Sarah Lasley’s experimental film and video art exposes cracks and pathways in and out of our current socio-political moment.
Sarah Lasley is an interdisciplinary artist whose work spans experimental film, video art, multimedia installation, and projection design for theater. Across media, her work exposes complicity in spectatorship by complicating the linear subject/object relationship between the viewer and the viewed.
Her collaborative projects with the likes of Martha Stewart, MGMT, Todd Haynes, and Amanda Palmer are offset by a rich solo practice where Lasley shoots herself alone in nature or on green screen, occupying the roles of both director and performer in hopes of uncovering new truths in the space in between.
“Shot alone in my living room at the onset of the COVID-19 quarantine, How I Choose to Spend the Remainder of my Birthing Years juxtaposes pre-pubescent sexual desire with that of a woman descending her sexual peak. Blending personal narrative with shared pop cultural experience, I manifest my childhood fantasy set within the love scene from Dirty Dancing. Fantasy is both a balm to religious piety and an act of resistance to reproductive pressures put upon women approaching middle age.
Through compositional slippages, eyeline mismatches, and the cacophonous din of karaoke singers performing on top of one another, TOTALITY illuminates the disconnected state of online culture through the alone-together artifice of visual compositing. The fantastical environment mimics karaoke’s potential for everyday folks to experience the power that comes with channeling popstars, even if only for the length of a song.
Through the rise and fall of visual verisimilitude in my composited images, I aim to expose cracks and pathways in and out of our current socio-political moment. I adopt a more feminine film form that values non-linear, sensorial experience over conventional, dialogue-driven narrative. My filming process is highly intuitive and collaborative. Without crew or assistants, I shoot alone with my subjects, creating trust and openness with the performers in my work. The camera follows their improvised performances, and we find the film together by framing and reframing this spontaneous action. The intimacy of these on-set collaborations persists as I shape the structure in post-production. Green screen compositing allows for a final layer of collaboration in which isolated performers engage with simulated environments, triangulating the viewer, performer, and nature in intimate distance.”
Lasley was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, and is currently an assistant professor of New Media at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Her projection design credits include performances at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Harlem Stage, and Ars Nova in New York. She is a first-generation college graduate and holds an MFA from Yale School of Art and a BFA from the University of Louisville. She is also the reigning karaoke champion of the Btown Karaoke League Season 5 in Bloomington, Indiana.