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Oct 7, 2022 at 10:00 am – Oct 9, 2022 at 4:30 pm

Crossing Signals: Animation as Documentary Form

With Sabine Gruffat, Ariana Gerstein, Jacqueline Goss, Lei Lei, Lucy Raven & Ezra Wube

Please note: This workshop will be held in UnionDocs’ new space in Ridgewood!
We’re now at: 352 Onderdonk Ave, Ridgewood,  NY – 11385

Over the course of three days, join Sabine Gruffat (Moving or Being Moved, Take It Down) with other filmmakers and animators creating the most compelling non-fiction animation in the field to discuss and think through various modes and techniques of animation!

This workshop will uncover the powerful visual language of animation to upend its conventional uses in documentary. Looking closely at several animators’ work, we will question and develop animated strategies from Motion Graphics, to Virtual Reality, to Stop Motion, and 2D/3D and illustrated or bricolage methods that enhance structural elements of the documentary form. We will discuss how animators might work with curated collections of photographic or moving image archives, how to use animation to question the authorial voice, how animation might be useful for an interview, and finally how animation can be used as another layer in montage.

Images that are processed and manipulated in animation not only question the truth claims of documentary photography, but allow aesthetic form to become its own truth teller, imbuing images with expressive energy. By exploring animation methods that express the complex and layered experience of bearing witness through collaged, drawn, painted, and lens-based images, we hope to expand the documentary form and current uses of animation within it.

On Friday Jacqueline Goss (Stranger Comes to Town) will discuss documentary in virtual spaces. Saturday will involve a deep-dive into how to use animation to question the authorial voice in stop motion and action animation, and how animation might be useful for an interview, as led by Ezra Wube (Possible World), and Ariana Gerstein (In Glass Houses). On Sunday, Lei Lei (Recycled, A Bright Summer Diary) will discuss how he works with archives and how animation can be used as another layer in montage, and Lucy Raven (China Town, Shape Notes) will walk us through her practice of animation as documentation.

Come spend a weekend exploring various methods of animation, and come away with inspiration and information to guide your own work!

Folks who have animated non-fiction works in progress are encouraged to bring them at the workshop- but participants who have never animated before (but have an extreme interest) are also encouraged to join!

Please note: This workshop will require in-person participation from all participants. Participants must show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination status through paper form, digital application, or the State’s Excelsior Pass. As per CDC recommendations, participants will also be required to wear masks at all times while indoors during the workshop.
UnionDocs will be implementing current CDC guidance available at the time of the workshop to keep this experience safe for all participants. We’ll host a maximum of 15 fully vaccinated participants in our screening room. Please contact us with any questions regarding health and safety.

Any and all questions, please reach out to [email protected].


Open to everyone, though the workshop setting is best suited for documentary filmmakers,  animators, podcasters, journalists, and media artists. This workshop is in person and will be conducted in compliance with CDC protocols.

$350 early bird registration by Sept 30th, 2022 at 11:59PM.

$400 regular registration.

The deposit is non-refundable. Should you need to cancel, you’ll receive half of your registration fee back until Sept 30th. After Sept 30th, the fee is non-refundable.

In order to keep costs down, this workshop is a BYOL, i.e. bring your own laptop. Students must be fully proficient using and operating their computers.

NOTE: To register for a workshop, students must pay in full via card, check, or cash.  After the early bird registration deadline of Sept 30th, course fees are not refundable or transferable and any withdrawals or deadlines will result in the full cost of the class being forfeit. There will be no exceptions. To withdraw from a course please email info-at-uniondocs.org.

In the event that a workshop does not receive sufficient enrollment, it may be canceled. Students will be notified at least 48 hours prior to the start of a cancelled workshop and will be refunded within 5 business days. If we reschedule a workshop to another date, students are also entitled to a full refund. UnionDocs reserves the right to change instructors without prior notification, and to change class location and meeting times by up to an hour with 48 hours prior notice.

Please note: Participants are accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.


Friday, Oct 7: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:30am – 12:30pm: Opening session with Sabine Gruffat
12:30am – 2:00pm: Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm: Documentary in virtual spaces with Jacqueline Goss

Saturday, Oct 8: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:30am – 12:30pm: The Artist’s hand as authorial voice with Ezra Wube
12:30am – 2:00pm: Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm: Animating the Interview with Ariana Gerstein

Sunday, Oct 9: 10:00am - 4:30pm

10:30am – 12:30pm: Animating the Archive with Lei LEI (Zoom)
12:30am – 2:00pm: Lunch
2:00pm – 4:00pm: Animation as Documentation with Lucy Raven

Each day follows this general structure, with some minor variations and substitutions:


