I Send You This Place


*New York Times Review
*Made possible by the U.S. Fulbright Foundation (with Sisson as a fellow)

Story, Performance, & Direction by Andrea Sisson; Music Performed and Recorded by Andrea Sisson & Pete Ohs. World Premiere 2012 FULL FRAME DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL. 

The piece explores the perception of mental illness and is a family member's account (Sisson) of the trauma, the sensations, and decoding the stages associated with the issues and situations of mental illness. The film compares outdoor nature of Iceland to the nature of the human being – specifically the mind affected by schizophrenia and other serious mental illness. The artist proposes, theorize, and slightly debates diagnosis and American cultural perspective on these illnesses. Performance uses found objects and places, costume, and symbols - both the artist creating her self-portrait; and the documentarian creating the portrait of his subject.

The feature-length hybrid-documentary blends fiction and non-fiction to tell the story of a young woman whose encounter with the intense natural beauty of Iceland inspires her to examine her comfortable notions of sanity and insanity and to explore mental illness and family bonds through Iceland’s otherworldly terrain. It questions this by simply asking “Can something as natural as the weather be deemed mentally ill?” The island’s intensity reminds Andrea of her schizophrenic brother Jacob, a young man who isn’t bound by the conventional standards. “Delusional” thought and “erratic” behavior seem not so different from Andrea’s untamed surroundings in which the wind rants, the clouds are grandiose and the seasons bi-polar. Part memoir, travelogue, and personal essay, the film tells the story of a wanderlust that sparks an unexpected spiritual transformation - in a place where glaciers are more common than billboards, where inhabitants are known to speak to mountains, where summers bring twenty- four hours of daylight, and winters bring twenty-four hours of darkness. Andrea’s breakthroughs lead her to embrace her own eccentricities, namely, her ADD diagnosis which she comes to view as a gift, not a curse. Led by Pete’s probing questions, Andrea arrives at fresh and startling insights and through the personal tool of documentation presents the island itself as a new model for the study mental health. 

Please find a link to stream the full film online here - https://www.seedandspark.com/watch/i-send-you-this-place
Or to request a link from the artist please contact andreasissonal@gmail.com




Early works 2010-2012, Hindsight & Artist Disclaimer:
At this time, the artist was bridging the sectors of design, art, and film. She was a young maker from Ohio, and had just finished design school. Essentially the film was made by a young woman from Ohio - in pain and with the obsession of her mentally ill brother. It was her attempt to make a film to communicate these thoughts (and present a critique of mental illness treatment) with her Midwestern family - and she did so in collaboration with a traditional filmmaker.From the artist "At the time, I didn't know I was an artist. All I knew was that I had something I needed to say, & to my family, and this was an outlet to do that. I was the subject as much as the maker. I made it with a filmmaker, who helped me tell my story. Video technique, video-art and art history, discourse, and art criticism was not yet in my repertoire."

 (on race & whiteness):
There is a whiteness to the film - a whiteness obvious through the complete unawareness of the subject and artists' own whiteness and racial positions, politics, and discourse in this world/country. Throughout the beginning of the film, there is a discussion of eye color that ultimately shows an ignorance to the subject artists' own racial position, and unawareness to the discussion of eye color as a topic & anchor of race - specifically to POC and in context to eye color as a signifier of supremacy. This ultimately exposes the unawareness of the subject/artists/film's whiteness in the film in context of whole American culture. The mentioning of blue eyes and implications of "blue eyes" in context to the American POC community, has an anchor and trigger in means of race, supremacy, and desire. In the time of creation, the artist's use of the eyes were used in relation to the manic "crazy eye" that happens during psychotic breaks, in relation to the artist's mentally ill sibling with the same family eye-color, and to show the the window the film is seen through - the eyes of the subject/artist (be it a reliable narration or not). Many years later, the implication of highlighting the "blue eyes" in a work and the implications of this within the whole spectrum of the American culture - with racal discourse in American Culture is now every much recognized by the makers.