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VICKY CALAVIA IONA MACLEOD DAWN NILO ANNA GREENMAN JULIE GEMUEND CORINNE CHARTON JULIA MARCHESE JAMIE LEE MICHELLE DOMANOWSKI NAJAT ALSHERIDAH
WOMENâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S CINEMA VOL VII
cINEMAKERS W O M E N
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Contents 04 Jamie Lee
116 Corinne Charton
Mr Rochesterdoes not quite get it
María Domínguez. The free Word.
Why I Never Became A Stalker
A Line though the Periphery
Out of Print
The Ecstasy of Saint Sadie
Jamie Lee I am a multi-disciplined artist; a dancer, choreographer, creative producer, director, film- maker and photographer, inspired by storytelling without words. Investigating the body through energy, emotion and physicality. As a dancer I am interested in using movement to generate a fusion of works exploring other media in the hopes that by combining multiple art forms allows production of versatile creations to encourage a cross-pollination of respective audiences. Always trying to push the boundaries of what dance can be, and an openness to collaborate with artist of other media to do so. As a dancer I research how my body can change form transform into another being. Taking inspiration from animalistic qualities and not to focus on what is typically beautiful as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;dancerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; but to find beauty in the bodies moving form. I let my body go past my extensions, find space where there is not and to let me breath take me from one movement to another. Co-creator of Memoryhouse Productions a platform for the creation of collaborative dance works with partner Stanislav Dobak. At Memoryhouse I have created installations, dance films, photography and performances where in recent years have been inspired by recreating her nightmares and embracing the world of fantasy where creativity is ultimately endless. As well as Memoryhouse, I also co-created Motionhouse, a video and photography production house focusing on documenting stories.
Women Cinemakers meets
Jamie Lee I am a multi-disciplined artist; a dancer, choreographer, creative producer, director, film- maker and photographer, inspired by storytelling without words. Investigating the body through energy, emotion and physicality. As a dancer I am interested in using movement to generate a fusion of works exploring other media in the hopes that by combining multiple art forms allows production of versatile creations to encourage a cross-pollination of respective audiences. Always trying to push the boundaries of what dance can be, and an openness to collaborate with artist of other media to do so. As a dancer I research how my body can change form transform into another being. Taking inspiration from animalistic qualities and not to focus on what is typically beautiful as a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;dancerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; but to find beauty in the bodies moving form. I let my body go past my extensions, find space where there is not and to let me breath take me from one movement to another.
An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org Mindâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye is a captivating film by multi-disciplined artist Jamie Lee: inquiring into the notion of fear, she initiates her audience into an unconventional and heightened visual experience of psychological distress in our unstable contemporary age. Lee's incessant research into how a dancer's body can change form transforming into another being encourages a cross-pollination of the spectatorship. Hello Jamie and welcome to WomenCinemakers: you are versatile and your practice ranges from dance and choreography to filmmaking and photography: what draws you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? I started looking at choreography in a broader sense, rather than just the body but choreography as the organisation of all things.
I asked myself what am I really interested in? What inspires me? and the answer was storytelling. Storytelling without words. Memoryhouse was created with my collaborator and husband Stanislav Dobak because we there was a common interest in bringing dance into other media. We both had a strong interest in work behind the camera, and honestly we felt we had something to offer in terms of dance films. We were to tired of dance films where dancers just dance in front of the camera with no storytelling or use of filmic skills. We did a lot of experiments with how the camera and movement can connect and work together. I began photography because I needed an outlet for my storytelling. I was really in a phase of fantasy and magic. I started sketching ideas and images that I wanted to recreate and it really opened a world of possibilities to have a close connection with the camera. I love the world which lies inside the lens is a world full of imagination, fantasy, a boundary less world of the unknown and dreams. A single image can have so much depth and I think that is the challenge I enjoy; to capture the energy, emotion and situation in a single
frame. It really allows me to be open to endless possibilities. So, creatively I needed the outlet through the camera, to take my own creation in my own hands. Being a dancer led me to finding more artistic ways to tell a story without words. My practice has lead me down a path which I never thought I would enter. From dancing, to photography, to dance films and now short and long documentaries. It has introduced me to a field that I never thought I would be in, to produce and direct stories of all narrative form. The collaboration with Stanislav works because despite him also being a dancer, he is the technical lead in our work as the camera man, photographer and editor. I don’t want to stop here, I want to create works with more disciplines. To collaborate with artists of all media and continue to cross these borders in order to cross pollinate more audiences. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit https://www.memoryhouseproductions.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: while walking us through your process, would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, do you think that there is a central idea that connect all your works? Interesting enough, despite being someone who actually has a lot of fears in life, it became my inspiration for my artistic work. My outlet tends to be a darker nature and became a way for me to use my fears. Memoryhouse started with project ‘Dreams’ a photography and film installation. I felt that our first project needed a concept which we did not have to work within too many boundaries. And I loved the idea to recreating dreams which were surreal and out of this world. I began documenting my dreams I had when sleeping and the only ones that kept a vivid memory in my mind were my nightmares. I connected so well with the concept and I suppose this is the mark of my style. I learnt a lot about myself through this project. I had to tap into my fears, confront them and use my fears in a creative way. Together with the camera, body and
