Christine Wood Femme, Fluid, First


Allison Dean
Artist Statement

The goal of this project was to create a narrative surrounding a queer woman of color who is able to fit within whatever confines of society she is presented with, in a bigoted time period of American history and film contexts. By using my partner as a real world inspiration, who I find to be very inspiring in how I view film, queerness, and identity, I think that I was able to analyze the differences in queer experiences and queer representation she has compared to me; her being raised in a predominantly white family was reflected in the content I had Christine ‘creating’; she was within the landscape of early cinema, and therefore could not even be truly recognized for her work, not to mention that she couldn’t make content for queer people of color. Additionally, Christine was creating ambiguously queer content: her films specifically that she produced were not inherently homosexual in nature, but having her as the creator of these pieces is what makes this feel queer. For my partner, her racial ambiguity and sexual ambiguity is an important part of her and her ability to fluctuate between spaces, much like Christine does with the kind of content she creates and what she is able to call her own. I don’t think that I have the ability nor the understanding to create something on the ambiguity of racial identity for biracial people, so although it is a key piece to Christine’s story (because it is for Dezi), I tried to make sure that it wasn’t a minority trauma grab when talking about her dismissal from Hollywood.
I included some shot footage, which was of my partner in the introduction to showcase her take on what this might be, and then the rest of the film is a mix of archival footage from public domain spaces, intercut with photographs of my partner that I am using to represent Christine and her life during this time. I think that the archival footage creates the dynamic of the past and the redefinition of known content into queerness, while filming Dezi now versus “Christine” helps with the placement of these two women in their respective time periods, but unites them in the fact that they are technically the same person, both in reality and in this constructed narrative.
The inclusion of the burlesque/stag archival videos and having them be the defining evidence of Christine’s queerness was found in my own desire to redefine the ways in which female queer sexuality is represented on film and within media: women who love women are not expected to express their bodies or the bodies of other femme individuals in a sexual manner, yet Christine does with these pieces. It was also a reclamation of female sexuality and female body, because the intended audience of that archival clip in true historical context is for men, and still is (just go read the comments left on the video). By making this the art of a queer woman, the meaning is altered and empowered, and not as exploitative. I think that having Christine as the gaze, instead of that of a man, there is definitely new meaning to what kind of female sexuality is being expressed, and how that sexuality is queer. By making Christine the creator of all the pieces, she, like countless other queer creators, is instilling this into the work, whether consciously or subconsciously. Like Andrew Ahn said, “everything I make is going to be seen through a queer lens.”