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w o m e n GALA MIRISSA TATIANA ISTOMINA SABINA ENGLAND MARIA BELÉN ROBEDA REBECCA HEIDENBERG SUSANA LOPEZ SARI NORMAN SOPHIE BARTH OIHANA VARELA DANA VENEZIA

INDEPENDENT A still from AGORAPHOBIA, a work by Gala Mirissa

WOMEN’S CINEMA


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Contents 04 Dana Venezia

124 Rebecca Heidenberg

Slowly, Nowhere

The Water Children

26

144

Oihana Varela Peta Pan

Maria Belén Robeda Body contrasts traced by the outside

48

164

Sophie Barth

Sabina England

Joan, Burns

Deaf Brown Gurl

82

196

Sari Norman

Tatiana Istomina

Assimilation

Philosophy of the Encounter: Hélène’s Story

106

220

Susana Lopez

Gala Mirissa

Los Otros

AGORAPHOBIA


Women Cinemakers meets

Dana Venezia Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Two teenage boys plot to steal the top part of the dome of the rock. Their initial journey begins in `The Hebrew Gymnasium´, my former high school, and from there the story passes onto their hands. Part fiction-part documentary this film brings forth the behind the scenes politics of film making. It is shot as a live action film, in various religious locations. By walking the steps of spiritual leaders, the film looks into questions of truth, greed, remorse, life. The work on this film was intended to generate a singular experience for all the people involved in its creation. The storyboard, script and cinematography were never sealed in order to make space for all the singular voices in the film, both cast and crew. Using Improvisation as a tool, guiding artistic style and method in confronting barriers. The film ends in a cut back to reality. The ending is a descent back home, questioning our experience as transient existence.

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

Hello Dana and welcome to WomenCinemakers: 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 of Arts from Tel Aviv University, you moved to Barcelona, where you graduate from the IED with a grado superior in Graphic Design and


Women Cinemakers you later nurtured your education with a MA of Fine and Studio Arts, that you received from the prestigious Royal College of Arts, in London. How did these experiences inform your current artistic practice as an artist? And what did direct you to center on film as one of the key aspects of your artistic research? Focus on video and film as my primary medium came about through exploration and experimentation in various art disciplines. Engaging in these practices I felt a loss of the social aspect. I found that my works and myself were isolated in the studio, exhibited partially, on occasion, and to a very specific small crowd. There was a lack of interaction with life outside the art world. This pivotal understanding brought me to the realise that I need to involve more people in my process and exhibit to a wider audience. Crossing this conceptual threshold challenged me into film, which allowed for an amalgamation of various mediums. In that sense my academic background bolstered the process through theoretical research, work with computer graphics and my art studies as the binding thread and channel of execution. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://danavenezia.com in order to get a


Women Cinemakers synoptic idea about your artistic production: in the meanwhile, would you tell us if there is any central idea that connects all of your work as an artist? Questioning artistic process and the quality of integrity in my work, brought me to explore ideas of authenticity. This led me to work on semi-documentary video work, hybrids of reality and imagination. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected , a stimulating video project that our readers have already started to get to nw and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/225433443. While walking our readers through the genesis of Slowly, Nowhere, would you walk us through the genesis of this stimulating project? How did you develop the initial idea? Slowly, Nowhere grew from sculptural experimentation, playing with the figure of the minaret, on top of the Dome of the Rock. In an intention to activate my objects and give them a voice, I began introducing sound, and towards the end I added visuals, to build the film installation.


Women Cinemakers

is the result of a multilayered collaborative process, in which not only the cast, but also the crew was deeply involved in the making of process. We have appreciated the way you create such stimulating synergy between fiction and documentary, to inquire into the behind the scenes politics of film making: how do you consider the collaborative aspect of filmmaking? Any interesting stories from the set? Making the film was really impossible without the help of my collaborators. The two main characters were set out to be friends but the chemistry between them was quite tense, so in terms of interpersonal dynamics, shooting was difficult. Filming in the Dome of the Rock and in the Muslim quarter in Jerusalem was a slightly dangerous and stimulating place to shoot, fueling fiery energies into the behind the scenes. Entering the dead sea in unregulated routes, the actors all got injured from sharp salt crystals so everyone ended up hurt. Featuring stunning landscape cinematography and keen eye for details, Slowly, Nowhere is


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marked out with long takes and close shots that provide your film with such captivating sense of intimacy: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? Credit and praise for the amazing shots goes to the cinematographer, Roman Poretski. I was lucky to find a collaborator that had a clear vision of my ideas with the mindful intelligence in executing them. We worked with equipment we had, at the time Sony A7’s. As you have remarked in your director's statement, you used Improvisation as a tool, guiding artistic style and method in confronting barriers: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of the shooting process and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does play improvisation in your process? Throughout the whole workflow of making a film, from the initial idea and up to the final result, improvisation plays a continuous role, giving the film it’s beat, pulsing through all the steps. On that note, filming was based on a guiding text and storyboard instead of a script, in order to have all the voices in


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the cast and crew heard. Enabling individual expression, I find that in the space where lines aren’t dictated, is where the magic happens. Allowing free flow work on location can loosen context that can be interpreted as heavy political discourse. Featuring essential and at the same time well orchestrated cinematography, has drawn heavily from the specifics of its locations and The Hebrew Gymnasium is your former high school: we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the environment and the characters of the story: how were your shooting and performative processes affected by locations and their reminders to your personal experience? I chose to shoot the film mostly in Jerusalem, which is where I grew up. The whole process holds an underlying psychological layer. A self reflexive decision, confronting the past, by returning to my high school after many years. Growing up in Jerusalem during the second intifada made adolescence a very tense experience. This sense of density still exists in the present through the evolving life of the city but manifests itself in


A still from


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different ways through time. The special characteristic of the city and my place in it are which brought the indelible decision of shooting specifically there. could be We daresay that considered an allegory that addresses the viewers to reflect on the transient nature of our existence and we have been fascinated with your successful attempt to unveil the magic of cinema and art itself, to trigger 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? In an overall sense, I wish for viewers to ruminate on the choices they make. The film highlights personal dilemmas one has whilst growing up and the turn of events that brought to the surface moral conflict. In resonance, I would like the spectators to reflect on their identities and sense of belonging, questioning their cultural conditioning and nationhood. We have appreciated the originality of your approach to video and we have found particularly encouraging the results of your artistic research.


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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: what's your view on the future of women in such an interdisciplinary field as filmmaking ? I see change and I hope women will act in claiming filmmaking as any other field in which women are suppressed. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Dana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I currently finished filming ‘Hello, Tel Aviv?’ which was a challenging experience and a step forward in my creation. I see myself maturing into the realm of moving image. Opening up from single channel work to complex multi channel installations. Breaking the narrative and allowing more of the space around the characters to grow; shinning a light on the ‘unseen’. Fragmenting the work primarily, in order to rebuild into unison. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


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Oihana Varela Lives and works in San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain

My creations are based in the improvisation. I work with my dancers to develope the capacity to improve , being honest with their present moment. I´m very interested in the esence of each artist to create my compositions. We have spent 4 years researching the internal movement of the body and the influence in our dance, so this dance screen has been the conclution of this work. It is my first video dance. The importance of the present moment in our life, has been the inspiration to create “Reseteo�. I describe one way giving relevance to all the details that are happening at the same time.The experience is the key to tell the story. I also based this work in silent films. I have always been drown to this kind of films because of the body language used in them, wich has a lot of space for the spontaneity. With black and white I represent the way you let things in the past whenever you take another step.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Reseteo is a captivating dance short film by Oihana Varela: using improvisation as starting point of her creative process, this stimulating work is a successful attempt to create a brilliant allegory of human

condition capable of drawing the viewers to a heightened and multilayered experience. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to this gorgeous work of art and to Varela's artistic production. Hello Oihana and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions


regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly inform your current practice? Moreover, does your inform the way you relate yourself to art making in general? I consider myself a researcher of movement, from a pedagogical and artistic manifestation. I compose pieces and videos based on my experience of that particular moment, I call it living the creative present "the art of the present movement". At this precise moment, I am investigating the internal movement of the human body, a research that began in 2013. I am very interested in the organic movement of the person, their impulses, spontaneity, body language and memory and how it can be combined with dance. In turn I am very interested in the involuntary movement of the human being and how it can be integrated in the most technical or learned types of dance. When improvising, this involuntary movement of the body can take you to unexplored ways of moving. The starting point of this research is osteopathy. Osteopathy is based on health in movement, it could be considered "the art of healing in movement". I strive to apply this energetic, invisible and unconscious movement of the human body to dance. we For this special edition of have selected , an extremely interesting dance short video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers . While walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? I would describe "Reseteo" as a continuous path, in which there are many beginnings and ends, especially giving importance to the occurrences of the present moment. They are really the experiences that I have lived during this investigation. I wanted to show that spontaneity comes from living in the present, and that everything becomes the past, every step you take, thoughts, emotions, actions, only the wake of the passage of time remains. It was important for me to reflect the inner part of the body, its fragility, resistance, tenderness ... through the symbolism of movement. Elegantly shot, features stunning black and white cinematography and a keen eye for details: what when shooting in black were your and white? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? I chose the black and white to emphasize that each time we take a step the rest becomes the past. It is a way of reflecting the present and letting go of the past at the same time. We shot with a camera (Canon 5D) with two types of lenses (samyang 35mm 1,5mm and samyang 85mm 1,5mm). Being our first film we wanted to work in a simple way giving priority to improvisation and intuition. The camera was in continuous movement during the filming. The movement of the camera reflects the movement and


continuity in the video. The stationary camera was to see the path with perspective, its development and directionality. The combination of both types of filming create a serene rhythm and show the different actions that are happening. We have appreciated the way your approach to choreography conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the

necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and How much importance does improvisation play in your process?

?

The only thing that was set was the idea of creating a continuous path and the locations. The rest of the filming is improvised. I presented different actions to the dancers and they improvised according to their criteria. They only knew that they were going to shoot different actions on a path. The only thing that united the dancers was the idea


of walking along a path tell tell their story. It is the base of the investigation, to express from our spontaneity and vital moment. There was not script for this filming. is the result of a collective creative effort and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, your are interested in the essence of each artist to create your compositions: how do you consider the collaborative nature of your filmmaking practice? In particular, can you explain how a work of art

demonstrates communication between several creative minds? When we were improvising in the studio we worked a lot on individual and group listening and instinct, in addition to improvisation training. It is the key to our work, to be able to manage the diversity of people and their movement. The dancers train to be able to improvise to compose a piece instantly. Before filming we spent six months listening to our own movement and each others movement. On the day of the shooting,


the dancers had all this background to be able to understand the idea of the video and what was asked of them. It gave us a lot of agility and ease during the filming. We were not looking for the perfect image and movement, but the magic of confronting improvisation for the first time. We did not take many takes of each scene. We wanted to be honest with the intention of the investigation. Featuring well-orchestrated choreography involves the audience in a heightened visual experience and we have particularly appreciated the way it highlights the importance of the present moment: how does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? At this moment I am practicing the great exercise of living in the present. It is not an easy task because society leads us to live rushed lives. Due to personal circumstances I had to slow down my pace of life. I started to see that if we do not live in the moment we lose many things. Due to injuries, I could not dance or move at the same level as I did before. This led me to not force my body and let movement come from whatever I felt in that given moment. I started to improvise and observe my movement and how it changed at every instant. Out of this experience was born my research and a new way of creating. I studied osteopathy to know my body and its health and that led me to integrate these two facets of my life. All these influences have made it so that improvisation and spontaneity are always present in my creations. has drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

you have created such powerful the environment and human bodies: how did you select the locations and how did it influence your shooting process? For the location, I chose the mountain in my city, that was a big part of my childhood . As a child I played there and as an adult I have walked and rested there. It has been important in my personal development and has been a very inspiring place in all my creative process. I wanted to reflect those two facets in the video; my innocent childhood and the most mature part of myself. They are locations that have much symbology, slopes, resting places and flat roads. The slopes symbolize the effort or the abyss of taking a step, the places of rest can be the pause or the death of the past, and the flat paths are the beginning or change "RESETEO". I realized after shooting and seeing the film that the locations were based on the same walk I always did growing up. The locations were not intentionally chosen, but were instinctive. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way you combined parts of by Edith Piaf and silence, as well as the way you have sapiently structured the combination between and : how do you see ? Intermixed is the melody of "La vie en rose", with the sound of a record player as well as silence. The chose this song for the tenderness and love it gives off. I see life like that, from that love. Although difficult things happen on the road, love is the only way to welcome them. The record player evokes


an obsessive thought that is difficult to let go of, but the mere fact of moving on makes those thoughts of obsession diluted and they become the melody. I use the silence at key moments, every time there is a change, everything is set to happen, those moments are timeless and very quiet. The musicality and the sound or the absence of it has given rhythm to the film. The synergy between the way of filming and the musicality enhances the movement's symbolism and its meaning. It is a composition of many details and symbols that are supported by the music and sound. 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. 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? Everyone has something to say, the way we choose to express it is freedom that we give ourselves to communicate. The role of women at this time is difficult but more and more we dare to decide what we want to be and how we want to express it artistically. That first step of daring makes us recognize the women we are and that in turn allows society to integrate our vision of ourselves, little by little. Although the percentage of

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Women Cinemakers recognized men to women artists is not balanced, we must honor all those pioneering women who have fought at more difficult time of freedom of expression and join their struggle to do what we dream without giving importance to gender, but rather giving important to what the art of each person expresses. My motto is to be daring and to not set limits, because limits are already set by the society we have created. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Oihana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Right now I'm making a documentary called “Donde nace el movimiento? El arte de lo invisible� ( "Where is the movement born? The art of the invisible"). I have collected the results of the research I have been doing for the past 4 years. In this documentary I explain all the analysis of movement that I have made and how I apply it to dance and composition. As a result of this research I have created a way to train and give workshops in my country. The main work is improvisation and instant composition. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


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Sophie Barth Lives and works in Oslo, Norway Joan, burns is a film essay about the Maid of Orléans, Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431). The film depicts the last few hours before receiving her verdict and being burned at the stake, accused of heresy. Many centuries later, her story is popularised and she eventually received her canonisation by the Catholic church in 1920. Who is she, over 500 years later? Can we still relate to her, and tell her story in a way that resonates with our society today? Joan, burns makes a reference to the many Joans in cultural history, such as Carl Th. Dreyer’s film The Passion of Joan of Arc, and George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan. The film is made up of tableaux’s, and plays with asynchronous time within Joan’s story and how she remembers past events. It is set in Capella Johannea in Oslo, where all the motives are taken from the Revelation of John, and created by the painter Per Vigeland. The mood and the atmosphere of the film is very much influenced by his work, and was a pathway for us to inhabit a holy space and to understand Joan’s character. We wish to show the film not only in movie theatres, but also in gallery contexts, and thereby open up the format so that it can be adapted into different settings. INO Theatre is a group of two women theatre makers, who work mainly with physical theatre. For this project we have created our first short film, and which is very much connected to our work with different physical experimental methods to fully access a character. We have combined our performance based knowledge with our curiosity for the film medium in order to create a different way of looking at Joan of Arc.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Joan, burns is a captivating film essay by Oslo-based theatre director and interdisciplinary artist Sophie Barth: creating an atmosphere marked with captivating allegorical qualities, she invites the viewers to explore the figure of Joan of Arc to trigger their perceptual and cultural parameters. Featuring elegant cinematography and sapient performance composition, Joan, burns is a moving tribute to universality of woman, capable of encouraging cross-pollination of the spectatorship. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Barth's captivating and multifaceted artistic production Hello Sophie 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 after having earned your Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Drama from the University of Essex (Sophie ed.), your nurtured your education with a Master of Arts in Theatre Directing, that you received from East 15 Acting School: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? First of all, I would like to say that I’m very happy to be featuring in your special edition, and to be able to delve into the background story of the why we did this film. Coming from a quite ”traditional” theatre education, I was learning a lot about British theatre and its trajectory from Shakespeare to contemporary plays. However, I was also exposed to physical theatre during my years at the University of Essex. This was introduced to me at a time when I was struggling