Women Cinemakers sound I had to really find ways to tell the audience what was happening through these entities without words. The only way was for the three to be as strong as each other and to support one another. The project also encouraged me to constantly push my own creative boundaries and having to work with quite low budgets made me even more resourceful. I love to prove that you do not need a high budget to be creative, it is about thinking outside the box. I love seeing my sketches come to life, I feel as though I am sharing a part of my subconscious. Even though not all my dreams are of a darker nature I chose to make this first dream series about the more traumatic dreams because I think the less typically beautiful things in life are worth talking about. I also felt that the human body is the perfect way to tell these stories as these dreams tend to have more struggle in them so physically I could transfer it to camera. This style has definitely stuck with me in my other artistic works and evolves which every project. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Mind's-eye, an extremely interesting film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Inspired by your current solo, your film looks at the bodies response to fear as a infectious malignant: what has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the notion of fear is the way you have provided the visual results of your analysis with coherent combination between autonomous aesthetics and visual consistence. While walking our readers through the genesis of Mind's-eye, would you tell what did draw your to focus on the notion of fear? After the terrorist attack in Brussels (my current residence) in 2016 I saw and felt the aftermath affects it had not just within the city but worldwide. I found myself in the cycle of fear as I began to feel paranoid and constantly on edge. (Living with military presence has not helped). The notion that having military patrolling the streets makes us safer is so bizarre to me as feeling safe is not seeing the possibility of danger. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t until the outbreak of open racism across the world towards the muslim community that I began to be conscious of my behaviour. I really began thinking about what it was that made me feel this way and why
other people are closing themselves towards muslims and refugees (something that I do not except and stand up for). I began to ask myself what, why and who was creating my fear. It was the media. We were raised to believe and trust the media but how bias is the mainstream media? All it was doing to me was making me feel fearful to step outside and feel like the world is full is danger and terrorist. I have seen my parents obsessively watch the news everyday and yes it is good to be aware of the worlds events but are we aware of the dangers it has on our health? It’s starting to feel as though the mainstream media treats terrorist attacks like they won the jackpot and capitalising on it as much as possible. Statistics even prove that in U.S. there are more deaths caused by guns from children that terrorist, yet the impression from the mainstream media is not this. Just a couple months ago in Brussels there was a terrorist attempt at a train station, the military were able to prevent the attack from happening and for two days all I saw on Facebook and the news outlets was ‘terrorist’, ‘attack, attack attack’ repeated over and over. But the fact was the attack was prevented and not as blown up as it appeared in the media. It is important we are aware of these threats don’t get me wrong however the news should be that the attack was prevented safely. Humans have brains that search for the negative in response to our survival instinct and the media are aware that the more negativity they put our into the world the more we will watch. I believe that not all of us are even conscious of the affects of fear especially in our new ‘normal’ living in this contemporary age. Fear has divided us. It has closed out hearts, our empathy and reasoning. It has made it acceptable to treat each other with hate. We have seen it in Europe with the refugees and in the United State s with Donald Trump tapping into fear for his gain and reasoning for his policies. Based on the notion of fear not fact. And yes while fear is a natural natural human body response, we need to be conscious about it. The awareness of it’s infectious effects in our behaviour should be taken more seriously and talk about. You once remarked that the anticipation of terror effects our behaviour and minds cultivating an infectious negative barrier in
Women Cinemakers our ability to reason: your observation of social and psychological phenomena seems to be very analytical, yet Mind's-eye strives to be full of emotion: how would you consider the relationship between analysis and spontaneity within your work? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of your works? how much importance does play improvisation in your process? With Mind’s eye and often in my creations, I work with a central idea then improvise around it. The location had a significant influence on what the movement would entail. I had been to Lovenjoel chapel years ago and remembered how much energy the place had. It use to be a chapel connected to a mental institution and now functions as a art space. I was honestly scared the whole time and wanted to leave as fast as possible. Your imagination can run wild in there. The ending for Mind’s eye confronted the idea of being watched because I felt that the entire time and I actually cannot watch this part of the film. The place was so cold and incredibly dirty so I had to change what I had planned to do. I had some rough ideas to play with and so many magical things can happen when improvising that often just can’t be recreated. What happens is we work on a particular moment (camera angle and movement idea) then let the camera role. When a movement works, I’ll try it again and develop it further and I look at how to film it. In Mind’s eye I had scripted several movement ideas to play with e.g., arm movements hanging in hamstring position and it developed to keeping finger tips on the ground and body moving freely, and a small phrase I had worked on a bit in the studio prior. I think what works the best with dance is letting the an idea develop and end up somewhere that I didn’t start with. When it’s about the body taking over and freeing the mind opens up more possibilities. Mind's-eye plays with parts of the body rich with symbolic values, as hair: do hair play a role of metaphor in Mind's-eye? If I could do it again, I would not show my face at all. The hair is symbolic when you think of a inhuman creature, so I use my hair as much as I can and to also cover my face. I am quite a shy person and it does make me
