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INDEPENDENT

WOMEN’S CINEMA Special Edition HALEH JAMALI ALENA MESAROSOVA MELISSA CAMPBELL FRANCESCA BADEA EMMA SYWYJ KATE TATSUMI SYLVIA TOY ST. LOUIS NATALIE ANASTASIOU AKIKO NAKAYAMA ALEXANDRA ROBSON Someone who is not like anyone, 2007 video loop, 3:00 minutes, color, stereo, for single channel projection

A work by Haleh Jamali


cINEMAKERS W O M E N

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Contents 04

Alexandra Robson

122 Emma Sywyj

26

152

Akiko Nakayama

Francesca Badea

50

170

Natalie Anastasiou

Melissa Campbell

74

188

Whatever is Touched is Spoiled

Alive Painting

Add A Line

Sylvia Toy St. Louis

Screen Test: Part One

Without You I’m Nothing

Still Life

Alena Mesarosova

Sequence 13

The Birth of Mars Generation

100

214

Kate Tatsumi

Haleh Jamali

Pussy Face

The End of The Beginning


Women Cinemakers meets

Alexandra Robson Lives and works in New York City, USA

As an artist I’m interested in both film and photography, in making series of still images as well as making short films. In my work I try to blend genres and styles together, and reference different mediums such as theatre, literature, cinema and found footage. I’m interested in finding new in-between styles, such as combining documentary with magical realism. My current concern is taking unearthed histories and connecting them to the present day.

An interview by Francis L: Quettier and Dora S. Tennant

pleased to introduce our readers to Robson's multifaceted artistic production.

womencinemaker@berlin.com

Inspired by Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, is a stimulating experimental film by British lens-based artist and commercials editor Alexandra Robson: inquiring into the relationship between our inner sphere and the outside reality, she demonsrates the ability to capture the subtle dephts of emotions. This captivating film offers an emotionally charged visual experience, inviting the viewers to unveil the ubiquitous beauty hidden into the details of our everyday life experience: we are particularly

Hello Alexandra and welcome to : we would like to invite our readers to visit and we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having graduated with a BA (Hons) in Film & Literature from University of Warwick you nurtured your education with a Post Graduate


Alexandra Robson (photo by David Pexton)


Diploma in Fine Art, that you received from Chelsea College of Art: how did these experiences address your artistic research? Moreover, does your address your artistic research? Well, I suppose studying film at Warwick gave me a critical eye to analyse films and exposed me to a wide array of different sorts of films - like 1970s American Independent film, Film noir and the French New Wave. Literature allowed me to explore a longer history of storytelling and trace the evolution of styles. Going to Art College after that was quite a switch - it was more about abstraction and experimentation. I then worked professionally in film commercials for 10 years, which has its own voice and form. I like to try to borrow and blend from all these different worlds and find new styles in the in-between. As for my wider cultural background, I grew up in London and have always been really interested in cities and their histories, how they’re melting pots. Maybe that’s also influenced me in being drawn to exploring new combinations. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting experimental video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Inspired by Tennyson's , your video

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Women Cinemakers escapes from traditional narrative form to pursue a sensorial richness rare in contemporary cinema: when of walking our readers through , would you tell us what attracted you to this story? Tennyson wrote the poem in 1833, and I think on one level it’s about voyeurism, and I wanted to explore that aspect of it in a modern visual style. Many of the Pre-Raphaelite artists painted the Lady of Shalott. I first knew of the story because of the John William Waterhouse painting that hangs in Tate Britain - when I was 8 it was one of my favourites. Then I read the poem as a teenager and found the story curious. It’s about woman who hears she’s trapped by a curse. She’s forbidden to leave her tower or look out of its window, so she just sits and weaves what she sees via a mirror that points to the window. One day she sees a Knight through the mirror and can’t resist looking at him directly. She looks and invokes the curse. She leaves the tower, gets in to a boat, floats down the river and dies. As a story it’s quite mysterious in its omissions - we don’t know where the curse came from, if it’s real or imagined, or why she dies at the end. In one way I saw it as a metaphor for how we all frame our world, that we see everything very subjectively, a frame within a frame, and that there are challenges to how we control the way we see. Then I started to think it could also be about artistic ambition. The Lady of Shalott weaves what she sees, she’s


an artist. Perhaps Tennyson was thinking about creative isolation, or even that romanticism and perfectionism can ultimately be self-destructive. When I discovered that he had revised and republished the poem 10 years after its first publication, it made me think that the writing of it was a very intimate pre-occupation. Each shot of is carefully orchestrated to work within the overall

structure, balancing realism to expressionism: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? I wanted to combine a naturalistic feel with stylised dreamy imagery. Natural light was important to show the mirror’s reflections, and in the darker mirror shots, a sense of illumination and jewel tones, greens and ambers. I used a Canon 50D DSLR and attached


vintage prime lenses. Having a small light camera made it easy to shoot everything in a documentarylike way. I knew loosely what sort of shots I wanted, but often slowly hunted for them by trying out many different set ups with the mirrors. I also used a projector in the dark mirror scenes. The projector acted as a second camera. I shone my footage on to the mirrors, and then filmed the reflections. The poem itself is about reflections and shadows, and each shot of the film is made up of reflections and

shadows. I found that the effect of using so much refraction softened the focus and made the colors bleed in a way that felt dream-like. We have highly appreciated the way your film challenges the audience's perceptual parameters to explore , your film provides the viewers with a unique multilayered visual experience: how do you consider the relationship


between reality and imagination within your process? Really important. I wanted it to feel naturalistic at times, in the editing style and the sound design, and then fantastical in others - in the colours, the turquoises, deep blues, magentas, the kinds of colours you see in petrol and scarab beetles. At times I wanted to emphasize the clash between reality and imagination - for example, sometimes the onscreen text and the music work against the feeling of the imagery. Having the recurring visual of Tennyson’s hand scribbling words down also grounds us to the reality of where all this imagery comes from. Featuring brilliant camera work, has drawn heavily from the specifics of its environment and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the environment and the subtle movement of the human body: how was your editing process and how did you balance the combination between elements from the environment and references to human body? All you really see of the Lady of Shalott in the film is her eyes (usually only one at a time) and her hands. She uses her hands to move the mirror. In the poem she is a weaver, weaving a tapestry, but I changed that to have her manipulating the mirror itself. I wanted to create the sense that she was changing the angles, hunting for new

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views. Film editing is so often intentionally invisible, unnoticeable - but in the film I tried to make the cuts quite obvious. The sound of scraping glass accompanies many cuts. The mirror and her control of it is sort of her movie camera - she is the director. So that’s how her hands work in relation to her eyes. Tennyson’s hands work in a different way, they write. He is only hands and words. She is only hands and eyes. I found it interesting to divide her body up in this way, to hide her and fragment her with the mirror. But also on a practical level it was easier to control, as I was filming myself, holding and concealing the camera the whole time! As for the outside environment, at times it’s offscreen and audible, other times we see glimpses of the elements, wind, water, the seasons changing in the trees. Your film seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that : are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations? In particular, How open would you like your works to be understood? I think what’s important for me in terms of audience reception is that the work feels open to interpretation, rather than transparent. I’d like my works to resonate


with people in varied ways. The poem The Lady of Shalott has been interpreted in many different ways, and I hope that this film in turn allows for that. Reminding us of , we daresay that your film could be considered an effective allegory of human experience: how does everyday life experience fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories you tell in your films? as a subject in itself. I loved I’m interested in watching films from an early age. If the imagery was interesting and well put together I would get lost in it, often to the sacrifice of the plot. I was also always very interested in thinking about the way my visual imagination looked, how my dreams looked, how my memories looked. Thinking of my mind as a sort of internal projector. Studying film critically, practicing photography and working as a film editor - have all influenced my enchantment with looking. I tend to be more drawn to making work by exploring aesthetics and atmospheres, and slowly unpick the ideas and themes from there. Marked with a captivating minimalistic quality, the soundtrack provides the footage of with such an ethereal and enigmatic atmosphere: how do you consider the relationship between sound and moving images?

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Women Cinemakers


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It’s one of my favourite things, playing with different combinations of sounds under shots and cut points. I wanted some parts of the film to sound almost underwater. The sounds we hear when we are looking at her, are different from the sounds we hear when we share her perspective, and different again from the sounds we hear from the narrative perspective. I wanted these shifts to help to define the different viewpoints. So for me sound is very important in building a sense of environments, and the music helps set the tone for the audience. I used lots of classical music in different ways, sometimes playfully, sometimes dramatically. The film is sort of like a silent movie. There is no dialogue. The Lady of Shalott is mute - the narrative is mainly communicated via onscreen text. Because there are fewer elements I wanted the musical score to have a heightened role in signaling emotion, tone and pace. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the ability to with the viewers, who establish are urged to from a condition of mere spectatorship. So we would like to pose a question about the nature . Do you consider ? And what do you hope to in the spectatorship? To some this poem is very familiar, to others it’s completely unknown. So I approached it via a simpler


story of Tennyson’s revisions to the completed poem. It’s about someone revising something - I think that’s very relatable, and considering it was after almost ten years, quite intriguing. I saw these revisions as an entryway into the story of the poem itself, and from there I would hope it offers the viewer space for many different responses and interpretations. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Alexandra. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Having essentially just made a silent movie I’m excited to be using people and voices in a new piece I’m making. I find DIY filmmaking appealing because it allows the time for personal experimentation - I like Agnes Varda’s description of her cinema as Cinécriture, almost as a personal form of writing. The film I’m currently working on is in some ways concerned with unearthed histories connecting to the present day, and I’m particularly interested in trying to blend documentary with magical realism.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


Women Cinemakers meets

Akiko Nakayama Lives and works in Japan

Alive painting – it is a live performance / live cinema of dynamic changing picture and sounds. During the performance, people concentrate on altering beauty of blending paints and philosophical meanings. Alive painting is an abstract metaphor of various aspect of nature through the use of colors and fluidity, and attempts to celebrate the moments of beauty amidst the ephemerality of life. Life has different wavelengths. So, I create work of art with various materials and forms of media to capture each passing moments. The colors and fluidity could touch the each memory and imagination of each audience. The meeting of 2 colors represents the dance of Yin and Yang.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Hello Akiko and welcome to Women Cinemakers. We would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a MA and a BA, that you received from Tokyo Zokei University. How did this experience inform your current practice? As well, how would you describe the influence of your Japanese roots to your vision of art in general?

After passing the basic entrance exam test of oil painting and drawing I chose Tokyo Zokei University 's Fine Art Conceptual Art Course as my field of study. This course invites students to explore ways of integrating arts practices with thought. The university gives you an empty space to work in and that is where you start. Students produce their own layouts, buy the wood, even make desks and install walls. Paper, sculpture, photography, video, printmaking and poetry were among the media and areas I explored and focused on in my first year.


Haruka Akagi

Photo by Haruka Akagi


Women Cinemakers From the very beginning, one of the main questions that kept coming up was whether a painter can express their own concepts using techniques other than 'oil on canvas'. It was the experience of making a place of creation out of nothing (from scratch) that made it a nexus for artists’ aggressive experimentation and activity! In the master course, I learnt about Goethe’s color theory as well as semiotics. With one shape, whether it is round, a circle, or a sphere, or any other, I started to see a work of art from a more objective point of view. This included an objective reviewing of the roots and sources of Japanese art. One interesting aspect of Japanese art is the idea of "an empathy for the inevitable passing of all things”. Accepting the phenomena of change encompasses and understanding of its inherent beauty. Fusuma paintings and hanging scrolls take natural sunshine and moonlight and change how they look. This is with the paintings, and also site-specific installations. And, like a picture scroll, I empathize with the way a story with a long time axis relates to circulation drawn within, and that there is a structure called time included in the work. In ink painting, thought is entrusted to invisible water, and it – thought or water or both - is formed by ink… It is an idea which is practically practiced even now. As for "color", Japan has so many experiences. In the Edo period, the Shogunate forbade colleagues from using colors, as colorful colors are luxuries. However, the townspeople had a sense of humor and spirit to get around the gray zone of the law by renaming all colors ‘gray or brown’ as, for example ‘red gray’, ‘blue brown’ and so the people could continue to enjoy color.


Photo by Haruka Akagi


Photo by Haruka Akagi


Women Cinemakers I think that these aspects of Japanese culture are interesting and influence my arts activities and actions. My stance is to accept the phenomena of transition and this posture helps me break the tension of the current situation with a bit of humor and wit. You are a versatile artist and your practice involve a variety of media including installation, photography and performance. We have really appreciated the captivating multidisciplinary feature that marks out your approach. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite our readers to visit the website http://akiko.co.jp in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production. In the meanwhile, could you tell us what draws you to such a captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you chose a medium to convey the ideas that you explore? There are times when I fantasize if Johannes Vermeer lived in modern times what kind of media would he choose. As Camera Obscura was developed and there was oil painting, Vermeer probably chose that medium - painting. I was already born in an era surrounded by various techniques and cultures. I am naturally reaching out for a way to use a camera, a sound, a painting. It is something like using a spoon for soup or using a fork to eat a piece of cake. There is always pleasure in the nature and color of liquid - the axis of the work. As time is captured, the scenery and the impression of it are different according to the media I use. Also, it can be said that reality has so many elements. From motifs with lots of inclusions like rain, I choose what kind of beauty I want to share, and select the medium as an extension of the body, and pick out the time I want to catch it


Photo by Haruka Akagi


Women Cinemakers

using the body as an extension of this. Like a pencil, charcoal, water color, oil painting, it is a way of drawing, but using various media. However, at the same time as being an artist, craftsmanship and technique are also very important. Raising the techniques of my base 'drawing', looking at what I want to draw with the media as an extension of the body. The experimental movie ‘Alive Painting’ has a lot of possibilities and potential to explore. For this special edition of Women Cinemakers we have selected ‘Alive Painting’, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention in your successful attempt to depict the resonance between shapes and textures is the way your work invites the viewer to celebrate the ephemerality of life. How did you conceive the practice of ‘Alive Painting’? How do your works take birth? "Celebrating the ephemerality". This is a truly accurate expression. I have a range of experiences related to this from my childhood. The transparency of water droplets on the petals of azalea, the shape of raindrops, the ice of a winter day, the color change of the stem of a dandelion, and the height of the child seemed mysteriously large. One by one. One of my primal childhood experiences related to the aesthetic sense, recalled in elementary school calligraphy lessons.

The teacher made a lot of corrections to the calligraphy I wrote, in part that this was not beautiful. This may have been a necessary part of foundation teaching process. However, that moment came afterwards. When washing the brush, I felt that the ink flowing in the water is very beautiful, even more than the calligraphy which is said to be beautiful. At that time, I noticed that the value was reversed, no longer was the beauty in a place that is not said to be beautiful… And that is how I got my point of view. Even now, I am attracted by the changes that pass quietly in my everyday life. I think I notice it most in my everyday drawing. Attractive paintings made with coffee and milk, the color of ripe changing pears, the textures of rusted doors on a beach, and so on. As you have remarked once, you are interested in the beauty of the boundary between two colors, whose meeting represents the dance of Yin and Yang. Could you tell us something about this interesting aspect of your artistic practice? How did you develop this idea? "Boundary" is one of my big interests. When something touches something, it shows the original behavior of each substance. There are as many combinations, as countless as the number of encounters, each reacting uniquely, and the story starts to move. My work has both joy of birth and the farewell of loneliness.


