Sabine Gruffat

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Sabine Gruffat is a media artist living and working between Brooklyn, NY and Detroit, MI. She received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and MFA from The School of The Art Institute of Chicago. Sabine was born in Bangkok, raised in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and New York. She has traveled extensively and has lived in Exeter, Barcelona, Paris, and Providence. Her films and videos have screened at several microcinema venues/ galleries including AS220 in Providence RI, the PDX Film Festival in Portland OR, Discount Cinema and The Ice Factory in Chicago, IL, and more recently, Hull screen U.K, The Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago Filmmakers, and The Gramercy Theater in New York. Her photographs and video installations have been shown at the Zolla Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, Art In General in New York, the Rochester Art Center and the Centro Cultural Telemar in Brasil. When she is not teaching in Detroit, she spends her time rediscovering historical events and monuments, wearing costumes, and making electronic music. STATEMENT As an interdisciplinary media artist, I learn from the culture industryóits institutions, history, narrative formulae and other such devicesóforemost for its ability to affect, but also as a means of challenging the codes and patterns it uses to attribute meaning and produce definition. I believe these attempts at definition (through naming, categorizing, and limiting) are suggestive not only of poor assumptions but also failures of vision. As a result, collective freedoms and singularities inherent in difference are at stake. Therefore, through my art I strive to work poetically between the bounds of existing languages in order to produce unique and compelling meanings. My work thus aims to disrupt the repetitions of circumscribed, yet superficial classifications disseminated by cultural media production through institutionalized ideological systems of distribution, including: museums, film studios, mass media publications, advertisements and the like. Believing genres similarly share specific and inveterate codes that organize reality into implicit and typified experiences, I seek to maneuver through, redirect and otherwise manipulate their conventions as a means of engendering disruptions among the aforementioned systems. By working within and around the language of the Western film or Science Fiction novel, the museum audio tour or the news photograph, I seek to draw connections between these infinitely recurring spectacles of reality and the hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) contradictions beneath their ever-present and seemingly obvious messages. To achieve this, my work takes as fact the cybernetic, standardized and surface nature of many identities and forms, including my own, and digitally collages the contrasting and incoherent values that reflect off their glossy, clichéd appearances. These acts of questioning, disordering and revising exist, then, as both a means for me to critique culture and to make art. The modes by which I undertake this practice are increasingly pervasive and seemingly omniscient, and include photography, film, digital video and web. Further, I find working with analog/digital hardware and software technologies embeds strong stylistic determinants. The grainy appearance of Super 8 footage, for example, implies, among other things, amateur documentary films of not just the past, but of a longed for yet irretrievable bygone era. As a result, considerations of style and aesthetic become important as coding devices, which in this example might well-up nostalgia among viewers, a feeling as beautiful as it is easily manipulated. Likewise, the same holds true of the ensuing composition of images; just as the presence of special effects is as necessary a component of the contemporary science fiction genre, so to is "gritty" determination a prerequisite of a cowboy's imposing stance. My belief then is that both formal and aesthetic considerations are often at the whim of style and taste, serving as signals and thereby enabling viewers to approach a work with certain expectations. Their power as cloaking devices is invaluable in communicating or failing to communicate certain meanings and thus definitions, to predisposed viewers.