Sophie Barth photo by Karolina Bieszczad Stie under the Oslo premier


to place myself in the theatre world, but I was a very keen learner and used every opportunity to learn different acting styles. However, it struck me that I was very physical and in order to understand a text I couldn’t just sit and memorize it, I had to stand up and move it. In the beginning I had very few techniques so I tried to read books about exercises for actors, and then I came across Polish theatre director Jerzy . Grotowski’s Jerzy Grotowski believed in a stage without a dominant technological presence, and sought to give renewed vitality to an age-old truth: that the core of theatre is the communion between actor and spectator. By eliminating a dependence on what is superfluous to this core, he arrived at the concept of the ‘poor theatre’. Grotowski emphasised the attitude towards product and process, and stated that there is a clear difference in which one is given significance. If the process is in focus, then a ‘method’ will be creatively inhibiting, since no method can be universal and cover all possible needs: each actor would require an individual method. I tried my very best to follow Grotowski’s exercises but had no real idea if I was doing any of them right. I thought that “at least I’m trying to develop my own method”. However, looking back, I now know that I still had to walk a few miles to learn what I practice today. During my years in Essex I also worked for Colchester Film Festival, and thereby got to try working in the film industry for six months. I was in charge of marketing and coordinating as the main contact between the university and the festival. It was a steep learning curve, but I remember that this was the first time I felt that I could work administratively and creatively at the same time. It also was an eye-opener to be able to listen to many of the Q&A’s of the different film directors and hear what their process was like. I remember thinking that theatre must be easier to create than film, but at that time I was also just getting started as an artist. I was never a hundred percent comfortable in the way we were trained as directors during my MA. Since I had just started developing the sort of aesthetic I wanted to delve into, especially inspired by Grotowski. The way we were training was kind of a step-by-step process of how they thought a director should be, both intellectually and creatively. I remember I was on the floor in direct contact with my actors during a rehearsal period when my teacher walked in and told me I should sit and give directions. This is not how I work at all, and I ended up keeping some distance but never sitting down on the chair. I like to be active, to follow every

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Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers movement and every word. In this way I feel that the atmosphere is alive, and we establish a better work relationship. After a month in Moscow during my MA, I realised I wasn’t completely alone thinking this way, and we worked a lot of the “director as an actor” approach, which is what I’ve been doing since. The essence of my practice is that I have to understand myself what I’m asking of my actors, because otherwise there would be a layer of artificiality to the work. I guess some directors would disagree with me, and say that they have found a good method without this approach. However, my method is combining both, . As you also can see in the and it’s also what I did when creating film I’m actually starring in it myself as one of the performers, but it was not planned to be this way from the start. This is a choice that was made during the process since I now work both with performance and directing, but it all started with the practice that I learned in Russia. In many ways the breakthrough happened after I graduated and was free to do exactly what I wanted. At first I was very overwhelmed by this freedom, but I was also thrilled that I could focus on physical theatre. Coming back to Norway after four years in England was also a challenge, since I literally had no contacts here in the art field. So I started from scratch, going to one workshop after another and slowly getting to know people that I thought I’d would like to work with in the future. Coming from London where there are physical theatre companies everywhere, I think I was expecting to find this here in Oslo as well. However, I didn’t end up finding any large network here at first, and started looking at dance. The dance environment in Oslo is very good and many groups are also experimental in the way they embrace interdisciplinary practices. I thought that I’d get myself back into dancing again since physical theatre training has a lot of similar techniques and exercises. I searched the dance and theatre field, and tried butoh for the first time in 2016, which I at first thought was interesting but not extraordinary. Then when I tried it again, I felt that it changed my whole view on the human body and the immense potential this training holds in unlocking all “hidden material”. I discovered that I had stored a lot of muscle memory away, and that every part was now coming to life in a way where I could communicate very clearly without words. What was an immense release to me as well, is that I felt I could move away from the boundaries of identity, and create something that is in-between instead of either or. I never wanted definitions to remain static, or just sticking to one truth that shall remain true for ever. I believe that everything is constantly


changing and that we need to be in this flow to be able to understand what’s happening around us. I think having been able to embrace different cultures, also through my childhood going to the French school in Oslo has helped me staying in a sort of flow. I’m very used to that things are changing and that we need to adapt in some way, working out our independent methods. It is only now that I found out how I should put these thoughts into use, and actually develop a practice from it. Thus, my main artistic research is to find how I can help fellow actors and artists find their personal language, and help them share it. I think once you know your foundation, you could do anything and you are also likely to work better in an ensemble or team. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting film essay 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 figure of the Maid of Orléans is the way the results of your artists research provides the viewers with such an intense visual and at the same time multilayered visual experience. While walking , would you tell us our readers through the genesis of how did you develop the initial idea? I think we have to start from the very beginning, where the actress playing Joan, Eirin Hunnes Øverås, was told by her acting teacher at the time that she should play Joan of Arc. She was intrigued and perhaps also a bit puzzled as to why it should be this immense canonical figure, and told me not long afterwards that this was something she considered. I was taken back to my time at the French school in Oslo, and started reflecting back on how she was portrayed to me at school. I have to say that the only thing I remember is the image of her golden statue in Orléans, and that she was a strong national symbol. However, back in 2010 I had also discovered Carl Theodor Dreyer’s film , which had an enormous impact on me. There are just some films that leave a mark or an imprint on you, and I felt that something changed after watching it. At the time I couldn’t really tell what it was, but since Eirin was now suggesting that we should work on Joan’s story then I obviously was taken back to this moment. We also had the idea that we both wanted to do physical theatre together since it was a common interest, but we were wondering if we could transform all the historical material into a physical language.

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers Eirin lived in London at the time and I lived here in Oslo, so we started by reading everything we could get our hands on including the transcript of the trial which can be found in its entirety online. I think in the beginning we just spent time in the library as much as we could, and then I got my hands on Paul Claudel’s libretto , which turned out to be what I needed to start writing. I remember when I wrote the first draft I sat writing for six or seven hours non-stop, and through Claudel’s version of Joan I also managed to find what I wanted to say. I had previous experience in writing since I had been staging a few of my plays while studying, and I thereby I knew how to work out the key structural elements. I sent it over to Eirin and we started exchanging ideas based on the draft. From very early on we agreed that it should be set site-specifically, and that it would look very different if it was set in a theatre black box. Thereby we started looking at how we could open up the script’s structure so that it could be transported into different spaces. We were also very keen on trying to have it outdoors, since an important aspect of Joan’s story is her childhood in Domrémy and playing outdoors. There is also a section in her trial where the judges inquire about the “fairy” tree that she used to go to as a child, suggesting that she performed or took part in pagan rites. This was of course to get her to admit that she was not hearing the voices of the archangel Michael or Saint Margaret and Saint Catherine. With the Norwegian nature as scenery, we imagined that this could be way to set our mark on the story, and of course questioning whether her upbringing in Domrémy was compatible with the views of the Catholic church. However, we moved away from this idea and focused on portraying her in the hours just before her execution. What was on her mind? How did she hold on to her faith until her last breath? We decided that we would play with the synchronicity of the trial as a dramatic tool, and which in fact would also add the very human aspect of the story. Joan is asked to remember back to the beginning when she was thirteen and heard voices for the first time, but also different parts of her life jumping from one episode to another. This is also how one may think when trying to piece together a story: you start with one narrative and the memories that surface launch you into another. We wanted her story to be very personal, and not told through the words of her judges. There is this issue of what version is the right version,

and whether her words have been modified or not in the transcript, but is poses some interesting problems when trying to write yet another version. Our aim was of course to stay as close to her story as possible, but we have no idea how the representation of her done through the testimonies of others might have affected the material we were studying. The issue of a false witness was essential to start reflecting on how we were going to portray her. Even in the word “portray” there is a sense of , and that the person in question is not in command of the narrative. We looked at different ways of creating this heavy atmosphere of the trial room with and without judges present, and at first we wanted to have a chorus of anonymous characters portraying the voices of the judges, God and the saints. We envisioned then moving in and out of the space and constantly changing the perspective. Hence, we wanted the audience to question truth and how it is being constructed by the characters. However, moving back to the core idea which had been to create a monologue for Joan, we were torn between letting her be alone or having a strong force always present in the same room or nearby. Whilst trying out different versions of the chorus, we also decided that we should try to set it in a church room. It was perhaps a more straightforward choice, but nonetheless it made a lot of impact on how we were rethinking parts of the script. We moved away from all other presences in the space surrounding Joan, and left her alone. It proved to be stronger when you couldn’t see who was talking to her, and it would also reinforce the notion of the voices. It enabled us to create a very personal space where she is alone in her faith, alone with her doubt, and that we she receives her sentence no one is there to defend her. The idea of creating a film came very late in the process, and we our project had just been accepted by the priest working at the Majorstua church in Oslo. After two years of working on the project we felt that the time was right to stage the play, however, there were still some unresolved issues. Our collaborator Liv Kristin Holmberg suggested that we could perhaps do a film instead and that it would provide a different way of working within a short time frame. I must admit I felt that it was such a big change only a month before rehearsals that I said no at first. Then I remembered my initial pathway into the project which indeed originated from a Carl Th. Dreyer, and then quickly decided to take on the challenge. Eirin and I had never created a film


before, and the only experience we had was some small roles in front of the camera. We re-wrote the script once more to the best of our abilities, and to be honest I think it is rather experimental as a script. However, we made it work. Elegantly shot, features stunning cinematography by Maja Hannisdal: how did your background as a theatre director when shooting? In particular, what influence your was your choice about camera and lens? I met Maja while she was helping us document a performance installation that I worked as a creative and producer for, and I immediately sensed how she moved within the space. She’s a dancer, so the way she captures movement is very authentic as she has an understanding of it that you only can inhabit through practice. I contacted her while we were planning the staging of the play and told her that I needed documentation. When I later told her it was going to be a short film, she was up for the challenge and we had to work closely together to create the vision that I had for the film. I remember giving her a list of different shots that I wanted, in extreme detail, where every movement was to be documented. All of our creative team was present for the test shots and after a long session together we agreed that we had to simplify the visual narrative. For me as a theatre director I really had to change my mind-set and rethink the different camera angles and what sort of close-ups I wanted to keep. I know there were definitely a lot of the latter. My initial instinct was to think that the more close-ups you get, the more personal it is. To film professionals this might of course sound silly, but for me this was a process of understanding the film medium. A fun-fact is that when you google “close-ups” you will see a picture of Renée Jeanne Falconetti playing Joan of Arc in Dreyer’s film. So there’s no doubt that this image had stuck in my mind, and it was very hard to shake. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it had taken over my own aesthetical decisions, but it remained very present and I decided to let it go in the sense that I had to stop thinking that I was copying Dreyer. If you keep on thinking about these sort of things, the more likely they will happen. However, I also had this firm idea about how I wanted to introduce the influence of butoh in my work, and I think this is what ultimately released the film into its full potential. It helped me think about the pace, and that the audience will follow the speed that butoh dancers feel inside their bodies while performing. This is the slowness that you can find in some signature

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers butoh movements, and perhaps what most people relate to butoh. I also know that it can be a lot quicker, but for this film I wanted it to follow this pace as far as possible. It would be like a long walk into the horizon, and where there are peak moments along the way but the movement is constant and aiming for something distant. I’m not sure that everyone agreed with me when I said that I also wanted that it should be clear that some of the tableaus in the film are being staged, and that there is an element of meta in there. However, it was driven by the fact that I wanted to create another layer of performativity along with the one performed by the actress. Whilst exploring the notion of performativity, I also asked myself if there were some crossovers to performance art and if it would show in any way on the screen. It was very clear to me at least when it was being performed in front of the camera in the chapel. Eirin and I had also agreed that a way into understanding Joan’s character was to start by playing an actress who was about to play Joan. She would enter step by step into the role, before immersing herself entirely in it and incorporating every aspect of Joan. We worked specifically on the moment of transformation, and where she would leave the actress behind. The moment of letting go was very important for us to capture in the film, and I remember the distinct moment when I felt the whole atmosphere in the chapel change. There was simply no turning back, and I felt that a part of my work was done: I didn’t need to give any notes to Eirin anymore. I was instead working very tightly with Maja, and we moved together in the room discussing how to capture the tableaus the best possible way. I think we can safely say that what we had planned prior to shooting changed quite drastically, and we were instead trying to understand what was happening in the room. Whilst exploring the notion of performativity, I also wanted there to be a very naturalistic approach there as well, and worked with Maja to capture Joan’s most intimate self. It was very important to Eirin and I that we focus on Joan as a human being and not in terms of a heroine or a symbol. Furthermore, we took a strong stance against portraying her as mentally ill, as some researchers have claimed in the 20th century. This simply didn’t interest us, and we were committed to the notion that we cannot understand what sort of impact religion had in the 15th century since we have no real means of truly understanding it. We can read about it of course, but our interpretations are very much bound to what time we live


in. Thus, we tried to work out how to portray Joan on her premises, and to take her faith seriously but then explore it rather than imposing our , due to its investigating character views. This is why we call it a and the interpretation of different literary and theological sources. We had a very short amount of shooting time in the chapel, and we were also not alone in the church so we were told to expect a lot of different things such as religious services and concerts. It was therefore a certain atmosphere where we had to work around many different obstacles, but somehow I also believe it contributed to our different creative decisions. This meant that we had to very carefully divide our time between the chapel and the church tower where we filmed the two other female characters. Maja has been working as a cinematographer and editor mainly with mini documentaries, dance films and trailers for dance companies, so our film was a little different and style and genre. However, we were working with movement quite actively, so having a background with dance film was very useful to the process. Maja worked with a Canon 7dmark2 and a Tamron 24-70 with a f/2.8 lens for the entire film. The 2.8 aperture allowed her to create the intimacy that also depicts Joan’s inner struggle. It also gave her the possibility to create a demarcation with the help of a focus that can contribute to promote the sensation of wonder, due to that the audience will not always be able to relate to a lucid image. Thereby it contributes to the underlying more than the narrative itself, which we decided would be secondary to the sensuous experience of Joan’s inner life. A lot of the aesthetic decisions are also based upon the light in the chapel and the tower, and we had to adapt to a very sombre lighting that also changed during the day. We worked out different ways of having barely enough light for the shooting by using an external lighting source, and actually also lighting a lot of candles. So in other words, we all had to work with what we had as this is a lowbudget film, but it also enabled some very creative solutions that we now look back at and wonder how we made it work. However, Maja and I were agreed that we wanted to show that you can make a beautiful high quality film with reasonably expensive equipment as long as you make steady decisions about framing and composition. I think the latter was our strong suit as a team, and we often had immediate agreements. Maja also switched between handheld filming and using a tripod, and filmed most of the movement scenes freehand. We had no sound person and no camera assistant, so you can say that we had to divide the roles