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However, I want to draw the dance of Yin and Yang. I recognize that both the positive and the negative exist equally. Both are not always superior, and existence of the opponent such as "yin" or "yang" (static / dynamic, light / dark, heaven and earth, good and evil etc.) cannot exist only on one side. Also, its bipolarity has created unique and beautiful shapes in the interacting. I would like to explain the overall situation as being like a landscape painting and still life. And the relationship between two separate things is also a common theme that all people can identify or make a metaphor with. For me, this point of view that leads to various things is the smallest but also the biggest dramatic event! You are particularly interested in the interaction between a wide variety of materials. The art critic and historian Michael Fried once stated that 'materials do not represent, signify, or allude to anything; they are what they are and nothing more.' What are the properties that you search for in the materials you combine? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between traditional and non-traditional materials? Actually, I use not only paint but also soap, shampoo, sand‌ However, I only uses things that work as metaphor or symbols. I use materials as a kind of paint. When I used real plants in the installation at Tsukuba international open-air artist in residency, I used the fractal structure of fern plants as a symbol. While using actual leaves as leaves, I aimed for an illusion of scale change. However, in


Women Cinemakers


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the work ‘Still Life’ I recycled the wastewater after for Alive Painting. The information that "it is drainage" has meaning. And, "The work has changed beautifully now" was important. In this way, the 'information' of the material itself may also be treated as a structure. From the perspective of tradition, I am also selecting materials with the attitude of using the structure. Alive Painting does not particularly use semantic information that it is a traditional material in particular. I am seeking encounters between the viscosity of various physical and chemical structures. They include specific gravity, the fineness of grain, color, oil, water and so on. However, traditional materials and colors often have ancillary meanings deeply related to the cultural construction of the land. Phoenicia's shellfish for example equates with wealth, a noble color. And when going into the land - field walking - I try to think about the potential impression that the content and contextual suggestion that a specific color is given by association. Again, in this way, I think that as a piece of information, any person can identify whether it is a traditional material or whether it has local significance for its symbols of colors. More recently you have acted using a colour-organ system called “Fluid2wave”. Could you tell us something about this captivating technique? In the past, many colorists, even Isaac Newton, studied the color and sound, applying color to a scale. And some scholars have made instruments where colored water jumps when an


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

organ is playing. I wanted to use real connections in a similar but different way, blue bass, red chorus, at the beginning of my solo performance. I asked the programmer 'ayafuji' for cooperation and he asked me to create a system 'that instantaneously converts the color signal I drew into a sound signal. Although the research was very interesting, I wanted to make the harmony of visual and sound rather than having red images and red sounds appearing at the same time. Now, based on that experience, I mix sounds and colors more freely in my performances. During the performance, people concentrate on the altering beauty of blending paints and philosophical meanings and we have appreciated the way your approach challenges the viewers' perceptual and cultural parameters. How do you consider the relationship between perceptual reality and the realm of imagination? Moreover, how important is it for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order for them to make elaborate personal associations? Color has so many optical and psychological effects, and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe studied this in detail. In addition to the characteristics of individual eyes, the colors seen are different depending on a person’s memories and cultural background. The same can be said about symbols. So, before choosing paints, I basically take into account that the country's historically important symbols and what colors are associated with a particular image. It is a necessary part of avoiding being insensitive or ignorant. As long as it incorporates a handling of the symbolic meaning of color. It is like a conversation with friends.


At the time of a performance, storytelling is occurring without anything being told. However, I am not able to decide the leading role and the supporting role so easily as director. The way people receive the image is like a mirror of that person's life. For me, one tiny grain of lame (which is a supporting role) has the possibility of being the hero of the story for that person. I escort the guests to the front of the work. However, in order to spend time with the work in the end, the artist does not need to be on the spot. I am very happy if there are various secret beauties in each imagination. Sound plays an important role in your performances and it to accompany the digital projection of the live color painting, to provide the film with such immersive atmosphere. How do you select the audio background for your performances? In particular, how do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? In the most recent work, I did a 40 minute solo with silence. Even if it is silent, you can hear ambient sound. It was like seeing a picture in a museum and it was a very meaningful opportunity. There is already tone, rhythm and composition in the picture, so it can be said that the work is satisfactory only with a visual dialogue component. And with that experience, I once again realized the pleasure and role of using sound in my performance. As I mentioned, with the color organ, it is a huge pleasure to mix the color of the unfolding picture with the color of ambient and constructed sound. Pictures and

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Women Cinemakers


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sounds have distinctive features, and we accept stimuli with our body organs, our eyes and ears and even skin, but it is inside the head of the viewer that the image as a work can be formed. I would like to MIX various information entered by each sensory route into the viewer’s imagination and I want to complete the picture. Even though I deal with sounds, there is a reason here for being a painter. The sound also functions as paint. For example, even if the same white color appears, Sound can be tuning. Sound can be the impression of color. Sound can be cold white or warm white. Over the years you have performed in several occasions around the world, including your recent participation in the Biennale Nemo / LE CENTQUATRE, in Paris, and your solo exhibition Still Life at Art & Space cococara, in Tokyo. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to actively reflect on the themes that your explore in your artworks. So before leaving this interesting conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? As you know, there are the thought tendencies specific to language, whether written or spoken. There are also words that are unique to the land and environment as, for example, it is said that in Japan there were nearly 400 words representing ‘rain'. We no longer use as any


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of these words, but the amount of words we do use is still large compared to a country without a rainy season, and it is still natural to feel each kind of rain delicately. In other countries, I think that there is the same delicacy of sensory range and unique to the languages of other parts of the world. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Akiko. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? This year, I will travel to Spain, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Belgium, Netherlands, Korea and Taiwan, enjoying the opportunity Alive Painting gives me, learning about the diverse cultures of many countries, conversing a lot and thinking to draw a picture. I want to deepen my understanding of the scientific and cultural aspects of color and fluid dynamics, and to evolve my work. Once long ago, merchants travelled along the Silk Road and connected Japan to the world’s cultures‌ I think it’s good to be at one with the culture flow. If you are interested, please check my website at http://akiko.co.jp. Thank you. An interview by Francis L, Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Photo by Masabumi Kimura


Women Cinemakers meets

Natalie Anastasiou Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

My films decontextualise and dislocate archival video footage in order to form untold narratives. Archivists are no longer neutral, impartial collectors of history but agents assembling a collective memory and socially constructing human identity. By manipulating archival footage with modern technology I am bringing it into the present and commenting on the close relationship between authenticity and artifice, the ambiguous entanglement between biography and mythology, the fine line between documentary and drama in our present age. I am also highlighting the fact that in many decades our society remains the same in its social anxieties and rituals. Bringing these archival clips into the present demonstrates how little has changed between our past and present social identities. In that way, concepts are appropriated from culture, from fictional memory, to become, in my work, sardonic theatrical displays, “when the real is no longer real, nostalgia assumes its full meaning� (Baudrillard, 1994).

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BA (hons) in Fine Art from Norwich University of the Arts, you nurtured your education with a MA of Fine Arts, that you received from

Hello Natalie and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we

the prestigious Chelsea College of the Arts: how did

would invite our readers to visit

these experiences inform your current practice as an

http://natalieartandevents.co.uk in order to get a wider

artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum

idea about your artistic production and we would like to

direct the trajectory of your artistic journey?


Whilst studying for my undergraduate degree I mainly focused on painting as a medium and had a particular interest in portraiture and the individuals narrative. As I progressed onto my masters degree a tutor suggested that my narratives may not be best described through static images. I began to experiment with sculpture and installation and realised that each concept deserved its own set of mediums whether it be paint, film, installation or all three. I began using film as a medium when I became particularly fascinated with archival imagery of art education and its lack of female representation. Quickly my focus shifted from the technical side of art to the conceptual, and I began to approach films as creating small essays; Stitching together various representations of women throughout art history. Art school gave me the freedom to experiment and the freedom to fail. It allowed me to explore experimental cinema and refine my editing skills. Stylistically my films are paintings in motion. I paint with fragments of footage taken beyond their native time, to create social snapshots punctuated through history. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Add a Line, a stimulating video project that our readers have already started to get to know and that can be viewed at https://youtu.be/bj69b7OkBb4. Originally created as part of an immersive installation, your film has impressed us of its insightful inquiry into the concept of the social construction of creativity and for the way you have provided the brilliant results of your artistic research with consistency and autonomous aesthetics: when walking our readers through the genesis of Add a Line, would you walk us through the genesis of this stimulating project? How did you develop the initial idea? This piece acts as a diary; the diary of a female artist desperately attempting to manoeuvre around clichĂŠs of the past. We follow her

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Women Cinemakers journey of self-reinvention as she struggles to harmonise her creative ambitions with social expectations. The archival footage explores the social construction of creativity through art education and the enormous obstacles in the way of women's entry into the male dominated realm of art. The wall between the personal and public is removed and all that remains is a mile of flickering memories. This project evolved from a frustration and a realisation that our society hadn't progressed very far from the way in which we viewed males and females in the art world. There was still a lack of equality and this became very apparent whilst studying my for my masters degree. In order to show this lack of progression I wanted to use outdated art education footage that glamorised and romanticised the creative industry. The film quickly became a narrative and I found myself piecing together fragments of forgotten footage to create a universal narrative that could relate to female artists. The gaps were filled with cliché clips from old Americana infused films featuring a confused portrayal of women attempting to navigate a male orientated world. As the film unfolds, the montage of archival fragments depict a portrait of an artist through a series of clichés, stereotypes and tragedies. These idealised stereotypes of women I found in advertisements and films only reinforced the narrative I was piecing together. The narrative of “Add a Line” talks in metaphors, using symbolism, stereotypes and powerful imagery. The moulding of the face at the beginning showing how we are moulded by society and its expectations of us. The child trying to take back power but being caught again in the vicious circle of puppetry. The female on the stage trying to be independent but having to sell a part of herself. The chaos and glamour of the industry. The frustration with her own work. The social demands of her as a woman and as a wife. Feeling trapped by these obligations. The realisation that she has a choice.


We have highly appreciated the way your approach to

I approach film making much like one approaches a puzzle, I

found footage unveils the ubiquitous connection

start off with a selection of clips and attempt to piece them

between personal sphere and collective memory,

together so they make sense as a whole. Classical editing

encouraging the viewers to create personal narratives out

connects the scenes together. The imagery and symbolism

of your work. How do you select the footage you include

faintly overlapping and connecting from one scene to the

in Add a Line? And how did you structure the editing

next. I assemble pieces of time, composing together

process in order to achieve such powerful results?

narratives that both embrace and critique the power of the


archive. I maintain an experimental approach to montage

ambiguous for the viewer to “add a line� and continue

and narration that compels the viewer to participate in the

writing the story.

story telling. The power of existing footage is endless, by liberating a clip The cultural structure of the way an audience can view a film

from its original context, you can allow it to have a whole

is limiting, typically offering a beginning, a middle and an

new meaning. The text of the film relies entirely upon the

end. I too use this traditional structure but leave the ending

recontextualisation of history's debris.


The past remains obdurate, but our memories about the past are still mouldable, tangible and changeable and therefore our identities are changeable. If our history forms our image of self then if we can change the view of history we can also change as a society. We have really appreciated the way you your effective use of archival footage urges the viewers to question our maleoriented art scene: over the recent years many artists, from Martha Wilson to Carolee Schneemann have explored the relationship between the culture’s expectations about what women are supposed to be. Not to remark that almost everything could be considered political, do you think that your exploration of the enormous obstacles in the way of women's entry into the male dominated realm of creativity could be considered political, in a certain sense? What do you hope your spectatorship will take away from your research? Add a Line and Paper cuts interrogate the social and political structures of an art world and its branded commodity. However, I don't wish to determine my audiences conclusions but instead trigger my audiences curiosity and get them to continue the discussion beyond the screen. Disrupting an outdated romanticised view of artists and reimagining the difficult journey of a female creative. When I piece together found footage I try to find an underlying truth of past buried under the distorted spectacle of moving image. Revealing to my audience that all archival footage is open to interpretation, can be easily manipulated and when recontexualised can adopt a completely new guise. Also demonstrating that since the rise of the technosphere personal memory has become collective. We daresay that your work captures with dreamlike autenticity the complex structure of creative process and in this sense the journey of self-reinvention you initiate the viewers to, could be considered an allegory of human experience, in the daily

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Women Cinemakers struggle between the pressure of outside culture and the discover of our inner landscape. Do you agree with this interpretation? Moreover, how does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? The content of “Add a Line� was inspired by my own creative journey as I attempted to navigate around cultural pressures of the institution and create my own path as an artist. I believe fine art is about personal expression but I'm constantly re-evaluating my position in the entanglement of art and commerce; Questioning if the modern day artistic drive has been absorbed by the commercial industry in a society fixated on self and wealth. Forcing modern day art audiences to question how something attached to the enterprise of profit over meaning can appear so authentic in its artistic creation Many of us view art as being completely detached from commercialism, as it is meant to address aspects of our collective being and thus reveal truths to us we may have previously overlooked. However, in our contemporary culture the persona of the artist has begun to overshadow the art-making itself and is becoming a cult of personality. In my film making process these absurdities of everyday life and social issues have been recycled and reused as raw creative material. The outdated views I unearth in archival footage translate perfectly into modern day humour. Playful and humorous elements can be used as a tool to disarm a viewer from whatever preconceived scepticism they may have, and engage with insights more openly. Every experience I have is an ingredient that I add into my creative cake. The challenge is to filter out the personal experiences; stopping the urge to decorate the cake completely. In order to reach a wider audience you have to leave some


Women Cinemakers ambiguity. Not just asking your audience to eat the cake but also to ice it. Your practice often deviate from standard videomaking and your videos enhance the communicative potential of the images that you manipulate: how would you consider your videomaking style? In particular, what is your opinion about the importance of experimental video as a medium in our media driven contemporary art scene? Technology in the 21st century has given us permission to use the platforms and tools available to us, including our own identities, in order to create a brand for ourselves which allows us to both simultaneously conform and undermine art world hierarchies. Archival footage has the incredible capacity to take you back in time, yet strangely bring into focus modern events. Audiovisual culture has the ability to educate us by giving us a collective memory that was never our own and the power to take the past and recycle it as a critique of the present. Experimental video making possesses the potential to explore the space between our online and offline persona's. Highlighting the huge gap between our analogue and digital societies and representing time and its duration. I believe every new work we share with our audience can contribute to a better understanding of our place in the world. Provoking a better comprehension of our own identities both online and offline in our digitally focused society and putting us in a position to be able control what we project into existence. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your work endeavours to interrogate the close relationship between authenticity and artifice: in this sense, we could say that your artistic research responds to German photographer Andreas


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Women Cinemakers Gursky's statement, when he remarked that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something. How much importance does play for you the chance of triggering the spectatorship cultural substratum in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? How open would you like your works to be understood? The language of art has always blurred the boundaries between fiction and reality without ever having to declare it. As an audience we are conscious of the fact that everything displayed before us may be fiction, however this does not stop us from becoming fully submerged in the illusions that confront us. Despite our awareness of these fabrications, value and truth still emerge to us through man-made paths. These productive fictions that the art world is host to are not merely created for entertainment but in order to reveal a hidden truth that cannot surface until placed in an invented environment. This invention enables the artist to explore and move past their own limitations and in the process overcome the obstacles that society has placed before them, simply by creating a new path around them. The freedoms that art allows its artists and that artists allow themselves are constantly challenging past, present and even future notions of self-hood and authenticity and are beginning to question pre-established concepts of the artist and work of art. The personal journey of every viewer determines my film beyond the confines of the screen and by placing archival footage into a new context and providing new interpretations I hope my films can in some way redefine my viewer’s social imaginary. Marina Abramovic once remarked the importance of not just making work but ensuring that it’s seen in the right place by the right people at the right time: how is in your opinion online technopshere affecting the consumption of


Women Cinemakers art by the audience? Do you think that today is easier to speak to a particular niche of viewers or that online technology will allow artist to extend to a broader number of viewers the interest towards a particular theme? Digital technology has now made it possible to speak to audiences en masse across the world without ever leaving your home but it has made it possible for everyone. Our minds have become so over-saturated with images that we don't have the time to come to any conclusions before moving onto the next clip. Technology is effecting the construction of self, its impacting our individual memory making and its documenting every single moment of our lives. Archival footage has become romanticised because of the nostalgia that is attached to its aesthetic and the fact it's not as easily accessed. The use of archival footage takes my audience back to a slower pace of life. My films may be short but they span back over decades and having the power to transport my audience from present to past allows them to consider our place in time now. Women's struggle to maintain their identity as both artist and homemaker is still an issue that is present in our contemporary society. The old fashioned female clichĂŠs presented in my film are still incredibly relevant today. Artists from my generation are taking on the responsibility to revisit these old memories and resolve them and this is making people aware of the socially constructed paths that still effect female artists. You are also a curator and over the years your work have been exhibited in several occasions: one of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to establish direct involvement with the viewers. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?


