- A short film project based on an original script in which a fictional portrait of a curator is conducted through the eyes of a young artist.

As a young artist in the current contemporary art world, one action is performed on a regular basis: applying for residency programs or open calls. Due to the present economic status, governments are cutting budget of the arts and private sectors are struggling with recession. It has become more and more competitive for artists to be accepted by art organizations.

Each residency program and open call draws a huge amount of artists applying, few succeed and many fail. Rejection then becomes a routine for some artists. Those who fail would receive rejection letters or Emails which are typed with a tendency of impersonality. Most of them don’t even address the rejected artist by name instead they often begin with “Dear candidate” or “Dear applicant” etc. This seems to suggest that only those who are selected matter and those who are rejected is just one of many. As an artist, I can’t help but composing scenarios in my head and wondering what goes on behind the curtains.

Therefore, in this film project, I am using my own experience as a “rejected artist” to illustrate a personal interpretation and a fictional portrait of the system and of a curator. This portrait is developed around a central philosophy: everyone was once an applicant.

Katherine Peters is an assistant-curator who is responsible for selecting artists for an Artist-in-Residency program currently held by the art center. On the finalist announcement day, Katherine fails to complete her task as she keeps on being held back by a series of events that are happening in her personal life.

After long hours of reviewing hundreds of applications, Katherine gets startled by a phone call from her husband urging her to come home in order to be present for their adoption interview. With just one application remaining, she promises the director of the art center that she will evaluate the material and make the decision before the deadline. Katherine leaves her office along with the last application in her bag. She arrives home only to find herself being questioned by a social worker regarding the unconventional details on her adoption application. The interview does not go well.

After the social worker departs, Katherine tries to review the last application but her phone rings again. The call comes from a medical center asking her to stop by for a meeting to discuss her father’s condition. She leaves for the medical center with the last application still in her bag. At the medical center, Katherine receives bad news concerning her father’s health. The doctor tells her that her father needs a heart transplant and that she should fill out an application immediately in order to be put on the wait-list. Katherine sits next to her heavily sedated father and agonizes over her inability to control the day’s developments.

Katherine gets interrupted a third time that day by a call from the director of the art center. The director informs her that he has decided the finalist for her due to the press deadline. She tries to argue and hopes she could have more time to view the last application in order to produce a new list, but it is simply too late.

Sitting in the chair, staring at the last application in her hands, Katherine feels angry and ashamed. She tears open the envelope and takes out a VHS tape. Katherine walks across the room towards a TV-set and puts the tape in the player.

She sits back down and presses play. Katherine watches the video and eventually breaks out into tears.

Registered, WGAw
©2012 Hou Chien Cheng, all Rights Reserved