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers amongst ourselves. Thereby the role as a theatre director here was also very practical in the sense that I had to actively walk around the room to fix things and help out with anything that was needed. The sound as you will hear is also very organic in the sense that it captures every sound in the room, but that is something that I wanted to work with alongside Simen Korsmo Robersten’s music. As a theatre person, I like that there is a sense of the spaces, even though you see it on a screen. There is a transcending quality that I think we were lucky enough to capture in a way where it has a function, and not becoming too noisy. The echo in the chapel was absolutely something out of the ordinary, and also the tower gave off strange electrical vibration sounds. All of this is part of the film as a whole, and it emphasises the site-specificity that I wanted to make very apparent. It is not just “free” scenography as I would sometimes say when I do theatre, but it is a space which is being inhabited by something. reflects regarding the composition of performative gestures by the character of Jeanne d’Arc, brilliantly performed by Eirin Hunnes Øverås: how would you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a performance ? How much importance does in your practice? play I’m very happy that you bring this up, because this is where you will find the essence of my method as a performer and director. I have always been interested in finding a way to use improvisation in a meaningful way and to use it as a way of empowering the actor. To explain this a bit further I think it is useful to mention the work process in the rehearsal room the weeks prior to the filming. Eirin and I actually worked the way we would normally do when we rehearse for the stage. However, we both knew in the back of our minds that it was not going to be like in the theatre, and we worked on the importance of embodying Joan. I used a lot of different butoh exercises that emphasise a flow inside a body and a natural movement that I wanted her to explore in her own terms. I believe that it was crucial to get the learned or memorised information out of our heads and work with it in a very concrete way. There is a point in the creative process where you just have to go on the floor and work it out. I also embrace this process in my role as a director, but I also need to be the one with all the information and I need to pull it out when needed to make everyone understand we are doing it. The question moved us into different directions during the process, however,


once you find the foundation, you stick with it. We worked on all details of both voice and movement as we both knew from previous experience that if something seemed disconnected then it would show on screen. One example is “living hands”, meaning that they should move naturally and not be static or suddenly look very animated in an artificial way, especially while talking. All of these details play an important role in the actor’s natural behaviour towards something that is for instance quite surreal. If the surreal is played as being surreal, then it loses all its meaning. It has to be played naturally and it’s the actor’s most important challenge to remain fully natural when facing something out of the ordinary. When you try to tackle an entire different reality too as we did with Joan as a woman of the 15th century, then you take on extra dimensions of historic and temporal understandings. Working within these frames, I looked for ways to give Eirin freedom to live inside the character while setting a structure with very clear cues. She was free to work within the tableaus’ structures as long as she managed to find the beginning and the end. The important part is always that it should look natural and not forced, and we tried different versions until we achieved this. Working closely together we learned to quickly notice when things were not working, and trying to turn it around by finding out the reason and how to change the dynamics. I think there was a clear need for spontaneity in the film because it underlines a natural behaviour, and it keeps the actor very present in the now. When it works, I think it is truly magic and there’s nothing like witnessing the actor totally immersed in a character and making sudden but real powerful choices. That’s when I say that my work as a director is “done”, and I can just let the actor create. I noticed this happening with Eirin, and once she was fully embodying Joan, there was no problems with us interrupting her to do a new take or change camera angles. The atmosphere was already set, and the work was just an ongoing movement deeper into the story. Improvisation and spontaneity go hand in hand but they somehow need to be rehearsed as well, since you need to know how to do it. I think the closest I’ve come to be able to explain it clearly is by using the explanation of a body-clock. You need to know the timing inside your body, which means you need to know the story very well. Inside the structures there are many potentials, and what the actors chooses to do

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers is crucial to open up a third space. The third space is the space of spontaneity which is also linked to the actor’s improvisation skills. I think I will never stop learning about improvisation, and the more I explore it the more it takes me into different directions. I think improvisation will perhaps remain my main artistic research interest for a very long time. Drawing heavily from the specifics of the where it has been shot, leaps off the screen for its essential still effective and its hypnotic suspension of time: we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful between the location and the atmosphere that floats around the story: how did you select the location and how did it influence your shooting process? Selecting the location was done after series of conversations with artist and collaborator Liv Kristin Holmberg. Eirin and I had never worked in a church before and had no ideas how to go about approaching churches with our project. We tried a few places but without any luck, and then we were introduced to a young priest at the Majorstua Church who immediately saw the potential in what we wanted to achieve. I had only seen a few blurry images of the space and didn’t know in advance if it was going to be right for the project at all. However, you may say that I was pleasantly surprised, and I remember walking into Capella Johannea for the first time thinking that it was entirely right. From time to time you just get that gut feeling, and I felt that I had to trust mine at that very moment when I saw the chapel. I initially wanted the Emanuel Vigeland museum but was told that it would be too dark in there for a performance, and moreover very difficult to make a film without setting up extra lighting. I wanted very early on to create an atmosphere that was very natural and true to the space, so I decided to look for something similar to the museum. Through this research I had discovered that the main colour palette that I wanted to work with was gold, beige, white, brown, green, black and red tones. For me these are the colours of the scared space, as you see in churches around the world and in religious art, and also in paintings such as by François Chifflart. So I had this clear visual of what I wanted to have in the location, and walking into the Capella Johannea I was told that another of the Vigelands had painted it. Per Vigeland was the son of Emanuel Vigeland and the nephew of the well-known sculptor Gustav Vigeland. Thus the initial idea of using a similar space to the museum was suddenly back in the loop again, and I had to start reflecting upon how we should adapt it to our film. During


Women Cinemakers our discussions with the priest, he also showed us the church tower which had this sort of enigmatic stairway leading to it. The room itself is huge and in the middle there is a small room where you could see the clockwork and the magnificent cogwheels that we decided should somehow be included in the film. We actually changed the opening scene due to the performative potential in the tower, and I think it set the tone for the whole film. The sound of the pendulum and the cogwheels turning just set the pace for us in the tower, and I also felt inspired to dance to that rhythm. I had initially planned for a series of rituals performed by two female characters, but also found that the room demanded more. Hence, I convinced my father that he should play his khaen instrument in the tower and that we should improvise together. At first we just tuned into each, but I also understood afterwards that what I did in that moment would merge with Joan’s story below in the chapel. This then became part of the ecstasy scene which to me was very central, because it represents a part of her faith which she never showed to anyone. She explained it to the priests, however, she never heard voices in the presence of anyone else, or at least she didn’t do it visibly. There were of course some episodes in her life where the people around her believed that she was God’s messenger by witnessing her actions, but this was after she had received these messages. It was not to prove that she wasn’t speaking the truth, rather, to show people that faith is also a private thing. So we are in a way crossing a line here because it is no longer private when it is on display in the film, but the balance was to achieve a sense of the private nonetheless. I think the location lent itself to creating a room of her own, similarly to like Virginia Woolf wrote in her famous essay, but this time on screen in a religious context. Here Joan could go into her the inner corners of her mind, and reflect upon what had happened to her up to the point of the abjuration. She uses the room to think, to move forth and back in time and truly come to terms with with the judgement passed upon her. Her thoughts are then projected into a parallel time in the tower with the two women, that I created initially to add the ritualistic dimension. However, the more we worked with their role in the narrative, the more we approached the idea that they were saint Catherine and saint Margaret. There is a lot of symbolism here, in that Joan is in God’s house whilst the saints are in another room above her.

Yet again this was a directorial decision that I made in researching the space before the shooting, and it was not in the script. This turned things around because the script came second and I was actively listening and observing the how the dramatic action worked in chapel and thus trying to adapt to what was going on. This is why working site-specifically is different in many ways, and also why we had to work on with an open script and narrative structures where there was room for improvisation. Through a sapient manipulation of elements from classical aesthetics, mixes the ordinary and the surreal, revealing a keen eye for details, to provide the footage with rare in experimental cinema today: what do you hope will trigger in the audience? In particular, how much importance does play for you the chance of inviting the viewers to elaborate personal associations? I have tried to go in-depth of what I want to see when being in the audience myself, and ask what that is. I’m not sure I really have the answer, but I try to remain as updated as possible in literature, film, performance art, dance and theatre. I believe that you can learn a lot by watching others, and that you should always remain curious as an artist. Once you get too stuck up in your own work, the productivity is also lower and not necessarily of the best quality. This is a subjective point of view, but I use the opportunity to share it because I think that we can all learn from one another. This is also the reason why I started working in the interdisciplinary field, and it has definitely nurtured my curiosity. I guess when I think of the audience I want them to feel a desire for knowledge, and to witness perhaps something that they haven’t seen before. Or perhaps even better, something that they recognize but which has been created with a twist. I like that the details sneak up on you so to speak, and that you can notice them a while after seeing them for the first time. As an artist I don’t want to give any answers and I want the audience to think for themselves. I want to offer them a different perspective, which is perhaps a little similar to Bertolt Brecht’s . However, this is not necessarily a very conscious part of my work, as I’m not actively searching for a distance. I want on


Women Cinemakers the contrary that the audience should be very close, almost without realising that they are. I guess watching butoh performances creates this sensation for me, and I think no matter how dark the dance can be, it lets you into the inner corners of the mind. I think we have not seen everything of what our bodies can do, and that we have an immense potential for metamorphosis. I thus emphasise change and how it affects us in many different variations in front of the audience, also in order to portray the journey of the character. The narrative changes the character and the character changes the narrative, perhaps in almost all great theatre and film. will first and foremost trigger an interest in her I hope that story, especially for the people who are not very familiar with her story. I also want to trigger that predetermined image of her that many people also may have. Most of the people I have spoken to about this project have been primarily interested in her as a heroine or feminist symbol, and I don’t necessarily discard any of these. However, for me the most interesting part is the person, and how the representations of her originated. I’m intrigued by what drives other people to create stories, and why they would choose one version over another. Perhaps it is the existentialist in me that screams the loudest when it comes to these sort of reflections, and this is also quite visible in the film I would say. However, I’m always a bit careful when explaining these things because I don’t want to put any label on it and have people say that it is existentialist or religious. It is a bit of both, but it is also trying to reach a place of reflection where the audience stand entirely free to decide for themselves. I think then it is right to talk about personal associations as well as a collective self, because we are connected through shared life experiences and knowledge. This is not to say that everything is equal, but I do believe in the collectiveness of the society we live in, and that there are interactions and connections on many different levels. As an artist I try to navigate and find out what they are, and hence why I’m dedicating so much time to research physical languages. A lot of what we gather of information out there is non-verbal, and I find it very interesting to look at what effect this has on us. So the film reflects all of these elements, whilst allowing the audience to create a space for reflections and associations within the work. The interdisciplinary nature of your approach has reminded us of Italian experimental theatre director Romeo Castellucci and we have particularly appreciated the way your practice condenses

apparently different experiences from physical theatre and between performance art, establishing such a these art forms: how would you characterize your style as a director? I work very thoroughly with the research process, and I try to work out what theories I can apply directly to make work. Most of the time, my work always takes me back to Antonin Artaud and his essays in . I encountered Artauds work in an early age, and has ever since tried to figure out in my own way what he meant. I think my work evolves around different attempts at understanding the theatre of cruelty, but at the same time distancing myself from it. I think when this material becomes too close it narrows down the artistic vision, and it creates a vacuum that is hard to get out of. Sometimes this is part of the project, but I also want to be free to choose for myself how I can use theory. I have never done anything where I've stayed completely true to any theory, and for me it has become a process of adaptation and embodiment. I took an interest in performance art while still studying in London back in 2015, and I had previously known the work of Marina Abramovic, Joseph Beuys and Tori Wrånes. However, I had always seen it at a distance, as this is what I had been “taught” to when studying in the UK. There was never any emphasis on the grey-zones between theatre and performance art and how there were many cross-overs. There was not any denial that such a connection existed, but there were not any real discussions about it either. I had to find out for myself when returning to Norway and actively trying to seek out the physical theatre network here. It led me in a different direction for a while, but I’m very grateful it did. I think that opening up and working within the interdisciplinary art field has made me a better director, and I think it opens up a lot of new ways of looking at directing. I find these connections very intriguing and I hope to enter in a conversation with other theatre and film professionals about this in the time to come. I have often read or heard that many consider the director not to be necessary and that actors can direct each other, especially in devising theatre. Therefore I’m also glad to see that there are several events in Oslo at the moment where we get to discuss what it means to be a director. This might be specifically in theatre though, as I think not that many people would ask if we need a director in a film production. However, it’s healthy to question these work structures and try to understand the times we live in and what we


Women Cinemakers should do with art. I think that we have to reassess all time what we are doing and why we are doing it. In my work within the physical theatre field I have tried to uncover how I want to use movement in my work, and how it will benefit actortraining. I have found many very useful qualities in butoh, and I use it actively to go deeper into my body-awareness. I think the important thing here is to emphasise that all the different methods I encounter and experiment with eventually also lead me back to theatre. I look at how they can add or compliment what is in the theatre, and I constantly work with that exchange. Thinking back to my short period studying in Moscow, I realised just how much you really need to know as an actor also when “just” working with text. Many years later I have developed several methods, but the journey here has been quite challenging. I’m not too interested in labelling my style as a theatre director, as I’m searching for the truth in movement and words but I have perhaps found a signature. The notion of being an is not necessarily what’s most important to me, but to offer the audience something that they could recognize is of course something I keep in mind. I refer to this as my signature, like a signature movement that I always ask my actors to find in the characters to make them come to life. There is a sense of repetition in these signatures, but also a vast potential for creating variations and also changing directions. My biggest dread is to get stuck in one way of doing things, like a recipe, so I always try to surprise myself and see how far I can go. I remember very well how I became conscious of this during a workshop at the Grotowski Institute, where we worked with surprising ourselves by always changing rhythms. I thought: “How far can I go with this? When will it stop being a surprise?”. The answer was that by the time we ended the exercise I had not yet exhausted all the possibilities, so it is a large undiscovered field in our brain and body-memory. Right now in relation to this, I’m also working on gravity, and especially ways you can achieve lightness which also leads the actors to move their energy outwards. I think there is an important exchange between the energy exchanges that happen in the way we direct our energy outwards to achieve that lightness, but also how this energy is returned to us – especially in the contact with others. I saw a play by Romeo Castellucci which you bring up here many years ago, and it is one of these plays that I actually still remember quite well. played at

the National Theatre in Oslo and I went to see it just before moving to the UK and thinking about studying theatre. I remember the grand scenography with the face of Jesus, and the very intimate story about a father and a son, where the father is old and cannot take care of himself anymore. There were very powerful parallels in the narrative, and as an audience we witnessed how we could watch the lives of the characters within all the different layers. It was metaphysical and yet also very much depicting everyday-life, which can in itself be filled with all these big questions and also treated very straightforwardly as well as being elevated. I think Castellucci cleverly showed the audience their own existence in a way where I think many were touched but I also encountered some who were annoyed and thought he’d “dictated” how things were. I think this sort of art is bound to create many different emotions, and all of them are valid. I believe Castellucci is open for this to happen in his work, and he really works very thoroughly with the sensorial connection to his audience. Sound plays a crucial role in your work: the soundtrack by Simen with such a both Korsmo Robertsen provides capable of challenging the viewers' perceptual categories: how do you consider playing within your work? Simen Korsmo Robertsen is a composer and performer working with sound and music in visual and choreographic contexts (gallery rooms, performative arts, film, etc.). I thus felt confident that he would be the right person for this project, and that he would capture the crucial relationship between the music and the performative gestures. He also has this special capacity of understanding in what direction we are heading even though the words are not there to explain just yet. To have both him and Maja as part of our creative team was nothing less than a gift and a very important reason why managed bring our complex script to life. As Maja was in charge of the sound, I worked on how her work would merge with Simen’s visions of the music. I had no experience in working with music for film, and had to learn very quickly what to look for in a process where we had to create the film and the music in parallel processes. I had a very clear vision the general mode of the music, where I would use examples from contemporary classical music, especially focusing on Beat Furrer’s composition . I had been immersing myself in his music very early on in the


Women Cinemakers project and it just stuck with me, as well as Klaverstücke no.6, “Bagatellen” by Wolfgang Rhim. Both compositions have performative qualities in the way they build up the musical score, by offering you long moment almost of silence or “nothingness” before there suddenly is chaos. I felt this sort of musical thinking would help bring forth Joan’s thoughts and her inner life that I also wanted Maja to film. However, to find out how the narrative would be reflected in the music was an ongoing thought process, and we had to have a similar approach as to what I wanted Eirin to pursue in terms of working with a structure but also improvising. I knew that this was a challenge that Simen would be up for, and he also came in with his own ideas during the process and tested the sound in the chapel before we started shooting. I think the research he did prior to the film was very much linked up to what I was interested in working site-specifically and so all of creative processes combined actually was centred on understanding the space. Eirin and I also worked on inhabiting the space through different methods, and this was also something that Simen was there to witness so I think the music is rendering this direct contact with the physical work which is hard to put into words. Simen also used the grand piano in the basement of the church and this is also where he was able to compose some of the key components of the signature musical score for the film. I think my main note in terms of sound and performativity is that I’m looking for a slight dissonance, where I try to stay away from that the music and the movements are perfectly timed. I don’t want them to follow one another in sync, however, they have to stay connected. The emphasis is on the movement that you cannot see, but which is reflected in the movements you do see. The key for me was to not make it too melancholic or beautiful, as I don’t want the music to emphasise what you are already seeing or feeling. This idea comes from a principle that I’ve used in theatre since the beginning: if you want to do tragedy, you cannot play it in a tragic way. Exactly the same as the note on the surreal and that the actor has to play his/her truth. There has to be moments of relief, of comedy and a vast range of other emotions in order to access what makes a tragedy. Eirin mainly worked without music as all the music had not yet been composed when we shot the film. So here she had to set her own rhythm, and thus the music had to follow her and not vice-versa. I think there was something very crucial in that we didn’t have the music in the chapel while filming, because it would have hard not to follow it. This is something I think I will continue working on in the future, as it made way for very organic movements of a body that can only listen to itself and the sound it produces in the space. Her gestures and


