A private screening and celebration of the film URSULA VON RYDINGSVARD: INTO HER OWN a film by Daniel Traub (alumni '98) and Morning Slayter
2019 // USA // 57 Minutes
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Ursula von Rydingsvard is a New York-based contemporary artist whose work encompasses sculpture and two-dimensional imagery. Her artworks, rooted in the sculpting of raw cedar, have been exhibited in galleries, museums and public spaces throughout the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, Venice Biennale, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Storm King Art Center. The film follows, from beginning to final installation, recent commissions including those for MIT and Princeton University. It also explores her early struggles, passion and profound drive to become an artist. Told mostly through her own voice, the film includes interviews with colleagues, family members and close friends who offer additional perspective on her life and work.
The impetus for Ursula von Rydingsvard: Into Her Own came in 2014 when Ursula saw my short film, Xu Bing: Phoenix, at MASS MoCA. At the same time, curators from the Yorkshire Sculpture Park were mounting an exhibition of her work in Venice for the 2015 Biennale. Ursula suggested that they commission me to document the installation process. This resulted in the short documentary Ursula von Rydingsvard: Giardino Della Marinaressa.
Fortuitously, around the same time as the installation in Venice, Ursula was immersed in what she described as the most complex and challenging project of her career: a monumental sculpture commissioned by Princeton University, which she had decided to make from hand-pounded copper plates, a material that she had not used. The project seemed to be an obvious focus for a documentary and so, with Ursula’s blessing, I began to film, first in her studio in Bushwick and later in the workspace of the metals fabricator Richard Webber.
It took me some time to register the power of Ursula’s sculptures. They are at once personal and intimate—even at times humorous—while also being imbued with an almost impersonal, primal energy. I was particularly interested in her process—specifically, how she makes decisions about her artworks and finds a direction forward. I was drawn to the visceral, probing quality of her search and the confidence with which she follows her intuition.
I learned about Ursula’s personal history: her early life in the Displaced Persons camps in Germany, the deprivation of her upbringing in Connecticut, the trauma of her first marriage and the brutality of her father. Step by step, through perseverance and will, she cultivated the creative life that she needed. This was present in her work and process, of course, and also in the people that are paramount in her life: her daughter, Ursie; her brother Staś; and her late husband, Paul Greengard. Her studio assistants, who are enormously dedicated to Ursula and her work, are an extended family. It became apparent that a cogent portrait of Ursula had to include her formative years as a young woman from a traditional, immigrant family, and her quest to surmount the limited expectations imposed upon her. This film is about Ursula’s endeavors to dream big and come into her own. - Daniel Traub
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
DANIEL TRAUB- Director/Producer/Cinematographer Daniel Traub is a New York-based filmmaker and photographer. He lived in China from 1998 to 2007, working as cinematographer on documentary films for various networks and production companies, including PBS, German television ZDF and Arte. More recently, Traub directed the feature-length Barefoot Artist about Lily Yeh and her collaborative artworks in war-torn communities and Xu Bing: Phoenix about the condition of Chinese migrant laborers. Traub’s photographs have been exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at the Catherine Edelman Gallery in Chicago, Slought Foundation in Philadelphia and the Lianzhou Foto Festival in China. His work can be found in public and private collections, such as The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
KEN KOBLAND – Editor/Producer Since the mid-1970s, Kobland has produced art/experimental/personal film and video works that have been screened in numerous festivals worldwide and are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art; Centre Pompidou; Stedelijk Museum; and Arsenal, Berlin. Kobland has collaborated for many years with the Wooster Group, a New York-based experimental theater company. He has worked as a cinematographer and editor on documentary features on Joan Mitchell, Chuck Close, Louise Bourgeois, and Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. Kobland’s personal work is distributed by EAI (NY), ARGOS (Brussels) and VDB (Chicago).
MORNING SLAYTER- Executive Producer Morning Slayter has worked as a producer, director and sound recordist on documentaries and features. She produced the documentary Shut Up and Look about the artist Richard Artschwager and High Wire on Philippe Petit, and has directed political shorts at the United Nations and the White House for Danish and Swedish television. She worked closely with artists in the making of films on Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Willem de Kooning, Georgia O’Keeffe, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, Larry Rivers, Mark di Suvero and Nam June Paik. She is a private art dealer and art appraiser with expertise in 20th- and 21st-century American and European art.
MELODY LONDON- Editor Melody London is a film editor of internationally awarded fiction and documentary feature films. Her most recent editorial credits include It’s Personal by Paramount Pictures, about the organizers of the Women’s March; Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog, shortlisted for an Academy Award; and Laura Poitras’s Risk, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. She has directed projects that include Mary Henry, a feature documentary and Lost financed by the American Film Institute. The first feature film (of more than seventeen) that London edited, Stranger Than Paradise was aesthetically groundbreaking and won many international prizes. London is on the Board of Directors of the Eurica Media Lab, which is dedicated to global communication.
SIMON TAUFIQUE- Composer/Producer Simon TaufiQue is a New York-based polymath: film producer, composer, entrepreneur, tech inventor and cat owner. He recently produced the Lionsgate/Universal film Imperium, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Toni Collette. TaufiQue co-produced and scored She’s Lost Control (Visit Films) with executive producer and Academy Award nominee, Oren Moverman. The film won the CICAE Forum Prize at the Berlinale, was screened at SXSW and New Directors/New Films, and was nominated for two Independent Spirit awards. Current projects include the MacArthur Foundation-winning documentary The Interpreter, the Sloan Prize-winner Radioactive Boy Scout, and the film adaptation of Rick Moody’s cherished novel Purple America, as well as an anthology series of feature-length adaptations of literary works by legendary authors Tennessee Williams, Paul Auster, Zadie Smith, John William Cheever, Patricia Highsmith, Jonathan Franzen and Rick Moody. TaufiQue is a founding partner of the indie film fund Atomic Features and GMK Media.
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