“Her methods produce moments of chromatic beauty to illustrate radical rhetoric… Gallagher’s animation seeks to reorder the world by reorganizing the gestalt of filmic representation, bringing marginalized and underrepresented bodies and voices to the center of the frame.”
“… A brilliant young artist who has demonstrated a mastery of technique, matched with a strong historical and political consciousness… Her stance is feminist, anti-imperialist and anti-racist. This is apparent in the interplay between the personal and the political that threads her work. Shining humanism radiates from Gallagher’s moving images…”
-Greg de Cuir Jr. & Miriam De Rosa
“Using a variety of forms and styles, such as the found footage essay, collage animation or experimental live action, Gallagher marshals her material into raw statements of anger and intent… Images explode onto the screen in a carnival of colour and iridescence… Gallagher’s work both provokes and invokes others to share their stories.”
“[Gallagher’s films] reveal the discursive power of found footage and non-narrative forms, developing a cyclical style reminiscent of writers as diverse as Karl Marx and Frantz Fanon… Explosive films like Gallagher’s are incredibly valuable in fomenting outrage and providing even momentary catharsis…”
“Gallagher ignores distinctions between art and craft, documentary and essay film, while incorporating found footage, archival audio, and original interviews with rotoscoping, cut-outs, and paper collage derived from cultural detritus of mysterious origin… [Gallagher] continues to reclaim and amplify lost histories through combined acts of political and visual rebellion.”
-Dave Merson Hess
“Many of Gallagher’s films are directly political and feminist. With subject material ranging from historical work on Lucy Parsons, John Brown, Marilyn Buck, to issues like abortion and rape, Gallagher’s animated films directly address intersectional feminist politics.”
“Her aesthetic, which makes playful and powerful use of cut-out animation collage, is accessible and affecting. Gallagher is a former union organizer, and her commitment to collectivist radical politics comes blazing through both in her films and beyond them..”
– Girish Shambu, Film Critic
Kelly Gallagher is a filmmaker, animator, and Associate Professor of Film at Syracuse University. Her handcrafted films and commissioned animations have screened at venues including: the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, Sundance Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and the Smithsonian Institution. Recent commissioned animations have screened on Netflix and PBS. She’s presented solo programs of her work at institutions including: SFMOMA, Close-Up Cinema London, SF Cinematheque, and Wexner Center for the Arts. She is the 2022 recipient of the Helen Hill Award from NYU's Orphan Film Symposium. Her latest film, WE HAD EACH OTHER, about the strength and solidarity of Irish Republican POW women, won the Research Award at the 2022 Athens International Film and Video Festival. Kelly enthusiastically organizes and facilitates fun and inclusive film workshops and camps for communities of all ages, from Kentucky to California, from New York to Iowa and beyond.
I am an experimental filmmaker and animator based in Syracuse, New York. I am primarily interested in handcrafted filmmaking and exploring the ways in which experimental and handcrafted animations make labor visible, aesthetically gesturing towards the workers behind their production. I am invested in exploring the ways in which experimental and handcrafted animation forms and techniques can be utilized to address political inquiries and concerns, and stories of resistance. I am also deeply interested in the ways in which handcrafted animation, in the Walter Benjamin sense, invite authors to be producers, (or spectators to be creators), because of the extreme accessibility of tools employed in handmade practices. Additionally, I am intrigued by the political possibilities of collage and its’ ability to call attention to the mediation of its’ production.
More specifically, I make colorful collage films, experimental videos, and found footage essays that strive to visually explore histories and movements of resistance. For my experimental animation work, I construct paper cut-out collages which I animate on a multi-tiered system of glass panes, utilizing everyday objects and available materials. In addition to cut-out collage animation, I also work with 16mm found/ confiscated footage, 16mm clear leader, oil paint animation, hand-drawn rotoscoping, and any tangible and palpable animation form I can quite literally “get my hands on.” Recently, I have been exploring ways to incorporate my experimental animation techniques alongside live action film. I also have begun exploring digital animation practices in my own work, and the ways in which the work of “the hand” translates through these modes of production.
Thematically, my films often ask questions about topics of left revolutionary history. Other times my films serve as confrontations themselves, resistance made visual. I am interested in both explorations: film as a tool to re-open, re-discuss, re-discover forgotten or untold histories, and film as a tool of confrontation. Several works of mine also explore the deeply personal, and are more essayistic. I believe that film/video and animation hold an important space of potentiality for artists who want to create visualizations of resistance to racism, exploitation, capitalism, imperialism, patriarchy, and colonialism. By creating visualizations of resistance in my films, I seek to offer visual sparks of encouragement and hope to those engaged in struggle. When I first saw radical feminist filmmaker Lizzie Borden’s beautiful film Born in Flames, I felt encouraged by the women on screen fighting back against sexual harassers. I felt connected to them through their confrontations and struggles. Film as confrontation and visualized resistance is imperative for me in my work because by creating visualized representations of a world in which our impact actually ruptures capitalism and systemic patriarchy and racism, we are given the realization that such a world can even in fact exist and that our political efforts are not in vain, but are in fact imperative.
By primarily using tools that are easily accessible (paper, glitter, crayons, paint, markers, magazines, scissors), I also attempt to call attention to form and accessible practices for filmmakers. Creating film/video works that use tools readily available is important to me because I firmly believe culture should be both accessible by all and created by all. This is also why community engagement and organizing film and animation workshops when I can is imperative to me.
My theoretical interests and explorations include: examining the radical potential of film and animation, the feminist politics of handcrafted cinema, and the politics of distribution and accessibility. In Walter Benjamin’s seminal essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Benjamin states: “The technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence. And in permitting the reproduction to meet the beholder or listener in his own particular situation, it reactivates the object reproduced.” Agreeing with Benjamin, I strongly believe that film’s inherent ability to be reproduced and shared among the masses is explicitly why I choose film/video as my artistic medium for political and personal expression and exploration.