Women Cinemakers movements were all recorded, and I wanted longer sequences where that is all you hear. Especially in the tableau where she cuts off all her hair, and when she washes her skin. The music had to compliment these sorts of performative and tactile sounds, and so this was very much a work of finding the balance between spatial sounds and music. Furthermore, I think Simen’s music also very successfully includes almost “invisible” soundscapes, like a murmur in the background that you can hear if you pay close attention. It was lifting forth the performative in a way that didn’t feel overpowering, and the music also draws from Furrer’s musical universe in a very subtle way. I particularly enjoyed the sequences of Simen’s music where there is an uncanny feeling due to the electronical sounds or noise that merges so well with the slightly more classical grand piano sound. It is certainly a type of music where you can grasp that the composer understands performativity, and I don’t think we could have done it any other way. The music thus follows a similar meaning to all the different aspects of our work reflected in the film title. The word “burns” is not just her death but also the burning desire to pursue her quest, given to her by God. The comma in between the words is a sense of breath and thought. We want the audience to think about the title, and experience that pause between the words. Our film is a contribution to one of many Joans. 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: what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I have often been confronted with the way people behave around a female director. As a director you have to keep everything together and be the one who makes the big decisions, and this is why people perceive you as a person of power. There have been a few situations over the past years where people have found it annoying or silently disagreed, but I have always emphasised good communication along the way. However, seeing that same type of strictness and strong opinions coming from a male director, people think that this person is in command of the room and that it’s a good thing. I want us to pause

for a while and think about this, as I think many are not conscious about how they make this difference. I want women to be perceived with the same integrity, and that our work is valid even though we have to make tough choices sometimes. I don’t think it’s necessarily very enjoyable to be in charge all the time, but when I took the step of becoming a director I also had to stand behind that decision. However, I have to say that I have learned when to be in charge and when to let go, but I think some people also find that when I give too much space then they are not sure what to do anymore. All of these reasons combined is why I wish to use my own method of directing, and change some of the current tendencies. I would for instance also call my role “a facilitator”, which is a role where there are no hierarchies also between director/actors and the crew. Many female artists have influenced my work and recently also Maya Deren’s short films, where I immediately thought that this is a woman who had found her signature. She was truly in command of the “uncommon”, she had her own conditions and I think it is the work of a person who really dives into the sub-conscious, exploring fantasies and images in a playful and clever way. I’m not sure where we would be without this freedom, or what we would do if we were not able to insist upon it.. Do we have this freedom now, or do we only think we have it? I don’t have the answer for this, but I want to emphasise the importance of creating your own way – a system of navigation. In large parts of the world there are more and more opportunities now for women to really go their own ways and make a considerable amount of impact on contemporary arts. I think we still have to go through a period where we discuss feminism in the arts, and how we can move forward from here and closer to equality. I guess many are tired of this topic, but we have to prove time and time again that it is a conversation worth having. Until it’s not “needed”, we will have to create a space where women can produce whatever they want and not have any restraints. I believe in the uncommon, because we have different concepts and our views will never be entirely equal. This is what is interesting, and something that should be nurtured in art as well as in life. If we look at the example of what the Theatre of the Absurd teaches us, then we will see how our associations work so differently when faced with a simple image such as “a chair”. Even when reading this people will think perhaps of a chair from their childhood home, a chair in their apartment and so on. This is what I find is so important to think about when


Women Cinemakers creating art, and that there is fact nothing that can be categorised as common. We may have an understanding of the notion of course, but no internal images are the same. This viewpoint is coming from existentialism, which has been very important for me as I would like to set the focus on the human being, and in this is in relation to religion and faith. I hope that women will continue embracing their own journeys, may it be whilst creating something uncommon or living their truth. I think there is especially a big room for us in the interdisciplinary arts today and for everyone alike. Artists who work interdisciplinarily have to stay connected to each other and always stay involved to make it work, and I think this sort of work method that can be developed here is what's needed to move on forward in the arts. We have to exchange, network and collaborate in order to compete with all forms of entertainment present these days. I think that all art fields will continue evolving accordingly, and I sense that there is still much more to come in theatre and film collaborations. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sophie. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I have first and foremost a huge task ahead as a producer for the creative platform Butoh Encounters, where the plan is to launch our newest project Visual Embodies in October this year. As I’m very passionate about butoh, I deem this work to be important as we are in fact introducing the art form to a large audience who have not been exposed to it before. What’s special about this year’s edition is that we merge new technology with butoh, and I think my colleague Karolina Bieszczad Stie has managed to create a platform that is both needed and unique. I see myself working with Butoh Encounters for the next upcoming projects, but I will also prioritise to continue my work as a director. I have been very open to many different impulses during the last three years when building my career in the arts, but it is also very clear to me where my heart is. I have been busy building a platform of my own too, called Schouskollektivet, which is a different way for me to conduct my research on physical languages. Here I work with creating different programs posts that could give other artists room to develop their work

and to do their researches. I have created evening of études and organised Research Rooms, in order to build a network for other artists who would like to work in the interdisciplinary art field. This summer I’m also offering for the very first time an extended program where performances companies and independent artists can have workshops and performances over a weekend. It’s a miniature version of the festival I hope to be producing next year if I can get the necessary funding. Alongside this main Schouskollektivet programme, I also envision getting started on a larger project on Samuel Beckett. This will be divided into two parts: one where I invite artists in to conduct their research on Beckett and where the choose a particular play or novel of his to work on. The second part is that I will do my own parallell research where I will create a trilogy of short films based on selected Beckett works, starting with Krapp’s Last Tape. After working with I have found how I would like my theatre work to co-exist with another medium, and I would like to use film actively. I might use some of the same methods in regards to understanding site-specificity, sound whilst trying to find what and movement as I did with narrative texture or visual framing should require. There is always that feeling that the work requires something unique because no two projects are the same, and it is my duty as a director to find what that is. In the beginning the work is in command, and then I find my signature after researching and working very actively with the material. I think if I were to sum up my future projects I would say that I’m moving into a direction where I’m working with Schouskollektivet as my interdisciplinary platform, and hope that it could reach out outside of Norway. I wish to find a way to travel with the concepts I’ve developed over the years, and spread it to other creatives who might have thought along similar lines. Perhaps initiating a seminar or a touring forum could be the way? I certainly think that we can build a stronger network of transnational artists of all ages working the interdisciplinary arts in the time to come.

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


Women Cinemakers meets

Sari Nordman Lives and works in New York City., USA

Sari Nordman, originally from Finland, is a New York City -based dancer-choreographer, video artist and dance teacher. She loves to travel to the isolated parts of the world and her artistic work is often in relationship to nature. She has presented her choreography in the US and her native Finland, and has enjoyed artist residencies nationally and internationally. She has worked with choreographer Dean Moss in several of his projects since 2009. She holds a M.F.A. from NYU/Tisch Dance Department. Most recently she has received funding from Finlandia Foundation National in support of her art-making. Her aim as an artist is to let her simple, humble human life and art-making dissolve into one interconnected entity where both enrich and feed each other. She also wants to present her knowledge of a female body and mind, and become more conscious of women’s possibilities and skilled in sharing that information. The aim of her artistic practice is to cultivate poetry and explore humanity. She has taught dance to various ages, abilities and backgrounds of students and takes great joy in teaching the next generations of thinkers and doers. She has worked as a teaching artist in New York City public schools since 2007.

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

is a captivating short experimental

dance film by New York -based, freelance dancer-choreographer, video-artist and dance teacher Sari Nordman: its powerful mise-enscène sapiently mixes the ordinary with the surreal, expressing the resonance between


human body and the environment, providing the viewers with a multilayered experience, to encourage cross-pollination of the spectatorship: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Nordman's stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. : we Hello Sari and welcome to would invite our readers to visit in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would like to start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a Master of Fine Arts, that you received from the prestigious New York University’s Tisch Dance Department: how did this experience influence your evolution as a multidisciplinary artist? Moreover, how does your cultural background due to the relationship between your Finnish roots and your current life in the United States direct the trajectory of your artistic research? I have always been interested in different art mediums, learning about techniques and what makes something convey the essence of an idea. Contemporary dance has always felt the closest to me. In addition to dance training at NYU I studied the other arts as much as I could fit into my schedule. I took voice classes in opera and musical traditions, acting, photography, sculpture, digital music composition, studied somatic practices, and continued making choreography that I had already been invested in for years. Before the studies at NYU I

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Women Cinemakers had already designed costumes, lighting and graphics for my performances. So, my interests have always been quite varied, and NYU gave me an opportunity to formally study a range of disciplines. I was introduced to photography early on as my father has always enjoyed capturing images especially of nature and family. I feel that doing photography for so many years has helped me develop an eye for visual composition. I love to watch films and feel that I have an eclectic taste. After meeting with Shane Solow, a NYC -based photographer and video maker, we quickly became interested in collaborating together. I became interested in trying to capture on film the ephemerality of dance combined with poetic visuals. Dance film seemed like a natural way to develop a language together. From 2014 on I have been learning about the many aspects of film making. My Finnish identity has informed my art-making and interests enormously. I was brought up in a country where women enjoy greater equality to men than in many other countries. I was brought up strong and independent; I felt I could be anything, do anything, about as much as the boys. There were plenty of female protagonists in books and movies that I could relate to. I have struggled with having a similar consideration and freedom in my adopted country, the US. I have come to feel strongly that as a female artist I have a duty to present my knowledge of a female body and mind and become more conscious of women’s possibilities and skilled in sharing that information. I feel that it is


important to attempt to cultivate women’s perspectives in the arts and the society at large. Finns are closely tuned with nature; large areas of the country are covered with forests, fields and lakes. Growing up in Finland I learned to love and respect nature and to protect the environment. This has given me a great escape into self-discovery, healing and listening. Hiking outdoors and contemplating the landscape is very much who I am.

For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting experimental short dance video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once impressed us of your insightful inquiry into is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with such captivating aesthetics: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea?


“Sometimes unwillingly we are forced to explore the world around us from an extremely hindered place, a place of disconnection and a place lacking support and resources. One wants to believe that there is a door but it won’t open. This moment may feel like that one has reached a dead end and is only staring or hitting at a wall. But the human spirit and imagination have miraculous ways and even in the most lost circumstances one can find vitality.� I felt the closeness of this symbolic wall and as I became more adjusted to it I started

seeing it as a landscape. This staring at a wall became an initial physical action in the making of a new dance. It turned out that the limitation was really a point of departure to a new beginning and new seeing. I had been working on a dance production and unfortunately the development of it hit a wall. I was unable to find the support and recourses to develop it further. For quite a while I felt crushed and only found new inspiration and vitality when I travelled to Greece. Greece opened a larger


landscape in front of my eyes. I had explored the possibilities of performance within a limited space, and now I learned to play with perspective - at once close and intimate and then distant and revealing. After the first trip came many more trips. I have visited scores of ancient archeological sites and the scenery around the ancient cities is often very spectacular. I have seen how nature ever so gently envelopes and invades these once magnificent cities. Vegetation has grown through the hard rocks and fractured the stones. This is where I came to experience and understand continuation, persistence. That persistence was like a soft, gentle movement forwards, and it seemed like the essence of vitality itself. By the time I was filming in the Corycian cave in Greece in 2016 I was deeply invested in this particular kind of exploration and in finding a movement quality that reflected on the surrounding landscape. is about self-discovery, adjusting and being connected to the environment. It is also about the individual’s need to return to the beginning, to a womb-like place, to understand one’s development and passage. During the editing process I encountered Eeva-Liisa Manner’s poem. I feel that her poetry is philosophical and about mortality and human relationships to nature and to something much greater. The title of her poem became the title of the film as well. I felt strongly how the world of her poem and my work coincided.

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Women Cinemakers Featuring compelling narrative drive leaps off the screen for its seductive beauty: elegantly shot, your film features stunning cinematography by Shane Solow and a keen eye for when details. What were your shooting? What was your choice about camera and lens? The Corycian cave felt otherworldly for making a film and its mythology was deeply inspiring. It is next to Delphi in Greece and ancient Greeks believed that Delphi was the center of the world and was an important site of pilgrimage for centuries. Prior to the visit I made plans to film there. All of the footage is from the first and only visit. The cinematographer Shane Solow is an eccentric photographer and video maker and self-taught historian. He has devoted his life to traveling in Greece and cataloguing his impressions of its antiquities and visual textures. We have traveled together to Greece on several occasions. His historical, archaeological and mythological knowledge of ancient Greece is superb and he has provided a tremendous resource for my artistic research. Prior to the visit we researched the cave, and the expectations were high. The cave is enormous, but the opening is narrow. The opening is the only light source and therefore we had an extremely low light. The play with shadow and light was very interesting and it seemed natural to film in black and white. I gave Shane freedom to direct me to find different perspectives and details; I believe in his visual


aesthetics and compositional talent. In 2016 he used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a 50mm lens. We wanted to juxtapose the nude body with the ancient rocks that have witnessed the rites and passages of people throughout centuries. The body was like an offering and also a sharing with the cave’s particular ecosystem. I felt the mosses and the moist dirt under my feet, caressing my skin. It felt natural to retrieve deeper into the cave, into the womb-like place. has drawn heavily from the specifics of its environment and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful resonance between environment and choreographical gestures. How do you consider the relationship between environment and your creative process? My artistic work is closely connected with the environment and nature. I look at my environment as a landscape that affects my internal body movement. It is deeply felt. Instead of attempting to provoke I am interested in the best way of blending with my environment; finding an architectural connection. It is about creating harmony through listening and connecting. I am not interested in seeing human beings placed on top of their environment seeming somehow superior or different. I believe that there is a deep knowledge and wisdom in nature, and if only I could accept myself as

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A still from


Women Cinemakers part of it I could maybe thrive more from that wisdom. If I could listen and hear more acutely I could perhaps learn from it; I could possibly remember the ancestors and their ways and feel a connection to something greater and outside of time. Rich with allegorical qualities, explores , to draw the viewers through a multilayered journey in the liminal area where the real and the imagined find consistent points of convergence: how do you consider playing with in your artistic practice? I have always had an interest in history and for me there is a play between reality and imagination there. Seeing nature and visiting places with a long history make me wonder whether there is a possibility to summon and awaken sensations that are hidden in a collective memory. Landscapes contain the memory of those who have passed through them and with my approach that is sensitive I feel that I could possibly sense those other lifetimes. I create forms in time and space to rediscover the primitive alliance with nature. For me the quiet energy of nature can sound like the most powerful symphony when attuned to with focus and

concentration. This is where I derive the most importance and it is what I want to reflect to the world. This connection with nature in my mind also reveals a connection to the feminine. Through this synthesis could I reconnect and remember the lost matriarchal past and then perhaps understand the possibilities of the contemporary women better? The Corycian cave was the place of worship for the god Pan and also a sacred site of nymphs and dancing maenads. Historically it was also a place of refuge from Persian invaders. All of this information was deeply evocative and inspiring. In my process the imagined can become real or may influence the reality; it contains a line of thought or a story that supports the performance. I feel that the reality around me is just as rich as my imagination is capable of producing using the information and sensations present. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, a part of your artistic research is centered on : how do you consider the dichotomy between men's and women's sensitivity? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? I was brought up near countryside where the forests and fields were my playgrounds. I have also lived for more than two decades in a fast-paced city. The


Women Cinemakers energies of these two environments differ greatly from each other. NYC is very demanding in that I feel I have to push my agenda, speak up, provoke to gain attention and adapt to a pulse that is fast and everchanging. Among the city skyscrapers I find that these qualities are the sort that enhance masculine ideals. I see how they can affect the quality of one’s artistic work and eventually the appreciation of certain kind of aesthetics among a wider audience. I am in a place as an artist where I am seeking an environment that I feel does not dictate a pulse or a rhythm and that then influences my doings, thinking and my artistic work. This environment that I seek for my process, is more contemplative; it is a place where I feel encouraged to open my ears to listen more deeply and awaken my senses, instead of closing them to a barrage of information. I also think that I yearn for this place as it calls my femininity to erupt, and that feels like home. Maybe there is something mysterious about it, even something contradicting, mythical, resting, sensual, considering, something more about looking in rather than looking out. In you sapiently mix choreographic gestures with the surreal qualities of the ambience: Art historial Ernst Gombrich once underlined the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in

order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? One of my favorite film directors is Abbas Kiarostami and his poetic and spacious films have immensely inspired my own artistic work. Through his films I have become curious of and intrigued by Iranian culture, more than I could have done otherwise. I find that a magical ability. Somewhat similarly to Gombrich he said in one of his interviews that he preferred the films that put their audience to sleep in the theater. It is as if to say that disturbance, provocation and sensationalism for their own sake are not necessarily what hold a lasting meaning but rather that art that gives one space to reflect on afterwards. I am not interested in manipulating my audience to feel or think in any certain ways. Rather I am interested in creating a world that is free for interpretation and yet, is challenging and can help awaken new possibilities of thinking, considering and seeing. And what do you hope will trigger in the spectatorship? We have appreciated the way your approach to dance conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: this aspect of your practice is particularly evident also in Tough, mysterious, sensitive: how do you consider the relationship


Women Cinemakers between the necessity of scheduling the details of a choreography and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does improvisation play in your process? My artistic work often promises something conventionally sensual: it can be tender, soft, invitational, while at the same time can be unconventionally dangerous for its subversiveness. I invite audience to be in a comfortable place, and then by sharing with them my pain, they may be able to encounter their own as a surprising source of strength. I am a dance improvisationalist and am interested in the body’s initial expressivity. In my process I find strictly choreographed movement to be restricting as I am more interested in exploring a transcendental performance presence through a deeply felt relationship to a task, idea or concept at hand. In my process I am interested in how well my body, soul and entire being can connect with the environment and how present I can be in that moment of connection. I choreograph a structure, a line of events and leave freedom for my body to express. My practice is rigorous, detailed and demands a presence of mind. This can be exhausting, even utterly scary but I feel that an improvisational score leaves more room for spontaneity, challenges me to make quick decisions and reflects on humanity.


