His idea of beauty: Interview with Terence Nance, director of An Oversimplification of Her Beauty

Still of Terence holding Camera

Are you familiar with semiotext(e), the avant-garde, “punk-rock” publisher that introduced french theory to America? No? Don’t worry, most people probably are not. But they should be. Semiotext(e) publishes books that are at times bursting with self-indulgent introspection but that often push and provoke new ways of understanding the world we live in.

I ask this because An Oversimplification of Her Beauty is somewhat like a semiotext(e) book in cinematic form. It is a film that is also a theoretical exploration of love, or, perhaps you could say it is an erotic exploration of theory. It’s an animated, acted, dreamed, framed formulation of the effects that the behavioural mask of masculinity, desire, blackness, creativity, fear etc. has on the idiosyncrasies of romantic love.

Sound much? Well it is. But it’s much in a delightful, tantalising way. I was filled with a warming smile watching the film. And you don’t want to miss the animations in this movie for the world. I’m beaming just thinking about this one scene where the talented director/writer/actor Terence Nance is depicted as a minimised cartoon version of himself in the palm of his XXL size lover. This scene is a delicious poetry about unreciprocated love.

I asked Terence Nance to share what comes to mind when he hears the following seven terms: Beauty, Africa, Love, Feminism, Creativity, Masculinity and Ambition. Check out his responses below and don’t miss the movie. It’s showing at these times if you are in London.


Beauty – My mother, My sister, My niece, the wind, feet, ruby’s drawings, sleep, why don’t I get enough sleep? I should sleep 7 hours tonight.

Africa – How I can’t stand when people refer to “Africa” as a singular destination or place. like, “I’m going to Africa” or “Africa is great”. The continent is so vast and diverse culturally, geographically, and energetically that reducing it to a singular “place” always irks the shit out of me.

Love – Is ruining simplicity and doesn’t care what you think about her. Love is making my life more complicated. I don’t believe or trust people who say they have never been in love. I think of them as the same as people who have had the same booger in their nose for the last two months. Get a tissue and liberate that bad boy please.

Feminism – Womanism, the women around me, mostly women of colour, refer to themselves as womanists as well as feminists. Because I was just having a conversation with someone in the military about how rampant rape and misogyny are in the military, the word makes me think about how “high stakes” and essential feminism is as a worldview.

Creativity – Reigns (in an alternate universe). I wonder if everyone is creative in a world that does not value creativity. Do we not value creativity because most people are actually not creative and abhor it or envy it in the small minority of people who possess creativity? Do I live in a bubble in which everyone is creative? (I do live in some kind of bubble, the exact nature of it is yet to be determined)

Masculinity – Is a construct built by self hating homophobes. Some of whom are lovely people. Also my wife is kind of masculine but she still likes it when I carry her to bed when she falls asleep on the couch.

Ambition – My ambition is to leave the world having changed my culture for the better, and having tried my hardest to do so every moment of every day.


Did you enjoy the interview? Have you seen the film yet?

Find out where to catch it here

  • LaKai

    Very encouraged to watch the film! Love the title. Thoroughly enjoyed the interview… “feet” in response to Beauty had me rolling… I’m often made fun of because I’m constantly pulling my feet out of shoes to cross my legs or feel my toes.

    I’m especially encouraged to watch Terence’s film after a very brief exchange today with a photographer friend, about the essential role of photoshop in today’s world of photography. My lovely friend commented that photoshop is quite necessary because “it’s just not that pretty when you see less-than-white teeth and eyes”. I disagree that reality is less beautiful than corrected presentations because I think the consumer culture in the overdeveloped world is disgustingly mesmerised with glittery, trimmed and “perfected” versions of reality. So “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” sounds like an intriguing spin on “beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”.