Women Cinemakers

With our constant need for digital stimuli and with so many new forms of digital art I aim to create an experience for my audience beyond the screen when deciding how to present my films for exhibition. For the first screening of “Add a Line” as part of my final masters project I wanted to make something real and tangible that could only be experienced in person. Bringing alive all the senses and becoming an extension of the screen. Over several weeks I created an immersive installation. The theatrical nature of my installation was very important to my audiences interaction with it. My audience was able to make their way through a burnt down artists studio and home, revealing a history of hidden narratives through fictional objects. Eventually making their way to the end of the room where “Add a Line” was being projected onto a large wooden billboard. Staging was an integral part of my process. The simulation as such seems to be self- perpetuating in the 21st century and fuelled by both the artists desire for recognition and the audiences appetite for an archetypal, commodified, destructive artistic identity. This installation endeavoured to interrogate the close relationship between authenticity and artifice and the ambiguous entanglement between biography and mythology. Fundamentally I wanted this creation to prompt my art audience to observe the hidden theatrics that lie behind the scenes of the art world stage and force them to rethink their own political position in the realm of art.

something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Thank you Women CineMakers for these thought provoking questions and this wonderful opportunity to share my practice. I've recently completed a new film called “Life of a Party” which is about the timeline of a party's life from its birth to death. The editing process is similar to that of “Add a Line” but I've transitioned my focus from the creative to the social world. I'm currently fortunate enough to have my short films screened at various festivals and exhibitions but in the future I hope to create a new immersive installation for “Life of a Party”. In the mean time my multi-disciplinary practice continues as a film maker, painter, installation artist and curator as I try to find new collaborative projects to work on. GUISE Collective is an curatorial duo I am currently half of that aims to create a platform of experimental exhibitions featuring multidisciplinary art practices and emerging artists. Taking over a vast variety of venues we create unconventional gallery spaces, injecting art into the everyday and the unexpected. Our aim is to dismantle the traditional hierarchy of the gallery scene, explore the role of artist as curator and focus on the relationship between artist & subject: the personal and the public. All of our exhibitions aim to showcase and support each individual’s creative practice and artistic voice. Ultimately I believe collaboration is what takes us forward in the art world. An interview by Francis L. Quettier

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Natalie. Finally, would you like to tell us readers

and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Sylvia Toy St. Louis Lives and works in the Hayes Valley Neighborhood of San Francisco, California I am a 66 year old, middle-class, African-American housewife who improvises and greenscreens characters (male or female, historically researched, mythological, realistic, surrealistic or fantastic) in my kitchen and livingroom. Except for an occasional intern or follow shots by my husband, I develop stories, design and build sets, do makeup and costuming, create sound/music, and perform postproduction all by myself. I have regularly exhibited internationally since 2008 and I have been a fulltime experimental filmmaker for three years. I studied privately with a documentary filmmaker for 2-1/2 years and interned making promotional and training videos for a nonprofit vocational education facility; I have a B.A. in Art/English from the University of Nebraska. My awards in Filmmaking: Grand Jury Award in L.A. Neo Noir Film Festival and Honorable Mention for Cinematography in Creative Arts Film Festival. Between 1985 and 2010, I was a professional theater artist and a gallery represented sculptor. Between 1979 and 2015, I also dayjobbed as a paralegal. While I prefer to work alone, participating in culture and contributing to the body of human thought is important to me. I not only share most of my movie portfolio, I share my process through pre-production videos and video essays as I develop character, story and design. I think it's important that mature artists, including mature women artists of color, show younger artists, especially women, that whatever they want to accomplish can be done. I particularly hope that I show that work is a natural part of one's everyday life, and not something separate and removed from what's normal. For example, I shot "before chill" on the way home from my paralegal job one afternoon. Shooting on the way to and from dayjob helped keep me healthier and more grounded - it was not a luxury, an extravagance, a special treat or "something extra." My "A Day in the Life of a Soul" videos, while they are greenscreen art and not as straightforward as "before chill," evolved from the same center of gravity as "before chill," which is why I describe them as "exploring layers of perception and awareness" while "a trillion things are going on in your life at the same time, in addition to whatever you are focused on, most conscious of, obsessed with, etc." Mythology, which is at the heart of "Sequence 13," has been a recurring theme in my visual art work. As a sculptor, I was very interested in origins, archetypal images, ancestors, gods and goddesses and anthropological figures like the prehuman ancestors, Lucy and ToumaĂŻ. Nowadays, I keep making movies about creation, birth and regeneration, and deities with conflicting opinions about the value of life. As I am not religious, I truthfully don't know why. I suppose like everyone else, sometimes I seek an explanation of the Universe. I don't believe there is an explanation or that there needs to be. But I'm only human.

An interview by Francis S. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Sylvia Toy St. Louis is an actor, experimental filmmaker and greenscreen artist creating cinematic

theater and video art: in her captvating body of works that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she initiates her audience to highteened visual experience to inquire into the point of convergence between perceptual reality and the


domain of imagination, encouraging crosspollination of the audience. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Sylvia and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a B.A. in Art/English from the University of Nebraska and you later studied privately acting and filmmaking: how did these experiences influence your current practice? In particular, how does your background as a professional theater artist and a sculptor inform the way you relate yourself to videomaking? To be perfectly honest, I came to point after 17 years as a playwright when I stalled, realizing that although I was still growing as an actor, I had reached my limitations as a writer. One day during this time, I suddenly realized that conversations I overheard on the bus were more interesting than the plays I was writing. Found sound. Found text. I immediately bought a tape recorder so that I could collect some of what I was hearing and mess around with it. A few months later I bought my

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first camera. Fortunately, my husband studied filmmaking in high school and he was my first teacher as I learned to shoot while on the way to and from work and collected footage for my first movies. That was 12 years ago; and while my training as a painter benefitted my moviemaking from the very beginning, it wasn’t until the last four years when I began building more and more complicated sets and costumes that I was grateful for all those years as a sculptor and knowing how to make things. Without all those hours spent both onstage and backstage in (mostly) small theater productions, I am not sure I could be so fluent in creating my fanciful greenscreened scenarios, the most recent of which is an alien space shuttle. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected SEQUENCE 13, an extremely experimental video project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/237153603. We have been fascinated with the way its transporting and hypnotic atmosphere provides the viewers with a multilayered visual experience. When walking our readers through the genesis of SEQUENCE 13, would you tell


what did draw you to focus on Central African mythology ? In such a traditional medium as woodcarving, I have always been attracted to totemic images and portrayals of ancestral and religious figures, and deities (Dogon sculpture, Egyptian Ushabtis, Hawaiian protector ancestors, primitive fertility figures, for example). For my last four or five bodies of sculptural work, primarily dealing with burial and afterlife imagery, gods and goddesses and ancestors (both humanoid and mythological), I had to do a lot of research about origin myths. When I began the series of videos that led to SEQUENCE 13, I started where I had left off on that research when I created the characters for my movie Passages, a Myth. That research had led me to very very old myths about African goddesses with superhuman powers and combustible human temperaments. That’s not what I wanted for the creator in my origins movie, however. So I kept looking and stumbled upon Mbombo, who was perfect for what I envisioned: my creator god’s birth in the aftermath of the Big Bang, a newborn without having had parenting or education about its own existence, who, spontaneously, instinctively creates the world by vomiting it up.

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Featuring such brilliant combination between animation and live action, your inquiry into the figure of Mbombo challenges the viewers' perceptual parameters, walking them through a journey that mixes reality and imagination. What were your aesthetic decision when conceiving SEQUENCE 13? And how did you structured your post-production process in order to provide the footage with such consistent balance? There is a concept that is common to all the mediums that I’ve studied and practiced, which has the purpose allowing the audience suspend disbelief and be transported. In acting, I was taught this concept as “specificity;” as a playwright, I was taught “core conflict” and “through line;” and in the visual arts, there is “composition” and “consistency.” All of those are relative to “continuity,” which in my opinion is absolutely necessary for the audience to be able to stay in the story. I try to create strong images using solid technical processes so that throughout the movie, there will be visual specificity in the art direction, story and character specificity, and compositional specificity. Mythology is a recurrent theme of your artistic research: how much important is to draw from


the viewers' cultural substratum to trigger their imagination? Moreover, are you particularly interested to address your spectatorship to elaborate personal interpretation? How open would you like your works to be understood? First of all, I am committed to my work being accessible to anyone in any language. That is more important to me than trying to make anyone see things my way. Second, I believe art does not stop when the project is done. Art continues in the viewer who brings their own thoughts, emotions and beliefs into their relationship with the art. The minimalistic soundtrack plays an important role in SEQUENCE 13 and it sometimes provides the film with such uncanny atmosphere: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that favors visual logic. How do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? In SEQUENCE 13 as in most of my silent movies, the sound comes after the image and is evoked by my emotional response to the images. I am a

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singer who has never been able to read music; but I make music up inside my head all the time and I love and hear music in just about any sound. That’s probably the most selfish aspect of my practice. SEQUENCE 13 eschews traditional narrative to pursue captivating allegoric storytelling: is this the result of a meticulously scheduled shooting process or do you like spontaneity? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? What a perceptive question! What works best for my is a combination of both. Because the tech of greenscreen requires careful planning, the scheduling of the shoot must be meticulous in regard to the design of the action, costuming, props and blocking; but within that plan, I feel I must improvise and be spontaneous in order to avoid contrivance. I myself do not feel being a woman provides my work with special value, but I am often told that it does by other people. I think my view about that has most to do with my introverted POV rather than politics or philosophy - I tend more to look from the inside than the outside.


Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled "before chill": with naturalistic and raw filming style, this video poem inquiries into the theme of aging/the changing of the seasons. Shot in San Francisco's suggestive Civic Center, it's important to remark that the location is your way home: is this decision due to provide your video with an allegorical quality? Yes, very much so. And also to lend honesty to the process. You once remarked the importance of showing that 'work is a natural part of one's everyday life' and we deeply appreciated the way your works bring to high level of dignity the notion of the everyday. To emphasize the need of a bond between creative process and direct experience, British artist Chris Ofili once stated that "creativity's to do with improvisation  what's happening around you". How would you consider the relationship between direct interaction with other people and your creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from perceptual reality? I was an actor in small theater for 17 years. The

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A still from


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audience is still always there for me; and the audience is NOT the camera but the humans who hopefully will view the work. No matter what I have to say or whether I ever meet my audience, I owe the audience honesty, 100% emotional, mental and physical effort and psychological space for their own individual responses to the work. In contrast, I could never have succeeded and stayed mentally healthy as a painter or a poet those practices have always been too lonely for me and I was not able to connect through them. Greenscreen plays a crucial role in your practice and we like the way A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SOUL addresses the viewers to explore the ambiguous point of convergence between the real and the imagined. How does digital techniques fuels your creative process? Digital tech is the most liberating thing that could have happened to me. I believe it enabled me to find myself as an artist and pull all my strengths together into a fluent whole. I am a grounded person with a strong inner life who constantly finds something new and interesting in my surroundings. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SOUL is a reflection of that.


We agree with you about the importance of encouraging younger artists to keep on and create: for more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in filmmaking? Do you think it will be still harder for women directors to have their projects green lit? Given the fact that Weinstein Co. can’t even sell itself, I think there is going to be fear around the mere perception of discriminating against women artists. Too bad, so sad as we say in middle school in the United States. But the boys’ club brought it on themselves, didn’t they? Over the years your works have been screened in several occasions and you recently participated to Black Underground FilmFest and to Hong Kong Arthouse Film Festival. So, before leaving this interesting conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. What are you aiming to provoke in the viewers? And what do you hope the spectators take away from your works? Art makes me free every day.

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I hope some of that freedom is contagious. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sylvia. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I seem to here and there make shorter projects like A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A SOUL and ‘before chill.’ But most of my work is long projects that are long shorts and features that develop over many months or several years. And usually there are two long projects at once. Over the next while, I will be working on DERMALIAN, about an alien culture long after humans that discovers the ruins of the New York Public Library and becomes so enamored of human culture that it becomes all the rage to adopt human form. I’m blogging the movie at https://dermalian.blogspot.com/. My newest project is LELA, CAVE MISTRESS, still very much in character and story development, about an early human in the Holocene Era who leaves her social group over reproductive freedom and strikes out on her own. That’s all I know! Thank you so much for this interview and the opportunity. Cheers.

An interview by Francis S. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Kate Tatsumi Lives and works in Los Angeles, California, USA

My practice in interactive sculpture, video and installation questions and explores feminine stereotypes by utilizing feminist language and irony. By challenging the culturally normative sexualized female body, the work lies between essentialist and constructivist feminism. Using pop culture references and forms of breasts and vaginas, my work critiques the social constructs of gender and femininity. Commercialization and fetishization of the young female body in advertising and the feminine product produced and distributed through the media are important by-products in my work. White feminism and the prominence and problematics of the white female world star in western culture are themes I am exploring. My overall practice critiques the socialized associations with the feminine, explores gender roles and encourages feminist dialogues.

An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com California based multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker Kate Tatsumi's work explores feminine stereotypes in western culture by effective use of feminist language combined with captivating irony. In her experimental video Pussy Face that we'll be discussing in the following pages, she questions the socially constructed embodiment of woman to initiate her audience to challenge the cultural and perceptual categoriesm encouraging a cross-pollination of the spectatorship. Criticizing the socialized associations with the feminine, Tatsumi's work explores gender roles and encourages feminist dialogues, to creates works capable of pushing against the male gaze. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production.

Hello Kate and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a BFA, that you received from Art Center College of Design, Los Angeles: how does this experience influence your current practice? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum address your choice of the themes you explore in your artistic production? I do make a lot of work specifically about living as a women in California. I think most artists are influenced in some way by their immediate environment, some go towards it, make work concerning it, some reject the familiar and leave. My home town of California is a lot of things, existing in a paradoxical space at times. This city so obsessed with beauty, littered with millions of advertisements and shopping is a part of daily life. It’s also host to a thriving sex business that is both revered and worshiped at the same time, not discussed realistically in schools, yet in plain view on every billboard along the 405 freeway. Sex


portrayed in such a fetishized, chauvinistic fashion that bodies have become flat images, no longer individuals. I’ve been conceptually hooked for years. I find so much inspiration here, I am able to both enjoy and critique this place simultaneously. Going to college in Los Angeles, specifically Pasadena, made it possible for me to steep my interests about this state while being close to other artists working with similar and often opposing ideas. I can glean knowledge and engage in conversation with creatives, while learning from our similarities and differences. As a California native I pass those strip club billboards everyday, a women in lace or leather gazing over rows of cars stuck in traffic. I see the dozens of pornography channels on PPV with titles like, “Glossy Sorority Bitch Shows Herself” or “Big Booty In Paradise!”. The makeup section at the local drug store, aisles abundant with thousands of smiling women, each holding a phallic pinkish lipstick watch me walk past. Even on my personal cell phone, ads for 100% cotton tampons or meal prep monthly subscriptions (don’t they know by now I’m vegan?) pop up every few minutes. The advertisements and merchandising of sex is inescapable and invasive. One of my personal favorite sculptures I made is titled California Tit Tub. When I was sewing it I was thinking about hot tubs and when I picture one I think of it sunken into a cedar deck overlooking a wine vineyard in Napa Valley at sunset. California is know for it’s plastic surgery, more specifically, breast implants, homemade in Silicone Valley. The sculpture is an interactive piece that emphasizes the physical experience with the body, and a separation from the inability to physically distance oneself enough to objectify the breast. The round inflatable tub is covered in velvet and filled with hand sewn breast sculptures. The participant is invited to immerse themselves in the tub among the sculptures. The experience in the tub produces a physical pressure on the body. Every part of the body is engaged through the tactility of the materials. Through repetition, the amount of breasts becomes illogical and ironic. The participant is surrounded by the breasts, removing the distancing implicit in the male gaze. The experience in the tub makes the fetish shift from a sexualized removal from the breast to a close encounter. The breasts overpower the male gaze, which has been constantly projected onto them. Tit Tub challenges what’s appropriate through the prominence of the nipples. Breasts in culture are both praised for their beauty, or shamed for overexposure, something to flaunt and conceal at the same time. This is limiting and, offers two mutually exclusive ways to think about female

