Critical and Visual Studies ’11
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Morristown, New Jersey, where I attended Villa Walsh Academy before coming to Pratt.
Did your earlier travel experiences help you transition to being a college student?
Yes, it’s invigorating and thrilling to be in a new place with a completely different set of cultural standards. In many ways it’s like being a child all over again: You have to start at square one and figure everything out for yourself, trial and error.
I’ve been able to travel extensively: England, France, Austria, Denmark, Hungary, and Italy are among the places I’ve visited. My sister lives in southern Germany, just outside of Munich. She moved there my freshman year and ever since then, I’ve spent half the summer in Germany and the other half in New York.
Tell us about your senior thesis.
I wrote a comparative study of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972) and Steven Soderbergh’s Solaris (2002) through the lens of Schillerian historicism. My thesis explores the extent to which an artist is able to produce a work that reflects and comments upon political and social ideologies without being a minion to societal conventions and projections.
Both Tarkovsky’s Solaris and Soderbergh’s Solaris manifest the impetus of my thesis since both directors, separately and independently of one another, produced a motion picture based on the science fiction novel written by Stanislaw Lem in 1961. The two directors’ divergent interpretations of Lem’s original Solaris resonate most particularly with Schiller’s theory of art and artists because they expound unique and specific themes within the narrative. Essentially, my thesis shows that artists are inherently enmeshed in the cultural net of society while remaining transcendent in both time and space.
Did you learn anything important from Soderbergh’s presentation at Pratt?
Yes, there’s always something to be learned from talented artists, especially from one as smart and industry savvy as Soderbergh. He had great one-liners that provided a lot of insight not only into filmmaking but also into life.
Pertaining to my thesis, Soderbergh directly addressed Solaris in terms of budget and expenditures. He admitted, in retrospect, that Solaris could have been produced just as successfully on a smaller budget. This is interesting in relation to my thesis since, in a few words, it relates to artistic autonomy.
We live in a post-industrial capitalistic society, so we are conditioned to think that more money involved in production ensures a higher level of success. In contrast, Soderbergh stated in his presentation that budget and monetary expenditure correlate more directly to subject matter and how accessible it is to audiences. It was revealing to hear from an industry veteran that money doesn’t create quality or insure success.
What activities have you participated in at Pratt?
For the past three years, I’ve been involved in Wallabout Film Festival, which is organized and curated by Pratt students to highlight the work of emerging filmmakers (i.e. students) in order to promote their talents. It’s the perfect platform for students to meet industry professionals who can help encourage their talent and provide deeper insight into the art of filmmaking. It’s a really great idea and I’m very proud to be a part of it. This year Wallabout will take place at BAM Rose Cinemas on April 20, 2011.
Have you done any internships as well?
Yes, several. During my sophomore year, I interned at Factory Fresh, a small gallery in Bushwick owned by Ali Ha and Ad Deville, both practicing artists. During my junior year, I was the assistant to Will Mebane, a photographer located in Carroll Gardens. Last summer, I was a production assistant for BBGUN, composed of Alex Bergman and Maxim Bohichik, who direct music videos for industry moguls such as The Roots and Busta Rhymes. In my senior year, I worked for The Custom Family, a photo production company that specializes in fashion photography.
What are your plans after May graduation?
A great question, but a little terrifying....I’m going to stay in New York and find a job. I would like to work in the film industry, in the production end or the art department, though working in the film festival circuit would be an option, too.
What will you miss the most about Pratt?
The campus: It’s awesome and beautiful with all of the sculptures and trees. It’s an oasis of art in New York City. There aren’t many places in the world you can find that.
Photo: Josh Sobel