Women Cinemakers In my recent dance that has a film component I am inspired by the symbolism and imagery of roads and pathways and seek to understand my own personal navigation, and the choices one makes on the path to becoming. Similarly the work followed a choreographed structure, and I had themes that I worked with as a performer. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes: German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": how do you consider the relation between of the ideas you explore and of creating your artworks? Having studied several somatic techniques or alternative body therapies I believe and have learned that our bodies naturally react to information before one becomes even conscious of it. Observing, listening, contemplating, meditating and reflecting serve a great role in my art-making process. I feel that this is where I find the depth and the essence that I am most interested in and what helps me develop the physical act or language. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sari. Finally, would you like to tell us

readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am writing this at a residency in Åland Islands in Finland, in quite an isolated place. I continue balancing my time and energy between two places that are very different from each other. My future work will be and continues to be about a balance between the feminine and masculine and also about the conflict between the two. It will also be about finding a home as I look at my own migrant relationship in the world. I wonder how one communicates one’s identity across the inner boundaries of a new space, and how echoes of another place sustain a person as she continues her path to a new environment. I am currently working on a multidisciplinary dance that has a big film component. It investigates personal history and how encountering new environments shapes one’s identity. It explores how these encounters illuminate a conversation between past, present and the path ahead. Looking into my Finnish heritage I bring in music and objects that represent my culture and reflect on my migrant experiences. In its recent performance in NYC a reviewer wrote: “The sensibility is very Nordic — outwardly still but inwardly deep, soaked in Nature.” Thank you.


Women Cinemakers meets

Susana Lopez Lives and works in Murcia, Spain

I have an artistic background, since 1996 I’ve been working with sound and light, exploring how these intangi- ble materials can act as catalysts focusing our consciousness and altering our perceptions. Regular team member of IBAFF, International Film Festival of Murcia. I’ve coordinated the Film Critic Workshop given by Caimán Cuadernos de Cine in 2018. In 2014 I coordinated the Filmmaker Workshop given by Pe- dro Costa, and in 2013 I also was coordinating and in charge of production of the Film Workshop given by Abbas Kiarostami. So far I’ve made the following short films: Los Otros. Official Selection at 8 th IBAFF Film Festival, 2017. Coil. Submitted to Drone Cinema Film Festival, 2016. Study for Image-Event Ocean. Made for the American composer and writ- er Thomas Bey William Bailey, 2015. I make videoart, scenography and live visuals for music bands and artists as Schwarz, Artificiero, Tomzack, Mentalistas, Listas Futuristas or Mist. Apart from my labour as experimental composer and videoartist, I also work as graphic designer, sound documentalist and cultural manager. I’ve been involved in sound art projects with well-known international artists as Francisco López, Eduardo Balanza or Thomas Bey William Bailey. I’ve given workshops on Field Recordings, Creation of Sonic Landscapes and Pioneers of Experimental Music. I’ve designed and produced sound art installations as Noosfera Sonora at Centro Puertas de Castilla, Murcia; and Arquitecturas Sonoras, collective sound installation at CentroCentro, Madrid. My published compositions are: Megalitomanía, CD; Murcia Materia So- nora (Francisco López, Murcia); Oír Arte (Madrid); Música Dispersa Vol 1 (Música Dispersa, Londres), Microtopies 2013, 2014, 2016 y 2017 (Gràcia Territori Sonor, Barcelona), El Arte y su sonido (LABoral, Gijón), Homenaje a Aram Slobodian (AMEE, Valencia) y Vinfonies, (Barcelona).

regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a Master of Sonology: how did these experiences address your artistic research? Moreover, does your cultural background address your artistic research?

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

: we

would like to invite our readers to visit in we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions

Hi, thank you very much for inviting me to your magazine. Studying at the School of Arts and Art History at University provided me with the tools for my artistic expression, but I have always thought that it doesn’t


matter how much academic knowledge we obtain if we have nothing to express: we need intuition and the seed of creativity within ourselves. I started doing screenings (which were painted straight on acetate) at local gigs and eventually ended up creating live visuals using my own material and transforming it live. From there on, I began to do video clips for other musicians and for myself. My earlier stages in music occurred in a workshop with Francisco López, I started doing field recordings that I would later transform using electronic instruments. Later, I grew an interest in music creation. That was the reason why I decided to do the Sonology master´s degree and, more recently, a workshop in modular synthesis with Carlos Suárez. we have For this special edition of , an extremely interesting experimental selected short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . Inspired by Alicia Noland's El dibujo de los días", your film escapes from traditional narrative form to pursue a sensorial richness rare in contemporary cinema: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us what did attract you of this story? The idea for the short-film came about during a workshop with Abbas Kiarostami, he asked us to film, produce and edit a short in a week. When I read Los Otros (The Others) I completely identified with the main character and her situation: women who are locked in a society driven by men and who are capable of any kind of action in order to escape from that situation. I had to tell this story to get rid of all my demons and to make this problem visible. So when Kiarostami asked us to do the short-film I didn't have a doubt that this would be the story I was going to tell.

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

Elegantly shot, features stunning landscape cinematography and a keen eye for details: 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? The idea was to create an unreal atmosphere, as if the story was set in another time. Because even though it takes place in the present time this story is a universal one, that is repeated through the ages. I wished to portray a placeless image, so it would be impossible to tell where the action takes place: it could be the South of Europe (Greece, Spain, Italy) or it could be the East (Rumania, Iran). The camera I used was a Mini DV, I was looking for an aesthetic similar to Super 8, like a film found in a house in ruins, like a story from another time. Afterwards, I modified the colors when editing on Final Cut. We have highly appreciated the way challenges the audience's perceptual parameters to explore the struggle between reality and dreamlike dimension, your film provides the viewers them with a unique multilayered visual experience: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your process? I’m happy that you ask me about the relation between reality and imagination because it was my wish to transfer the fevered state of the main character. The situation is so deeply oppressive and distressful to her that I needed to communicate it to the audience. The aim was to create something that disrupted and provoked doubts about reality, to show the conflict between the mind of the main character and the mind of society. 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 human body: how was your editing process and how did you balance the combination between elements from the environment and references to human body? Editing the short was a lengthy process. Even thought I had filmed and edited it in just one week for Kiarostami’s workshop, later I edited it again, I changed scenes and I removed the dialogs, choosing to show only the music. The relationship between environment and the human body is evident: woman is mother nature, the creator. The

mountains are female and the sea is the mother's womb, which embraces and comfort us, the sea is the womb to whom we always want to come back. As you have remarked once, responds to the desire to escape from an oppressive society. 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": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Moreover, how do you consider the


role of artist in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age? Yes, my artistic pursuit is the result of my opposition to the conservative society where I live. My art is a way to define myself, to be against the establishment, to encourage people to see that there is other ways to be in the world, even if they are not accepted by the majority people. In my opinion, when it comes to the artist’s role, it has to make you think, it has to introduce other realities that will coerce viewers to question reality.

Sound plays a crucial role in your film and in your artistic practice in general: marked with captivating minimalistic quality, the soundtrack provides the footage of with such an ethereal and a bit unsettling atmosphere: as an experimental composer, how do you consider the relationship between sound and moving images? I would say that I am a synesthetic person: I see sounds and I hear colors. To me, sound and moving image are inseparable. I’ve been creating live visuals and videos for over 10 years, so what I always say is that I play music with


images. Every time I listen to music, I can’t help creating the images in my mind that would go with those sounds: in my case sound can no longer exist without image, and vice versa. Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled Coil and can be viewed at . This experimental film seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something: 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? This kind of sound and visual creation is inspired by Pauline Oliveiros’ Deep listening, which explores the difference between the non intentional nature of hearing and the conscious and selective nature of listening. When I do this kind of videos I’m creating challenges for me and for the viewer who is interested in them, watching them requires taking a side. To listen and to watch a minimalist piece which repeats itself for 10 or 20 minutes is an activity that invites the audience to get into trance. reflects the multidisciplinary feature of your approach and it's important to remark that since 1996 you have been working with sound and light, exploring how these intangible materials can act as catalysts focusing our consciousness and altering our perceptions. What did draw you to such interdisciplinary approach and how do you select a particular medium in order to challenge the viewers' perceptual parameters?

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Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers As I said before, image and sound are inseparable to me. In this video the intention was to show an abstract image, different from nature. I like to look at the objects in a different way, creating underworlds or personal worlds. When you create a transformed reality, the viewer becomes a temporary new inhabitant of it. This is a way to access our inner fantasy worlds. The sound and visual experience is only accomplished with the active participation of the audience. Over the years your films have been screened in several was selected for the occasions and and was featured at the 2017 edition of Drone Cinema Film Festival: how much importance has for you the feedback that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience? Comments received in a festival context are appreciated. I assume that my short-films are addressed to a small audience, to people who must make an effort to understand them. So, it is remarkable that a festival includes them in its selection, because it is a way to encourage and show other kinds of cinema and other perspectives: it is a way to educate the audience in these festivals. You are an accomplished artist and you had the chance get involved in sound art projects with well-known international artists as Francisco Lรณpez, Eduardo Balanza or Thomas Bey William Bailey: so, before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades women are


finding their voices in art: as a cultural manager what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? It is my belief that women have always been there, creating and contributing with their vision. The point is that they have been invisible until now. Ever since the Middle Ages, there has always been women creating and working on experimental music, women such as Hildegard Von Binden, Joanna M. Beyer in the late´s 50, Eliane Radigue or Else Marie Pade in the 60's, Laurie Spiegel in the 70's... We have many more examples until today. Personally, as a cultural manager I do everything possible to introduce them: in my concerts, in sound installations or in compositions dedicated to them like my track ‘To Laurie Spiegel’. Besides, there is a very young generation of women doing very interesting things, on the underground scene and even on the official cultural scene, thanks to new polices promoting women. They are very brave, creative and very prolific: the future is for women. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Susana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Now I’m preparing a sound project, with the artist Eduardo Balanza, that we are going to develop in Norway, where we will present an audiovisual installation. At the same time, I’m still creating live visuals for music bands, such as Artificiero, and I explore new sound worlds with my industrial noise electronic and experimental project Listas Futuristas. My sound and visual work evolves parallel to my life, it’s not separable. I couldn't live if I didn't create videos or compositions, because it is what gives sense to my existence.

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Rebecca Heidenberg Lives and works in Minneapolis, MN, USA

A personal history of multiple pregnancy losses is explored through stop motion animation and live action scenes which meditate on the physical and spiritual dimensions of loss and grief. Shot in both black and white 16mm film and HD color video, contrasting filmic media embody the duality inherent to states of both pregnancy and grief: a flickering between inner and outer, between the invisible and the visible.

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

The Water Children is a captivating experimental short film by Rebecca Heidenberg: exploring a personal history of multiple pregnancy losses, it features essential and well-orchestrated tapestry of images, to involve the audience in a voyeuristic and heightened visual experience, urging them to challenge their perceptual categories to create personal narratives.

Featuring a subversive mix of stop motion animation and live action scenes, The Water Children is a successful attempt to create a captivating allegory of human condition: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Heidenberg's multifaceted and stimulating artistic production. Hello Rebecca and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? In particular,


Women Cinemakers how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Prior to turning my attention to filmmaking, I worked as a gallerist and curator of contemporary art for over a decade. The way I process information was very much formed from that experience. As a filmmaker, I continue to work within a curatorial framework. I collect images around a theme to build a film in a similar way to how I would produce an exhibition. Rather than writing a script, once I have the concept for an idea, I make lists of images and then draw lines between them to build a structure. My aesthetics are also strongly influenced by my experience with contemporary artists working in a range of media from performance art to painting, sculpture and drawing as well as film. My references for The Water Children in particular included artists such as Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected The Water Children, an extremely interesting experimental short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article.


Women Cinemakers What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the ideas of grief and loss is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with such refined aesthetic, inviting the viewers to such a multilayered experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of The Water Children, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? When I began conceiving this project, I was researching mourning rituals and feminist performance art. However, after having had a miscarriage, then an ectopic pregnancy, pregnancy loss was consuming my thoughts. When I found little work out there produced about pregnancy loss in a creative and artistic form, I was motivated to integrate my own personal narrative into the film. The project evolved as I became pregnant again and in the months immediately after I had a late term abortion. Throughout this period of my life, I moved back and forth between writing, shooting and editing and really tried to translate my experience directly into cinema. At the same time, I was doing a lot of research into artistic production, literature and poetry dealing

with pregnancy, loss and grief. All of that research formed the foundation for the film. One artist that I was looking at while developing the film was Ana Mendieta. As a child, Mendieta left her beloved native Cuba in what was supposed to be a temporary exile via Operation Peter Pan. The exile turned out to be permanent and she mourned for her homeland throughout her life. An art historian whose name I can’t recall once said that Mendieta’s work “expressed very clearly the internal splitting of her soul.” When I read this, I realized that my interest in her work stemmed from strange parallels between pregnancy loss and exile. Like Mendieta, I felt a deep sense of displacement both physically and psychologically. In Mendieta’s performance piece Body Tracks (1974), she dips her hands in blood and then runs them down a wall as she slides her body to the floor. The symbiosis between the body’s gesture and its trace really captured for me the experience of pregnancy loss. This piece spoke to the sensation of a duality between inner and outer which I experienced both while pregnant


Women Cinemakers

and while grieving. I decided to restage this performance for my film and emphasize my specific vision by making a direct reference to female anatomy in the corporeal traces on the wall. This piece became a kind of subversive, surrogate mourning ritual for me and a central image in developing the concept for my film. Featuring unique ability in fracturing space and time, The Water Children features gripping combination of stop motion animation and live action scenes, that provides your film with a psychologically penetrating quality. How did you structure your editing process in order to achieve such brilliant results? In pregnancy, a discourse developed between my body and the body growing inside of me and that discourse produced an entirely imagined person. We existed in our own secret parallel universe. In grief, that parallel universe persists. I occupy the space of two worlds: sometimes I flicker between them, sometimes I am strictly in one or the other, and sometimes I exist in the foggy space between them. I live in a play of traces. Through using a combination of 16mm black and white film, color


Women Cinemakers

video, live action scenes and animation, I was able to express the sensation of fluctuating between the various corporeal and psychological states of pregnancy, loss and grief. The narrative structure follows the real chronology of my life during that period and the images were developed with specific reference to particular moments in time. Although sometimes they may seem very abstract, for me they actual visualize my psychological experiences very directly. I think the process was more intuitive than anything else because I was so close to the experience I was representing and I was in an intense state of grief when I finalized the narration and the edit. The Water Children is rich of images marked out of symbolic value, as yellow melon's seeds and references to human blood: how important is the evokative power of symbols and metaphors in your practice? In particular, are you interested in creating an allegorical film capable of reflecting human condition in a general sense? For me, The Water Children is a kind of visual anthology of grief. Many of the images in the film


