i began working with shelagh carter as she was developing the collage technique for rifting / blue and shelagh invited me to look at and explore my responses to the series of foundational images she had collected. my immersion in that element led to the creation of the track that i wrote and sang in the film, a piece i further developed for a long poem called bath. bath appeared in murderous signs in 2006, and continued to explore ophelia’s descendants trapped in “dull beds,” and “nights unmagical,” who “unbutton their eyes and slip through portraits hung round their necks avid to appear on their own terms. shelagh and i continued to collaborate on resolve, a dance piece by natasha torres-garner which examined her commitment to creativity and the possibilities of creation. inspired by our capacity to share both vision and process, we began the development of canoe which takes its impulse from a novel that i had just completed, jane dying again. the novel reveals the grief, loss, and despair experienced by partners in a long-time marriage who are caught in the prison built by a chronic illness, suffered equally by the wife as caregiver and the husband as incurable. the film integrates found footage into its mise-en-scène technique to underline the way in which memory haunts the present, mangling the edges of the couple’s endurance.
shelagh and i worked again with dance and text to develop our next experimental short, is it my turn. in this piece, three dancers, natasha torres-garner, ali robson, and cindymarie small, respond to a four-part poem i had written called spellbinding which is adapted from the long poem loving gertrude stein (turnstone press 2004). each dancer selected one of the parts as a point of inspiration for her own choreography. a fourth section, carrying motifs from each part, became a resource during rehearsals as the dancer’s individual choreographic languages gradually pooled their spells to compose the completed composition.
the script i’ve written for our current feature film project, before anything you say, takes as its impulse an event in shelagh’s own life and an experience i had along the champs-élysées, an argument with my own husband of “epic proportions” whose revelations we scarcely comprehend even now. once more, shelagh and i unravel the extent to which we can trust and enjoy the understandings we bring to our partnership, and the sense that in doing of the work, we can discover its shape and texture. in before anything you say, we collaborate again with chad tremblay who teaches us to see and hear, and keri latimer whose musical score in is it my turn sharpened every moment we sought to disclose.