Commonwealth & Council and GuestHaus present new videos and photographs by Jeannie Simms that explore cross cultural encounters and collaborations with students from the Tsubai Elementary School, Nara, Japan and the Provincetown Schools, Provincetown, MA, United States. The students transform the public school classrooms into theaters of experimentation, openly rearranging history as active agents: performers, camera persons, prop designers and sound technicians.
Initiated by the Nara International Film Festival in Japan, Shinji Kitagawa and filmmaker Naomi Kawase, Simms’ videos That is the impression we receive and The Critics stem from her research into an early 20th century actress Sadayakko Kawakami, who with her husband and their troupe created trans-cultural theatrical productions in Japan, North America and Europe. Scripted from the Kawakami’s memoirs, quotes from Western critics and scholars, Simms and the student performers create a regenerative history of The Kawakami Theater Troupe’s hybrid productions that challenge representations of culture, trade and nation.
Jeannie Simms’ works are rooted in photography and the moving image. She scours history and contemporary situations, contesting accepted perspectives and proposing vital new narratives. She recently completed a seven-month residency at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her work recently showed at the Currier Museum, the Nara International Film Festival, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and San Francisco Camerawork. She received an Art Matters Grant for transnational production and additionally has shown at the 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 in Boston, the Alternative Film Center in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions (LACE). She holds an MFA from UC Irvine and serves on the graduate and photography faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She lives and works between Brooklyn and Cambridge.
Special thanks to Chloë Flores and Tim Lefevre at GuestHaus for co-hosting Jeannie Simms’ residency in Los Angeles. Production support provided by the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.