feel safe. I did a show before where I had hair covering my face as well and I loved the feeling. It gave my body the impression that I could really transform myself like I was wearing a mask and it encouraged me to express my body even more. It is as if Jamie disappeared, and this other body like entity takes over. Taking the sense of sight awakens the whole body and I become more aware of how my skin. In the future for my solo I will explore how the hair can play a larger role and be part of the bodies movement as an extended limb. Yes i reminds people of the Japanese horror the ring so I suppose it plays on the fear a bit, not quite the intention but it does work. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative process. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once remarked that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist involved both in Photography and Dance how would you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of producing your artworks? It’s about taking an idea and and finding ways which makes sense for me through the body. Everyone’s outcome will always be very different and I suppose this is why people make art to give the world altering perspectives. With this concept I had to work in an abstract way. Most people when I tell them that I am exploring the concept of fear they immediately think I am going to make my audience feel scared. That would be the most obvious way to approach fear. I knew that this concept had something worth exploring and I just had to find a way that is true to myself to work through the ideas. When people start making works thinking of what the audience will like or purely intended for audiences response, the works often lacks depth. I have to be honest about how I see a particular concept and it is my job to create in a way for the audience to see my perspective. The worst thing is for the audience to walk out of a performance and have no idea what the show was intended to say. Yes there is no right or wrong with art however you can definitely rate whether the artist’s
Women Cinemakers vision was seen. When I was conducting my research about fear itself I immediately related to the explanation that fear acts like an invisible infection and that connected to my movement ideas. My approach is for the body to be representative of the infection and it’s personality affects. ‘The surge of fear cultivating as a living organism. The body becomes another. The ability to change form and take shape of a being not your own but by influences of the environment in which we put ourselves in’. The soundtrack of Mind's-eye provides the film with such uncanny atmosphere: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear. How do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? I wanted the sound for this film to not be too distracting and over powering to the visual however I needed it to carry the energy and atmosphere from beginning to end. I wanted the sound to be very simple and gradual to increase it’s suspense. What is going to happen next? The sounds subtle increase and volume together with the increase in movement is so at the end of the films the viewer may say ‘I didn’t notice what the sound was’. For me that’s an appropriate response. Not good in a way that the sound was unnoticeable but the sound didn’t overpower and carried, supported and complemented the visual as one element. Mind’s eye needed a sound that complimented the atmosphere of this old chapel/ mental institution. A feeling that not all senses are properly working yet like when you get a buzz in the ear. Your remarked once that as a dancer you do not to focus on what is typically beautiful as a ‘dancer’ but to find beauty in the bodies moving form: how do you consider the notion of beauty in relation to the idea of transforming the artist's body from a form into another being?
We live in a society that see’s beauty in a limited way. Yes you can say that ballet is beautiful. But I think that it is beauty in a superficial way, it doesn't go further than the skin. From a young age dancers are told what they are capable of based on their body type. I don’t think that creates a healthy image for young people and the perception of who a dancer should or shouldn’t be. The real challenge is how each individual can use the body they are born with to create moments which are unique. The movement should be representative as a bodies personality not having to stay in a particular form. Not saying that technique is not important, it is the foundation of tools we can apply to the body to find more possibilities. It is not about making shapes in the space and moving in a way that we have been told to move. It is about moving as a human body. Moving from the bones not the skin, it needs to come from within. To create energies and emotions, otherwise all storytelling in dance would be lyrical and not connected to any abstract exploration. I look at my body as a whole and work with what I have. It is about the transference in energy and a sense of totality of the body. I love to explore different ways of moving and I take inspiration from animalistic qualities and sometimes the challenge may be to go against what may feel natural or easy. Ideas like boneless, weightless and elastic. My goal is always to find uniques ways of moving. I may not always succeed but it is a working process. My daily practice is Ashtanga yoga and I take a lot inspiration from the practice in finding movement possibilities and finding space where there may be non. Also listening to the breath and allowing the breath to create a rhythm within. Dance is about exploration of the human body and challenging the boundaries of shapes and form, so the notion of beauty in transforming a body into another is inviting the audience to follow my physical journey. You are always trying to push the boundaries of what dance can be, and an openness to collaborate with artist of other media. Motionhouse and Memoryhouse Productions are interdisciplinary collectives that you have created in Brussels with multidisciplinary artist Stanislav Dobák: it's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the aforesaid ones are today ever growing forces
