I’m a filmmaker, artist and educator who facilitates deep encounter with the sensate, desiring body. I work artisanally with hand-processed celluloid film and with video to make experimental and documentary films, kinesthetic immersive installations, artist books and performance that engage personal and social history. Of particular interest is the experience of embodied presence and the relationship between art practice and dharma practice. My work is shared and screened internationally at museums, galleries, film festivals, microcinemas, and backyards. I’ve been recognized with fellowships from the Flaherty Seminar, the Massachusetts Cultural Council (2019 Film and Video finalist; 2013 New Media/Installation fellow), and Scotland’s Alchemy Film Festival, am an Independent Imaging Retreat alum, and a recipient of a Lightpress Grant from the Interbay Cinema Society. Current projects include a personal doc tracing my family history of desire; and production of film tints/toners made from mushrooms, lichen, bark and nuts. I received a Masters in Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School, teach cameraless filmmaking, and am a member of Boston’s AgX Film Collective.
Upcoming and Current:
August 12-18: Mimesis Documentary Festival screens Unless You’re Living It. The festival will be online this year and also includes the exciting launch of the Flaherty x Boulder collaboration with a first installment The Unwriting of Disaster. Curated by Devon Narine-Singh, Suneil Sanzgiri, and Alia Ayman, the first ever retrospective of films screened across the 66-year history of the Flaherty Seminar, this online program brings together films that work in opposition to the spectacularization of tragedy. Mimesis writes of the program:
"To write the disaster, to document the catastrophic, to bear witness to the unbearable event all seem to have become default impulses in times of crises. Luckily, this fervor to record has not remained unchallenged. Image-makers from all over the world continue to create works that overhaul the free-floating belief in the merits of visibility, archiving and inscription, thereby favoring the poetic to the sensational. This retrospective of previous films screened at the Flaherty Seminar looks to how these artists and filmmakers have responded to the explosive, destructive and inescapable forces of their times."
In the words of the jurors:
"The hallucinatory and alienating experience of being marginal in North American towns today, rendered through hyper-saturated, reflected images, and the voices of those who live on the margin." - Rosanna Maule, Concordia University Film Studies faculty
"Despite its relatively short running time, UNLESS YOU’RE LIVING IT evokes an indelible sense of time and place, with Bliss deftly mixing sight and sound to create afterimages of an invisible community." - Mikaela Bobiy, Dawson College Humanities faculty
In other news, I'm honored to have been awarded a 2019 Massachusetts Cultural Council Film and Video Fellowship finalist award. I'm grateful for the citizen activism and lobbying that make it clear to state legislators how valuable the arts are to the shared life of our commonwealth.
La Petite Mort (The Little Death): An experimental feature documentary that testifies to the human capacity to craft lives of passion, purpose and fulfillment in the face of personal loss and socio-political repression. Using my own family as a lens, I explore how aging, illness and death affect desire. I investigate the changing socio-political construction, constraints upon, and expression of sexual desire and identity over the course of individual life spans and several generations (1940-2018).
Word on the street:
"How does an artist make a tactile work when the viewer can't touch anything? Sarah Bliss [and collaborator Rosalyn Driscoll have] done so. ... [They] have made haptic video." Marty Carlock's Sculpture magazine review of Blindsight. November 2015
"It was the installations that made the festival for me, particularly What It Is To Want It, a powerful film project by the filmmaker Sarah Bliss that juxtaposes readings from 17th-century Scottish religious texts with images of murky woodscapes and animal carcasses." Film reviewer Tim Cornwell in his Cornucopia Magazine writeup of the Alchemy Film Festival. April 16, 2014.