In his 1962 essay entitled “White Elephant Art vs. Termite Art,” film critic and lecturer Manny Farber states, “Termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss art goes always forward eating its own boundaries, and, like as not, leaves nothing in its path other than the signs of eager, industrious, unkempt activity.”
Whereas white elephant art seeks to draw attention to itself, termite art is process-oriented. The termite is not concerned with praise, rather it ravenously moves forward without consciousness of self nor others. It is dogged and determined. It is brave.
My goal is to make a termite film. And to do so, I need to remain focused on my creative process and instincts. The moment I begin to wonder what others might think about my film, I turn into a white elephant. I create not freely, but bound by popular opinion and the lowest creative denominator.
The point is not to abandon craft and cinematic technique. Even the termite abides by the laws of its own nature. Rather, my aim is to utilize craft and technique in a personal, passionate, and persistent way, eager not to please others, but to satisfy my insatiable hunger to create captivating, honest, intelligent and beautiful films.
Every day, as I work on different elements of Girlfriend 19, I must keep the termite in mind and eagerly eat away…