[WATCH] “Thirsty,” a New Short from Writer Katherine Bernard

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The internet can make a person feel brain dead. The clicks are all too satisfying and the visual pleasures are consumption at it’s least-intimate, most-fantastical, unsatisfying, always-an-almost.

New York-based writer Katherine Bernard ventures into video with her new short, Thirsty. The film successfully provides a satire through which we can examine the absurdism within fashion-speak and offers us a comic look at the addiction that is this insatiable desire for that ephemeral “something.”

To be totally honest, the video–with its (appropriate) title, “Thirsty”–reminds me of a time I spent a solid 4 hours of drunken online shopping and ended up finding the most perfect affordable brown leather jacket from–of all places(!)–American Eagle.

What a fortunate drunk shopping bender! I’ve actually never shopped under the influence of anything except maybe anxiety. When I worked in an office I used to keep eBay windows open on the side.

Yeah, I think that’s actually the good side of having a dialogue while shopping, is–if you have a trusted partner–you get an answer to your shop-drunk brain’s “Do I need this?” But I feel everyone has their online shopping ‘yes-women’ and their ‘no-women.’ I am a ‘no-woman’ for most of my friends.

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Ha, I didn’t necessarily mean the alcohol– but I feel like there’s almost a sense of intoxication in the way that our minds turn off with online shopping and just sort of go into this blank place of click-click-click.

I think (that) scrolling on different sites does give one the sensation of falling, drifting past all these windows…

How did the idea for your video come about?

I was staying with my friend Rachel Antonoff and she was actually online shopping with another friend of ours. They were going on a cruise together and looking for swimsuits and sandals and reading the names aloud. And I was half listening and realized their dialogue sounded like a warped list poem; “liberty Harajuku paisley with liberty ricardos blooms” was one of the lines–it just said nothing. So I started recording them.

Also, I write about fashion a lot–I’ve gone on rants about things being labeled “boyfriend” or “boy” and this was a good set up for undercutting that a bit too. Like, women’s bathing suit bottoms that are non-string bikini are labeled “boy leg”–things like that. The branded gender expression in clothing is pretty stupid to me.


Director Katherine Bernard

There’s a certain fashion-based wording that people don’t even think about– like the connotations don’t register at all to most people.

I think you get used to it. I just wondered if subconsciously it limits identity in some way. But on a linguistic point, I like that sometimes the words actually say nothing about the thing they’re supposed to describe. Somehow the cadence and feeling of the words describes it.

I always identified with specifically feminine clothing; I wear a lot of skirts, dresses- I always needed people to associate me with femininity. I think I was always afraid of things like “boyfriend jeans” even if they actually looked better than the jeans that were more typically “feminine.”

Exactly! You’re like, this is labeled “femme” so it is or is not for me.

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Were you in Marfa when the idea was conceived?

No, I was in New York. But I had the trip to Marfa planned and I wanted to make a short there; and the landscape suited the concept–the ultimate joke is that they’re in the desert. So, where are they going? What do they need? It’s borrowed from the Prada Marfa installation.

I guess I was also thinking about what women take away from internalizing all of this language, and I wanted to explore that through comedy. Also, you know, just make something.

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 11.06.33 AMActresses Thessaly la Force (left) and Ryann Bosetti (right) with director Katherine Bernard (center) “pretending to be in a band called ‘Marfa Stewart'”

Is this video associated with (the Marfa-based artist residency) The Tropics?

Well, Ryann Bossetti–one of the actresses in the video (the other is Thessaly la Force) and Alec Friedman are building up this great artist residency in Marfa. So, I stayed with them and Alec was a genius location scout–I came into town and he immediately brought us on a golden hour tour of all these yards and abandoned spots. I wish I had the camera skills to capture all the beautiful light, but next time I’ll have pros with me.

Was this your first time directing?

I was the co-founder of a digital reading series called Henry Review, and we filmed authors reading their workspace. So, I learned a little bit about directing doing those.

Did you enjoy the experience? Is directing something you want to do more of?

I loved it, there’s more in the works.

text by: Hillary Sproul

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