In his new full-length documentary Ink & Linda, writer, filmmaker and director Stuart C. Paul has captured the essence of two very different Los Angeles based artists; dancer, choreographer, educator Linda Lack, now in her 70s and the 28 year old Vietnamese American urban street artist Inksap (aka Brandon Lam). This incredibly moving, informative and entertaining film will have its world premiere March 5, 2022, inside the Helms Design Center with additional screenings in this landmark Culver City building March 6, 11, 12, and 13, 2022. These screenings will be followed by a Q&A with the artists and an intimate movement demonstration of the artistic process. Tickets are now on sale.
Ink & Linda will have yet another screening two weeks later on Thursday, March 24, 2022, as part of the opening night of Dance Camera West’s 20th annual festival at 2220 Arts & Archives (formerly known as the Bootleg Theater). For more information, please click HERE.
After having an advanced viewing of Ink & Linda I had the opportunity and pleasure of conducting an interview on Zoom with Linda Lack whom I have known since the late 1970s and Inksap whom I just met. For purposes of this article I will refer to them as Linda and Inksap. In the film we learn how these two met and I will not give that away as it is quite an intricate and wonderful story in itself, but I was curious as to how the making of the film came about.
Inksap plastered Lack’s studio plate glass window with his art. She thought it was wonderful, but because putting up street art onto public buildings is illegal, Linda had a hard time convincing Inksap to respond to her emails. When he finally did, the two felt an immediate bond. Neither knew what the other did and so they began improvising together: Linda moving and Inksap drawing. The year was 2018.
“As you know, drawing movement is really hard.” Linda said. “But he (Inksap) draws movement, and it really moves when you look at it.” She is right, he does capture Linda’s movement extremely well. Linda also said during the interview that Inksap moves while he draws.
The two began working together in Linda’s studio on South La Cienega Blvd. and it was not long before Inksap invited her to join him while he was installing his artwork at night on the streets of Los Angeles. At first Linda was nervous about doing this as she is in her 70s and Inksap in his 20s and she knew that there might be climbing up onto the rooftops of buildings or facing the possibility of being caught by the police “defacing” public property. Linda is, however, an artist, a rebel and someone who has for years been making impossible things become a reality.
As well as being a dancer and choreographer, Linda works in the field of Movement/Yoga Therapy and in 1970 created The Thinking Body–The The Thinking Body-The Feeling Mind® Mind® (TBFM), which she describes as “a comprehensive movement technique that has been recognized alongside Pilates, Feldenkrais, Bartenieff and Alexander Technique as a contemporary movement training/healing method.” One of her clients is filmmaker and writer Stuart C. Paul knew that their story was very unique and needed to be told. He approached the two artists and Ink & Linda was made.
When I first saw Inksap’s work during the film, I thought of Robert Rauschenberg, so I asked him where he learned the technique of making silk screens and then putting them onto paper to be pasted on the walls of buildings and other street structures.
“I did not go to art school, although I did have some formal training at junior college, but I was trained under a few mentors. The most influential one was Rolland Berry. He was a huge fan of Rauschenberg and would talk about him for hours..”
In the documentary Inksap puts a beautiful drawing of a woman with Vietnamese writing above it on a tower-like structure atop a two or three story building in downtown LA. He has to avoid being seen as well has carry his artwork, an expandable brush, and a bucket of glue. On this night, his efforts were successful and as he looked at it from the street, Inksap smiled and said, “Now that’s a Heaven Spot”
“Yeah, it’s not Godly at all,” he explained. “It is a high place on the top of a building or structure. Generally, when it is on the top of a high building, it is called a Heaven Spot.”
Some of Inksap’s work is inspired by his family members, his ancestors in Vietnam as well as by the movement that Linda creates. Watching him create his art onto the paper that he secretly applies to city walls is another interesting element of Paul’s documentary.
