By: Edrie
February 26, 2010

Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook
Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook

Multimedia artist BriAnna Olson grew up in Sherrard, Illinois (Population 700) where she balanced a life as academic overachiever with socialite in the local punk rock scene. Her dichotomous beginnings led her to be just as much executive as artist, producing music videos that have premiered on MTV/Logo, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Spin, and People Magazine’s websites.

Edrie: You’ve produced many videos and facilitated art for others, what made you focus on Ghosts as a piece of your own work?

BriAnna: In early 2009, I had a nearly soul-crushing experience when a major producing job I’d been working on for months was canceled. The blow was not only financial (oops, no contracts signed), but also emotional– if I was always in the backseat, then it was always someone else with my life in their hands. I knew it was time for my own vision to take top priority– even if my bank account suffered.

By that time, I’d been producing & facilitating for over 5 years– enough time for me to give myself an imaginary Ph.D. in the creative process. It was clear I was ready to take all the lessons I’d learned from the many artists I’d worked with– and graduate.

Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook
Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook

Edrie: What inspired the story of Ghosts and in what forms will it be presented?

BriAnna: There were a few forces in play.

In the wake of the aforementioned financial debacle, I saw Trent Reznor in an interview for and he mentioned having created a film festival in conjunction with Nine Inch Nails’ instrumental album Ghosts I-IV. The album itself is stunning and not only does Reznor play a major archetype in my purview of the world, but my buddy Brian Viglione also played on the record (which has now gone on to be nominated for a couple Grammys). So, instantly I decided my next major creative goal would be to create a mythology in tandem with the album.

2009 also marked the 50 year anniversary of Butoh (“dance of darkness”), a physical performance art founded in Japan just after World War II. I’ve always been quite smitten by the form and the way it marries a photogenic elegance to the macabre. Butoh’s quest to extricate the pure life, pure expression that lies dormant within our bodies became the natural foundation upon which Ghosts was built.

All of this combined with the recent revelation that (to my surprise) I had become severely camera shy (likely related to spending years hiding behind others’ work) – suddenly meant I was writing a story that I would both perform and produce.

The story itself exists as an epic poem and is slowly being revealed to the world in motion-picture form.

Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook
Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook

Edrie: What kinds of things are you working on next?

BriAnna: I’m working on getting a few film projects off the ground as well as completing new experimental video series Darkheart. Additionally, I’m planning a return to Iran for a followup to a previous experiential documentary project I spearheaded in 2008 called Send my Love to Iran.

Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook
Ghosts Still – by Noah Blumenson-Cook

BriAnna Olson has shown her work in group shows at Biennial Tehran, Boston Underground Film Festival, CMJ Music and Film Festival and Brooklyn Academy of Music as well as Takt Kunstprojektraum in Berlin where she held a residency in Autumn of 2008.

BriAnna plans to return to Tehran this year to continue her Send Love to Iran project where she explores a new form of citizen media by viewing and reporting on Iran through the eyes of a contemporary American woman.

Her latest work is a video for musician Julia Brown

Pieces of the Species directed by BriAnna Olson from the album Strange Scars {available on iTunes} Julia Brown


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