Janie Geiser is an internationally recognized visual/theater artist and filmmaker whose work is known for its sense of mystery, its detailed evocation of self-contained worlds, and its strength of design. An Obie-Award winning director, Geiser has made a significant contribution to the field of contemporary puppet theater for two decades through her innovative original performance works. Geiser's experimental films are ”as extravagantly beautiful as they are difficult, and as allusive as they are elusive” (Cinemascope, Spring 2001). She began making films in 1990, first as an element of her performance work, a practice that she has continued to expand. In 1994, she made The Red Book, her first film that was meant to exist outside of the performance realm.
Janie Geiser’s original theater works have toured nationally and internationally, and she has been recognized with numerous awards, including an Obie and a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Henson Foundation, and others. She was awarded, with Vic Chesnutt, a Creative Capital grant for the early development of Josiah Meigs and Me, and received a 1998 Pew/TCG National Theater Artist Residency Grant. Geiser’s works have been presented at The Public Theater, The Walker Art Center, A.S.K. Projects and MOCA in Los Angeles, Dance Theater Workshop, PS 122, LaMaMa, and other venues. Her diorama performance Evidence of Floods was presented to sold-out audiences at Los Angeles’ Museum of Jurassic Technology in 2002. Her full stage work, Invisible Glass, produced the Center for New Performance, premiered at Redcat in Los Angeles in May 2005. Invisible Glass integrates film and puppetry with live actors, an original score by Los Angeles composer Tom Recchion, and a script by playwright Erik Ehn. Geiser recently collaborated with fellow L.A. film/theater artist Susan Simpson on a toy theater performance, Frankenstein: Mortal Toys, also from an Erik Ehn script. Frankenstein: Mortal Toys has been presented in progress at the Museum of Jurassic Technology and the Velaslavasay Panorama in Los Angeles, and will have its New York premiere in January 2008.
Geiser’s films have been shown at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Her short films have premiered five times (1996, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004) at the New York Film Festival. Other major showings include the Toronto International Film Festival, the Rotterdam International Film Festival, four San Francisco Film Festivals, the Hong Kong International Film Festival, the London International Film Festival, ALIVE TV, REEL NY, and other PBS venues. Her film The Secret Story was chosen by Film Comment’s Gavin Smith as one of the Best Short Films of 1996, and The Fourth Watch was on his list of the Best Short Films of 2000. The Secret Story was screened in 2002 on the Sundance Channel. Geiser received a Rockefeller Fellowship in Film for Magnetic Sleep, a black and white film that centers on woman hypnotist. The first episode of Magnetic Sleep premiered at the Getty Museum in October 2006.
Geiser was awarded a COLA (City of Los Angeles) Fellowship in the Arts for her installation The Spider’s Wheels, which was exhibited in Los Angeles in spring 2006. The Spider’s Wheels draws on ideas and imagery from the early Serial Queen films, which centered on stories about female heroines in life or death situations. Geiser's designed puppets for Jessica Yu's documentary film Protagonist, which premiered at Sundance, and has its theatrical release in winter 2007-8. Geiser is also a nationally recognized illustrator whose work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. Her book The Tornado Treaty is in the Artists Book Collection of the Museum of Modern Art, and three of her films are in MOMA’s permanent film collection. Geiser moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1999, where she teaches at CalArts.