Naomi Yang is perhaps best known as a former member of the legendary dream-pop group Galaxie 500, but she’s also an accomplished visual photographer, graphic designer, and video director. In recent years, Yang has produced video work for Julia Holter and Marissa Nadler, two artists whose work drifts to a similarly surreal and cinematic place as Yang’s. A couple of years ago, she also created a video for the Neutral Milk Hotel song “Naomi,” which is indeed about her.
Tonight at Harvard’s Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, Yang premieres a new 30-minute silent film titled Fortune. The film is a collaboration with experimental filmmaker and editor Nathaniel Dorsky, featuring actors Norman von Holtzendorff and Anabel Vázquez Rodríguez. It also includes an original 11-song soundtrack by Damon & Naomi, the band Yang currently plays in with Damon Krukowsi. The band will play the songs live at tonight’s Boston screening.
According to Yang’s artist statement, she felt an inspired by make a film like Fortune in December 2011 when Damon & Naomi played a haunted theatre in Italy, happened upon a copy of Paul Leni’s 1924 “Waxworks”, and continued to play in front of the film for their entire Italian tour. “I enlisted the help of my old friend Norman von Holtzendorff, who has a similar love of silent movies as well as a melodramatic flair,” Yang writes in an artist’s statement. “In addition to a common aesthetic, we shared the fact that each of us had lost our fathers in the past year, and both of our fathers had been artists who left us with the enormous responsibility for taking care of their life’s work.”
The film portrays a character struggling with a similar sort of burden, the conflicting feelings of being left to deal with the artwork of an unsupportive father. Watch the entire film below.