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

identity and the body. The tub creates a space where the proximity of the sculptures to the body doesn’t allow to the distance associated with fetishization. Though repetition and irony, California Tit Tub shifts the fetishized view of the breast. Besides making work about breasts I also explore themes that I feel allow me to introduce a type of California energy. Themes like pornography, pop culture, beauty standards, sex, girlish objects and the female experience by the beach. Ranging from interactive sculpture to video and installation, your practice is marked out with such captivating multidisciplinary features, that allows you to range from a media to another. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://www.katetatsumi.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: in the meanwhile, would you tell us what does address you to such captivating interdisciplinary approach? I think objects and materials have a great way of telling a story simply by their own existence. By using multifarious materials, I allow them to do the work. To pull history and meaning from multiple positions and art narratives. For an example of this in my work, I made a pink and gold trashcan sculpture titled JK. The sculpture was painted with a base of pink house paint and then stenciled with acrylic and gold leaf. The trash can is an functional piece that is both an art object and real trash receptacle. This sculpture helped me examine the timeline and final culmination of a chaotic breakup. The gold leaf on the vessel itself symbolizes the demanding time and effort put into the relationship before finally throwing it away. In my research for this work I found that the process of pounding fine gold into leaf is known as goldbeating and is extremely rigorous. It begins with a small ingot and then is rolled into a long ribbon about 0.001 inch thick. The ribbon is then cut up into squares and these are placed between sheets of heavy paper and wrapped with sheepskin, then hammered until the squares are 4 inches on a side. After that the squares are cut into four equal parts, repacked between parchment, and beaten again until the leaves of gold are super thin. This painstaking process reminded me of trying again and again to use repetition or force to make something work, trying and trying until our emotional muscles are worn out, defeated and tender. On the front of the can are gold leafed emoji symbols that represent the timeline and ups and downs of the relationship. The emoji’s go from happy/sad/confused/happy/listless in quick succession. The title JK is simultaneously initials and plays on informal speech “just kidding”. A phrase with similar connotations as “I’m fine, ˉ\_( )_/ˉ or I don't care”. All farces that hide how we really feel. This final product of the trash can is a shrine of sorts for the failed relationship that can now have a purpose again. By using all these diverse materials together, each one can escort the viewer towards my intention.


Women Cinemakers

For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Pussy Face, a captivating experimental video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your exploration of feminine stereotypes in western culture, is the way it challenges the viewers' perceptual and cultural parameters. While walking our readers through the genesis of Pussy Face, would you tell what did draw you to focus on this theme? I knew I wanted to create a video surrounding the motif of cyborgs. I had just read Donna Harroway’s Cyborg Manifesto and was thinking about the similarities and differences between humans and machines. While contemplating the kind of cyborg I wanted to create, Frankenstein’s monster caught my attention. By studying the monster I was able to conceive what I didn’t want. The character I wanted in my video wasn’t made by a mad scientist, she isn’t confused or traumatized. She is self confident and aware of her identity. Harroway writes that unlike Frankenstein’s monster, the cyborg does not expect to be saved by man and returned to the Garden of Eden from which they have been removed. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden, that’s not their home, they are not made of mud and cannot return to dust. This description sparked even brighter one night when I was watching the first 1987 Predator movie and began to think about the main character as existing in between part alien, part machine. I looked into Gynoids. A blatantly sexist definition. Also know as a fembot, female robot or synthetic humanoid with female characteristics, anatomy/reproductive organs. A long tradition exists of the construction of an artificial embodiment of a certain type of ideal woman and fictional Gynoids have been seen as an extension of this theme. A contemporary robot, for science or pleasure is programmable by man, they are capable of carrying out a complex series of actions to fulfill the wishes of their programmer. It doesn't take much effort to connect the idea that robots were built by men for men. Perhaps what started out as something for all human kind turned into a fetish. A further perpetuation of patriarchy, hell bent on the suppression of women into a tidy object, a robot who is literally programed to abide her (male) controller. I began to contemplate a few things, firstly discarding the stereotypical submissive fembot. I wondered if the character Predator was male or female, secondly, is there an intentional link between Predator being an alien and also a indigenous being. Finally thirdly, pondering a theory that all aliens in film are female and that’s why men are so terrified and obsessed with conquering them, a theme dragged about throughout the whole Predator franchise. I began to make connections to the Predator character not only being a women but specifically a indigenous women. She’s living her life in her forest home and then all the sudden the sweaty mercenaries are rappelling down from noisy helicopters. She is relentlessly hunted


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers by these strangers in her own forest, much like the Native Americans were terrorized by Christopher Columbus and his bumbling crew. That’s why I included the Pocahontas theme song in the beginning. I wanted to show how the Predator/Pussy Face character to be less of a feminine and Gynoid individual, feminized by the men and show her as more independent and strong. Her female qualities are not what make her a dynamic character, she's deeper than just a handful of gender stereotypes. She likes animals, climbing, feminist dialogue and nature walks. We have highly appreciated the insightful sociopolitical criticism about the social constructs of gender and femininity that pervades our media driven contemporary age. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under". Not to mention that almost everything, ranging from Caravaggio's Inspiration of Saint Matthew to Joep van Lieshout's works, could be considered political, do you think that your work could be considered political in a certain sense? Moreover, what could be in your opinion the role of artists in the contemporary age? I am interested in power structured relationships and abuse of them. In my practice I like to show dominance, control, authority and supremacy being abused as a form of critique. Usually this abuse of power comes from the hands of the rich white male or any party who hates the feminine. I examine dominant groups and subordinate ones, and how power is taken away from less dominant ones. There’s plenty to be angry about! There are so many topics in politics that are not taken seriously and not looked at through formal political structures, topics like race, class, gender, thus their oppression is entire and endless. Power is such a pervasive force in America. The masculine is the ruler and the feminine is the ruled. In the recent times since Donald Trump became president, many white supremacists and hateful scared people feel less afraid to hide in the shadows. With all the gun violence, rape, murder, racism and hate, I find it impossible to not critique and speak out about and against power and politics. I also believe each artist has their own way of protesting and fighting against hate. We can sometimes in these harsh times feel like we’re not doing enough or even question whats the point of making art when people are dying or being raped at the hands of the patriarchy and racists. To quote Beth Pickens’s text, Making Art During Fascism, “Artists have to make art because it’s how they process being alive. In my experience, when artists stop making work, they become depressed, anxious, and generally dissatisfied with life.” She also addresses making political art by saying, “If you want to make overly politically art, do it! If you do not, don’t! You can contribute actively, publicly, and politically in many ways, your creative practice is just one.” Like Beth says, there’s no right way of making art and she's right, taking a break and self care are so important and we all have to figure out how to keep resisting. One way I found to protest was to begin creating a series of wearable art for marches. The first series I sewed was the Vulva Hats for the Los Angeles Womens March in 2017. The series was meant to bring some humor and


light in a time of uncertainty and despair. We as a group against Trump and all that he stands for needed to be seen and heard so we took to the streets. The hats were soft and bright pink, I made 6 of them to create a sense of unity among my group I was marching with. Sadly we needed to march again this year So I made another series of Nipple Crowns. These celebrated the fetishized, hidden nipple so carefully tucked away for so long. At both marches many people wanted to take photos of the headwear and ask about questions about the content. I really enjoyed having the vulva and the nipple celebrated and exposed. Over the centuries, artists have used humor and to convey insightful criticism, not to mention Salvador Dali’s painting titled “Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire" or more recently Alejandro Diaz's installation entitled No Shoes, No Shirt, You’re Probably Rich. The title of your video is inspired by the words spoken by the character played by Carl Weathers when, addressing to Predator, he says “Okay pussy face, it’s your move.” What role does humor play in your process? In particular do you think that humor could provide criticism with enhanced power? Humor plays a extensive role in my work. Sometimes when the fight against the white patriarchy gets overwhelming, I think it helps to laugh. Not to say that the struggles women and other marginalized people experience on a daily basis are funny but I think humor is a great tool to reach people and deal with bullshit. If I use humor tactfully enough I can get away with saying, presenting and exploiting scenarios or ideas that are otherwise hard to swallow. I made some prints titled Vagina Pillow that I think utilized humor really effectively in these. The prints are a fabricated documentation of a work I created in 2016. The original life-size sculpture is in the shape of a vulva and functions as a supple velvety pink body pillow. I used Photoshop to insert advertisements I designed for the Vagina Pillow in variety of comical places such as a Target flyer, a billboard in the Middle East, a television in a family room, a bus and a large screen in Times Square. By creating these larger than life scenes, the prints subvert the typical male gaze that surrounds the fear and obsession of vaginas or vulvas in western culture and puts it where it can not be ignored. By creating this series I wanted to normalize part of the female anatomy in a humorous and positive way. The vulva is often romanticized, fetishized and has become so mysterious. As a women with a vulva I see it as another part of my body, it’s normal, intricate and pretty cool. It’s loaded for sure and I think about it a lot but it’s still normal and should be treated as such. One viewers reaction to these works which feature a rendering of white Jesus next to the pillow with text declaring “Thou shalt sleep on holy pussy - JC” was to exclaim “Wow! you're bad.” I find this reaction funny and enjoy when someone else is so taken aback.

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

How did you structured the balance between sound and the flow of images in Pussy Face? In particular, did you aim to suggest such an uncanny sensation in the viewer, by combining footage and such audio commentary? I observed that the original tempo of Predator was extremely slow, there were many scenes of the mercenaries just standing around holding their guns and listening to sounds of the approaching alien. The shoots were so long and drawn out! For my version I needed to pick up the pace and I didn’t want the climax to be so forced till the end. If I did take a slow breath in between shots I wanted to fill them with scenes of peace, at least in the beginning. I wanted to set the tone for how Predators life existed without the men. She’s her own person who existed before they ruined everything. She walked in the forest, hunted for her meals, sat in silence and watched the animals and bugs mosey around and pollenate. Her story existed before the film was released and goes on after my video ends.

How would you describe your relationship with digital technologies? Do high end digital techniques fuel your creative process when conceiving the structure of a video? Technology is very inspiring in my work. Entering into 2018 it’s all around me. Sometimes I have as many as five devices on my body at once. This goes back the the cyborg stuff again. What’s the line between human and machine? Does it matter? I think technology has given us even more reason to fantasize after sparkling, happy objects. Youtube and Instagram are great for finding those, from beauty queens testing out the latest highlighter, to the bodiless fingers with a holographic manicure poking into unicorn slime. Low brow becomes highbrow and weaves in and out. As a self taught video artist, I get inspiration from the speed and editing from music videos, cinema and Youtube. There are certain patterns and pacing that I lust over. The aesthetic of rap music videos are some of my favorites. Even the


Women Cinemakers

misogynist videos of Big Sean and Chris Brown have some really great camera work and effects. All video have been said to be a form of escapism and I love that world we can escape into. Video and cinema have a way of distorting our perception and knowledge of places and landscapes. 99% of the cliched images California are from circulated images in culture. Some might say we are very limited in our recognition of places, we learn from movies and take it as truth. One of the things I love about video, film and cinema is the use of repetition and recurring themes to solidify an idea. The fact that everything put within the cameras view is purposeful and meaningful is so interesting. I made a video titled Breast Rings in 2017. I wanted to create a work that without using any words or text, pounded in the public and private themes surrounding the pressure of marriage. The

video was interspersed with shots of a breast, tinted pink with a hand slipping a ring over the erect nipple. The video would cut in between that and clips of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella at that pivotal moment when their future and happiness was secured by Prince Charming whisking them away. The audio was a song by CSS “Faith in Love�. I wanted the pacing to land somewhere between a fairy tale movie trailer and a jewelry advertisement for the perfect happy ending, all the while using the repeating images of the Disney Princess to sell an ideal of happiness. While questioning the theme of gender roles, Pussy Face also addresses your spectatorship to question the nature of their cultural categories: how do you consider the relationship between the viewers' cultural substratum and the process of consumption of a work of art? Moreover, how much important is for you to trigger


the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? With the internet it’s hard to tightly curate my audience. On a average day we gaze at countless images. Pictures are shared at lightning speed. It’s very difficult to keep track. With making art I feel I need to relax and come to terms with the fact that my work will get shared and seen by a lot of people. People may get a read that’s completely different than what I had in mind. That’s not a disadvantage however. It’s like an easter egg hunt. I’ve filled my work with little morsels, hoping the viewer has the background to unpack them and find the sweet filling. But one of my favorite things about making art is the lack of control we have over the viewer. It’s a beautiful thing, no matter how educated on art the viewer might be, everyone has this vast history of experiences and memories behind them. If I as the artist can hit one tittle spot in their conscious or subconscious that leads them to another thought then I’m super happy. A chain reaction is desirable. I also see that not all women share the same reality, I have to consider all women through the lens of feminism and not just the white upper class as it’s been for too long. There is a gaping hole in cinema and mainstream culture where women of color are absent. Whiteness is so pervasive in art, feminism and pretty much everywhere. I hope my work can put a spotlight on the absence of these powerful individuals and bridge that gaping hole. The internet can help by bringing different perspectives together in conversation. Your work also inquiries into the themes of commercialization and fetishization of the young female body in advertising and the feminine product and you have once remarked that one of the aim of your practice is to make works that push against the male gaze: do you think that our ever changing society may ever find an acceptable point of convergence between male gaze and the reality of female universe? I think one doesn't go without the other. The male gaze doesn't like being overruled or critiqued. But women are making their voices heard and their art and stories are being listened to. Both can make work about each other. A point I wish society would converge at is one of acceptance. I believe in the importance of going forward, as long as we keep striving for peace and acceptance of others as a human race, we’re headed in the right direction. I hope the future was more love. It might have a broader acceptance of the feminine and not hold people to stereotypes we’ve clung to for so long. My hope is that future will be more non binary. Someday I’d like to see that we have a richer history of women, queer, trans and non binary people, in libraries and institutions in hard copy and digital. So many art history classes we could only touch on women in art for a few sessions because we simply weren't allowed to study art and when we did get the chance we had little to no historical documentation.