Women Cinemakers in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor once stated that "collaboration is working together with another to create something as a synthesis of two practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between two artists? I am interested in creating works where two entities influences the other rather than one as a supporting act. To work in a true collaboration. For example a lot of the time with dance the music is put in the background. But what if a true collaboration is created when putting different media together in the space. Naturally it will push one another outside of the habitual path. These are my future goals, to work collaboratively with a wide range of artist. I am not really interested to work just as a dancer, I find collaborative work most inspiring. When collaborating with an artist of another media I think the communication has to be clear and we need to have a common ground on the topic and ideas we want to create but we also need to give each other space and freedom to create on our own. My collaboration with Stanislav is unique because we are also married so we have had to work on our communication with sensitivity so work does not carry into our personal life too much. We have made our roles very separate. As well as a dancer he is a natural behind the camera and has a fondness for the technical side of productions. My role is creating, directing, producing and management, and he handles the filming, editing and all sides involving technicality. Sometimes itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not an easy task for him to imagine what I am describing and wanting to make so this is where communication is key and working closely inside of process as a unit is vital to ensure we share the same vision. Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions: Cinedans Festival in The Netherlands, Cinema Prize at
Choreographic Captures in Switzerland, and more recently Mind's eye was premiered at The Athens Video Dance Project: one of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are provided with of the the opportunity to become active participants and are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? I mentioned a bit about this question in one of the recent questions above. I try to stay away from making decisions based on the audience reception. One of the aspects I do consider is the audiences experience in terms of immersion. More specially how can the audience be a part of the presentation rather than outside the envelop of the audience and performance. With ‘Dreams’ the exhibition was presented in a way that the audience had to step into a dark room alone to listen to a story to awaken the imagination, to watch a film through wire fence, windy room, and to step onto a film projected on the floor. So in terms of presentation and the energy the audiences experience and reception is at every part of the decision making. I would like to take this process even further and create immersive works where the audience has the sense of being inside of the process and feel what the performer feels. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Jamie. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am in the process of a few exciting projects. At Memoryhouse I will be starting my solo performance based on my film Mind’s eye. I will take the concept further and transfer it to stage. It will be a visual
performance and I hope to collaborate with different artist on it including an illusionist to play with the relationship with myself and the audiences through manipulating the space. I will take the movement further and draw influences from my yoga practice in ways of exploring movement. With Stanislav we are also going to create a new interdisciplinary performance with creative technology, the intention is to start new collaborative ideas together with technology as a source of influencing choreography and vice versa. I am very drawn to this world of art and technology and I hope to create further collaborations and be inspired by innovation. There are also some talks with different associations about creating dance films to bring alight political issues. These kinds of projects are so inspiring for me especially if it is a topic that I connect with I can support the issue in my own way. At Motionhouse I am in the early productions stages of making a documentary. This will be my first full length documentary. The documentary will address what yoga has become as apposed to what yoga actually is. A topic I am very connected with, I have practiced yoga for over 10 years now and have seen the ‘boom’ in the industry and how capitalism has influenced the integrity of this practice. A journey investigating the now billion dollar industry will bring to light the corrupt values and fake guru’s. A practice in the hands of people with no accountability of the ancient practice as a result of quick teacher training course practically open to anybody willing to pay. Consequently perhaps through the documentary we can change the direction of where this industry is heading. I hope to be in production next year 2018.
An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant email@example.com
Michelle Domanowski Lives and works in Seattle, USA
Inspired by the polaroids taken by Jeffrey Dahmer, the goal for the film was to make the grotesque beautiful. What does it mean if images of death are more gorgeous to watch than images of life? Thus, pulsing through the film is a feeling of fearâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not of the serial killer, but of beauty, color, composition. I wanted The Becoming to question the power of art as much as it utilizes it.
Women Cinemakers meets
Michelle Domanowski Lives and works in Seattle, USA
Inspired by the polaroids taken by Jeffrey Dahmer, the goal for the film was to make the grotesque beautiful. What does it mean if images of death are more gorgeous to watch than images of life? Thus, pulsing through the film is a feeling of fearâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;not of the serial killer, but of beauty, color, composition. I wanted The Becoming to question the power of art as much as it utilizes it.
An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant
turn from painting to playwriting and directing?
