Biography

 

JANIE GEISER is an internationally recognized visual/theater artist and experimental filmmaker, whose work is known for its investigation of the emotional power of inanimate objects, its sense of mystery, and its strength of design. “Geiser shares with filmmakers such as Jan Svankmajer the rare ability to make children’s toys and seemingly innocent objects … resonate with the most unsettling, arcane, and adult fears.  Better still, Geiser gives voice to the reaches of the unconscious, pointing to the abandoned splendor that exists prior to the rules of society and language.”  (Holly Willis, Res, 2004)

One of the pioneers of the renaissance of American avant-garde object performance, Geiser creates innovative, hypnotic works that integrate a singular visual aesthetic, puppets, film/video  and performing objects.  Geiser’s performances have toured nationally and internationally, and her films have been screened at museums and festivals around the globe. Geiser has been recognized with an a Guggenheim Fellowship, an OBIE Award, and funding from the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Henson Foundation, Creative Capital, Jerome Foundation, MAPfund, the Center for Cultural Innovation, The Durfee Foundation, and others.  Geiser received a 2011 Fellowship for Visual Artists from the California Community Foundation. She received a 2006 City of Los Angeles Visual Artist Fellowship for her installation The Spider's Wheels.

Recent performance works include Fugitive Time  (2014), Clouded Sulphur (death is a knot undone) (2013); and The Reptile Under the Flowers, which premiered in 2011 and was presented at the  2013 Toy Theater Festival at Arts at St. Ann's in Brooklyn .

Geiser began making films in 1990, first as an element of her performances and installations, and then as a distinct works for screening and for installations. Geiser’s films have been screened at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Pacific Film Archives, the Centre Pompidou, the Salzberg Museum, San Francisco MOMA, LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) and at numerous festivals, including 9 New York Film Festivals, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival, the London International Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, Oberhausen, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Geiser designed puppets for Jessica Yu's documentary film Protagonist, which premiered in 2007, and for Yu’s short film The Guide (2013). She was recognized in the LA Weekly’s 2006 State of the Arts as one of 100 significant Los Angeles Artists.
Geiser’s films are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, as well as in the collections of The New York Public Library's Donnell Media Center, and the California Institute of the Arts. The Archive of the Academy of Motion Pictures has selected her body of work for preservation in their archive of experimental films.
 Geiser's film The Fourth Watch was selected by Film Comment as one of the top ten experimental films of the past decade.  Her film The Red Book was selected for inclusion in the Smithsonian's National Film Registry.
 Geiser is also a nationally recognized illustrator whose work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal.  Her book The Tornado Treaty is in the  Artists Book Collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

 

Geiser is a Co-Director of AUTOMATA,  a Los Angeles nonprofit dedicated to the creation, presentation, and preservation of puppet and object performance, experimental film, pre-cinematic attractions, and other lost and neglected forms.  Geiser is on the faculty of the CalArts School of Theater, where she teaches object performance and interdisciplinary performance.