A still from


Women Cinemakers were derived from my research into visual art, poetry and writing around grief, mourning rituals and pregnancy. They were developed from looking at a lot of different sources, including my own writing, and so they were imbued with multiple layers of meaning. The scene of cutting melon is one example. I was very interested in Chantal Akerman’s film Jeanne Dielman, which was inspired by the women she grew up with. Akerman writes that these women had abandoned Jewish rituals and replaced them with domestic rituals. We can see this clearly reflected in Jeanne Dielman, for whom domestic activities are so central that when she has an empty hour between her otherwise strictly delineated routine, she is paralyzed by the void. Just like Jeanne Dielman, many of us turn to domestic activities as substitutes for religious or spiritual engagement. I was thinking about this idea when I conceived of the domestic scenes in The Water Children. However, in the context of my film, these domestic activities take on new meaning—the melon becomes a surrogate womb. Slicing a

fleshy round fruit and removing the seeds is a very direct way to represent the psychological experience of abortion. The round shape of the melon is also significant because it references the Jewish tradition of consuming round foods during mourning periods. During this period, grief is inarticulate so we eat round foods because they have no mouths. The film really reflects my search for a new language—I was looking for new ways to talk about pregnancy loss because so much of the dominant language, particularly in the case of abortion, is very destructive. Perhaps the film eventually became an allegory about something bigger but for me, it was very specifically about the experience of pregnancy loss and of course this is part of the human condition and much more common than most people believe. Urging the viewers to question the nature of grief from a woman's point of view, The Water Children evokes a caustic, still realistic vision in our globalised, still patriarchal contemporary age. Over the recent years many artists, from Martha Wilson to Carolee Schneemann have explored the relationship


Women Cinemakers 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 you practice could be considered political, in a certain sense? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? I think as a woman making films, particularly a film that is a first person narrative about pregnancy loss, my practice is necessarily political. Pregnancy, pregnancy loss, abortion and motherhood are very much political subjects. These are also subjects that have been marginalized from critical discourse shaped by a patriarchal framework. There are incredible, powerful women that have worked for a long time to resist this marginalization, including Martha Wilson, Carolee Schneemann, Mary Kelly, Joanne Leonard among many others. Their work is vital and I look to them as role models in my own practice. Highlighting the interstitial points between the invisible and the visible, The Water

Children captures emotionally charged moments and seems to respond to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind. What are you hoping The Water Children will trigger in the spectatorship? In particular, how much important is for you to address the viewer's imagination in order to elaborate personal associations? Part of the motivation to make this film, which kept me going even when the process was extremely painful, was that I had been looking for a representation of my experience and I couldn’t find it. I felt very isolated. I made The Water Children for other women that have experienced pregnancy loss but also for their broader communities in the hopes that it would initiate conversation and complicate dominant narratives, particularly about abortion. There are didactic and informational films out there and Hollywood’s trite constructions but I was looking for something more meaningful—an aesthetic engagement that would trigger


Women Cinemakers sympathetic imagination. The path towards this engagement is definitely as Gursky writes, “looking at what’s behind”. The Water Children has drawn heavily from the specifics of indoor and natural spaces and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the locations and the alternance of sense of grief and inner displacement that you have brilliantly conveyed in your film: how did you select the locations and how did they affect your shooting process? The locations directly represented the environments where I was living at that point in my life. The laundry room was in the basement of my apartment building in New York and the windows were shot from my living room where I spent a lot of time grieving. The autumn leaves were shot in Washington Square Park where I walked nearly every day with my dog and the beach was a place in New York where I went to find solace. I was interested in recreating my inner world which of course is always psychologically projected on to our surrounding environment so these locations were natural choices for telling my


Women Cinemakers story. I was also definitely interested in reflecting this play between inner and outer through specific sites. The laundry room was also particularly full of meaning for me. It is a site of domesticity so it brings up a lot of references to the cultural history of female identity. It is also a place to cleanse your clothes and hence a kind of site of rebirth. Through this, the appliances also become surrogate wombs. The mundane routine of doing laundry was also a way to represent how trauma functions in daily life as a disruptive force and at the same time how this kind of grief becomes solitary, unseen and domesticated. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body as you did in collaboration with Maria Kozak: would you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your work with the performer? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of the performances? I immediately had Maria in mind when I conceived of the film. She is not an actor, she is a visual artist. I chose a non-actor because I

wanted the scenes to be focused on performing certain actions rather than on performing a specific character. That said, being one of my best friends, she was intimately aware of my pregnancies and had a clear understanding of my intention with the film. She has also experienced her own traumatic loss—losing her mother as a teenager—and has also had an abortion. I felt that these experiences gave her enough access to the emotional space I was engaging. We worked together in an improvisatory way, only briefly rehearsing and choreographing the actions on set and often changing direction as we saw fit. I would prepare a list of images and actions that I hoped to capture and we would move forward from simple descriptions of those ideas. I think improvisation brought emotional tension and a kind of rawness into the work. Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our contemporary scene it has been a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists. Before leaving this


Women Cinemakers conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the 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. What's your view on the future of women in in this interdisciplinary field? This is a huge question so I won’t attempt to give a full response but I will say that I think a greater awareness of the historical exclusion of women’s voices (alongside many other marginalized voices) and a broader consensus about their absolute necessity is very encouraging. A lot of women who have been underappreciated are finally receiving critical attention and I applaud the commitment of many cultural institutions to amplifying underrepresented voices in their programming. I think we still have a long road ahead of us but am optimistic that we will continue to see women and other marginalized voices become more and more represented so that together we

can complicate a historically white male dominant narrative. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Rebecca. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am hoping to screen The Water Children more widely and am continuing to look for opportunities. I am also currently in postproduction for an exciting documentary feature I’m making with Kristen Brown about a cultural center called El Mejunje in Santa Clara, Cuba that has been really important for a lot of marginalized communities there since the 1980s. You can find more information about the film at www.frikifilms.org. I am also starting work on a new experimental short that will deal with issues around migration and engage with Walter Benjamin though it’s in very early stages so I can’t say much more! An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Maria Belén Robeda Lives and works in La Plata, Buenos Aires, Argentina

My interest in artistic production is about public art, where the boundaries between the public and the private dissolve, and that inevitably takes on a new dimension linked to an ideological component. From this point, we define the city as a complex framework, which obeys the sociopolitical context in which it is immersed. Therefore, I constantly work and reformulate the definition of the city as "an open-air museum" in different contexts. At the same time, I am interested in the role of women in today's society. Using art as a tool to criticize the stereotype of the women and create collective reflections in our culture.

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

Body contrasts traced by the outside is a captivating performance short film by Maria Belén Robeda: featuring unconventional and brilliant choreography, this stimulating work is a captivating exploration of the aesthetic possibilities that arise from the view of a population with respect to the female figure and all the clichés and stereotypes that this implies. Creating a remarkable involvement with the spectatorship, Body contrasts traced by the outside is successful attempt to create a brilliant allegory of

human condition capable of drawing the viewers to a heightened and multilayered experience and we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to this stimulating work of art and to Robeda's artistic production. Hello Belén and welcome to : 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 graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, UNLP: how did this experience influence your evolution as a multidisciplinary artist? Moreover, how does your


current work as a teacher of Fine Arts with Orientation in Scenography and Painting direct the trajectory of your artistic research? My training at the National University of La Plata had a varied journey, personally I was always interested in training as an interdisciplinary artist, so during my student days I was also taking courses outside the academic field. From these studies, my works are produced from a whole, I do not want to focus on an artistic field or produce from an absolute truth, so in my works vary the procedures depending on where the work will be located or the audience that is addressed. Teaching is a field intimately related to production and research. They are binomials that work very well, since as a teacher one is continuously formed and linked to doing. In turn, this field of research is linked to production, I believe that they will not survive alone, production is an encounter with theory and, at the same time, theory with practice. we For this special edition of have selected traced by the outside, an extremely interesting dance short video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . We have been captured by your exploration of the way its encapsulates the resonance between human body and the refined sense of geometry that pervades your work: when walking our readers through the

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers genesis of Body contrasts traced by the outside, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Body contrasts traced by the outside has as an initial kick the work with the body, more specifically with the female body and from a gender perspective, I was interested in generating a work that has a connection with the intimate from the thematic and with the outside from the montage, for that reason in addition to the video, the work works as an intervention in the public space. In turn, the audiovisual work was mutating into something more abstract, born with a concrete idea of showing the female body from a critical position, thinking of repetitive movements within a fictional space. Featuring essential and well-orchestrated choreography and a sapient camera work by Jamila traced by the outside Contreras, involves the audience into an immersive and heightened visual experience: what were your aesthetic decisions when conceiving this stimulating work? In particular, were you interested in providing your performance with an allegorical quality that reflect human condition? Previously to Body contrasts traced by the outside I was working with a specific color palette in my paintings and installations, I am interested in linking all my production and working a video as if it were a painting, a kind of great series in which varied techniques and procedures.


In the case of Body contrasts traced by the outside, the

quality in those uses, I was interested in that message

colors together with the geometrical forms that make

being aesthetically beautiful.

up the scenography are part of a fictional space where I wanted the story with the body to happen. The

We have appreciated the way your approach to

choreographic work is also composed from an

dance conveys sense of freedom and reflects

interdisciplinary perspective, in relation to the body,

rigorous approach to the grammar of body

the plastic field that contains it and the theme of the

language: how do you consider the relationship

work: the female body in society, a critical look towards

between the necessity of scheduling the details of

the female stereotype. I find a certain allegorical

your performative gestures and the need of


spontaneity? How much importance does play improvisation in your process?

very good tool to think about body language or just trace where I would move.

For the corporeal language I like to plan with a small script how the scene will develop. What happened with Body contrasts traced by the outside is that improvisation prevailed, in the course of the objects I found myself with certain speeds that I liked to explore and I simply immersed myself in that. Before filming I made a story board, the use of drawing is a

We have been highly fascinated with the way traced by the outside involve the viewers to such multilayered experience, capable of blending the boundaries between the public and the private: we daresay that you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their perceptual categories to create personal narratives: how much important is for you to


Women Cinemakers trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? The body contrasts drawn by the exterior show the human being, the body of the woman, in her activity and freedom over the environment, here the human condition shows constant development, never fixed, never static, never finished. In this work I was interested in not having a theme that shows a simple view, the boundary between the public and private places is a theme that is implicit in all my works, in this case, the way to generate a fictional space and loaded with figures geometric to record a body alone, stripped. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the music by Federico Jaureguiberry provides the footage of Body contrasts traced by the outside with such an ethereal atmosphere and as well as the way you have sapiently structured the combination between performance gestures and sound: how do you see the relationship between sound and movement? This relationship is vital for the total composition, the realization of the sound was carried out by stages and tests until reaching a final version, even when the work is presented as an installation the sound takes on a very important role, it is truly immersive, the improvisation of the movements were based on their order and forms, the empty spaces and in turn the voice is the protagonist of the story, they are phrases that speak of the body, of the body in society.


Women Cinemakers

As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you are particularly interested in using art as a tool to criticize the stereotype of the women and create collective reflections in our culture. Not to mention that almost everything, from Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen to Marta MinujĂ­n's 'Reading the News', could be considered political, do you think traced by the outside 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? I like to reinforce the idea that everything is political art, with this work I am taking a critical position before a social problem around the female body, it is purely political. The work invites to approach and know the political background in which it was thought. You can not see all the content at first sight, but the viewer will wonder about the reason for that body and its movements. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks?


I believe that these relationships inevitably occur in the process of creation. I am interested that the body appears more or less literally in my works, even painting an abstract work I think about how the body could coexist with it. That was the initial idea of Body contrasts traced by the outside, precisely that relationship between the idea and the physical act. 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: as an artist particularly interested in the role of women in today's society, 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 believe that women have a primordial role in the history of contemporary art, we can take art as a tool to criticize the social injustices that we suffer in all areas, not only to make it visible, but also to transform it. In that sense, I think that women do not have a minor role at all. There is still a way to go, the struggle for equality is a long road, but I do not lose hope. As an artist who has gone through different experiences in the field of art I see an encouraging scenario, I have met women artists,

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Women Cinemakers cultural managers, who take the art as to reflect different problems, which often occur simply because of that, because they are women. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, BelĂŠn. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? My closest project had to do with the opening of Vitrine 01, where I made an intervention at the Birkenstrasse U-Bahn station in Berlin. The work was called the Cubo project: Cubo Project is an invitation to experience the city through transparency. The city is in constant evolution, the exponential growth of urbanity is changing the everyday elements that we inhabit, forcing new ways of building the city and changing the natural order. Through their relationship with concepts such as the ephemeral, the mutations, the hybrid and urban niches, they create new ways of inhabiting and breaking through. Also, I got a scholarship from the University of Seville to do a masters in live performing arts, I am very excited about this new experience!

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


Women Cinemakers meets

Sabina England Lives and works in USA

"Deaf Brown Gurl" is a sign language poetry film written, performed, shot, edited and produced by Sabina England. Voice over and sound design work was designed by Micropixie, a woman musician and sound engineer from San Francisco. The film was shot in both India and USA.

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

Hello Sabina and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a wider idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your B.A. inTheatre from University of Missouri, you nurtured

your education with a Certificate in Filmmaking, that you received from the prestigious London Film Academy: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, does your cultural background address your artistic research? I believe that taking classes and learning from these experienced professionals helped me learn a lot and gave me a good understanding of storytelling, writing, directing, editing, and acting. I also got to learn about history of world cinema and theatre, which is important. Because if you want to make a really good film or write an amazing play, it helps to look back


at older materials and understand why they worked so well with audiences. Today, we live in an age where anybody can make a video or make music and post it on the Internet. But is it any good? People say that you don't need to go to school to study film or art or writing to be a good artist, which might be true but I still think it's good to take a few classes, since there is no harm in that. Nowadays, there is a continuous explosion of new ideas, stories and technological advances in the world, that it would be too difficult to discover them on your own. With the help of a teacher, you would receive great exposure to many things in the world. Lastly, I have an Indian Muslim Bihari background which was definitely a big influence on my upbringing. My culture celebrates storytelling with music, dance and colorful costumes, so obviously that led me to have a profound, intense love for aesthetics, colors, dances, and expressions. Anything that's over the top Hollywood or Bollywood, I love it all. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Deaf Brown Gurl, a stimulating sign language poetry film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://youtu.be/cvu7BWSmoO0. When walking our readers through the genesis

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Women Cinemakers of Deaf Brown Gurl, would you tell us something about your process? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of the videos and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does play improvisation in your process? First, I had written "Deaf Brown Gurl" as a poem, which I performed onstage in San Francisco. I got some great feedback from the audience and then I performed the poem at other festivals, including Pride Fest for LGBTQ people. People would approach me to rave about the poem. Around that time, I was trying to think of what video project I would do. I wanted to make something quick but I did not want to go through the arduous laborious process of writing a screenplay, finding actors and crew, and raise money to make another narrative short film. So I thought, why not use the poem and make a short video in the style of a music video? Instead of a music video, I wanted to do a sign language poetry film with a cinematic style. And that's what I did. When I was shooting scenes, I did not use storyboards. I just relied on instinct and shot


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whatever I thought would look good on camera.

Featuring brilliant camera work, Deaf Brown

It was a very spontaneous process. After I had

Gurl has drawn heavily from the specifics of

the footage, only then I made a plot outline of

its locations and we have highly appreciated

what scenes would go into order. What I am

the way you have created such insightful

saying is, when I set a goal to make Deaf Brown

resonance between environment and human

Gurl, I had no idea what I would do, and I just

body's movement: how did you select the

went with whatever came along in my path.

locations and how did you balance the


combination between elements from the urban environment and references to human body?

footage is still on my hard drive. My poem is

India is a very vibrant society and there's always much happening everywhere I look. I made sure to shoot as much as I could, but I probably only used like 5% of the footage I shot. The rest of

other aspects of Indian culture and identity-- not

about my identity as a Deaf Brown gurl of Indian roots, right? So I thought, why not show all just Deaf, but also Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist. I picked a few locations I wanted to go that highlighted a specific part of Indian identity.


