Shannon Plumb

Brooklyn, 2014

For 20 years, I have been filming the same woman in my movies. It was an accident really. No one else was around when I tested a used super 8 camera bought from a flea market. So I made this 27-year-old-girl, who happened to be right there, step into the frame. She was lit by a light bulb. She was a shy subject, but rebellious too. She had a friendship with the inanimate objects, but I couldn’t tell her to pose or look pretty ’cause she wouldn’t do it. She had a simple task. Put a letter to her lover in an envelope and lick it shut.

When I projected the film for the first time, I felt like I’d just opened every door on the city block. There were endless worlds to explore. The film was beautiful. A moving image, 24 frames a second, jittery, silent, black and white, imperfections, dust in the gate, hair in the frame, and the action was… funny! The girl in the movie made me laugh! That was completely unexpected. All the years I’d known her, I’d never thought she was comical.

This portrait is taken in a studio that’s as wide as the wingspan of an albatross, and as long as the plank on a pirate ship. In this tiny space, I’m trying to recreate the biggest show on earth, the Circus. And I’m using the same girl. She’s 40-something here, she’s had two kids, married, she’s been in over 200 of my films. She always wanted to be in movies, I always wanted to tell funny stories. We were meant for each other.

“Welcome to the Littlest Show on Earth!”

 Shannon Plumb