Dispatch from Alexandra Halkin
Often, the magic that arises from a Headlands residency is through the creative exchanges that happen between the artists. Over hikes, shared dinners, and quiet* evenings, artists create connections and learn from each other. Fall Artist in Residence Alexandra Halkin shared with us a brief look at her experience, and some of the connections she forged during her residency.
*Okay, many evenings are not exactly “quiet.” Dance parties, game nights, and who knows what else—these are also key components of the creative process here 😉
“In preparation for [a memoir project] I brought a number of documents from my mother’s archive to Headlands. My mother—an activist in the 1960’s to 1970’s focused mostly on the anti-war movement—died many years ago, and this was my first time reading through those documents. One was her FBI file, which was extremely disturbing. After reading the file I mentioned it to a couple of the other Artists in Residence, who told me that [fellow artist] Sadie Barnett had done an exhibition based on her father’s file [obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request]. It was extremely helpful to talk with Sadie about my feelings after reading my mother’s file—how she had emotionally processed her father’s records and how we both were grappling with the knowledge of the extent to which the US government spied on its own citizens, and the long-term ramifications of this spying.
“Another connection I made while at Headlands relates to my role as Director of Americas Media Initiative (AMI), which has me working with Cuban filmmakers living in Cuba. At one of the first artist group dinners I met [fellow Artist in Residence] Banker White, a documentary filmmaker who, along with his partner Anna Fitch, had provided video training to people in Sierra Leone. On their website I watched the trailer for their feature documentary, Survivors, which focuses on the Ebola crisis that began in 2014 and is filmed by people they trained in Sierra Leone. I told Banker I was potentially interested in bringing the film to Cuba, as I knew Cuba sent more doctors to Sierra Leone then any other country. Confident it would resonate with a Cuban audience, I sent a copy down to my producer in Havana. I’m hoping to take Survivors to Cuba in 2020 as part of AMI’s Closing Distances documentary film tours. Headlands enabled me to get to know Banker and Anna and feel confident they would be good collaborators for my work in Cuba.”