Hello Michelle and welcome to this special edition of Women Cinemakers: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? How did your formal training and your BFA that you received from the Cornish College of the Arts influence your evolution as a filmmaker and a creative? In particular, what did make you
As a painter, I had always been drawn to narrative work. I tried to tell a story with every painting I made, though I was never completely satisfied with anything I created. I never thought about exploring other mediums, however, until I got to Cornish. A professor noticed how driven I was by narrative and told me to try communicating my ideas through video. It was very intimidating at first, but I quickly became addicted to the possibilities film offered. Being able to tell a story through
thousands of frames—instead of just one—was extremely liberating. At the start of my junior year, I auditioned for the theater department’s Original Works program for playwriting and directing. I wanted to learn the fundamentals of dramatic writing, as well as how to better communicate with actors. Going through the program, which focused on writing and directing ten-minute plays, gave me a solid groundwork for storytelling and continues to inform my approach to film. Overall, completing my BFA at Cornish was a truly transformative experience for me, and I’m grateful I got to explore so many of my passions there. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up? I would say my process is pretty methodical. When I’m writing a story, I decide on the premise I want to prove and craft my decisions from there—what characters I select, what actions they take, etc. I use a similar process
Film still from A Line through the Periphery, 2014. Digitally transferred and edited Super 8 film by Dawn Nilo
Women Cinemakers when Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m directing, except directing for me is more about interpreting than creating. Whatever the storyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s premise is, I make sure all my directing decisions stem from there. For this special edition of Women Cinemakers we have selected the The Becoming, an interesting film that our readers can view at https://vimeo.com/171451175. What has at once captured our attention of your successful attempt to make the grotesque beautiful is the way you provided the visual results of your analysis with autonomous aesthetics: while walking our readers through the genesis of The Becoming, would you tell us how did you develop the script of your film? The producers of the film, Tasha Newell and Huntington Filson, came to me and cinematographer Amy Kim about wanting to do a short film inspired by the controversial polaroids of Jeffrey Dahmer. Tasha had already written an exploratory play about a dystopian world where murder was considered art. We used this as a jumping off point, but wanted to condense it into a short, highly visual film. The development of the script itself was a collaborative process between Tasha and I. We went through several drafts, both of us making suggestions and pushing each
other to express the narrative with visuals instead of dialogue. We both felt strongly that a film about art should primarily be told through images. In The Becoming you have combined clever attention to details and accurate attention to close up shots: what were your main aesthetic decisions in terms of composition and shooting? My first priority was clarity. Since the narrative was so dependent on visuals, it was important that every detail was discernable. For example, the polaroid of the serial killer at the end of the film needed to be a close-up shot since that one polaroid tells a huge part of the story the audience doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see. My second priority was making each sure composition was aesthetically pleasing, since the film was about art and whether art could make the grotesque beautiful. Amy did an amazing job of accomplishing this with how she framed each shot. Sound plays an important role in The Becoming, providing the film with such uncanny atmosphere: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects contemporary societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear: how do you see the relationship between sound and images?
I think it depends on the film. There are some films that work well without any sound and other films where sound plays such a huge role. With The Becoming, the plot itself doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t change with the addition of sound, but it does help connect the audience to the psyche of the two characters, especially since thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no dialogue. While every film is different, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s generally how I see the relationship between sound and images: images tell the story and sound pulls the audience into that story. Flat images, meticulously composed are a landmark of your shooting style: what focal length did you use to throughout your film? And what was your approach to lighting? I wanted the footage to echo the look of a polaroid, which tends to be somewhat muted and flat, so for the majority of the shots, we stuck to a 50mm-105mm focal length range. In terms of lighting, Amy and I experimented with artificial lighting, but the corporate feel it brought felt out of place for a film about art and beauty. At the same time, we discovered that natural lighting was sufficient in creating an ethereal quality some of the scenes merited, such as the dream scene when Natalie is floating in the river. Thus, for most of filming, we depended mainly on natural lighting and used artificial lighting only when it was absolutely necessary. Even when shooting at night, we
stuck to light sources that made sense to the world, such as the flashlight Natalie uses when discovering one of the serial killer’s victims. The Becoming questions the power of art as much as it utilizes it: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in". What could be in your opinion the role of Art in the contemporary age? I believe that art serves many purposes: to inspire, to entertain, to make people question. I think that’s the most exciting thing about contemporary art—there’s no academy dictating what art should be. Rather, every film or project contributes to a forum of ideas and opinions, all conflicting, supporting, or challenging one another. I believe the only responsibility artists have is to explore whatever subjects or techniques that have the most urgency for them. What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? How did you work with the rest of the crew? In particular, would you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your Filmmaking? I’ve found what works best is allowing the actors to create their own blocking, whatever feels most natural to them. Then I’ll edit their choices depending on how it works compositionally with the camera or how it might be interpreted by the audience. When the actors