There are wonderful parallels between Linda and Inksap that one learns about during the film. For example, Linda’s father was a doctor and during the 1960’s worked on the medical ship know as HOPE which completed 11 voyages between 1960 and 1973, traveling to Indonesia, South Vietnam, Peru, Ecuador, Guinea, Nicaragua, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Jamaica, and Brazil. He was aboard that ship when it was forced to leave Vietnam as war broke out. It was this same war that forced Inksap’s family to flee Vietnam and relocate to the United States.
Another parallel that Linda points out in the film is that the relationship between what she does as a dance artist and what Inksap as a street artist is really the shared art of choreography. She makes a dance, finds a place for them to be performed, arranges for them to happen while struggling with financing and other practical elements along the way.
“What we do together in the street is choreography,” Linda stated. They make the art, drive around the city in their truck to locate a place to install it, case the area to be sure it is safe, scale the building, install the artwork and then leave. “It all has to be well choreographed,” Linda says in the film. During the interview Linda said that she often acts as a decoy while Inksap cases the area.
Inksap speaks of receiving a real adrenaline rush from putting up his art. It is not the danger of doing it that gives him this feeling, but the act of having his art there for all to see. Linda explained that for her what they do is Performance Art. “You don’t know who the audience is going to be, right,” she said. “And part of the adrenaline is that they might be the police!”
Back in the 1960s Linda was part of Twyla Tharp’s pick-up company and she compared what she and Inksap do to performing Tharp’s work in New York City’s Central Park. “Some of the people walking in the park just kept going like nothing was happening,” She explained. “Some wander through the people moving. Being in the streets putting up art is a lot like that. You never know who is going to be there. Some people get angry. They don’t think that we should be doing this!”
Linda went on to explain that before Covid, one elderly woman walking by stopped, looked at the art and then bowed to her and Inksap. “I introduced her to Inksap and told her that this was the artist,” she added. “She bowed again to Inksap and then continued on her way.”
Just like what dancers and actors experience onstage when something unexpected happens, Inksap related how often someone or something alters what he had planned. On the spot, he is forced to improvise and continue working with the hand that has been dealt. Lack has performed for years in front of live audiences, often working with elaborate face masks. She explained how once she put the mask on, she would wait for the character of the mask to dictate what movement she performed. Lack’s work is often political, as with the pieces known as Mia Culpa, performed during the era of George H.W. Bush, and Spirit Wolf, a work eliciting care for the wilderness, its animals and indigenous peoples.
One gets to see footage of Linda performing alone in the desert with only the camera as her audience. We learn that once she was performing in the wilderness alone, as she likes to do, when she suddenly realized that she had an audience of several deer. Another time Linda performed inside a stream bed at the Georgia O’Keeffe Ghost Ranch wearing a bright green unitard with Balinese finger extensions. The effect is magical.
The film follows Inksap to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam when he traveled there to visit family. Just like he does wherever he goes, Inksap risked his safety by installing his artwork on walls and the sides of buildings.
The two artists apply for and are accepted at an arts festival in Budapest, the capital city of Hungry where Inksap’s work was shown in a gallery for the very first time, and the two gave an impromptu demonstration of how they work together making art: Lack dressed in a unitard moving slowly on a concrete floor and Inksap on the floor next to her drawing her movements.
Lack stated that she advised Inksap that he should not wear black in Budapest because he might be mistaken as a Neo-Nazi, but being who he is, Inksap continued to wear black, and even though it is extremely illegal to put up street art in Hungry, the “street art duo” ventured out at night and did so anyway. Why not, right?
“Wherever I travel or wherever I go,” Inksap said. “I always have art by my side and take the opportunity to put up art and do whatever I can wherever I go.”
The film shows a bond between these two artists who are separated by nearly 50 years in age, which is extraordinary. They share laughter and tears of joy or gratitude throughout the time we share with them. I asked if they are still working together and if that bond has changed.
“I’ll say that it is even more now!” Inksap said with a huge smile on his face. He explained that there were the joys that they experienced in the past and that the ones they experience now have grown to an even higher level. “We have been working together for what is actually a short time, but in another way feels like forever. It’s hard to find other artists that one can work with out there.” It is clear that these two were meant to join forces.