First Workshop Session




Second Workshop Session


Wrap Up


Sabine Gruffat is a French-American artist born in Bangkok, Thailand. She works with experimental video and animation, media-enhanced performance, participatory public art, and immersive installation. In this work, machines, interfaces, and systems constitute the language by which she codes the world. The creation of new ideas means inventing new ways of using existing tools, crossing signals, or repurposing old hardware. By actively disrupting both current and outmoded technology, Gruffat questions the standardized and mediatized world around us. She has produced digital media works for public spaces as well as interactive installations that have been shown at the Zolla Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, Art In General, Devotion Gallery, and more. She is also a filmmaker with a special interest in the social and political implications of media and technology. Her experimental and essay films explore how technology, globalization, urbanism, and capitalism affect human beings and the environment. Sabine’s films and videos have screened at festivals worldwide including the Image Forum Festival in Japan, The Ann Arbor Film Festival in Michigan, and Migrating Forms in New York, the Viennale, MoMA Documentary Fortnight, Cinéma du Réel at the Centre Pompidou, and more.

Ariana Gerstein works in experimental and experimental documentary forms. Her films have been screened and awarded prizes at festivals worldwide including International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, European Media Arts Festival in Germany, Media City in Canada, New York Film Festival, SXSW in Texas. She has presented at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, San Francisco Cinematheque, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, Pacific Film Archives in Berkley, and other locations. Her work has been awarded grants by New York Council for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship. Her experimental docs- Alice Sees The Light (a poetic meditation on light pollution) and Milk in The Land (an essay film on attitudes towards milk consumption as a mirror on evolving American values) were nationally broadcast on the award winning P.B.S. series P.O.V. (Point of View). She teaches at the State University of New York at Binghamton in the Department of Cinema.

Jacqueline Goss makes movies about scientific systems and how they change the ways we think about ourselves. Her two most recent works are “The Observers” –a feature-ish length portrait of a weather observatory on the windiest mountain in the world and “The Measures” – an essay film and artist’s book made with artist Jenny Perlin about the history of the metric system and “invention” of the meter. A native of New Hampshire, Goss is a 2008 Tribeca Film Institute Media Arts Fellow and the 2007 recipient of the Herb Alpert Award in Film and Video.  Goss teaches in the Film and Electronic Arts program at Bard College in the Hudson Valley of New York.

1985 Born in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, Lei Lei is an experimental animation artist with his hands on video arts, painting, installation, music and VJ performance also. In 2009 He got a master’s degree in animation from Tsinghua University. In 2010, his film This is LOVE was shown at Ottawa International Animation Festival and awarded The 2010 Best Narrative Short. In 2013 his film Recycled was the Winner Grand Prix shorts – non-narrative at Holland International Animation Film Festival. In 2014 he is the Jury of Zagreb / Holland International Animation Film Festival. and he was the winner of 2014 asian cultural council grant. In 2017 he works in CalArts Experimental Animation program as Faculty. In 2018 he invited for New Academy Member for the Short Films and Feature Animation branch. In 2019 his first feature film Breathless Animals has been selected by Berlinale Forum.

Lucy Raven (born 1977) is originally from Tucson, Arizona. She lives and works in New York City. She received a BFA in studio art and a BA in art history from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 2000, and an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 2008. Her work has been exhibited in solo presentations at Wiels, Brussels, Belgium (2022); Dia Chelsea, New York, USA (2021); Serpentine Galleries, London, UK (2016–17); Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio, USA (2016) and more. Select group shows include those at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, USA (2018–19); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA (2013);  and more. Her work is featured in the 2022 iteration of the Whitney Biennial, curated by David Breslin and Adrienne Edwards. Raven’s work appears in public collections around the world, including Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate Britain, London; DIA Foundation, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum, New York. Later in the spring, her work will be included in a group exhibition entitled A Divided Landscape curated by Neville Wakefield at The Momentary, Bentonville, Arkansas. Additionally, Raven’s work was included in the 2012 Whitney Biennial, New York; 2016 Montreal Biennial; and 2018 Dhaka Art Summit, Bangladesh. With Vic Brooks and Evan Calder Williams, she is a founding member of 13BC, a moving-image research and production collective. Raven teaches at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York.

Ezra Wube (b., Ethiopia) is a mixed media artist who lives and works in New York. His work references the notion of past and present, the constant changing of place, and the dialogical tensions between “here” and “there”. His exhibitions include the 21st Contemporary Art Biennial Sesc_Videobrasil, Brazil; The 2nd edition of the Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, France; “Gwangju Biennale”, Gwangju, South Korea; and more. His residencies, commissions, and awards include the Michael Richards Visual Arts Award, LMCC, New York, NY; Smack Mellon Studio Program, Brooklyn, NY; Pioneer Works, Brooklyn, NY; and more. Ezra received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA, and an MFA from Hunter College, New York, NY. Since 2015 Ezra has organized Addis Video Art Festival, a platform for innovative international video art in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Ezra Wube is represented by Microscope Gallery, NY, NY.

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Oct 7, 2022 at 10:00 am
Oct 9, 2022 at 4:30 pm


352 Onderdonk Avenue
QUEENS, NY 11385 United States
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