Women Cinemakers have done their homework, most of their choices will look natural and authentic to the character, but there are times when a movement, though authentic to the character, may be too “big” for the screen or doesn’t work with the composition my cinematographer and I have chosen. With the crew, I start with explaining my artistic vision, so that we’re all unified and working towards the same goal. However, I think it’s important to allow the other person creative room in how they meet that vision. Every person on set is a creative individual, and I believe that creativity thrives when given both direction and ownership. I’m not concerned with developing a signature style to my directing. I believe my work will—and should—change depending on the people I’m working with. The Becoming features unconventional still brilliant storytelling and you have remarked in your artist's statement you aim to explore both traditional and nontraditional genres of storytelling: do you think that there could be a proficient synergy between a traditional approach and contemporary sensitiveness? Or are in your opinion Tradition and Contemporariness opposite, conflictual aspects of art making? I do think a proficient synergy is possible, and it’s actually what I aim for in each of my films. Whether I’m writing or
directing, I like to start with the traditional, with techniques I’ve learned from other films; it’s much easier to get a sense of what worked and what didn’t as opposed to techniques just coming out now. However, I think it’s important to incorporate contemporary practices or ideologies as they come out—not blindly, of course, but according to the needs of your story. One of the things I love about film is that every movie, in some way, captures the political, social, and technological advancements of the era in which it was made. I want the films I make to build off of what has been done before, but to also reflect the times I’m in. We want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? Absolutely. I think audiences are wanting a greater variety of female characters, and having women behind the scenes is going to be an advantage when creating
Women Cinemakers female characters that are real. With a lot of the films I watched growing up, I had an easier time identifying with male characters than I did with female characters. I felt I was given access to the three-dimensionality of the male characters, all of their strengths and flaws. Whereas, with a lot of the female characters I watched, I felt I was only given one side to them. That’s why, as a filmmaker, whenever I’m writing or directing a character, especially female characters, it’s important to me that I show more than one side to that person. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Michelle. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Amy, Tasha, and I are developing another short film, which will subvert the typical “superhero” genre and women’s roles in that. I’ve also been working on a feature screenplay, so I’m excited to be continuing to grow as both a writer and director. I hope to keep taking on projects that challenge me, particularly in terms of exploring new genres. Every genre has a rich history to build off of, but there is also a space to reinterpret the work and do something new, which excites me. An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Najat Alsheridah An interview by Bonnie Curtis and Jennifer Rozt Druhn Hello Najat and welcome to this special edition of Women Cinemakers: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? You have a solid formal training: you studied at the University of East London: how did this experience as well as your cultural background influence your evolution as a filmmaker and a creative? First, I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for selecting me to be a part of your annual interviews. Almost everyone has experienced the excitement brought by watching films on television or in the theatre. The experience provided by cinema is extraordinary; imagine sitting behind a forty-foot screen in total darkness, in the midst of strangers, watching your favourite film. You get to focus on every detail of the film. Such experience is what attracted me to the film career, as I wanted to do more than just sit and enjoy a good film. I came from a family who loved and appreciate cinema. My grandfather is one of the first Kuwaitis who acquired a cinematograph in the early 1940s for home use in Kuwait. I could argue it is through him
and those few Kuwaitis who were interested at cinema at that time that we came to pay more attention to what a camera has to offer. My grandfather became famous for his love for films and cinema theatres in Mirqab urban area and specifically at the district of Om Sidda. He was not only one of first Kuwaitis to acquire cinematographs for home use, but also established a theatre that was closed later by the reformation societies because they believed that cinema theatres eroded tradition and spread moral corruption. Thus, from the stories Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve heard from my father about my grandfather and his passion about cinema I grew up loving filmmaking and always wanted to make my own silver-screen sensation. I want to see my own thoughts and ideas come to life, it is like making dreams real. Kuwait society has always been involved in watching films even though it was not known for producing them. There were some challenges that had hindered the progress of Kuwait cinema like for example, film censorship policy in Kuwait is based on Islamic laws governing social behaviour, although these laws are imposed differently. The Kuwaiti national company demands films that are selected under a special monitoring committee, consisting of a religious man, an educational man and a member of the ministry of information. The
These challenges also helped me to be creative and very selective on how to present my ideas and thoughts in a way that won’t interfere the Kuwaiti film censorship policy. In essence, film censorship in Kuwait has always been claimed to be a limiting factor in the industry. In my opinion, film directors can always produce films that are in line with the censorship. There is a reason the Kuwait government introduced the censorship; it was intended to protect our culture. Therefore, rather than using censorship as an excuse of not producing good films, directors should use it to their advantage to become more creative and improve filmmaking in Kuwait. I think it is great to be talked about a woman filmmaker; it’s part of who I am today. In my simple limited experience, for one to be successful in the film industry they have to practice independent filmmaking. This means relying on oneself to accumulate finances that will support projects rather than depending on the government for financial support. Despite the fact that Kuwait has tens if not hundreds of Kuwaiti filmmakers; the country’s film industry is arguably still in its infancy. This motivated me to study abroad in order to get better training , and experience in the field that I can bring back home and benefit our young industry.
films, which are not carrying humanitarian contents, do not align with customs and traditions of the country, or which affect the true Islam religion or are carrying racial and political views must not be allowed. Also the lack of funding whereby majority of the films produced to date have been as a result of individual efforts or selffinancing. I knew I had to overcome such challenges studying in order to improve my background of the film industry. I believed the knowledge I would get from studying abroad would have great significance in supporting my country’s film industry.
