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jason cortlund

My creative output over the last 15 years has focused on film and video—experimental shorts, multi-channel installations, and more traditional narrative pieces of different lengths. I’m currently completing post-production on my first feature-length film, Now, Forager—about second-generation European Americans who hunt for mushrooms around New York City. [To view 2 experimental shorts and Now Forager trailer go to ]

I would say that there are two major intersecting themes that inform the work I make—the first is “environment” and the second is “family”.

…Both of these key preoccupations that inhabit my work (family and environment) are in some way related to my heritage as a second-generation Italian-American. My paternal grandfather—Joseph Colacicco—emigrated from Puglia in 1918. As he described it to me, his family came from three villages outside Bari—Bitritto, Loseto, and Sannicandro di Bari.

I was born Jason Colacicco (Oakland, California, 1971). Because my parents both worked to support our family, I was raised largely by my Italian grandfather until I was old enough to attend school. I grew up with a large Italian-American extended family, speaking some Italian at home, eating the foods, and observing many customs and holiday traditions from the Old Country.

After a dispute between my father and his parents, my father changed our family name to “Cortlund” and moved us from California to rural Oregon in 1985. At age 14, I went from living in an urban Italian-American community with a conspicuously Italian last name, to a very small farming town where there were really no defined ethnicities. My extended family of cousins and aunts and uncles was gone. And it would be several years before I would see my grandfather again.

It’s a very strange circumstance to try and communicate. My work as an artist offers the best (but nowhere near complete) explanation. I’m still working to untangle my own process of Americanization. It’s still somewhat of a mystery to me—and there’s a major piece of information that’s missing.

I have never been to Italy. I’ve had it in my mind to come for many years now (specifically to the South), not as a tourist but to reconnect with my family’s place of origin as an artist. To explore what it means to be from a place that you’ve never seen. It’s a situation not unlike those circus animals from Interstate—creatures born in captivity who have never seen the savannas of Africa, only the parking lots of America—and yet their native essences still pulse in every twitch and movement.

I’d like the opportunity be part of Lo Studio dei Nipoti Calabria Resident Artists Project for a stay of one or two months if possible—to see the landscape, to meet other artists, to write, to shoot, and to see what happens next. Because environment and family are both critical factors in my work, I think there are the great possibilities for inspiration, discovery, and my development as an artist.

Jason Cortlund: Production still from the film Now, Forager; 2012 (release), HD, feature-length narrative Directors: Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin; Writer: Jason Cortlund

Jason Cortlund: Production still from the film Now, Forager. 2012 (release), HD, feature-length narrative. Directors: Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin Writer: Jason Cortlund

Jason Cortlund: Still image from “Interstate (part one)” 2006, 6:00, experimental video. Directed by Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin. Camera: Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin, Editing: Jason Cortlund

Jason Cortlund: Still image from “Interstate (part two)” 2007, 5:00, experimental video. Directed by Jason Cortlund & Julia Halperin; Camera: Jason Cortlund; Editing: Jason Cortlund

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