Commonwealth and Council

That is the impression we receive

Jeannie Simms


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.