Their kinship sits outside the conventional norms. Some see what they have as romantic and others see them as friends. They too, are often surprised at how they met and what they are doing together. Linda calls it magical.
“We have changed clothes on First Street in the middle of the night together!” Linda laughed.
My final question during interviews is always what they would like to say that has not been discussed that they feel readers should know about their events. Linda was very adamant about her statement so I will let her speak in her own words.
“When I started going out onto the streets with Ink and there we were putting up art, I realized that you could tell that down below, there were people on the cement below during the night, that people were living there, right underneath where we were putting up art.” Linda said. “It suddenly hit me that our working relationship brings art to all kinds of human beings.”
She told the story of one man who told them that he chose where he put his bed at night because it would be underneath the art that they had put up. “We are bringing art to people who don’t have the price of a ticket to a museum or within the highfalutin artistic culture,” Linda continued. “We are bringing art to people who sleep in the streets, people who walk their dogs at night and it intersects all kinds of socio-economic backgrounds and artistic cultures. And I care deeply about that!”
Credits for Ink & Linda include: Director, Stuart C. Paul; Producer, Stuart C. Paul and Heather Mathews; Editor, Heather Mathews; Original Music, Mandy Hoffman; Cinematographer, Stuart C. Paul; and Executive Producer, Frank Kam Lee.
WHAT: World premiere of Stuart C. Paul’s documentary film Ink and Linda.
WHEN: March 5, 6, 11, 12, and 13, 2022 6:00 – 9:30 pm
WHERE: Studio A inside Helms Design Center – 8745 Washington Blvd., Suite A, Culver City, CA 90232.
TICKETS: Free, but guests must reserve tickets HERE.
Each nightly screenings of Ink & Linda will be followed by a Q & A, an artist reception, and a live and intimate demonstration revealing Inksap and Lack’s artistic process.
WAIT THERE”S MORE: A few weeks later, on Thursday, March 24, Ink & Linda will screen during the opening night of Dance Camera West’s annual screendance festival held that weekend at 2220 Arts & Archives (2220 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90057) at 7:00pm. Tickets are $15 (or $100 for a festival pass). For tickets and more information, please click HERE.
Ink & Linda is a feature-length documentary chronicling an unexpected friendship and collaboration between two strangers — Inksap, the 28 year-old son of Vietnamese refugees, and Linda, an elder stateswoman of the modern dance scene in her 70s — as they team up to form LA’s most unlikely street art duo. Crossing the boundaries between generations and cultures, their friendship defies the conventions of art and society, exploring what it means to be an artist in today’s world.
To learn more about Linda Lack and The Thinking Body – The Feeling Mind®, please visit her website.
To learn more about the street artist known as Inksap, please visit his website.
About the Director
Stuart C. Paul graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with a degree in Writing for Film and Television. He has worked for 15 years as a screenwriter, collaborating with such acclaimed directors as Takashi Miike, Anton Corbijn, and Roland Emmerich. He has also sold projects to companies all across Hollywood, including MGM, Universal, NBC, STX, and more. His original screenplay, Yasuke, was included on the 2021 Black List, the film industry’s annual honor roll of the most acclaimed, unproduced film scripts of the year.
In 2014, he stepped behind the camera, writing and directing the award-winning comedy short The Lord Of Catan starring Amy Acker and Fran Kranz. He is currently in pre-production on A Boy Called Lee, which explores the issues of juvenile justice, truancy, and gun violence through the lens of Lee Harvey Oswald’s time spent in a New York juvenile psychiatric facility. He is also in pre-production on Infernal, a feature-length horror film that examines the concept of the devil through the lens of self-actualization and mental health. Ink & Linda is his first documentary feature.
Also an acclaimed comic creator, Paul’s graphic novel Ides of Blood (which reimagines the assassination of Julius Caesar by vampires) was published by DC Comics. The series was nominated for three CBG (Comic Buyer’s Guide) Fan Awards, including Best Writer.
He is represented by Paradigm and Circle of Confusion.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: Scene from Ink & Linda – Director/Cinematographer: Stuart C. Paul