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interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers That artists and creatives in the future will be able to reference the history of the male gaze and the female universe but that we will have moved past that with more love and empathy. In thinking about non binary I consider color a color a considerable element in my practice, especially the color pink. My work uses pink to interrogate gender. Especially for young girls, pink is the death grip around the neck forcing them to subscribe to their social constructed gender identity. It can be constricting and reinforces gender roles applied to the color since post World War ll. Pink is used to suffocate freedom in gender identity, it turns the person into a object. The lens of gender is so zoomed in that all that is left is a pink swatch. The girl, not allowed to choose her own clothes, marketed t shirts that say things like Princess or Daddy’s Little Girl, She is an object, she is no longer a multilayered person with diverse interests. She is a tube of lipstick. She is a pink vagina. She isn’t alive. Being constantly told, I like your dress, I like your dress I like your dress I like your dress. She becomes the dress. Her mind, once full of ideas, her body, her identity, she is only a shell. Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions, including your recent participation to the International Bad Video Art Festival in Moscow and your show Fe/Male at the Air Gallery, in England. How do you consider the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being an essential component of your decision-making process? I realize as an artist I cant always stand next to my work and explain it. I can’t choose how my audience sees my work and that’s one thing I really love about art. Everyone has their own perception and comes to the work with different experiences. I’d like to think my audience is concerned and empathetic but I can't control the way they receive my art. When in the art making practice, I try to be inclusive. For example, when I make work about “women” i think about all different types of women and our shared and different experiences and realities. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Kate. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Right now I’m focusing a lot on the crippling stereotypes of Beauty in western society and the difference between pornography and erotica. Two readings I’m really enjoying are The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf and The Uses of Erotic: The Erotic as Power by Audre Lorde. The beauty industry is such a money hungry women oppressive force. Most women are affected by beauty standards. Some may feel shame in caring about seemingly trivial concerns as physical appearance, hair and clothes. But as women become more and more empowered, the more strictly and cruelly images of the ideal beauty weigh upon us. The Beauty Myth is about the violent backlash against feminism and uses images of beauty as a political weapon against women. Sometimes even using feminist tools we trust and use them against us. The Beauty Myth will use sonnets of self love and confidence against women to sell them a product they never needed. Erotic vs Pornography is also a really interesting topic for me. There is a theory that erotica and porn are the same thing. The immediate difference can be spotted in the root of each word. Erotica is rooted in “eros” meaning the personification of love in all it’s aspects. In stark contrast with that is the root of pornography coming from the greek “porne” which means prostitute, more specifically, to write about prostitutes


or concubines. There have also been articles written saying that all porn is misogynist and all erotica is positive. After reading I have found that the most logical explanation is that some sexual images and texts are offensive and some aren’t. That way there isn't a shaming of others and saying what you like is transcendently the better choice. Another project I’m looking forward to working on is an expansion of my thesis about Eve and Lilith. I have summarized it here for context. Everyone knows the story of Adam and Eve. The classic version of the Garden of Eden has Adam and Eve standing together under the tree of knowledge, smiling, genitals delicately covered with fig leaves, perhaps moments before Eve took a bite of the apple. However, their relationship wasn’t picture perfect or an equal partnership by any means. This perfect partnership began with the women being “born” from Adam’s rib and was called women because she came from man. Eve was the ideal arm candy and companion for Adam. She was Adams property, was known as the naive girl who didn’t know any better than to listen to a snake. After Eve was swayed by the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, she talked him into disobeying God, who had told them not to eat from that tree. That’s all Eve accomplished according to the Bible. Before she fucked up their perfect life, she never did her own thing, had any ideas or an identity apart from Adam. This is a perfect example of patriarchy at its beginning stages. Besides Eve and Adam, there was another important character in Eden. The serpent in the tree of knowledge, the one who whispered to Eve to ignore God and eat the apple. The snake was the key to everything and would be a great teacher for Eve. In history, this serpent would be portrayed as a devil, demon, whore or even baby killer. In some biblical paintings and drawings of Eden, the snake has a female face. Her name was Lilith and history got her story all wrong. She was a powerful feminist who didn’t stand for anyones bullshit. This is a clue to what I’m getting at in this work. The snake told Eve to go ahead and eat some forbidden fruit from the tree of knowledge. So, she took a bite and shared with Adam. After the first bite, both of them suddenly became modest and reached for the fig leafs, they were now aware of their nudity and it was time to leave the garden. This is the common version of Eden. But wait! there’s more. The snake wasn’t an evil or threatening force and turns out to be a super important character and not just for encouraging Eve. Lilith was Adam’s first wife, (funny how it’s never mentioned that he ruined his first relationship all by himself). Lilith and Adam were created at the same time from the same dust. They were twins and equals. Naturally, Adam had to take it too far and wanted to have sex with Lilith, missionary style with Adam on top. Lilith, knowing that her and Adam were made from the same earth refused to have sex with him that way. Both of them were ignoring incest for the moment. Lilith said, “I will not lay under you, for we are equals.” She did not want to be dominated and treater as lesser of the two. After she refused, she left paradise, and settled on the banks of the red sea. Upset, Adam complained to God and made him go after her. When God found her he said if she didn’t return to Adam, everyday she would birth one hundred children and he would kill all of them. This is how we know Lilith if at all, as a demonic whore, evil twin or baby killer. Clearly, Lilith was a strong women subjected to outrageously unfair circumstances and stuck

A still from

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers to her convictions. At this point, Lilith was over it and never went back to the garden. After Adam learned she wasn’t coming back, he complained that he needed a new partner so God created Eve. The better accessory for Adam, from Adam’s own rib so he could fuck her anyway he wanted to. In my version of Eden, Kim Kardashian is the Eve and Lilith arrives in the form of a powerful feminist serpent. Kim is the contemporary embodiment of Eve, she remains both repulsive and attracting at the same time. We judge her for eating the forbidden fruits of fame and celebrity yet our eyes are still glued to her ass. The character of Eve was praised for staying in her lane but when she swerved to get that juicy apple, was scolded and thrown out of paradise. She was attractive for being a subservient, docile companion and also repulsive for listening to the snake. According to Adam and God, she just couldn’t get it right and when she shared the forbidden fruit with Adam, she screwed herself out of a chance at eternal paradise. Kim is attractive for being attractive. She got famous for a sex tape and many people disrespect her for using her sex appeal to sell her brand. However like her or not, Kim used that repulsion and attraction to her advantage and got famous and make a bunch of money for herself. Both Kim and Eve have an ability to be sexy and modest at the same time and patriarchy doesn’t approve. Since Kim got married to Kanye, she now exists in the media as mother and sex icon. Eve was always shown as a beautiful white women, modest and sweet. She was covered with a fig leaf, we were never allowed to see her fully nude. Kim is very controversial, for exposing her nude body. Every nude photo of her is censored with the contemporary equivalent of a fig leaf, the black bar. Kim only exists as a media image like Eve does. Both women exist in pictures and stories. Kim doesn’t give that many interviews aside from her family’s TV show, she doesn’t speak much on current events, all we really know is the information given to us through gossip and tabloids. She’s a blank slate since we don’t know what she is thinking all the time. Society fears a mysterious women. Eve was also blank, her identity was based around Adam, who was technically her dad. In my story, Adam and Eve are in the Garden, Lilith is hanging out on a beach. Lilith decides to go back to the Garden to see if Eve would be willing to reconsider her fate. Eve has just picked the apple from the tree of knowledge, Adam is about to snap. Then Lilith arrived and had a long talk with Eve, they discovered they had a lot of the same feminist ideas and thoughts in common. After Adam leaves, Eve and Lilith take over and a new Eden was born.

To illustrate these ideas I created an installation, a space for relaxation, pleasure and where complex dialogue can blossom between Eve and Lilith. The exhibition was immersive, tactile, dark and sensual, with loud audio and dim lights. The floor is covered in immaculate white carpet, lavender pillows for reclining are scattered around the space. The huge pink Lilith snake, winds in-between everything on the floor. Three branches propped against the wall could be signs for Adam, Lilith and Eve. Two of the branches have flowered while the other one remains barren, which is even more suggestive of Adams lack of charisma. The two women have taken over the forest, now that it’s just them, conversation is richer, dreams deeper, vaginas wetter. They have been in the garden for many years without Adam now. Feminist dialogue is now possible without interruption. The women can now eat all the fruit they want, be sexual and explore their bodies, expand their knowledge through discussion and subvert patriarchy. Pleasure is no longer something to be ashamed of, nor Adam nor God will tell them what to do. They might even denounce religion all together. Their identity of being women is now in flux. With Adam trying to get some action, gender seems less important. Lilith and Eve become beings, two friends in conversation. Kim already exists in our minds as a flat image, her body is so curvy that it becomes one dimensional, which echoes the issue of women treated as object. The lust we have for her becomes her life force. A main point that this exhibition brings up is our historical representation of women in a negative light, which is constructed and perpetuated through religion, consumerism and media. In the Bible, both Lilith and Eve were shamed for saying yes and also for saying no. Punished for speaking their minds or listening to a stranger. In this exhibition, the void body that is Eve and the alluring body of Kim, come together to reflect patriarchy, its power and women’s exclusion from holding that power. The soulless figure of Kim Kardashian constructed by the media contributes to this representation of women historically. Eve might turn to Lilith and ask, “What am I without him?” and Lilith might reply, “let’s figure that out.” I hope to make more sculptures, videos about this topic and push it further, I know I am not finished with this idea and hope to go a long way with it. Going forward with my work the next piece will focus on beauty in western society and by using erotic images and the Madonna/Whore complex will manifest a project set in Eden, perhaps even with a surprise visit from Kim Kardashian.


Women Cinemakers meets

Emma Sywyj My films aim to capture and show life at it’s most vibrant & exciting. The films I make encourage people to see the intricacies & beauty beyond the everyday. The themes of my films celebrate culture in all its varied forms all over the world. My videos/films aim to showcase the magic of cinema and art itself. I like to work with found footage and edit footage together. I have photographed Europe and Asia capturing these countries and cultures as I experience them. My fine art photography work encourages viewers to feel awe and joy in the travelers quest and the rewards that experiencing other cultures can bring whilst developing my own cultural identity through photography.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Unconventional and stimulating in her multifaceted videomaking practice, Emma Sywyj's work is indeed difficult to pin down and at the basis of it there's an insightful captivating attempt to unveil the magic of cinema and art. One of the most captivating aspects of Sywyj's work is the way it captures

and shows life at it’s most vibrant & exciting, providing her spectatorship with an extension of their perceptual parameters, waling them through a multilayered visual experience. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Emma and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of


questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a BA Honours in Photography and a Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, that you received from the prestigious Camberwell College of Arts at the UAL, in London: how did these experiences inform your current practice as an artist? Moreover, how does the relationship between your cultural substratum due to your previous experience as a DJ influence the way you relate yourself to art making? Studying at the Camberwel Art College was a really versatile and varied experience. I learnt a lot over those 4 years including photography techniques, though not just how to use photoshop etc, I had an education on art and photography theory, reading seminal books like John Berger’s way of Seeing and Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes. The college had such a rich history and it was a really interesting experience studying there. As for my DJing I love music which is how I got into Djing in the first place. I had a record collection and thought, why not try and play my music in front of people and for people. Also when I started DJing there weren’t many female DJ’s out there and I felt I was being rebellious in a way by just playing records. Now

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers there are a lot more female DJ’s and things are different, thankfully. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: in the meanwhile, would you tell how do you select a specific medium in order to explore a particular theme? When I travel I always photograph my experience of my time there and create an individual series for each country. When making this travel work I just use mainly a medium format or 35mm film analogue camera and not video. However there could be room in the future to buy an 8mm vintage camera and take my travel fine art photography to another level and shoot a 8mm film whilst I am abroad. Then for a lot of my work that looks at the process and my love of cinema, I like to use video art and film making. Those are the main two mediums I like to work with, photography and video/film. My documentary work and explorative work is usually with photography and my video work seems to be about creative culture and things that I love in the world that aren’t about travel and my own cultural identity. For this special edition of have selected

we , a stimulating


video project that our readers have already started to get to know and that can be viewed at

. While

walking our readers through the genesis of , would you walk us through the genesis of this stimulating video? How did you develop the initial idea?

was born The idea for out of another video piece called in color and originally started ‘ black and white. But it became a video piece compiled of black and white bloopers from black and white films from the 1920’s in America. But it started with modern day bloopers from TV as well as film in color and

I


when the project developed it went solely black and white. So I wanted to do something similar that definitely used color in another project, that was how ‘ ’ was partially born. I also wanted to carry on exploring cinema and other sides of the filming process. I

came across some interesting screen tests whilst looking for bloopers and thought they would look great edited together. I wanted the video to be silent because I felt the acting came across better and highlighted the movement and process of the physical act of acting. Once I had compiled the found footage I found that certain clips melted and moved


into each other and I edited them so they flowed so they flowed, one actor would physically move in a similar way to the previous actor in the previous clip. I wanted to do an edit that was quite simple but experimental and that would show the magic and elegance of cinema. We have deeply appreciated the way your approach to found footage unveils the ubiquitous connection between our own lived histories and the collective memory, encouraging the viewers to create personal narratives out of your work. How do you select the footage you include in your artworks? The clips themselves have to be of good quality and I like them to have a strong composition in concerns of cinematography. There has to be a bit of magic about the footage and it has to stand out in some way. I like how people can watch and recognize the screen tests from iconic famous films. So I was pleased to find footage for seminal films such as Amelie, Aliens & South Pacific. Sometimes when I come across a piece of footage it can inspire me towards a whole new piece or project. I am currently working on several time lapse videos. As you have remarked in the starting lines of your artist's statement, your works encourage people

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: how much does everyday life's experience fuel your imagery and your creative process? In particular, do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? Being a creative or someone looking to live a life less ordinary is a theme where a lot of my artwork starts. The creative lifestyle of an artist who lives to create a new way of seeing or encourages art making to change your lifestyle. I like the idea that the ordinary and everyday can be challenged. I think making art about things that no one ever sees still has an effect and a place in art history. Though I like my work to be seen and hear peoples reactions, I also appreciate an almost hermetic approach to art making. All my work is related from direct experience of some sort, I think most great art is connected in some way to direct experience.

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Women Cinemakers

Your artworks often deviate from standard videomaking and your videos enhance the communicative potential of the images that you capture: how would you consider your videomaking style? In particular, what is your opinion about the importance of experimental


video as a medium in our media driven contemporary art scene? I love video art and even though I studied photography at university I always was drawn to video art as it felt the most modern of mediums. Even more vintage video art still looks modern to me. In a media driven contemporary art scene I think video art is very often used alongside other artworks, for example internet art projects. Even though we are in 2018 I don’t often see an abundance of video art especially at biennales. Another interesting video that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled , that can be viewed at and focusses on bloopers in American films made in the of cinema: we daresay that such "errors" in the making of a film could be ever considered epiphanies capable of creating a new kind of inveolvement with the viewers: what did address you to explore this aspect of filmmaking? I have a sense of humor and have always loved bloopers, especially from modern TV and film,

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When I came across the bloopers from 1920’s films I found myself chuckling and really felt that the bloopers were an insight into that period of film making which was also known as the golden era of cinema. So instead of using modern day and older film footage together, I just decided to just use footage from that black and white period as it felt more cohesive. I was also surprised that bloopers were called breakdowns back then, and how even though the name for bloopers has changed the process of making cinema still has its similarities and traditions in the modern age, like bloopers. German photographer Andreas Gursky once stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something. We daresay that your successful attempt to unveil the magic of cinema and art itself triggers the spectatorship cultural substratum in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations: how open would you like your works to be understood? And what do you hope your spectatorship will take away from your work? Thats a great quote, I love beauty and elevating things from the ordinary and dull. I would like my


work to show people another side of things. Some people might find black and white films boring and find it hard to connect with them, so when I made ‘Breakdowns’ I was pleased to hear that people found it easier to connect to black and white films and could connect with such an exciting time for cinema. I also hope my fine art photography showcases the traveling lifestyle for audiences, to show how great and exciting for example Italian and Asian cultures are. I would like people to see that there is more to life than just living a 9-5 working lifestyle. You can live a life that is based on experience and personal growth. Over the years your work have been exhibited both nationally in the United Kingdom and internationally in the US, as well as in Greece and in Hungary. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to establish direct involvement with the viewers: do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? I find the very process of making art transformative in itself. But I like to show my

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video art and photography in exhibitions and at festivals so people can be effected by the themes of my work. I like to keep my language as simple as possible. Even though I have read a lot of art theory books and have an appreciation for the intellectual side of art, my work to tends have a simple message with a simple execution. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Emma. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am working on two time lapse videos from found footage and a polaroid photography project. I want to keep making video art and improving and exploring different ways to find footage to edit and other ways of editing. I also want to do a part two for my Screen Test project and Breakdowns project too. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Francesca Badea Lives and works in Bucharest, Romania

My art deals mainly with escapism. Whether I am creating disconnected psychological worlds, disturbing monsters or dealing with alter egos, the main concern is evading reality. The assumption of different personalities is another way of breaking out. There is a constant change in my self-image which gets transformed as in the video Without You I’m Nothing. The video images create the ultimate androgynous icon and the narrative is exploring identity issues and the emotional inner state. Thus, my art is powered by painful imagery and constantly trying to evade from it.

An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

is a captivating experimental video by Francesca Badea: inquiring into identity issues, it challenges the viewers' perceptual parameters to addresses them to explore their emotional inner state.

