Arts·COVID Residencies

In isolation, film director Floria Sigismondi turned to the past — and some old photo albums

When the acclaimed director returned to painting during isolation, she found a meditative act and a way to re-process the past.

'I find myself thinking about the past, the way we used to do things, the world I constructed around me'

In isolation, film director Floria Sigismondi turned to the past — and some old photo albums

CBC Arts

8 months ago
4:15
When film director Floria Sigismondi returned to painting during isolation, she found a meditative act and a way to re-process the past. 4:15

In our self-shot video series COVID Residencies, we're checking out how artists are adapting their practices in isolation, whether it's diving into different processes or getting lost in their sketchbooks.

If you watch music videos, you've been touched by Floria Sigismondi. The director's aesthetic — practised on artists from David Bowie to Rihanna to Marilyn Manson — has become a highly recognizable (and dark) visual language influencing legions of other directors. Her films, including Joan Jett biopic The Runaways, have similarly left an indelible mark.

Sigismondi, who grew up in Ontario, is also a visual artist, deft with a camera or a paintbrush. And while isolating at her home in California, she turned to old photo albums, using images of family and loved ones as the source material for a body of new paintings.

Looking through the old pictures, she says, "The past — I find myself thinking about it, the way we used to do things, the world I constructed around me."

(Floria Sigismondi)

In this video, Sigismondi takes you into her dining room/studio, where she has paints set up to be used at any moment. And she shows you a few of the works she's been focused on. The thinking she's done while she paints has led to some optimistic views of the future: "I really believe that we'll come out of this different. I'm hopeful that we can utilize and use this time to reflect, to make the world a better place, to come up with ideas that we can then use in the world, whether they're artistic or actual ways of implementing things for the better of all."

Follow Floria Sigismondi here and keep a lookout for the stories we're bringing you from other artists in isolation as part of COVID Residencies. Stay safe, friends!

(Floria Sigismondi)

CBC Arts understands that this is an incredibly difficult time for artists and arts organizations across this country. We will do our best to provide valuable information, share inspiring stories of communities rising up and make us all feel as (virtually) connected as possible as we get through this together. If there's something you think we should be talking about, let us know by emailing us at cbcarts@cbc.ca. See more of our COVID-related coverage here.

About the Author

Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an art history instructor and is always quite terrified of bees.

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