I went there and shot whatever looked beautiful. But I made sure to go to as many places as possible, whether it was near the river or a banana farm or the railway station or the tomb of a Sufi saint. Featuring essential cinematographic style with well orchestrated camera work, Deaf Brown Gurl 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 movement of human body: how was your creative and shooting and performative process affected by locations? Well, I must say that it was challenging to walk around with my camera and shooting random locations because people kept staring at me and would whisper to each other about me. I think they were baffled at why I was filming stray dogs sitting on the streets or of people's hands handling objects! But I just kept doing what I wanted to do because I wanted to capture everything as possible, no matter what. After I had all the footage, I was able to sit down and sift through the scenes and pick the best ones. I didn't want to miss anything. Because sometimes you never know

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if a short 5 second video of the rain pounding the ground outside a temple might look beautiful onscreen. When I was filming, I wanted to shoot both ugly and beautiful places and things. I learned from editing many videos that there is no such thing as too much footage. 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": what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our posttruth contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Gabriel Orozco is right. Our artistic visions can greatly differ depending on where we live. I am a Muslim American woman living in a country where our so-called President Trump and many of his supporters hate people like me, my family and my spouse who was an undocumented Indigenous Mexican man. Many of my good friends are black, Native American, Latino, gay, lesbian, transgender, and queer. Our humanity are constantly questioned. There are people who literally think we are not human beings and don't deserve


rights. It hurts and angers me. I am tired of being polite. Obviously, if I live in a different country where everyone looked like me and shared my religion and culture, maybe my artistic role would be very different. Now more than ever, in Trump's USA, I want to be outspoken against the wave of hate, rage, and fascism. I am a stage performance artist and I have a show called Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life, which is a celebration of love, beauty and life. The show uses elements of sign language, dance, poetry and mime to tell the story of the cycle of life and death. My show includes video as well that shows sacred prayers and ceremonies from all over the world, because my goal is to show people that hey, the world is huge and beautiful and we're all very different, we should celebrate and honor and respect each other. I think that's a nice big fuck you message to all the racist and hateful bigots. We daresay that Deaf Brown Gurl could be considered an allegory that depicts personal freedom. Do you agree with this interpretation? Moreover, how much important is for you to create a flow of images capable of triggering the spectatorship perceptual substratum in

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Women Cinemakers order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? I daresay that you are right. The message of my poem is: stop worrying what people think of you, start loving yourself and accept who you are. Go be free and step into the world and claim your place in society. This world is a very misogynistic, woman-hating racist place, so it can be an extremely powerful and asserting moment for us women to make ourselves loud and heard. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how do you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of creating your artworks? Being profoundly Deaf, I do not have perfect speech to speak onscreen or onstage. I can read lips and I can speak fine, but sometimes people don't always understand me. So it is better that I use sign language (with voice over or subtitles) to ensure that every single person understand what I'm saying. Hence, making a sign language poetry


film is perfect for me, being that I can express ideas through physicality of sign language. However, I am much more physical in my live performance art onstage, but with film, I am more visual than physical. I like to show images of places and objects rather than on myself. I want to make people examine closely and intensely stare at something. LOOK AT THIS, isn't it amazing? For example, I like to watch extreme close-up shots of bees working and pollinating flowers and crops. It's amazing to think that something that tiny is instrumental in creating food for us to eat. That is what I want to do, to make people stop and think for a moment about something incredible. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the one that you have established with Micropixie - a woman musician and sound engineer from San Francisco - are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your work? Can

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Women Cinemakers you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different disciplines? Due to having no ability to hear anything, I am not able to decide what kind of music or audio would sound good to establish a certain mood in my projects. I leave it up to the musicians to work on that. They need to understand my vision although I already admire their works. I know they'd bring something different to the table. Filmmaking is a collaborative project. It is not all on one person. It is all about a group of people bringing their own styles to make one deeply touching story. When I ask people to work with me on projects, it's because I respect them, I know that their style would work with mine. I have worked with Micropixie before, we performed together in San Francisco. She has been supportive of my works for many years. I asked her to work with me and do sound design on Deaf Brown Gurl. She watched the video a few times and asked me many questions. She'd send long e-mails detailing her ideas and asking me for my feedback. Most of her ideas were great and I told her to do whatever she wanted with the soundscape. It was her idea to have moment of total silence in the


middle of video and then to insert a whoosh sound. It was all her work. Over the years your short films have screened at festivals, galleries and workshops around North America and Europe, including the Tucson Fringe Theatre Arts Festival and the Cherokee Performing Arts Center: 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 artistic language is used in a particular context? Yes, sometimes I am looking at people in the audience to see how they react to moments in my films or performances. But I cannot always judge their looks. They may look shocked or upset but that's due to them processing their thoughts while watching. I try not to worry too much about the audience's involvement with my works. I try to make it a point to use accessible ideas in storytelling. I want people to be able to understand my message.I don't want to alienate anybody. I want people to listen, enjoy, understand and learn from my art.

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Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sabina. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am working on making storyboards for a sign language cyberpunk music video called D.E.A.F (Deep Enigmatic Audio Force) and I am collaborating on the project with a company called Cyberfish Multimedia (based in Washington DC) to develop special effects and other ideas for the video. I plan to work with another deaf cinematographer who will help with secondary filming. I have filmed footage in Shanghai and will shoot some more in St. Louis and maybe Paris, France, as well. I will also perform at New York International Fringe Festival in Manhattan, New York with 5 performances of my show, Allah Earth: The Cycle of Life, on October 2018. I am writing two stage plays, one play is about death and the afterlife, and the other play is about a family in St. Louis who is affected by the Black Lives Matter protests. You can follow my works on social media: http://www.twitter.com/SabinaEngland and http://www.facebook.com/SabinaEngland An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Tatiana Istomina Lives and works in New York City, USA

“Philosophy of the Encounter: Hélène’s Story” is a puppet performance staged for video. It is based on the story of Helene Rytman, who was murdered by her husband, prominent French philosopher Louis Althusser, in 1980. Today Helene is largely forgotten; in death, as in life, she remains an insignificant woman lost in the shadow of her famous husband. Althusser, however, remains an influential thinker: his texts written before and after the murder are published, widely read and discussed. He is most well known for his theory of ideology formulated in the 1960s and the memoir describing the murder. The film attempts to reconstruct the story from Helene’s point of view and and to explore its consequences for Althusser’s philosophy.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Tatiana and welcome to : we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a wider idea about your artistic practice and we would start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid background and after having earned your MFA in Fine

Arts from Parsons at The New School in New York, you had the chance to nurture your education at Salzburg Summer Art Academy. How did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, do you think that there is any central idea or interest that connects all the aspects of your artistic research? Art making is not my first profession: before becoming an artist I worked as a research scientist and received a PhD in geophysics from Yale University. This background has shaped my personality and continues


to influence my artistic practice – not so much in its content, but in terms of methodology and general outlook. Science operates through abstractions, using theoretical concepts, principles and descriptions to help us understand how the natural world works. The intellectual apparatus of abstract thinking and representation is extremely powerful, but it also has major faults, and most of my projects explore both the potential and the limitations of abstraction in its different forms. For example, in some of my artworks I have explored how our view of history tends to rely on abstract, theoretical concepts and generalizations while disregarding the experiences of individuals. I have worked with archival documents, photographs and footage, reproducing, interpreting or altering them through painting, drawing and video, to question such sterile view of the past. You are a versatile artist and your practice is , ranging from painting and drawing to film and mixed media. Before discussing your artistic production, could you tell us what the multidisciplinary approach means for you? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? Different mediums may be compared to different languages, or more precisely, different cultures, each with its own specific relationship to the world. Switching from one medium to another is like crossing national borders, and working with several mediums at once is similar to being continuously en route: familiar with most places, and not quite at home anywhere. It can be both liberating and uncomfortable; it makes you feel insecure, but gives you a

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Women Cinemakers sort of freedom. In my practice the choice of the medium is often dictated by the sources I use. When I became interested in the history of the Yalta conference I looked at many archival photographs, documents and footage related to it. Thinking about how historic photographs shape our view of the past, I decided to reproduce and alter the images with ink and watercolor. And to highlight the bizarre, ambiguous character of archival footage, I recut it into a short film telling a fictional spy story that allegedly took place during the conference. On some occasions my fascination with a particular medium and its problems becomes the motivation and the main subject of a project. For example, I have always been interested in abstract painting, its history and philosophy. In order to explore these issues from a new angle, I presented some of my paintings and drawings as if they were made by another artist – an obscure Russian-American painter Alissa Blumenthal, who lived in New York in the 1930-1980s. Over time the momentum of Blumenthal’s narrative forced me to expand the project by creating ephemera – photographs, exhibition announcements, catalogues, etc. – that document the artist’s life. These materials are usually displayed as installations alongside Blumenthal’s artworks. The project is about abstract painting, but Blumenthal herself is an abstraction – a fictional character inspired by the biographies of thousands of New York artists who are forgotten today. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at


A still from Philosophy of the Encounter: Helene's Story . What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into is the way it provides the viewers with such an intense visual experience. When walking our readers through the genesis of your film, would you tell us how you developed the initial idea? I don’t think many people today would recognize the name of Hélène Rytman, and those who do would only know it in connection with the name of her husband,

French philosopher Louis Althusser. Althusser developed his own particular brand of Marxism in the 1960s, and his ideas about the role of ideology in society remain influential today. Hélène’s only claim to fame is her role as Althusser’s wife and also his victim, killed by him in a fit of temporary insanity in 1980. After the murder Althusser was declared unfit to stand trial and stayed in a psychiatric hospital till 1983. Upon his release he continued writing, producing several philosophical essays and a memoir, in which he described his and Hélène’s lives, their relationship


A still from Philosophy of the Encounter: Helene's Story and her death. Today Althusser remains a respected philosopher: his texts written before and after the murder continue to be published and read. Hélène, on the other hand, is completely forgotten: in death, as in life, she remains an insignificant woman lost in the shadow of her famous husband. I became fascinated by this story because it conflates so many things: radical philosophy, politics, ideas about human freedom and agency, psychoanalysis, gender and power dynamics in a marriage, mental illness, etc.

But most of all I was interested in what remains concealed, inaccessible in Althusser’s account of the events – that is the voice of Hélène herself, who is present in the story only through her absence. I couldn’t help but wonder what would be her version of the narrative. It was nowhere to be found, so I had to make it up myself.

features a combination of skillful cinematography and effective composition: what were your


when shooting? In particular, what was your choice of camera and lens? This has been my first attempt at making a film using an actual film set, lighting, actor and props. In my earlier projects I have either used found footage or filmed on the go with a hand-held camera or a smartphone. The idea to stage and film a puppet performance came up as a result of my collaboration with Canadian artist Mona Sharma, who works with fabric sculpture and digital drawing. When I invited her to join me in this project she took Hélène’s story very much to heart and crafted a set of large dolls representing Hélène, Louis and a few supporting characters. They were absolutely amazing – very bizarre, humorous and somehow tragic. So the main task I put to myself was to bring these dolls to life, to figure out what they can do and what can be done to them, to see how they can communicate with the puppeteer, the viewer and each other. I didn’t have a prepared script to begin with; the narrative was developed as we were filming, based on what was happening on the set. I was shooting with Canon 6D DSLR Camera with 24-105mm L-series lens. Each scene was designed as a different kind of interaction between the dolls and the puppeteer, with a specific emotional atmosphere emphasized by colored backdrops and lighting. Only during editing they were organized in a sort of ambiguous narrative. In your film you leave the floor to your characters, finding an effective way to develop with the viewers. What was the preparation with actors in terms of ? In particular, do you like

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Women Cinemakers spontaneity or do you prefer to meticulously schedule every detail of your shooting process? Spontaneity and chance are essential to me, and whether I work with paint or with camera, I like to let go of control to some extent, or to purposefully create situations in which something unexpected may happen. In this case I worked with a very talented young artist Anna Gregor, who developed a strong rapport with the puppets. We rehearsed very little. I would suggest a few key actions and describe the psychological state implied by the scene and let her work it out on the set. We usually took two, three takes for each scene. Sometimes there would be small accidents during a shoot: a prop would fall and turn over, a puppet would shift suddenly or refuse to move in a way Anna wanted, so there would be a short struggle between them, etc. Almost always such moments turned out to be the most interesting and psychologically convincing and were retained in the final cut. as a captivating We see inquiry into . Many artists express their ideas through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative process. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once noted: " ". How do you consider the relation between character of the issues you explore and of creating your artworks? Physicality in art making is extremely important. An artwork does not exist as a pure idea, it is always embodied in


Women Cinemakers something – an image, an object, a film, a piece of text, an action. And of course, the physicality of the artist and of the materials she uses are parts of the equation. I think the best way to get a grasp of abstract ideas is to make them physical, to relate them to human body, to the fact of our physical existence – its precariousness and finality. This is the ultimate test for any theory. In a way, Philosophy of the Encounter is my attempt to scrutinize Althusser’s theory from the perspective of the body – the body of his wife, but also my own and the body of the viewer. The most aggressive and powerful ideas often intrude into the life of the bodies, shaping, marking, bruising, and sometimes destroying them. In this project the physical fact of the puppets dictated everything else – the work of the performer, the storyline, the filming process, etc. Puppets are exceptionally good receptors for the emotions and anxieties we project into the world. There is something both attractive and repelling about them, their grotesque and somehow pitiful imitation of the human form. They are capable of causing extreme emotion. The relationship between a puppeteer and puppets is that of mutual dependence. She is the master controlling them, but also a caretaker attending to their minute needs – holding and cradling them in her arms, carrying them around, dressing and undressing them, adjusting their limbs, clothes and hair. Their dumbness and passivity, the limpness of their bodies may be very vexing, very provoking to her. When shooting the film, I wanted the actor, Anna Gregor, to experience the whole spectrum of emotions that a close interaction with puppets may produce, and to convey

them to the viewer. Some scenes required Anna to be very tender and affectionate toward them, in others she had to physically abuse or even disfigure them – as in a scene where Hélène’s body is symbolically disemboweled at a dining table. For Anna this performance turned out to be very poignant, emotional experience. Your film walks the viewers on a tightrope between dream and reality, and we daresay it invites the viewers to draw inside their own memories and personal experiences in order to interpret what they see on the screen. How important is it for you to trigger the viewers’ imagination to extract the meaning of your work? Were you interested in work that reflects human creating an condition? I am not interested in making didactic or easy-to-digest artwork that tells the viewers how they should think or feel about things. My projects tend to be explorative and ambivalent; they are questions that interest or trouble me, or problems that are not or cannot be adequately resolved. Instead of leading the viewers to some predetermined conclusion, I try to open a space for them to step in and actively discover things by themselves, drawing on their own experiences and associations. Imagination plays a big part in this process. And yes, you are right in that the film may be viewed as allegorical. In fact, it features a number of allegorical personages. One of them is Philosopher’s Mind – a brain with male genitalia attached it, which floats above ground and spawns a flock of smaller brains, Philosopher’s