Inspired by Brian Molko, the iconic lead singer of Placebo band, the video reflects the artist's constant change in her own selfimage, initiating her audience into highteneed experience capable of encouraging a crosspollination. One of the most interesting aspects of Badea's work is the way her perceptive approach creates powerful narrative flow, capable of bringing the notion of Escapism to a new level of significance. We are particularly pleased to introduce our


readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Francesca and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your current practice? In particular, are there any figures from contemporary Video Art scene that affect or inspire your practice? After I graduated the university, I got interested in the history of cinematography so I saw lots of movies. Afterwards, I wanted to know more about photography and contemporary art so I looked up many photographers and artists. I don’t think a particular video artist influenced me as much as the whole range of fields did. I’ve seen documentaries with Andy Warhol and Nan Goldin, so it is possible that Warhol’s experimental videos and Goldin’s photographs influenced me, but it is not a direct influence. There were dozens of factors, not just the ones mentioned above, that influenced my current practice. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Without You I'm Nothing, an extremely experimental video project that our

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Women Cinemakers readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/265014618. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the expressive potential of iconic symbols is the way your work provides the viewers with a multilayered visual experience. When walking our readers through the genesis of Without You I'm Nothing, would you tell what did draw you to focus on the theme of the androgynous being? My interest in the theme evolved gradually. I was particularly interested in Brian Molko’s assumption of an androgynous look because I was impressed with how much a man can resemble a female and even look much better than her. So I edited images of him and created an icon, the iconic androgynous symbol. As you have remarked once, the whole process was experimental and we have appreciated the way Without You I'm Nothing features such effective narrative: how did you structured the flow of the images and what were your main aesthetic decisions when deciding how to stress the change of colors to reflect emotional states?


Women Cinemakers It all started from editing low-quality images I found on the Internet. At the end of this process I had hundreds of edited images. I’ve always had this obsession of making the same image over and over again and seeing them separated and not in a flow was frustrating because I needed to memorize the differences and try to remember each individual one. So I was trying to grasp the differences that occur by seeing the pictures in a video. The image would differ so much from one version to another, as if it contained a completely different person inside. Thus, in the video the differences which occur could be exposed. Assembling the images was done, in the end, by selecting the most powerful images and making their flow obey the rhythm of the song. Featuring such insightful exploration of the emotional inner state, Without You I'm Nothing also challenges the viewers' perceptual and cultural parameters: how do you consider the relationship between

outside perceptual reality and the realm of the inner state? Moreover, how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? I never think about what my work should trigger. Everyone has a different background and a different way of understanding the world, so each one is free to interpret an artwork his own way. I just do what I have to do and in the end it’s the artwork’s job to move the viewers and trigger personal associations. I’ve usually noticed that the ones who interpret the work in the same way that I did happened to have encountered a close experience to the one I have experienced. For others, it means nothing at all. But that’s the beauty of it. Your practice seems to deviate from traditional videomaking to develope the emotional potential of Brian Molko's image. Especially in relation to modern digital technologies, what is your point about the evolut bion of visual arts in the contemporary art? In particular, how is in your opinion technology affecting the consumption of art?


Women Cinemakers

Technology is a great tool and unlocks infinite possibilities. The flattening of the image/ of the pictorial space is a natural result of our usage

and addiction to the flattened screen. People are used to understanding the world more from pictures and less from reality. Art


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becomes more flat, more two-dimensional in that sense. Just as every other tool, people might use it in the wrong way. The problem

with technology and consumption is that people are used to seeing a work of art on a two-dimensional screen and make a mental


Women Cinemakers image of that work of art, remembering it that way. They forget that nothing compares to the original work, which is only one, compared to the Internet, where you find an infinite number of slightly different images of the same artwork. A crucial aspect of your artistic inquiry is centered on the issue of identity and Without You I'm Nothing reflects a constant change in your self-image: how does direct experience from everyday life address you to explore such theme? In particular, do you think that such constant change comes from your inner self or it is a consequence of the pressure from the outside world? My art has almost always been exploring identity issues. I think the constant change in my self-image has been coming from my inner self as a result of the incapacity of coming to peace with my past and with any kind of pressure. Direct experience is what always drove me and there have been some particular events which affected me. For example, one time it became hard to be myself so I was trying to imitate a particular pop star. It never worked until one day when I read on the Internet a letter addressed to the pop star


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Women Cinemakers from another celebrity. The letter was exposing the fact that the person I was trying to imitate was actually a mind controlled robot. In that very moment, something changed and I felt like I was the pop star. I completely changed and became somebody else for some hours. Even if this happened only once, the experience had an impact on me and I continued to explore mind control techniques and the dissociative identity disorder. This disorder was the title of my bachelor’s thesis. Sound plays an important role in your video and it sometimes provides the film with such uncanny atmosphere: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that favors visual logic. How do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? Sound and images are closely linked. In my case, I am interested in a theme and I start listening to music that deals with it. It all evolves naturally and, as a result, I often adopt the band’s imagery. I never wanted to use a certain song in the video. I felt the need to add it just like I needed to place the images in a row and adapt the images’ flow to the rhythm


Women Cinemakers of the song. But the song did impose a certain mood to the video. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your art deals mainly with escapism and the main concern of your artistic research is evading reality. How do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your artistic practice? The relationship between reality and imagination is shaped by my personal vision upon the world. I think reality is brutal so I run away from its violence, finding release in beautiful images. But even if I seek beauty in my work, that beauty is fueled by painful imagery. I am always searching for ideals, for higher purposes and, when they prove to be unworthy and lose their sacrality, I get disappointed. Thus, imagination is mirroring reality transfiguring it to create the ultimate illusion. Before leaving this interesting conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with

your audience. What are you aiming to provoke in the viewers? And what do you hope the spectators take away from Without You I'm Nothing? I never think about what it should provoke in others, usually I’m concerned with the impact it has on me. Still I think it should at least have an impact on people who can identify with it or on people who are sympathetic to the feelings of uncertainty and of being misunderstood. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Francesca. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? At the moment I am interested in expanding my knowledge in other fields, for example music and literature. Still, my work evolves organically and I never know what path I might take.

An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Melissa Campbell Lives and works in Brighton, UK

Melissa Campbell (b.1973, UK) is a British artist exploring themes of memory and identity. Playing detective, she uses public and private archives as a starting point to consider both the stories they may contain and the function of the object itself. Exhibiting in the UK and internationally, her work has been shortlisted for Bloomberg New Contemporaries and nominated for the Magnum/PhotoLondon Graduate Photography Award. Recent exhibitions include East Sussex Open at Towner Gallery, UK and Artists Making Prints at Mall Galleries, London.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Melissa and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a wider idea about your artistic pro- duction and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after your studies of at the Camberwell College of Art you earned a BA (Hons) of Fine Art Printmaking and a MA of Photography University of Brighton: you later nurtured your education with further studies, including

an Art Therapy Diploma, that you are currently pursuing: how did these experiences influenced your artistic evolution? Moreover, how would you describe the influence of your cultural substratum on your general vision on art? I originally worked as a commercial lithographic printer, which is where my interest in the printed surface and visual information began. Then I spent a few years at home as a full-time mum to my three children. Once they were all at school‌ and with the freedom of divorce‌I decided to pursue my love of art. I enrolled for evening classes at my old college, which led to a part-time Foundation course in London, at Camberwell College of Art. The foundation course was a great opportunity to test


Women Cinemakers different ways of working. It felt good to be expressing myself again, to experiment, and to spend my lunch hours visiting exhibitions around London. Storytelling and narratives became an important part of my process, and I enjoyed the research and detective work that went with creating my installations and prints. During this time I spent a year volunteering in the day room in a hospice. I was interested in art therapy and spent my time there leading art classes with some of the patients. Drawing helped their manual dexterity and it was a distraction for the mind, from their physical pain. It also be- came a space for conversation. It was always the men who would be happy to join me for a chat, the women were quite happy to sit by the window overlooking the garden. The men would talk quite openly about their lives; romances, marriages, family, war. What it was like to be inside the tanks during the war, how the tanks never worked properly, how one of them had to bake a cake with a homemade oven every time they stopped to set up camp. Being sent to the countryside during the war - how happy one man was to be playing in the fields and fishing in the streams, and how free and happy he finally felt. Living in London during the blitz - being allowed to go out with his father each morning to see which buildings had been bombed in the night. Walking past a ruined piano factory that was still smouldering, listening to the strange music made by the piano wires as they melted and cooled. And romance lots of stories of dances and dinners, and hiding from parents and being chased by older brothers. My time at the hospice was really special and taught me about the important role that art can play in helping people to express themselves, share stories and connect with others.


Women Cinemakers I then moved down to Brighton to study Printmaking in a fine art context, which was an amaz- ing three years. There are no project briefs on the course, you decide what to make work about. The tutors were supportive and challenging in equal measure, and the workshop manager had a vast technical knowledge of both traditional and contemporary processes. It was an exciting openended way to work, led by curiosity rather than academic concerns, that felt very natural to me. It was there that I found I often used family photographs as a starting point for my prints. I began to wonder about the power these small pieces of paper hold, in terms of identity, evidence and truth. I went on to study MA Photography at Brighton, to find out more about family photographs and the way we use them to tell our personal stories. It was during the MA that I made Still Life. For this special edition of we have selected , an interesting ex- perimental video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: what has particularly impressed us of your insightful inquiry into the themes of memory and remembrance is the way you provided its results with such consistent aesthetics and visual unity. While walking our readers through the genesis of Still Life would you tell us what did direct you to center your artistic research on these themes? I have always loved stories and histories, and how we are connected through them both. One of my favourite films as a child was ‘The Yellow Rolls Royce.’ A British film, made in 1964 by Terrence Rattigan. It starred Ingrid Bergman, Rex Harrison, Shirley MacLaine and Omar Sharif. It used a 1930s Rolls Royce Phantom to frame the story, linking the tales of its three different owners; an English aristocrat, a Miami gangster and a wealthy American


Women Cinemakers

widow. I loved how the car was the solid stoic base that connected the different stories. The film itself was inspired by an earlier film, a 1947 German drama called In Jenen Tagen. It was one of the so-called Rubble films made directly after WW2, using bombed cities as a backdrop. The film addresses issues of collective guilt during the Nazi era, and it documents the car’s life from being built in 1933 to being scrapped in 1947. We are shown the various experiences of its seven owners, among them a composer whose music is classed a subversive, a Jewish couple about to commit suicide, and a deserting soldier. I love how all of the stories in both films take place inside the car, like a stage set. Driving around in my old car, I became aware of the power that nostalgia holds. At petrol stations and in car parks, strangers regularly tell me about their childhood cars and I am constantly surprised at the private stories they share with me. I decided to attempt to tell the life story of my car. Playing detective, I tried to track down the previous owners by sending letters to the original addresses listed within the red folder that came with the car. I asked them to send me any photographs of the car they still had, and any anecdotes they were happy to share. Some letters were returned unopened, the addressee no longer known at the address, but two previous owners answered and sent me a collection of images to use. It is very strange for me to think that before I was born my car was already out there, driving other people around, appearing in other people’s photo albums. I used the photographs to create the film, telling the story of the car’s life. I like that there are gaps and missing

information throughout the story - it creates space for myself, and the viewer, to imagine what might have happened. I wanted the film to feel homemade, not too slick or stylised. Very much a personal notebook rather than a polished production. It is designed to be seen as part of an installation, within the car itself. The viewers sit on the back seat, like children, and watch the film on a small screen that is in the front window instead of a rear-view mirror. As well as enjoying the film itself, the car has acted like a confessional booth and many people have shared personal stories with me about their own family holidays and journeys, as well as their own relationships with their fathers. Still Life was created using photographs donated by some of the previous owners, with a narrative combining fact and fiction: how do you consider the relationship between perceptual reality and the realm of imagination? Moreover, how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? Art has the ability to connect people, whether through direct personal experience or through collective memory. By offering part of the story, we create the opportunity for the viewer to use their own perception and associations to fill in the gaps. It is very important to me that the viewer has the chance to complete the work somehow. To me, the relationship between perceptual reality and the realm of the imagination is a valuable space for us to explore our own memories or constructions. The historian E. Gombrich, writing in Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, talked about the importance of providing a


Women Cinemakers

space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can participate in the illusion. German photographer Andreas Gursky once stated that “ " As an artist particularly interested in the way that family photographs claim to show us reality, how do you consider the relationship between the reality that a photograph attempts to capture and the process of the viewers? Photographs provide us with a space to present ourselves, they are the gap between who we are, and the way we want to be seen. We need to know about ideas of performance when we are looking at amateur photographs. We need to be aware that the subjects, along with the photographers, are responding to exter- nal influences, and all that they represent. The photograph is a mythic or ideological space within which we perform identities and have them reaffirmed through the gaze of the spectator. As visual proof of our own existence, and the experiences we have, photographs allow us to capture a certain person or place, in the way that we would like to remember them. They provide us with the opportunity to control the narrative of our life. We can construct and edit our photograph albums in a way that supports the impression we would like to give to others, now, and in the future. The conventions of amateur photography are to take positive scenes that reinforce our story, like a directors cut of freeze-frames. Connecting narratives and family relationships, the photographs become markers in our ongoing lineage. They provide us with a private means of remembrance, and offer us a way to present our- selves publicly. By sharing our

albums with others, we can control the public image we present to them, and we can also demonstrate the importance we give to commemorating ourselves and our family. Conventions are followed, in terms of subject matter and composition. Amateur photographs, unlike advertisements, are not highly crafted. They offer us a way to shape and form an identity, but how stable is that identity? Responding to advertising images and social conventions, albeit unconsciously, the images we make are a performance between the photographer and the subject. As we construct a narrative around ourselves, how much of it is based on stereotypes and conventions? We daresay that your approach is centered on the ability to urge the viewers to a conscious shift, evolving from a condition of mere spectatorship: do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope to trigger in the spectatorship? I do consider the audience when I’m making work. My ongoing reference point when curating exhibitions or working on installations, is to refer to my own school trips as a child. I can remember how exciting it was to be visiting a new space, and to be able to interact with it. Museums and visitor centres provide countless opportunities for the viewer to engage with the dis- plays, which I have always loved, and try to emulate. Canadian artist Jeff Wall once stated that " ." our perception of reality is informed by imperceptibly interwoven experiences: how much does everyday life's experience fuel your imagery and your creative process?