I receieved my MA in Independent film and New Screen Media in 2013 from the University of East London and I am currently doing my PhD in Film studies. My experience at the university helped me to explore alternative cinema and developed my skills within camera, editing, sound, lighting, and cinematography. For example I remember that I had a class, which was about audio-vision and was asked to do a film project that used real and render together. We watched a film called Apocalypse in class that provided a good example for studying the connection between sound and image. Through such understanding we were asked to create a film with almost the same idea in relating image to sound. It was very challenging project as I had to film a stop motion animation film in which toys act out the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait 1990 and the sound was used in various ways to achieve various meanings within the film. In the film itself, two teams of armies (one green, one brown) are fighting over the eggs; one team has the eggs and the other fights to get those eggs from them. In this way, the film is meant to subtly mirror the fight over the oil (eggs) in Kuwait. Despite the serious subject matter, the armies and combat are treated in a very comedic manner. These subtexts create a world of greed and betrayal as a voice over of George Bush is presented as an army toy image to remind the audience of what happened to Kuwait on the 2nd of Augustst1990. Michael Chion’s theory of real and render claims the audience audio-views a film rather than see images and hear sounds. This is because sound coveys effects or feelings that are associated with given situations shown through images. The two must work together to express the idea brought forward by a film director.. According to Chion, there is a decided difference between what is ‘real ’ and the simulated sounds
My short film Who Killed My Eggs (2013) illustrates many of Chion’s theories and techniques for film sound to turn a garden into a battlefield, and plastic toys into hardened soldiers. Microphones are used to record voice lines and voice generated sound effects in studio, while some effects (like eggs cracking) are accomplished through field recording. All of these are combined and synthesized to create a simulated world where action figures have disembodied (yet identifiable) voices, breaking glass is seemingly disastrous, and explosions have effectively uncanny and intentionally
and images that are placed in a film (the ‘render’) to achieve a certain effect. In order to achieve these effects, the sound design of the film is influenced by Chion’s perspective of real and render, using Foley effects to create a strange and idiosyncratic universe that deliberately makes the events on screen seem more than real. For instance, Chion mentions the sound of children playing, who produce “sound effects they produce orally to accompany these activities, ”the sounds the toys would make if their figures were real (Chion, 2005). The goal of the film is to show that what happened in the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is real, and the toys themselves are depicting these real events. By juxtaposing this starkly realistic and fully-sourced archive audio with the inherent silliness of the toys fighting with flowers in a small garden, it creates a sense of unease in the audience that conveys the anti-war message of the film. The target is to mix the dramatic with the comedic, showing the atrocities that happened in Kuwait in a context that even children can understand (without traumatizing them too much). For instance, a scene where a soldier’s head is cut off has its comedic undertone in the fact that it is a toy soldier, but the dour audio gives it back it seriousness- these were things that really happened in Kuwait, but the audience is given just enough clues to figure out the puzzle.
distancing effects. The result is an explicit use of Chionâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s notion of real and render that combines disparate visuals and sounds to create a cohesive simulation of a stylised war in the film. It is evident that female filmmakers are still in few numbers in the field; for example, in the UK under Skillset it is recorded that 34% of filmmakers are female. In this case, the number of female filmmakers graduating is low as compared to their male counterparts. This is just one of the challenges I have come to encounter. Other than having few female filmmakers around the globe, the experience in my country is different from a woman. The Kuwaiti society has a conservative culture where a woman can work with few many and it will be okay, but where the ratio has much difference, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s say a single woman working amongst ten men, there would be issues. Another factor that challenges filmmaking in Kuwait is time. Making a film takes plenty of time and often makes it difficult to complete a project as expected. There have been solutions offered such as scheduling time based on the availability of individual and the expectations of my society. The low numbers of female filmmakers has made it a challenge for studios to let women be in charge. The traditional belief that filmmaking is a manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s job has made society have little trust on women as filmmakers. It is through such challenges that I struggled to be one of the best filmmakers not only to change the film industry in my country, but also to encourage other women in my society and around the globe that it is possible for a woman to be successful in this industry. With its elegantly structured storytelling and gorgeous compositions, Because of Tash is a
I come from a background that fully respects the power and influence of a camera. The passion in filming is almost natural as it began with my grandfather. As I matured I came to have more concern in filming and I wanted to understand and experience the art of filmmaking. Most of us have visited the theatre and watched films then walked home satisfied. In my case, I wanted to understand why certain actors presented different personalities and why a character would cry or laugh or turn evil at some point in a film. This is all related to the personality of the actor as a character in the film and a normal individual after the film. People get to know about the personality of an individual through observing their character. How we behave, as a person is how people perceive our character and judge our personality. However, it is not always the case as some people act to hide a given character while presenting to the audience the expected character. Take for example when people meet for the first time, their true character is rarely portrayed, as they will struggle to keep a positive character. This means we can only trust the personality of an individual after we get to know them well. There will soon be a study on camera choreography, which seeks to present significant information on the study of films and how people change their personalities when in varying places. For instance a case such as this scene: A couple is sitting in a pub in London during winter. They are confronting a situation while a guy is observing them. The guy is exchanging glances with a girl playing pool on the other side of the pub and fails to listen to his girlfriend. The scene is in a pub. Three different
visually rich, and emotionally captivating film. The story is simple, yet the implications of its charactersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; emotions and actions are profound. We are proud to present Najat Alsheridah for this year's WomenCinemakers Edition. Please tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker: in particular, what did inspire you to express yourself in this medium?
