Jiro Visits the Dentist Jiro Visits the Dentist

In this ongoing series, we profile the most interesting independent animation filmmakers working today — the artists who, through short films and other projects, change our ideas of what the medium can do.

This week’s subject is American animator Gina Kamentsky whose camera-less, abstract pieces combine technical innovation with frequently absurd, comical, and saucy storylines.

In a sentence: Kamentsky’s work is a mixed-media buffet of found sounds and images with a comic, often absurdist sensibility; heck, it’s a rare thing: abstract animation that’s entertaining and even funny!

Where to start: Jiro Visits the Dentist (2014). This audio-visual sound collage seems to have something to do with a visit to a dentist, a German phone operator, and a dream about Prince. It doesn’t really matter though; just sit back and enjoy this splendid sensory dream feast.

What to watch next: Spank Shot (2017). Kamentsky combines her usual blend of wit and technical boldness, this time delving into the absurdity of hockey fights. Using archival footage and featuring a soundtrack composed of Kamentsky being spanked, Spank Shot transforms these juvenile, testosterone-driven, and occasionally staged slug fests into a graceful, impressionistic choreography.

Other key works:  Tracheal Shave (2016), Stunting Cunts (2020), If You Say Something, See Something (2016)

Influences: Sun Ra, Ernie Kovacs, Sally Cruikshank

Says: “I adore the limitations of working in a small field size. The process goes really fast and I can work intuitively with no planning. Because the frame size is so small I have to reduce everything to essential movement and strip out all the detail.”

Currently working on: Kamentsky’s latest film, the nude musical Sed Saepe Cadendo (2021), screened at the Festival Stop Motion Montréal and the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Pictured at top: Jiro Visits the Dentist

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Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson is a writer and Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF). Robinson has authored thirteen books including Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation (2006), Ballad of a Thin Man: In Search of Ryan Larkin (2008), and Japanese Animation: Time Out of Mind (2010). He also wrote the screenplay for the award-winning animation short, Lipsett Diaries.

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