent female who is in love with the idea of feminism, individuality, and being surrounded by nature. Born with mixed nationalities of Chinese and European, Shi has distinct views and observations towards how people treat females in different cultures. The video explores Shi’s love towards nature, her personal journey with the concept of feminism that is also presented in one of her artworks, Arranged Marriages, and her expression of confidence as a female. In the video, I was trying to convey a dreamy atmosphere to show this setting of grassland as a personal playground to Shi, which is where she realizes, struggles, or understands certain lessons from life.
The emotions varied from adoration with nature to disapproval towards several issues with feminism. The symbolism and metaphoric instances started with the grassland, a connection to Shi’s obsession with nature since she is used to being surrounded by nature in Prague, her homeland. Then, there is a shot with a bag of items: a representation of personal belongings or possessions. This bag of objects is referencing to Grace Coddington’s Grace Notes, talking about how models used to carry accessories bag with items representing themselves. I recreated this idea by putting objects that represent Shi such as a paint palette, paints, makeup, and a notebook. Taking off the heels is showing escape from stereotyped women wear and begin entering this nature playground with bare feet. The colorful makeup symbolizes women could wear what they want and is also a symbol of Shi’s love towards art as she paints colors all over herself. The pop-ups of flower illustrations are showing the connection of beauty between plants and women. Different actions of doing makeup, applying nail polish, painting are performance indicating individualism because Shi is not afraid of doing what she likes. Blindfolding is a metaphor of one of her works Arranged Marriages, talking about how females are treated during marriages in Chinese culture. The subject could be blindfolded by someone else or has the determination to take it off, which shows courage and refusal to accept this idea of arranged marriages. The struggling scene with the balloons (Catcalling, Do What Is Useful, Arranged marriages, Collectivism) shows frustration with these issues, which is later being eliminated by Shi when poking the balloons with a needle. The color red keeps appearing to express females’ relationships with love, blower, blood, energy, and courage.
The challenges I encountered during the process of making this video portrait are coming up with a storyline that connects all my symbols or metaphors together, filming everything in one day as well as editing the sound. Since the makeup, outfit, performances and filming time are not really redoable, I had to shoot all of my clips at once, which I had to plan out all of the shots I need as well as all of the props, performances, emotions to act out by myself. The thing I am most proud of is I acted out as Cathy as well as plan out how the shots would be like. This is my first self directed and acted project, which I enjoyed.