Jodie Baltazar is a multi-disciplinary artist whose works encompass music, performance, film, social practice, and sculpture. She has consistently explored ontological themes, specifically the role and status of the human being, human-animal-plant-machine relationships, and the consequences of human development, especially in its Western guise, on the rest of the world. She is interested in hybrid beings, outliers, and outsiders and what these figures reveal or hide about our perception of natural and social orders.
Jodie played in numerous experimental Chicago bands including Fleshy Hollow, Math, Dot Dot Dot, and Duotron through the 1990s. From 1996-2003 as a musician-performer known as Monotrona, she created eight one-woman shows in which she sang, danced, and performed as a series of nearly-human characters or ‘superbeings’ (an alien, a primate, a god, a machine, a monster, a superhero, a giant, and a ghost) in self-designed costumes and sets.
Jodie worked for quite some time, though not restfully, as a project manager, information architect, and creative director in interactive advertising and marketing.
She turned to filmmaking in 2004 and earned an MFA in Film Production from the University Of Southern California in 2008, with a focus on directing, producing, and screenwriting. She has produced two narrative feature films, a documentary, and numerous shorts. She has also written and directed several experimental and animated pieces. This work has dealt with the body and its “atavistic” connection to the natural world, consumption and consumerism, as well as the role of play and games in society. In 2010, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Poland to investigate notions of scarcity and abundance in communist and post-communist Polish animation.
Upon settling in Poland, Jodie took another turn toward social practice and from 2011 to 2015 undertook numerous film and eco-social projects which examined “wildness” in the urban environment, social and cultural notions of space and community, natural processes (composting, soil, wild plants), and the use and transformation of public space in the post-post-communist landscape. Jadalnia Warszawa, a collective she co-founded with activist curator Paulina Jeziorek, explores and maps Warsaw with the goal of getting to know its wild edible plants and secret, green places. Their book, Głodni zielonej Warszawy (Hungry for Green Warsaw), published in October 2018, was in a sense a culmination of these investigations and was awarded a Magellan Prize in May, 2019.
Since 2016, Jodie has increasingly embraced materiality in her work. She has a growing body of figurative sculptural work using natural materials such as wood, glass, metal, cork, cotton, linen, wool, leather, suede, plant resins, beeswax and other non-traditional materials such as kombucha and hair. Since 2019, she has also given a few dance performances and was one of four actors in the avant-garde play “Staff Only”. The play premiered in 2019 was awarded the grand prize at the New Theatre Festival in Rzeszów. It is currently in hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She has taught courses in film directing and producing at the international division of the Warsaw Film School since 2017 and also works infrequently as a freelance animation producer, most recently on a 2018 Emmy-nominated science short