Firelei Báez: An Open Horizon

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Caribbean born and raised artist Firelei Báez draws upon its rich folklore and colonial history for her new paintings.

Raised in Morocco, France, and a smattering of states across America, Souki Mehdaoui is a director, writer, and cinematographer now based in Denver, CO. Mehdaoui was introduced to NY artist Firelei Báez by nonprofit organisation Art 21 and the pair decided to make a film that featured original choreography inspired by Báez's paintings. Like the shapeshifting figures in her work this film is a portrait of an artist in creative transition and constant motion. The camera captures the artist from her studio, the surrounding Bronx neighborhood, and her glass mosaic commission at 163rd Street-Amsterdam Avenue subway station, Manhattan.

Raised on the border of Dominican Republic and Haiti, Báez creates a series of paintings that draw upon the rich folklore and colonial history of the Caribbean. Detailed and vibrantly colored, Báez’s shapeshifting figures assert the power of the female form and challenge fundamental ideas around beauty and agency. One example is the artist's reference of  the ciguapa, from Domincan folklore, typically described as an evasive and cunning female figure. But Báez regards and frames the "ciguapa" as a beacon for a "highly independent, self-possessed" woman.

Mehdaoui, 'Art21 invited me to make a short film about Dominican artist Firelei Baez, and after one conversation, I fell in love with her ability to alchemize the pain of racialized narratives into transformative creativity and flip traditional power narratives on their head. Firelei's approach to her craft inspired me to look at my own ethnic narratives more critically and creatively, and I just wanted the world to meet this incredible woman from her point of view, seeing history as a palimpsest and symbols as a doorway to conscience.'


Company @art21

Artist @fireleibaez

Director, Producer, Editor @itsasouki

Series Producer @nickyravich

Producer @mamaswayze

DP @danielcontaldo

SteadiOp @dqcamera

1st AC / Film Loader @rachelfedorkova @mars_the_supervillian

Gaffer @l_carkeys

Costume Designer @meiravi

Location sound @simplyredpath

Key PA @jo_barba

Production Support

Dancers @maleek_washington @acastrodance

Editor @driganlee

Composers @voxviola @browniebonbon77

Music Licensing @erasedtapesrecords

Sound Mix @noiagisela

Colorist @addsjpgs

Film Supply @kodak

Film Process and Scan @metpostny

Camera Supply @duallcamera