Then I did psychoanalysis for years, and I grew out of chasing subspace. I still like getting slapped on occasion, but not everyone can slap the right way. It takes practice, care, and clear communication.
Leonor: Why do you speak to Julia Scher?
Cammisa: Two words. Mommy issues. When I saw Julia’s video, I felt close to her, like a sister. I loved her stories of her family. They were so fun, long, and rambling. It was like a sleepover with your best friend, the kind where you fall asleep talking to each other.
I found myself, as Nicola and I were making this film, lost in the narrative of responding to Julia. I wanted to share stories with her, too. And I did, and I was worried that they were too dark, or boring, or disrespectful. I found myself, as I was speaking, thinking, »Who am I to tell these stories?!«
We were filming in uninterrupted hourlong bursts, in the style of psychoanalysis sessions. Occasionally, as I paused in speaking, Nicola would prompt me by asking questions. But while Nicola was the cinematographer and asking questions, I was speaking to the camera as if it were Julia. We did fourteen hours of taping. As the sessions continued, I began to substitute Julia for my mother. I think it’s called transference. Well, it could also be called projection. Then I began to slip between calling her Julie and Julia. If I had kept going, I might have developed an entirely new name for her.
I wonder if Julia didn’t initially release her films to a wider audience because she didn’t want to hurt her mother or confuse her family. I also know that the art world was a smaller one in 1989. And maybe her mother didn’t make it to the opening. Maybe her mother didn’t even know about it. There is a big joy in Julia’s film. I know there is humor in my film too, but I live in a different time of easy access, and I often felt ashamed as I laid my telling on tape.
I felt like Julia understood me. She moved into making work that engaged explicitly with a fter she made Discipline Masters (1988). She became known for these unsettling interventions, playing with the concept, both theatrically and literally; of security. She made people move and react when faced with video feeds of themselves (Predictive Engineering, 1993–ongoing). Provoking this dance in response to being watched made me feel like I wasn’t the only person so easily influenced by watching someone else. Rather, it made me feel like I had a friend. Julia didn’t give me any answers. But she gave me a model. I felt cared for. And I also felt free, because things she said were sometimes so ridiculous that they couldn’t be real, right?