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Women Cinemakers Disciples. Another is Female Friend – the headless and armless figure of a woman or young girl, who visits Louis in his daydream. She is a feminine presence in its most basic, truncated, anatomical form. The puppeteer herself, in her all-white body suit that makes her anonymous but far from invisible, is an allegorical representation of the forces beyond our control, which, according to Althusser, determine how we act and think in each situation. As you have remarked in your director's statement, your film attempts to . We daresay that your work conveys subtle criticism of androcentrism in our globalized, but still patriarchal contemporary age. Given that almost everything, to from Martha Rosler's Marta Minujín's , could be viewed as , do you think that could be considered a political work? Do you think that your being a woman provides your artwork with some special value? Certainly, the project is highly political. It cannot be otherwise, if one of its protagonists is Louis Althusser, a Marxist philosopher who wrote about the role of ideology in society. According to Althusser, ideology is a set of concepts through which we live our relationship with reality, but which does not truly represent this reality. It makes us believe that we are free subjects, while in fact all our thoughts and actions are controlled by ideological institutions such as state, family, education, etc. There has

been little discussion on how Althusser’s crime relates to his theory. But this relationship is important if we want to understand his ideas. At the time of the murder, was he, radical philosopher Louis Althusser, a free individual, a cog of in the oppressive ideological apparatus, or a puppet activated of some social or biological forces beyond his control? And what about Hélène? Was she another puppet playing out a predetermined role in this drama, or did she have a freedom to resist it? In the broadest sense, the project is about the power and gender dynamics, which are intrinsically political. Regarding your second question: I don’t think a woman’s work is more or less valuable than the work made by a man. Besides, the problem of value in art is a slippery thing. But I hope my artwork may offer a slightly different perspective on things, especially in relation to fields such as philosophy, which has been traditionally dominated by men. Music plays an important role in the narrative structure of the film and we have appreciated the way the tapestry of sound by Susan Kuo and Brian Riordan provides the footage with such an : how do you see ? For me the relationship between sound and image in a film is absolutely crucial. In many of my videos the sound, such as an off-screen narration, undermines or complicates the effect of the image, and vice versa. I think the tragedy of Hélène’s and Louis’s situation, especially in the final weeks before her death, was their inability to


communicate with each other. This is why I decided not to use dialogue or narration in the film and show the protagonists locked in their respective silences, or struggling to express themselves through non-verbal murmurs, moans and mutterings. Naturally, the music score has become the thread that ties together all the scenes in the film and helps to convey the complex psychological states that the characters go through. I have been lucky to work with two excellent musicians from Pittsburgh: Susan Kuo who improvised with vocals and piano, and Brian Riordan, who took care of electronics, recording and production. This was the first time I collaborated with professional musicians and it was fascinating. After Susan and Brian reviewed the footage, the three of us discussed the main character themes and the mood and emotional atmosphere of each scene, which ranged from tranquil, sleepy and sweet to harsh, aggressive and bombastic. With that in mind, Susan and Brian improvised and recorded a dozen of tracks in a single take without overdubs or edits. Susan performed vocals and played a grand piano using various implements to modulate its tone. Some of those were quite unconventional: for example, in one track she was sweeping the strings with her nails, and in another tapped the strings with a vibrator. At the same time, Brian was modifying the sound by shifting acoustic levels and adding electronic samples using his custom-built software. This resulted in wonderful improvised soundscapes, where the musicians’ mechanical and electronic manipulations slip in and out of the listener's awareness. Brian and Susan have recently released three albums, Paragon's Pendulum, Axiom's Anchor and Canon's

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Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers Crossbow, which include the original tracks and excerpts from the film score; they can be found at arborance.bandcamp.com. You are an artist whose works have been showcased on numerous occasions, so before leaving this interesting conversation we want to ask about yours view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', 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? Showing work that is considered unconventional or somewhat difficult for the viewer is definitely not an easy task; many curators and galleries are hesitant to deal with it, thinking it may scare off the audiences. And as with most professions, women have a harder time in contemporary art and film than men. I can’t predict the future for women artists, but I’d like to be optimistic. Certainly, things have been changing for the better in the past few decades. On the other hand, we see that women’s rights, such as reproductive rights, are being drastically restricted in parts of the US, and this seems to be part of a major conservative trend which is generally not very favorable to gender equality. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Tatiana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?


Before starting on a new piece, I am going back to my old project, editing several dozens of audio interviews I collected in different parts of the US in 2014-2016. The interviews were recorded as part of a participatory project that explored various concepts of danger and fearfulness in American society. I invited different people to tell me a “scary” story about anything they wanted, and to draw in response to another person’s narrative. I then reworked the stories and drawings into short films and released them online. The resulting “Scary Story” collection consists of over 50 films, most of them ranging from under 1 minute to about 12 minute in length. They can be viewed at http://www.scarystoriesproject.com/. Some of the films express storytellers’ personal anxieties, but others relate to collective fears caused by the country’s social and political problems. Right now I am finishing another Scary Story film based on interviews I recorded in Texas in 2015. It is titled , and this time the off-screen narration is combined with the footage I recorded at Texas zoos. The project’s next and last installment will be based on the interviews I collected in New Orleans in 2016. When finally complete, the Scary Story collection will be a psychological portrait of pre-Trump America, with brewing tensions underneath a relatively calm surface and polarized opinions on all issues, from climate change to women’s rights, gun control and others.

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

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Gala Mirissa Lives and works in Barcelona, Spain

I love to combine the Photography and Art with motion graphics and thus create something that looks alive, great but also unique. Feeling the movement as an universal language and the song of our bodies.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com AGORAPHOBIA is a captivating experimental video by Gala Mirissa: inquiring into into the notion of movement as an universal language, it challenges the viewers' perceptual parameters initiating them into highteneed experience capable of encouraging a cross-pollination. One of the most interesting aspects of Mirissa's work is the way through her experimental approach, she combines the Photography and Art with motion graphics and thus create something that looks alive, great but also unique. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Gala and welcome to WomenCinemakers: before starting to elaborte about your work we would like to

invite our readers to visit www.galamirissa.com in order to get a wide idea out your artistic production 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 your studies of Philology you nurtured your education with the Multimedia program at the Online University of Catalonia: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural background direct the trajectory of your artistic research? I started to study Philology in a vocational way, being a library rat since a child. I love literature and languages. But fate took me casually to the Multimedia world. I had a long period of rest due to a surgery that became so complicated and I had to undergo continuous surgeries more. My recovery was prolonged in some years of rest


Women Cinemakers and on the internet I found the basis of my training. And later to study this was my passion. The difference is that I looked for the Philology but the Audiovisual world looked for me to heal me. Do not you find it curious that my passion for giving movement to photographs started when I could not walk? Art really heals, because the ability to create makes you useful. Also Philology is not only linguistic and literature, it has a strong roots with history, communication, art or sociology. This is where I find a balance, because once I have acquired some knowledges I find a range of possibilities to combine audiovisual art with a deeper and sentimental theme. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected AGORAPHOBIA, 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://youtu.be/BOg1eRLTQPE. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the notion of movement as an universal language is the way your work provides the viewers with a multilayered visual experience. When walking our readers through the genesis of AGORAPHOBIA, would you tell us what did draw you to focus on the theme of agoraphobia? Women are more likely than males to be victims of suffer physical or mental abuse, reason why they are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety compared with men, and they are three times as likely to have agoraphobia (fear of being in public places). Usually there are victims but blamed by society, and when they fall ill they become defenseless . About 10%–14% of women will have post-traumatic stress

disorder in their lives, compared with 5%–6% of men. And 6.6% in women will have generalized anxiety disorder, but just 3.6% of men will. I dedicate it to all those women who have suffered some mental disorder or anxiety product of a society that annuls them as people. In particular, one of my favorite poets, who could not stand the pressure and ended up committing suicide, Alfonsina Storni, who wrote a combative feminism in the line that is observed in the poem "You want me white", which is motivated by relationships problematic with man, decisive in the life of the poet. Making reference to a society that demands more to women than to men. We have particularly appreciated the gorgeous nuances of tones that marks out your works: could you tell us something about the evolution of the pallette of your images? I am responsible for animating these images and give alive, a process in which unfortunatly lose some resolution when creating different frames for animation. The merit of this visual quality depends of high-sphere professionals. Without the excellence of ERICH CAPARAS, (Graphic arts and photography for a living 1980-2000 for clients like National Geographic, Smithsonian, Discovery Channel, Kodak, Durst, Victoria Secret, and the White House), and the makeup artist Hilde Marie Johansen ( Co-Founder of SMA Makeup Academy, Bangkok ) this video would not have been possible. I would also like to mention many more professionals who have done possible this video, in makeup, hairdressing, modeling, photography effects, etc :


Cathz BA, Elite Photoart Studio, Mini I'am , Tamonwan Duangjak, Ponsawan Pansun , Suphatida Srisopon, Bee Issarangkool Na Ayutthaya , Nooth Pudy, Namthip Thiphayakamol Tanon Tanabhataravaratorn, Namliab Prapat, Morphacio Bodyart, Ikie Morphacio Bodyart, Crystal Oceanie, Stefani Anggadjaja, Hilda Winaz and Victoria Marlina of Makeover Makeup Academy, Rocky Jaya Saputra, Prima Imaging Kedua, Jean Dara, Ann Sarocha, Wennifer Chia-Wei Hsu, Nissara Janhom Pattarawan, Eve Panjama Sangtaewtim, Weeraya Wongpinij, Chakrit Chanpen , and Tor Kolangcom. Your practice deviates from traditional videomaking and photography to create a powerful combination between movement and stillness: what did address you to explore the boundaries between staticity and the evolution of images? Sometimes I am a bit impulsive, but this allows me to have a certain naturalness and freshness, unleashing tendencies. I escape from traditional marketing because I did not start with the intention of marketing, I love exhibitions and Art. I do not think of the techniques but of awakening the sensory system either with sight or sounds, and incidentally, awakening consciousness. I do not pretend to like a specific audience, but enjoy doing it. Game with the images giving live to the static. I want a image vibrant and agitated.

like a game. To this we add the stimuli received by emotions, both positive and negative, that mark our personality. To be creative and inspired, I need to be alone. If I am working, I need my secret space in my own office in front my three computers, always on. Although I did not set a schedule or discipline, I start my animation after having the idea in my mind. In this I feel free. Usually I do not work more than one Looping video for day. That piece will be unique and special. And when time has passed, I join Loopings to create a video. But there is another creativity in me that becomes a constant 24 hours. I carry a small tripod in my bag to use it with the phone, but if I know I'm going to a special place or event, then I go with my camera, video camera, and another tripod. I also license images in motion and cinemagraphs, so any showcase helps me create an image. I record and photograph everything that I see around me, already thinking about what I will do with that image. Sound plays an important role in your video and it sometimes provides the footage of AGORAPHOBIA with such etheral and a bit enigmatic 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?

AGORAPHOBIA also raises questions on the issue of identity and reflects a constant change in your selfimage: how does direct experience from everyday life's experience fuel your creative process?

Many videoart mates write to ask me where I get the sounds, if I can provide the sources. We know that there are free libraries of rights to extract music, but it is difficult to find sensual voices and sounds, and if you find them they do not adapt well to your scene.

We are creative when within the possibilities of our environment, we are able to create something new. It is

Well, I start from the emotions, I am a very sensitive woman, there are days that I am extremely happy,


Women Cinemakers

passionate, others in which I would like to throw myself into

laughter, even I recite poetry and narrations written by me.

the void, hurt of this cruel and unjust society, etc ... and

That is my essence and spirituality that I then apply to my

approve these states of encouragement to record what

works. I try to make each of my works a part of me. I want

comes out of my soul, sighs, complaints, cries, applause,

to achieve a personal and unique touch, and make my


Women Cinemakers moment I felt in this state, and I added it to the video. It was a success, many people wrote to congratulate me ... but I did not do anything, I just showed myself as I was. I think that socially they force you to contain your feelings, you have to be serious and calm, to be correct, but then I am not myself. AGORAPHOBIA seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something: 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? how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your artistic practice? Erich Caparas is the photographer of this video , and I perceive him more focused on the human species. In Gurski, the human is part of an environment, becoming just another element more. For the video I chose images of several women and one man, I wanted to focus on people and avoided any environment. With the succession of female images, all of them differents, I wanted to convey that it is a disturbance that can affect everyone equally. The fact that there is only one male figure reflects the minimal proportion that affects this type of anxiety in males. videos part of my essence. Time ago, I made a gothic video with the artist Giussepina Irene Grocia (Gigro), and it was like an awakening of my own personality. I had the impulse to record my sensual voice because at that

Especially in relation to modern digital technologies, what is your point about the evolution of visual arts in the contemporary art? In particular, how is in your opinion technology affecting the consumption of art?


Women Cinemakers Multimedia is the future and already the present. Museums will become virtual reality exhibition spaces and we will see a Van Gogh walking in "a starry night" in front of our noses. We're going to see Mona Lisa printed in full-size 3D, and we're going to have a Dalí hologram talking to you with your real voice. It is unstoppable, any image that we are seeing today, in a matter of years will be obsolete. Photography as a flat, paper concept will no longer make sense, everything will be projections in movement. Even the type of animation I work with is already obsolete. You can see this on TV, but in Museums you will feel them as a real experience. The same will happen with paintings. We will see them exposed not only in movement but in 3D. Humility and naturalness will be lost a bit, the power to create things with your own hands will lose valour...that´s sad, but is the progress. The new apps will serve to give any kind of effect and it won´t be necessary to study. The painter and the artists will be left alone, his work will be devalued, unless he adapts to the new virtual times and decides to invest in a multimedia team. Google is going to launch a video editor to convert your files into virtual reality videos, so that any user will be able to create. It will be necessary to have knowledges of Adobe Premiere Pro or Apple Final Cut Pro. But I would not be surprised if in a few years we do not even need that. We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and especially the way you recontextualized the idea of portrait and body: many artists, ranging from Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi to French painter Victorine Meurent did not fall to prey to the emotional prettification and gave crucial

A still from

contribution to the development of art: from immemorial ages 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 experiences as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I can not see the difference of the current woman to that of our ancestors, I am the total negativity before this issue. We consider that we have more rights, that we are freer, we can be independent and study ... but it is a mirage. Actually, when a woman is sexually abused, at the judgment she is asked what kind of clothes she wore, whether she put up resistance or closed her legs tightly. If she is also pretty, the precedence that perhaps she provoked is added. The woman is always blamed. And as for the theme of emotions, we try to repress the emotional character of the woman. If you see a very heartfelt woman, who cries a lot, if she gets angry easily or is passionate and dreamer, maybe people call her temperamental, bipolar or crazy. If she is sensual it will surely be an easy woman or with little birds in the head, in love ...etc. Besides considering that this kind of women aren´t intelligents. All are false stereotypes. Society tends to devalue the feminine character, it is not well seen, when it is something beautiful and sentimental, but a man can behave rudely and temperamental after the victory of a football game, verbiare curse, behave like a male and nothing happens. Respecting Art, if the new generation of visual artists are mostly female, why are they so little visible today in exhibitions, fairs and galleries?


Women Cinemakers

Linda Nochlin wrote the article “Why have there been no great women artists?�, showing the struggle of women to win the visibility and recognition they deserved, but nothing has changed.

Another important fact to mention is that women, having a lower visibility compared to men in Art Galleries, appear frecuently nudes. We are seen more as objects , our ideology is unimportant, society wants us beautifull and


Women Cinemakers

empty. This is because in the video Agoraphoby the protagonists are extremely beautiful and semi-naked women. Society wants them in that way and it is a real psicological pressure.

RIGHT TO EDUCATION, sponsored by the AIAPI Unesco. That takes place in SPAZIO-TEMPO Arte e FONDAZIONE OPERA Campana Dei Caduti, and curated by Roberto Ronca.

Also in Spain I do not find an special interest in visual arts, if in our country it is difficult to live from art, for a woman it is an almost impossible task, of all the artists that I know, I could not say if more than two live exclusively from their production. The usual thing is to combine it with other jobs.

On August 31 I will participate in "Silently Moving Festival" at the legendary Essaney Silent Film Museum, located on the original site of Essanay Studios, San Francisco - where Charlie Chaplin's Tramp films were produced, and where silent films are on show weekly.

I m not really possitive, sinceresly. Maybe when politics use us in some political cause to gain feminine votes they encourage equality, but it will be unfortunatly temporary. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Gala. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? You are welcome! It´s my pleasure. Actually I need to stop to think about where I'm going. I have the feeling that I'm working a path and I'm moving towards something new, that I do not even know what it is, but I know it will be related to 3D space. So I'm going to take a few sabbaticals and then continue studying hard. As projects I have many festivals pending for this 2018. I am a finalist in VISUAL ARTIST AWARDS MIAMI 2018 for The Best Technical Innovation (VVA 2018) to be held this July 1st. Between June 23 and September 23, I will be participating in the exhibition HUMAN RIGHTS? ' : INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION - DEFENDING THE

I'm working with GIGRO in a Gothic exhibition in Italy, called but I still can not specify more information. And as something more specific and laborious, I am doing a dissemination of the 2014 Genocide about the Yazidis. The Yazidis are persecued to resisted to convert to Islam. According to the UN, some 5,000 Yezidis were killed and 200,000 people fled from panic of being killed, raped and sold as slaves. It´s an artistic visual documentary that tells the story through the paintings of the Yazidi-iraqui artist Ammar Abdal. Ammar Abdal, has received several death threats from the terrorist group, and he is a refugiated in Germany. However, he persists in the idea of continuing this work by ensuring that his weapon is painting. I m very grateful for the interview. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

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