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Jody Lafond

Jody Lafond

(b. 1956)
American
Born: Tonawanda, New York, U.S.

Jody Lafond is a Living Legacy Artist at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

 

 

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Jody Lafond has been involved in media work as an artist, producer, and educator since the early 1980s. She grew up in Tonawanda, N.Y. and attended the University at Buffalo, where she received a BA in History (conferred in 1986). In the process of meeting academic requirements she took a film history course and quickly gravitated toward courses in video and filmmaking and entered the university’s MAH program in Media Studies & Theater.

Lafond has made more than 30 short experimental videos and activist documentaries on her own and in collaboration with several Western New York collectives, including the Media Coalition for Reproductive Rights, 8 mm News Collective, and the satirical feminist theater troupe, Ladies of the Lake. In a 2005 preview of Lafond’s contribution to the Burchfield Penney’s portion of the multi-site Beyond/In Western New York, art critic Elizabeth Licata playfully refers to her as “the goddess of small things” and praises her “carefully constructed videos” as “small-scaled, understated gems.” [1] Independent filmmaker Hal Hartley has on several occasions recalled the impact Lafond’s tapes had on him when he was a student, calling them “some of the most interesting (and funny) video work I’d ever seen.” [2]

In a catalog essay accompanying Lafond’s 2001 retrospective at Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, writer/performer Ron Ehmke describes her tapes as

“ … concise, funny, poignant evocations of particular moments in time, whose deliberately simple images (folding chairs left behind by a former lover, endless pans of bread dough, a pond of doomed pollywogs) are rich with multiple layers of metaphor. … Lafond [celebrates] them all as sources of endless mystery and wonder. … These works are by nature ephemeral, in the best sense of the word: quick, sharp, and direct, with the spontaneous grace of journal entries and the unmannered wit of e-mail. They’re also documents of the artist’s public life: her connections to her colleagues, her hometown, her social circle. … Armed with a camcorder, Lafond ventures out into the world beyond her window to gather evidence—of friendships, lost loves, seized opportunities, and random absurdities—then takes up residence in a nearby editing suite to make sense of it all.” [3]

In the same catalog, video artist/theorist Julie Zando takes a slightly different look at the work, writing that

“… Lafond has produced a body of video art notable for its wry stories of relationships between men and women. The smart, often autobiographical narratives are constructed from musings and ironic observations over footage shot when inside alone or alone and looking outside. Later work continues combining elements of solitude and surveillance but makes use of footage posing as what might appear to be outtakes from a separate project or the peripheral space around the video frame itself.” [4]

Lafond received a 2001 Media Grant and a 1987 Film Production Grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and Video Fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts in 1988 and 1992. One of her tapes won first prize in the 1991 Luminous Video Competition, an honor which afforded her the opportunity to visit Japan, in turn inspiring her 1992 video diary/documentary, Ticket to Tokyo. Her work has been shown at venues throughout North America, including Art in General (New York City), the Knitting Factory (NYC), Film Forum (Los Angeles), the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C.), A Space (Toronto), and the Albright Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, N.Y.). She has also presented work at the New York Video Festival (1996), the Images Video Festival (Toronto, 1996), the National Video Poetry Festival (Chicago, 1996), and the Cleveland Performance Art Festival (with Ladies of the Lake, 1992).

In addition to her own work, Lafond has produced and directed documentaries, industrial videos, and public service announcements for regional organizations. She has taught workshops and classes at numerous universities and arts organizations, including the University at Buffalo (Department of Media Study), the University of Oklahoma (Visiting Assistant Professor of Art), Squeaky Wheel/Buffalo Media Resources, the Castellani Art Museum (Niagara University, N.Y.). From 1989-91 she produced Artwaves, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center's weekly cable series, creating segments in collaboration with artists-in-residence. Lafond is a founding member of Squeaky Wheel/Buffalo Media Resources and played a pivotal role in the inception and continued evolution of the organization.

Lafond was one of the first artists named a "Living Legacy" by the Burchfield Penney in 2012.

[1] Elizabeth Licata, “Art Preview: Beyond/In Western New York Report Card (So Far),” Buffalo Spree, April 2005, http://www.buffalospree.com/buffalospreemagazine/archives/2005_04/0405artpreview.html. (Accessed 07/15/2013)

[2] Hal Hartley, untitled statement, in Jody Lafond: A Retrospective, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 2001. PDF available at http://www.hallwalls.org/pubs/2001.JLafond.RFS.pdf. (Accessed 07/15/2013)

[3] Ron Ehmke, “The Poems of Our Climate,” in Jody Lafond: A Retrospective, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 2001. PDF available at http://www.hallwalls.org/pubs/2001.JLafond.RFS.pdf. (Accessed 07/15/2013)

[4] Julie Zando, “The Butt of Her Jokes,” in Jody Lafond: A Retrospective, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, 2001. PDF available at http://www.hallwalls.org/pubs/2001.JLafond.RFS.pdf . (Accessed 07/15/2013)