Women Cinemakers In particular, do you think that a creative process could be disconnected from direct experience? For me, the creative process is directly connected to my life experience and outlook, and it is impossible for me to disconnect that way of seeing. Rather than fighting against it, I embrace it. Whatever theme I am exploring, all my art is autobiography. I don’t think it matters whether the audience is aware of it, or even if I am conscious of it during the process, but on reflection I can clearly see that making art is a way for me to work through recurring themes, and trying to make sense of my place in the world. My everyday life does fuel my imagery, I like to eavesdrop and love to observe others. Photography, vernacular photographs in particular, allows me to do some unrestricted peoplewatching. Not having to worry about manners, or being caught looking, I can examine every detail of the scene at my leisure. This in turn, makes me more aware of my own personal photographic narrative. How do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a shot and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does play improvisation in your practice? When making prints my work is a series of experimental process-led investigations. Experi- mentation and ‘happy accidents’ are vital to the way the work will evolve. I make notes as I go, so that I can retrace my steps and recreate a particular result. I will often work on several pieces at once, moving between them, cross-pollinating ideas and symbols, each process pushing the other. However, when I was making the film I needed to have more control and structure, without it feeling over-produced. The


Women Cinemakers

chronology of the car’s life was the framework that created the structure for the film, but the story told itself as the facts revealed themselves. The narrative unfolded slowly and was controlled by the replies from the previous owners, revealing gaps and similarities. I liked working this way - the process of researching, playing detective, provided space for me to consider possible scenarios and narratives. The visual sequence and voiceover are deliberately simple and low-key. To me, it is the ordinariness of the day trips and family holidays that creates an uneasy sentimentality. Over the years your works have been exhibited both in the UK and abroad: Marina Abramovic once remarked the importance of not just making work but ensuring that it’s seen in the right place by the right people at the right time: how is in your opinion online technopshere affecting the consumption of art by the audience? Do you think that today is easier to speak to a particular niche of viewers or that online technology will allow artist to extend to a broader number of viewers the interest towards a particular theme? I think that the way we consume art has definitely changed due to technology, in the same way that the way we consume most things has changed due to technology. I like that I can use Instagram to discover artists and galleries around the world, to see ideas and work that I would otherwise not see. It’s exciting that there are people sharing their ideas and creating communities, finding new audiences and sparking new collaborations. As an artist, using hashtags and keywords makes it easier to reach niche audiences, as long as they are self-identifying and following those hashtags… We are now in control of how we consume art. We can binge watch entire series, download films in the middle of the night,


Women Cinemakers

watch live-streams from gallery openings. We can satisfy ourselves instantly. Like microwave meals. Overall though, however valuable the spread of information and virtual ideas is, I don’t think you can beat going to a gallery in person and having a physical response to the work. Or going to the cinema on a rainy afternoon to watch the latest film, sitting among strangers. There is something about the shared physical experience, whether at a gallery, theatre, music venue, or cinema, that technology will never be able to emulate. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdiscipli- nary field? While studying art, I was very aware that the art history lectures were only telling us half the story, providing a limited version of art history. Where were the women? Why were they not being valued and celebrated in the same way as these men? Women whose work was often more groundbreaking and consistent. Unfortunately, as in most areas of life, the main charac- ters seem to be men, with the occasional woman playing a supporting role. Gladly, this incorrect and outdated mindset is now being challenged, updated and reset. New generations of young women are being raised with the same aspirations as young men. As we have seen in the recent news, women are finally

being listened to and are leading the way in conversations about equality. I hope that this will empower all women to speak their minds and express themselves, whatev- er their situation or profession. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Melissa. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently making new work for my first solo exhibition this October. I’m using found photographs to explore memory and identity within the landscape, using symbolism and repetition to create an ambiguous narrative. And I am collaborating with Living Record Productions. I will be creating the set design for their latest play which will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Thrown is a one-woman show, part autobiographical, part collected testimony, exploring the inevitable moment we are thrown, from childhood into the adult world. Supported by Arts Council England, the work is a binaural sound project that has moved away from traditional theatre towards a multinarrative, multi-sensory work. We will be performing at the Underbelly in Edinburgh throughout August. I have also begun work on my next film. Starting with a found photograph showing a group of people on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, I will play detective again, to explore family myths and journeys of faith.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Alena Mesarosova Lives and works in Valencia, Spain

“The Birth Of Mars Generation� take brief and silent portrait of the birth of future bio-technological society in the minute 0, born in distant and hostile planet, where human life is sustained completely by technology. The interplanetary reproduction exceeds biological possibilities and is introduced into the technological and pre-programmed process capable of creating the unique combinations of the human genome. Women will play an important role in this new society not only at the time of procreation, but also in the proliferation of social and technological advances, essential for the survival of the human race in outer space, which seem to be the next boundary of the evolution process. I wanted to express my personal fascination with the universe and the adventurous spirit so characteristic for the human beings, especially for the women that trace their own future. In my artworks the technology represents an important part of the creative process and serve as a great tool to express my inquietudes and ideas.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Alena and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Bachelor degree, you studied Scenography and then you earned a Master in Architecture: moreover, you later nurtured your education with a PhD degree in Fine Arts, that you received from the Polytechnic University of Valencia: how did

these experiences inform your artistic evolution? Could you tell us what are your most important influences and how did they affect your art practice? I started my university education in my hometown Kosice, Slovakia at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Technical University of Kosice. My main studies were about architecture, to which I was attracted as it deals with the creation of physical spaces and volumes. The thing I really appreciate about the architectural design, is the possibility to generate different feelings through the use of varying textures, materials, volumes, and lights, which assembles in an architectural space. I recognize, that I was fascinated by the contemporary Japanese architecture, with creative minds like Tadao Ando, Toyo Ito,


Kenzo Tange etc... Although, my studies were focused on the architecture, I experienced a great influence of artistic atmosphere in this Faculty. As architecture students, we used to shared classes with students of sculpture, painting and graphic designers. The faculty has also a strong newmedia department, the area, which trapped my attention from the very beginning. The brief period, which I spend in Italy studying scenography, reinforced in some manner my architectural creation background. I perceive the scenography as an architecture of a fiction word, that has a power to transmit the ideas, and contribute to the better understanding of storytelling. In my master degree studies, I started to experiment more and more with virtual architecture and spaces, aided by the computer graphics. The three-dimensional modeling gave me the opportunity to think in a different manner how we perceive the space. From this point, there was a small step which leads me to explore the interactivity mediated by the computer technology. I fully explored the interactivity among art, architecture and technology during my PhD studies at the Faculty of Fine Arts San Carlos, Polytechnic University of Valencia, which has a great newmedia art department. Here I get to the closer touch with Virtual and Augmented Reality (AR) in an artistic context, and how it could serve as a contemporary creative art tool. In this Faculty, I met Cristina Portales, a great expert in Augmented Reality from whom I have learned a lot, and this new knowledge encouraged me to fully get inside the interactive art. I have also received a lot of help and support from my PhD thesis director and Augmented Reality expert Francisco Giner MartĂ­nez. The Augmented Reality art, for me, has an enormous potential, and in my opinion, we will witness its widespread in the near future. Today there are some very interesting pieces of art made by AR Manifest Collective, from which I would like to mention the artist Tamiko Thiel, who produce her artworks with a very personal touch.

It's important to mention that you are a co-founder of , and you also interdisciplinary art group collaborate with other artists from several disciplines to create

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers interactive art installations, live performance and other audiovisual projects and we would invite our readers to visit in order to get a wider idea about your work: how do you consider the collaborative nature of this projects? In particular, can you explain how a work of art demonstrates communication between several creative minds? I founded the art group Manusamo&Bzika with Manuel Ferrer Hernández about ten years ago. We started our work in the area of video-art, but later we get strongly influenced by interactive art and Augmented Reality Art,in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Valencia. We began to experiment with interactive art, computer visualization and programming. We experimented with different electronic devices such as Raspberry Pi, Oculus Rift, mobile phones, EEG, various kind of sensors and also with Arduino, a controller board which can be used for any kind interactive installation with little programming required. We used this device in the installation called “Vespa, pásate por aquí”, collaborating with Bia Santos and Emilio Martínez Arroyo, artists based in Cabanyal district, Valencia. The installation offers a “stationary ride” on an altered Vespa motorbike, placed in the public spaces of the street in Cabanyal, where the rider puts on a helmet with a special kind of Head Mounted Display and movement sensors. By accelerating the Vespa, the spectator begins a moto ride tour through the interiors of the Cabanyal's houses and shows its historical and cultural values. The installation had a strong social and politic context, as the former local government was about to destroy this ancient part of Valencia. Fortunately these intentions were stopped after massive demonstrations and also various art interventions and festivals with a protest character. “Vespa, pásate por aquí”, was our first wider collaborative project, we started with an initial idea to show the real value and the beauty of the specific architecture of Cabanyal. Therefore we discussed this problem among all participant authors, and it gained more and more dimensions with the contribution of each one and everything simply started to fit together. There were also many technical challenges, like programming, filming, video editing and also the mechanical modification of Vespa motorbike, which implied a great amount of work. I think in such kind of art installations is essential to keep the initial artistic approach and we manage to achieve it thanks to the different technical


skills of the artists involved in the project.

For this special edition of we have selected , a captivating video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. While walking our readers through of , would you tell what did fascinate you of this theme? From my childhood I was fascinated with space exploration. Curiosity led me to formulate more and more questions, about the things that surrounded me and logically the outer space was the last frontier. The frontier, which seems that humankind is about to conquer. Actually, to

be a space explorer was a “dream-job� to me when I was a child and I strongly believed than once I will take a walk on another planet. In , I accelerated fulfillment of this dream in a virtual manner, creating a kind of Mars landscape scenario. For this purpose, I have studied the photographies of real Mars surface, sent to the earth by the Mars Rover, in order to get the most realistic virtual reproduction of this environment with the accurate soil and atmosphere composition. I have imagined how humans could adapt biologically to changing life conditions, where the technology would possibly be the basis for a life support. Then came the idea of egg-shaped capsules, where the bio-technologically modified humans will be gestated, a sort of artificial reproduction similar to that in-vitro, which in this science-


fiction scenario will give the birth to the first “Martian” generation, better acclimated to the planet Mars. The humans born on this planet, will be more compatible with the lower gravity force and also better psychologically adapted to the different climate, seasons and landscape conditions. To be able to survive, they will probably use some Martian evolved bio-technology, a new concept of cyborg arrangement. Nowadays we are witnessing a high speed of the technological progress, so it is difficult to predict the time period, in which such kind of space mission could be accomplished. The technological progress was also one of the important features in development process The video was realised with the aid of 3d modeling softwares and , and the animation was created in game engine

software , with its special feature “Cinemachine”. The resulting animation is a combination of classical 3d computer animation and real-time executing programming code. This kind of a software tools is able to shorten the production time of animation and only requires a reduced working team, so this technology was a great help to carry out this video.

In the futuristic scenario descripted in women play a crucial role in the proliferation of social and technological advances: we have deeply appreciated the way your subtle and effective criticism about the issue of women's identity in our globalized still patriarchal and maleoriented societies: not to mention that almost everything, from Maurizio Cattelan's 'The Ninth Hour' to Marta Minujín's


Women Cinemakers 'Reading the News', could be considered political, do you think that could be considered a political work of art, in a certain sense? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? as a science-fiction genre with feminist approach is the manifesto and social criticism of present situation in science and technological development, where women are still in minority. Science-fiction tends to be a men playground so I strongly believe that portraying the women colonization of outer space planet could set the discussion about how our society is still biased by sexist approaches. In the future, if the humans will colonize other planets, no matter if the reason will be a desire of reaching and exploring of the unknown, or the planet Earth becomes uninhabitable as a result of some catastrophic situation, what will count will be a survival of the specie. I don't think it will be possible to move the whole humankind to another planet at once, rather it will be a well prepared and specific process, with the aim of perpetuating and guaranteeing the continuity of life. mission the project pretending Recently, with the polemic to begin the Mars colonization by sending a small group of persons with no return provided, maybe we started to make the reflexions about what qualities will be required on such space crew. Since this process will be extremely expensive and technically challenging, the very limited number of possible travelers should be highly scientifically, technically and psychologically prepared. Getting into practical considerations, why not to start colonizing a planet only with women? Women are technically skilled and moreover don't need a male partner to reproduce the new humankind in an effective way, also women are more durable and socially oriented. This joint of technique and social development will enrich the creation of the New Mars Generation. The film just gives back what somehow has been stolen to women in their achievements in science, art and everyday life. If someone might be shocked by the idea of women colonization of Mars, that indicates something is still wrong in our society regarding women's


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers rights. So maybe as the women artists, we still need to reiterate the gender equality, because I think there is no qualitative difference between the art created by men or women. In this terms, even if I don't consider myself as a feminist artist, sometimes in my artistic production appears a “political , as natural reaction declaration” like the case of to the actual state of our society. Multidisciplinary artist Angela Bulloch onced remarked

". Technology can be used to create innovative works, but innovation means not only to create works that haven't been before, but especially to recontextualize what already exists: do you think that the role of artists has changed these days with the new global communications and created by new media? The perception of technology differs in younger generations from those of our parents. New generations take the technology as granted, without doing any type of comparisons. Therefore I think our perception of the new technologies as a medium for artistic expression, feels like a logical and natural evolution of artistic tools. I think that today's society is less dependent of a “one-to-many” mass communication which is loosing its power, and prefers “many-to-many” global communication channel like the Internet, which also implies the participation and interactivity. In my opinion, we are witnessing the same progress in Art, where the spectator expects some kind of feedback, The artwork responds to the presence of the spectator and can also react or mutate in a unique way as a result of the interaction. Maybe we are getting closer to the concept of “Homo Ludens” in a technological manner, and a certain level of technological interaction become a common feature of many aspects of our everyday lives. It is a personal election for each artist to consider or not these new principles and possible effects that causes the technology upon our society. With the lack of a clearly established definition what actually the role of an artist should be, I think each artist responds to this question with more or less eloquence through the artistic creation, no matter if the intentions of the artworks are critical, reflexive, protesting, scandalizing, commemorating, idealistic etc... In this regard, the role of the artist still remains the same, the only change is the manner in which the artists nowadays can transmit,


Women Cinemakers express and communicate their art. Your artistic practice is centered on : the power of of technology in the contemporary age is enormous and hi-end techniques are capable of . How do you consider within your practice? In particular, do you think that technology will eventually fill ? 6.I think that Virtual Reality can make seem anything real, and actually Augmented Reality is more powerful, as it can make appear the things even more real. A sort of cheating on the observer, making the difference between real and virtual more confuse or practically nonexistent. It is the technological manner to integrate the virtuality in our real environment. In the artwork and installations made by our group Manusamo&Bzika,we like to balance between real and virtual, giving more or less importance to one or another, but most often making the real and virtual to collaborate to create a unique user's experience. In our artworks we explore the spatial relationship between the physical space and virtual contents, creating a different kind of walk through installations, anchoring the virtuality to the specific places. For example recreating the memory of determined places by inserting the recordings of voices, photographies or treedimensional representation of the past, as in “Timetravellers” Augmented Reality installation series. In other installation series like those of “Extended Reality”, we create a completely imaginary and unreal virtual environments which can be altered by physical interactions of the user, generating an interconnected collaborative environment of Augmented and Virtual Reality. The technology demonstrates its value as it is essential for the development of our installations, while it can help to substantiate and transmit our ideas, which can be perceived in more comprehensible way. Our imagination can be embodied and set in the world through the use of new technologies, and the only frontiers are those of our minds. We have particularly appreciated the way your works highlight between the environment and the ideas that you explore: in particular, we have been impressed with the way the breaks with the established principles within the

choreographic and architectural creation, to provide both the performers and the viewers with captivating . How do you consider the role of the architectural qualities of the environment that you create within your artistic research? And how do you see the relationship between public sphere and the role of art in public space? In DanzAR project, in which we have collaborated with La Coja Dansa contemporary dance group, our intention was to translate the Augmented Reality environment on the scene. We created an interactive scenario, which could be observed from different points from the scene and audience, preserving the spatial coherences of the virtual architecture with the physical space. This experimental project unifies the contemporary dance and choreographic approach, excellently directed by Tatiana Clavell and very well accomplished by the dancer Olga Clavell and the rest of the group La Coja Dansa, with an Augmented Reality interactive scenario designed by Manusamo&Bzika and Raul León. The performance is divided in two parts: “Malleable Architecture” and “Emptied Architecture”, each part is particular in its form and how the virtual scenario behaves and makes the choreography evolve. In the first part called “Malleable Architecture”, we created an interactive scenario, which could be altered in real time using a mobile application designed for this purpose. The scenario was formed by three simple volumes with diverse texture and materials, which could be moved and rotated while the dancers were on the scene, creating in this manner a unique architectural composition and also new patterns for the ongoing choreography improvisations. These changes were visible to the audience through a projection and to the dancers by the means of special head mounted devices, designed for this occasion. The final choreography of “Malleable Architecture” was performed differently each time due to the modifications of the virtual architecture of this particular scenario. In the second part called “Emptied Architecture”, the starting scenario was completely fulfilled with virtual blocks, which were broken by the dancers movement. Firstly the dancers were trapped in a virtual solid volume, and they could not see each other, therefore their movements were done with a lot of caution. By the dancers body movements, the virtual architecture was emptying itself, and the dancers were liberated


Women Cinemakers from this virtual overwhelming density and blindness. Then they could start to see each other and interpret their dance freely, until they have considered the process as finalized. This time, the resulting architectural space was an unique spatial register of the executed choreography. The character of the virtual architecture created in DanzAR project was also an experiment, and its real-time changing composition was a result of the interaction of some volunteer from the audience, or even the dancers themselves. The architectural compositions therefore were not predefined, but generated during the performance itself. We designed a virtual architecture tool, which could be used by the participants of the spectacle. In this manner this project is an approximation to the technological version of “vernacular” architecture, the architecture without the architect. With DanzAR project, we see that the public art scene, opens a little bit, it is less institutional and less focused on the “art elite”. This enables the possibility to create new projects which are accessible to independent low-budget artists, which in my opinion helps a lot to evolve the public art itself. Also a very important role is played by independent art festivals and publications, that gives the opportunity to the upcoming artist, and this way brings the art closer to the general public.

