CHINATOWN — A multimedia performance is seeking to shine a light on the phenomenom of “shift beds,” in which struggling immigrants rent places to sleep in 12-hour installments. The performance, “Your Day is My Night,” will show at University Settlement on Eldridge Street this Thursday and Friday night, as a prelude to a documentary of the same name that will premiere in February.
The Word Journal and the The Lo-Down wrote about the upcoming combination documentary/live performance “Your Day is My Night,” a look at New York’s “shift-bed” residents, mostly Chinese immigrants who take turns sharing the same bed. The Lo-Down piece in English can be read here and the World Journal one, translated from Chinese and edited, is below.
They are living right here on the Lower East Side but most of us are oblivious to the existence, let alone the daily travails, of New York’s “shift-bed” residents. A hybrid documentary/live performance, “Your Day is My Night,” coming to University Settlement next month offers a rare glimpse into their hidden world.
In Atalanta: 32 Years Later (2006) Lynne Sachs4 takes as source material the 1974 TV show Free To Be You and Me—already an update on the classic tale of the “beautiful princess in search of the perfect prince”5—and re-edits it. She turns the image sideways, pairs different parts of the original through the use of split-screen, and plays both image and sound in reverse—providing “subtitles” for the resulting garbled voices. “The maiden from across the forest cut her hair, put on a mustache….” and the lesbian union strides onto the stage of collective imagination (and commands its role in history). Reading at the film’s tail, “for Barbara Hammer,” this retelling became all the more alive for me. In ways too manifold to express here, Hammer, legendary “pioneer of queer cinema,”6 has—like a fairy tale protagonist—found her way home time and again through many a tangled path.
When Lynne Sachs presents a 30-minute excerpt from her new film, “Your Day Is My Night,” at the National Gallery of Art on Sunday, she intends to pay close attention to how the audience responds. “I’m going to listen and I’m going to take notes on what they say,” Sachs said in a telephone conversation from her home in Brooklyn.
“The wonderful thing about NYC is that you can experience so many different kinds of environments. This uncharacteristically sunny November afternoon I catch up with Lynne Sachs, who has had work screened at the last two VideoFest. I compliment her on her beautiful website and we talk about the use of text and media and history in her work.” Raquel Chapa, Ass. Dir. Dallas Video Festival
The eye as a mediator is only able to focus on one thing at a time, with everything around that point of focus being lost to obscurity; this forces a piecemeal understanding of one’s environment. The filmic eye in The Last Happy Day, too, is an obscuring and complicating force, which helps to form the film’s language. Sachs manipulates her camera very deliberately, employing the difference between sharp-focus and soft-focus.
In an interview with Otherzine experimental fil maker, Lynne Sachs talks about realizing “that there was a pattern emerging in my work, a rhythm between films that were open to changes brought by the times and films that followed a very clearly defined vision or concept. ” Later in the interview she relates what she is trying to do in her films to the avant garde poet, Gertrude Stein’s desire to “create provocative ruptures between the sign and the signifier, between the way we are taught to speak (to communicate) and the way we ultimately choose to express ourselves (art).”