Catherine Sullivan has created film, theater and installation work with numerous collaborators and ensembles nationally and internationally. Her work has been presented at venues such as Opéra de Lyon and The Berlin International Film Festival. Solo exhibitions include Walker Art Center, Vienna Secession, Metro Pictures and Galerie Catherine Bastide. Group exhibitions include the Whitney, Moscow and Gwangju biennials. Notable awards include an Alpert Award in the Arts and work is held in private and public collections such as MOCA Los Angeles and Tate Modern. She is an associate professor in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago.

I’ve wanted to create anxious worlds that combine perplexing bodies and our judgments of them. I try to animate the lived histories of the locations where the work is shot and performed through the mysterious dimension of empathy and aversion that unfolds between the performer and the viewer. My work is concerned with the psychic conditions and cultural habits that produce different kinds of performing and the various ways in which sensation is organized and perceived through movement. The performers in my works are often coping with written texts, gestural and choreographic regimes, stylistic economies and conceptual orthodoxies.

—Catherine Sullivan, Artist Statement


The Startled Faction (a sensitivity training) is the first episode in a series of movement-driven short films concerned with self-possession and the regulation of labor through the senses. The pilot episode will focus on a scene of ambiguous labor (uncompensated work outside one’s job description) absorbed by the female characters. Action will be shaped through a rigorous interplay between heavily stylized movements, dance idioms, mise en scène, and tense relationships between film, dance and dramatic acting. The episodic form is relevant to the social and political dilemmas described by the project and will renew the question of “unfinished business” over time.