We have been fascinated with the way in you gave life to such proficient synergy between sound and visual, creating : how do you consider ? In particular, what were the most challenging aspects of this project? In the , which by the way is the last version of the “ ” series, we have collaborated with composer Ricardo Climent, from Novars Research Centre, University of Manchester, and the musician Mark Pilkington. The installations mix Virtual and Augmented Reality to create real time sound compositions. In the special case of Putney Ponozky c.2, we have counted with live music performance of an original VCS3 analog synthesizer, interpreted by Mark. The use of Virtual and Augmented Reality in this installations creates


A still from


Women Cinemakers multi-player explorable environments, where the players/users can move around freely. On this “virtual wanderings”, players can trigger, manipulate and generate different sounds contribute in this manner to the resulting musical composition. All of these spaces, with diverse “levels of virtuality”, share the same physical space. So even if the player can visually perceive only one of them, the installation allows an overall auditive perception of sounds originated in any of these environments. We have experimented this circumstances from the very beginnings of the creation process of this installation. And then we have noticed that there is no clear definition of virtual/ augmented/ real space where this project could fit, so we theorized the new term of “Extended Reality”, which has the property and capacity to unify all of these levels of reality through the sound perception. The installation, with each of its new version, gained complexity both in a technical and contextual way. The storytelling varied, as we designed more complete virtual worlds, where we have placed a set of cues, or visual guidelines for the musical composition, simply making same virtual places visually more attractive or flamboyant. In the same location, we have placed new sound samples or a brief sound variations. By taking a walk, users can create a great number of resulting compositions. Summing up the virtual landscape itself represents a navigable music score. In this environment, we have also planned a set of interactive tasks, which contribute to the global composition as well. One of them was the recollection of different electronic components to assembly a virtual VCS3 synthesizer. In Augmented Reality environment, the users search for these components too. By manipulating and collecting them, they can build an ad-hoc AR musical instruments, which can be played simultaneously to the music live performance. The biggest challenges of this project were its demanding characteristics of the real-time technical intercommunications among the virtual, augmented and real environment's interactions, which guaranteed a fluid sound experience. In the Putney Ponozky c.2, which was a live performance version of this installation, some previous training with players was needed to be able to interpret more beautiful compositions. One of the most interesting aspects of your artistic practice is the

way you provide your audience with of their perceptual parameters, inviting them to eveolve from the condition of mere spectatorship: Are you particularly interested if you try to achieve to trigger the viewers' perception as the starting point to invite them to elaborate ? When I was a child, we were studying different artworks at school, usually we were provided with some visual or audio information and also some type of explanations about the meaning of the specific pieces or art. Most of the time, it really seemed weird to me, because I didn't feel and think in the official way of observing or listening to these artworks, which sometimes made completely different sense to me. I just preferred to do interpretations of the art at my own, instead of what we were officially taught. And I think, that's the one of the most interesting things about art, that it can address to each observer in a different manner. So in my opinion, when the audience makes their personal interpretation, the artwork simply becomes alive. In our artworks, we experiment with different levels of the spectator's perception, sometimes by using a non-conventional electronic devices to achieve the interactions between the piece and the audience. I think that the most interesting example of such interaction in our works is the use of EEG (Electroencephalography device). EEG can connect the spectator and the artwork at the level of brain interaction, creating a double communication channel, where the spectator is influenced by the artwork and vice-versa, the artwork dynamically changes due to the brain activity of the spectator, which moreover can also be unintentional. It constitutes a rare human-technology-art symbiosis, I think is worth to explore and spectators are really curious to experiment it. In our installation, “Robot and Robotnik” a sort of Augmented Reality theater play, we used the EEG as a tool for interaction but also as an essential feature of storytelling. This single user micro-theater, present various characters of humans and robots, who behave accordingly to the user brain activity. There are two types of mental activity which are measured for this purpose, the level of attention and the level of meditation. Each equals to a state of violent or peaceful performance of the characters. These mental states normally change according to what is passively seen on the scenario,


in this case the user becomes an observer, however the state of attention or meditation can be controlled and induced with a previous training, so actually the user can actively assume the role of the director of this play. Conscious or not, the interaction that causes the storytelling changes is performed by a new sort of technological “telepathy” and opens the possibility to be used as an interesting feature for art that can exceed the common perception of art. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to in the ask you to express your view on contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ' ', however in the last decades women are finding their voices in art: how would you describe your personal experience as an

unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I think that nowadays women working in more classic artistic areas are well adapted and well perceived by the general public. In art, that touches the “uncommon” areas, maybe the thing differs a little bit. In our group, Manuel is more dedicated to the “hardware stuff”, always playing around with electronic devices, cables, plugs and so on, and my favorite area is “software developing”, coding and programming. The division of the tasks is a result of personal preferences and skills, not gender ones, I actually don't think that it is possible to say that one or other of these areas is more men's or women's world. I have to admit that in the past, I've found myself in situations when people took for granted that such a work like programming was made by a


male part of a group, or at least remained surprised when they discovered that a woman can do these types of tasks. But I feel like things have changed a little bit over the last decade, and I hope this tendency will continue further. However, I feel that as woman you still have to be a little better and work harder, than your male colleague to get to the same consideration. This should really disappear in the near future.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Alena. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am really looking forward to explore more about the interactions between art and the spectators mediated by the high-end

technological devices, as they appear. I'm indeed very excited about the EEG interactions, I think that its possibilities as an art tool deserves more attention and investigation. Right now, I am working on another animation project with similar theme as and simultaneously on Virtual and Augmented Reality sound project, where we are creating virtual hybrid characters with the capacity of ad-hoc musical instruments. The project is only at its beginning, but we are very enthusiastic with its progress at the moment. Finally, I would like to say, that it was a pleasure to be able to share my experiences and thoughts with the readers. I appreciate a lot this opportunity, as it helped me also to create new reflexions and maybe also to discover myself different points of the view about my works.


Women Cinemakers meets

Haleh Jamali Lives and works in Glasgow, Scotland

Haleh is Glasgow based multimedia artist. She was born and raised in Iran before moving to UK in 2005. After a BA in Painting from Tehran university (2001-2005) she enrolled in the Westminster University in London to study Master in Art and Media. Her graduation video (2007) alongside her other videos has been screened in various national and international arts festivals and exhibitions. Her artistic practice expands from drawing, painting, sculpture, animation, print-making, mural painting, photography to videomaking. Her interest in portraiture and narrative stems from a desire to address the social aspects of representation, particularly in relation to the female gender and with a concern for the hidden layers beneath that which is visible. For her, the diversity, versatility, and unrivalled ability of portraits to communicate, make them an enigma. Indeed, my particular concern is to reveal the paradoxes and ambiguities behind the eyes of the portrait subject who tries to communicate emotions, arrest attention, and often express feelings of both attraction and repulsion. In Sep 2014, Haleh trained at Charles H. Cecil Studios for advanced Portraiture Painting using the Sight-size method from life in Florence-Italy and currently working on new series of portraits entitled Resilience in respond to women’s empowerment movements #MeToo and Time's Up.

The End of the Beginning is a captivating video project by multidisciplinary Iranian-Britishartist Haleh Jamali: addressing the viewers to explore the different stages of loss and hardship, this stimulating work provide the viewers with such an heightened and multilayered experience: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Jamali's stimulating and multifacted artistic production.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Haleh and welcome to

: we

start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid training and after

having earned your BA of Painting from the University of Tehran you moved to the United Kingdom to nurture your education with a MA of Art and Media Practice, that you received from the prestigious University of Westminster, London: how did these experience influence your artistic evolution? Moreover, how does your dued to


Women Cinemakers the relationship between your Persian roots and your current life in the United Kingdom address your artistic research? I’ve moved to London in 2005 and decided to dedicate myself to video art. From the painted portrait and expressive-inflected black and white self portrait with lots of tiny details, my work gradually moved towards sparsely populated videos giving more room to viewer to add their own narrative to the work. The course at University of Westminster, introduced me to the video art and Art in theory which ultimately equipped me to think more critically about my work. It is interesting to go back in time and try to remember the things that have shaped the course that my artistic practice has taken. At the time, I rarely recognised what influenced the way I saw things and respond to them. I was part of a very new experience. it’s only when you look back the patterns start to emerge. To me the immigration comes with redefining your own identity in the process of acculturation. The first video that I’ve made was This work explores the issues of identity among female immigrants, as related to their appearance. During the process of assimilation into multicultural societies, their identities become fluid via choices in lifestyle and clothing.This work has been informed directly by my own experience as an immigrant and the ways in which immigrants’ identities are understood by others. By pushing these ideas to an extreme, I suggest the concept of a "dual-self". I emphasize that the construction of an individual’s identity is a function of their relation to Others, and indicates that the inseparable Self and Other construct one’s social identity. As an artist I had to redefine myself. As a person I had to redefine myself. The process which wasn’t easy all the time.


Women Cinemakers That’s how Identity became a recurrent themes in my work. Two years after I arrived in the London we moved to Scotland to live and work. I started to work at few established galleries where I’ve had a chance to see work by world class contemporary artist like Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller and many more. But as a video artist my biggest influence is Bill Viola. I was inspired by his largescale works and the way he draws the viewer into compelling and highly immersive narratives. Marked out with such captivating multidisciplinary feature, your practice include painting, video, mural, photography, installation and performance, revealing that you are versatile artist capable of crossing from a medium to another and we would like to invite to our in readers to visit order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to approach? How do such captivating you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? My passion is telling a narrative. I’ve used portrait painting, video editing, sound, performance and more so that I can communicate in the most effective way with my audience. No matter what media I used, I would like to create and present work in barren space to eliminate any distractions that would prevent the viewer from fully engaging with the work. Sometimes I work in specific media for an upcoming exhibition or commission. Or, the image and idea has been in my mind a while and a way to express it in a certain


medium suggests itself. It happened before that I revisit the same idea by both painting and video. For this special edition of we have selected , an interesting video project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the different stages of loss

and hardship is the way the results of your artistic research provides the viewers with such a captivating multilayered experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea and what did you attract of these themes? In the short period of time few of my friends grieved after their miscarriages and still births. I was pregnant at the


time and felt helpless as a friend in taking away their pain. This work was my emotional response to acknowledge their experience. The frame of the video could be a reminder of how a Fetal ultrasound images look like. I tend to not talk about it much and prefer to leave it open to interpretation. It explores different stages of loss and hardship. Here we do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear

fashion. We may spend different lengths of time working through each step and express each stage with different levels of intensity. May feel one, then another and back again to the first one. The five stages are: Turbulence, Anger, Transaction, Floating and Acceptance.Turbulence is when world around you is overwhelming and you feel numb. Anger comes when you realize what happened. Transaction is when you are trying to negotiate your way out of the situation and interact with others. Floating


Women Cinemakers

stage is when your empty feelings present themselves, and you experience everything on a deeper level. Here water has light ripples that moves up and down, side to side at a slow constant pace, and sometimes thrown you about in all directions. Acceptance is about accepting the reality and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality and that life will go on and we must readjust. We have been impressed the allegorical quality of and we daresay that your practice seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's quote, when he stated that It seems that you aim to address the viewers to evolve from a condition of mere spectatoship in order to unveil the hidden layers beneath that which is visible: are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations? I think its a platform to engage the viewers. They can interpret work in their own personal way sometimes close to what I had in my mind and sometimes far away from it. For me, examining the multi-faceted and often complex relationship between the subject and the viewer has been a great interest. ‘You can call the viewer spectator, subject or performer! In my opinion they can be all three’. I would love to keep my work open to interpretation so people with all different backgrounds can perceive it differently and add to my work’. I would like to use the power of the visual image in any arts form like paintings and video to ignite imaginations, evoke emotions and create connections.


Women Cinemakers

We daresay that in sound of the ambience is equally important as the flow of images and we have highly appreciated the combination between images and of the soundtrack. How did you structured the relationship between sound and the flow of images in your film? Its fetal heart sound. Its a sound produced by the heart of a fetus as detected by electronic fetal monitoring. This relate to what inspired me for the piece. The combination of the image and sound works together. Sound here is the background noise for the world I’ve created and invited the viewer to look at it or be part of it. I like to have a constant sound that absorbs other sounds to wash away distraction. For 3:15 minutes I am inviting the viewer to be part of an experience. Viewer might not distinguish this as a fetal heart sound and that’s fine. Sound or absence of sound in my work is to engage the viewer and to allow me to tell my stories. We have deeply appreciated the way work explores the issues of identity among female immigrants, as related to their appearance. Over the recent years many artists, from Martha Wilson to Carolee Schneemann have explored the relationship between the culture’s expectations about what women are supposed to be: what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age? Does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? I think artist could remind everyone how arbitrary our value system is. They can break down all the stereotypes to gender. I think by challenging these stereotypes, artist could create new representations and inspire change through their creative work. I’ve been asked many times that I consider myself as a feminist.


Women Cinemakers Feminist artists and writers have had a great influence on my work either consciously or subconsciously. In a way, my approach is equal to some feminist thinkers by seeking a dialogue between the viewer and my work through the inclusion of women's perspective. I‘ve been inspired by Virginia Woolf, Simone de Beauvoir and Forough Farrokhzad to name a few. Virginia Woolf began to explore the inner lives of women and gave credence to their emotions. Simone de Beauvoir depicted the women’s struggles in claiming their independence. Forough Farrokhzad emphasized on the role of women within a restricted society and questioned the concept of Self. I believe my scope of feminism has broadened over the years, and I am trying to distance myself from stereotypes that place individuals in groups. Not to mention that these days almost everything, from to Marta Minujín's Maurizio Cattelan's ' ' ', could be considered political, do you think that like anyone could be considered a political work of art, in a certain sense? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? To me it’s a very personal piece. Its about my own journey, adjustment to a new society and culture as well as changes in identity and concept of self. Migration has three phases. Before migration, relocation and after migration. This piece is more about last stage; Learning about social and cultural differences and trying to integrate into host community. Here clothing is symbol of this acculturation phase and its multiple level. I would rather to be called an artist rather than a woman artists but I wouldn’t make these works if I was a man. I


Women Cinemakers

explored issues of representation and identity from my

between the necessity of scheduling the details of the

own perspective as a person and as an artist. Me being

performative gestures and the need of spontaneity?

me informs my practice. I think its subconscious and not

How much importance does play improvisation in

really a choice.

your process?

We have been impressed with the the way

I think there is a correlation between set choreographed

explores the grammar of the language of body language: how do you consider the relationship

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and spontaneous movement. Improvisation can have a great impact on choreographed pieces. Improvisation


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gives the performer the freedom to move spontaneously by creating creative movement and responding to sound and space around them or even to a set of related rehearsed actions. Improvisation explores the body's shape, different levels and dynamics.

piece I’ve collaborated with the performer in many levels. I was lucky to work with such an amazing performer artist, Monica De Ioanni. For us Improvisation developed our imagination and ability to expand our ideas. I found set movement that I really likes for the piece through improvisation.

With improvisation you allow expression of the performer's self to enter the process of making a video. In this particular

Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this


occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ' ', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing: as

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an artist particularly interested in the social aspects of the representation of female gender, how would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field?


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I think imbalance of gender representation within the arts still is an issue but there is a massive improvement.

inherent in the art market and become both the commercially and non-commercially successful.

There are many women artists garner prestige by considering the challenges, risks, and opportunities

For many years’ artists have tackled the social construction of gender by using their work to question the relationships


between gender and society. To me, most society and culture create gender roles but navigating from those restrictions can become an art in itself. It can encourage artists to become more creative and innovative in overcoming obstacles. I think its a coping mechanism. I think women still are under-represented but a shift may be occurring, driven by women who have taken the control of some of the biggest art institutions. It has been long and hard struggle but things are changing however slowly. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Haleh. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I have few projects which I am working on at the moment. I am working on new series of portrait painting entitled Resilience in respond to women’s empowerment movements #MeToo and Time's Up. I am also working on a new video piece which is in very early stages but coming together. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

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interview

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Women Cinemakers

WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  
WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  
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