Every artist understands the unique combination of pain and triumph that goes into the act of creation, which has sometimes been compared to childbirth. In her new short illustrated film “Birth,” Amelie Hegardt emphasizes the similarities between the two, placing at the center an androgynous figure who at first painfully and then joyously grows a phallus. As a metaphor for life’s most drastic changes, “Birth” blends both comedy and tragedy, at once triumphant and distressing, but always hopeful. “This particular time, I was getting more into humor,” Hegardt says. “Seeing life through some rather tragicomic state, I felt this unpredicted desire for humor. In a way, it’s a defense mechanism, but it also made for a different relationship between me and the work.”

Composed of dancing lines of ink, “Birth” was presented this weekend as part of the Video Art & Experimental Film Festival at New York’s Tribeca Film Center and marks a shift into video work for the fashion illustrator. Taking inspiration from William Kentridge, Louise Bourgeois, and Pina Bausch, Hegardt found power in the “beauty and the devotion of the craft of drawing frame by frame,” she says. “I work in silence but there is so much melody and rhythm in the actual process.” By turning the phallus into a representation of artistic output, Hegardt reinvents and reinterprets a figure of male dominance for a new age. “The phallus as a symbol has been used for centuries,” Hegardt explains. “I’ve put it in my own context.”

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