actions are taking place. A couple is sitting on one side of the pub. The girl is talking but the guy doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t listen, because he has his attention focussed on someone else, the girl he exchanges glances with, but his girlfriend doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realise. The guy and the girl are playing pool have non-verbal communication. The girl is playing pool with her girlfriend and she does not notice too her non-verbal conversation with the guy. On the other side of the pub, a guy drinking is observing what is going on in the scenario. The girl goes to the toilet expecting the guy to follow her. The guy in the couple goes to the toilet one minute later. This was a remarkable scene. Its organisation was almost satisfying as every piece that creates the scene; themes, characters, background and camera shots were effective as expected. It is such scenes that I get inspiration. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Because of Tash? How did you developed the initial idea? It began as a project that I had to work on with my colleagues during my MA studies. We discussed the project, and agreed that we would all write a story. Through the stories we had written we developed a single simple story. We all then began to share different ideas regarding the same story. Some of the movements presented for each actor caught my attention and I presented the scene where an actress seduces other male actors using her lipstick and my colleagues liked it. We then described the scenes through the board and the camera position of each scene. This prompted me to take different shots on a location and plan for camera position at the most effective positions. I was permitted to take more shots and the following day we booked Canon 5d, Sony F3 and dolly that helped in doing
reversing. This was wonderful as it saved much time and increased efficiency in developing the project. Working, as a team was helpful as it made everything easier; however, there were some challenges For instance, conflict of interests, pressure to beat short deadlines as it was shot in one day, and miscommunication; however, it is not that difficult to work with a team. I learnt that through my experience. Something I loved so much and enjoyed was being part of the cast during the cast-calling day. I liked the experience of being in a cast as it proved to be useful. It allows you to interact directly with actors and ask questions that allow you to know them better. You get to understand the film industry in-depth and find out areas that can be improved to help filmmaking. We have deeply appreciated the extremely natural feel of the cinematography. Can you describe your approach to lighting? In filmmaking, lighting is very important. Therefore, I gave the location several visits to examine the lighting. There were a couple of large windows that were big and I noticed some significance in the use of lighting during filmmaking. When light is too much it can affect the quality of a film, as a result of large windows, I managed to use soft red wallpaper to cover the lighting from the windows. This assists in controlling temperature in a manner that the light-sensitive paper does not get to ruin pictures during a shoot. I chose red wallpaper because the colour red provides a sense of a warm evening shot under tungsten light. A filmmaker should pay close attention to colour temperature because using different colour temperatures could present remarkable effects. This is applied in a single shot; combining different colour temperatures in one shot. A good example of this effect is in Terminator 2 as James Cameron used multiple colour temperatures to get the maximum effect. In this case he used lights of orange and blue. It is also important to get the relationship between
different colours combinations that are intend to use before filming. This is important, as I need to balance the colours. Kelvin scaled the different colour balances where a redder or pinkish light was found to present warmer light. Pink is used in many cases to present romantic ambiances which is a perfect fit with a story. A red and white colour creates a harsh effect which is also a good fit for the story basing on the purpose of the selected scene. The effect of colour also comes with colour manipulation. When the intention is to make a film natural filmmakers need to base on a location, set the camera and start shooting. However, filmmakers depend entirely on film lights that cost money and will take too much time to prepare. Lights are important in filming because video and film present things in a different approach as compared to the way our eyes respond to light. This is to mean that video and film do not cope with the contrast of light presented in real life situations. Take for example, if you shoot a scene without the effect of artificial light the images can turn completely black or totally white. In this case, if you want your scene to appear natural, you must have enough lighting that will make the film present the scene in the same way as your eyes would see it. Cinematography is more than just making actors visible and photograph them with the expectation of getting the best results. To get the best results, the film must have a mood that is carefully crafted using lighting in conjunction with other aspects. It is also important to understand that there are various situations that will limit the exposure of natural light. For instance, a filmmaker cannot do exterior night shooting in the absence of lighting even in the event of a full moon. I have observed certain contradictions; for example, a number of filmmakers and filmgoers have realised that the best films present a heightened interpretation of reality. This goes further to mean films that reach our emotions to touch our hearts offer a more realistic world. This is simple way of showing they are not bland
to presenting a more enhanced view of reality to involve the use of highly stylized lighting. It is a common myth that shooting video only takes fewer lights than shooting on film. This is completely incorrect as film can handle a much larger contrast range in comparison to video. Therefore, it suffers less if the lighting is in high-contrast that is excess. On the other hand, video has large problems looking even remotely decent when the lighting is not fine-tuned to perfection. This is in such a way that in the scene, the brightest spot is not more than three stops hotter as the scenes darkest point. It is, therefore, ironic that film is in theory the best choice. This is in the case there is little or no control for the lighting, but an impressive lighting set-up used on 35mm shoots intimidates persons to believe celluloid needs more light as compared to the video. Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled AlRaqsa and we have appreciated your intimistic style as well as your way of shooting close to the actors: can you introduce our readers to this fundamental aspect of your work Dance has significance in films as it works to emphasise on various concepts relating to the theme. There are films with themes based on dance, for example you may watch a film that takes you through the journey of the life of a character as a dancer. In such films the central theme is dance and it will be emphasised all through with the main character dancing to send a message or achieve a goal. In other films, dance may be used to emphasise on different themes. For example, a story that is about a love between a couple may be presented in a scene where they dance to romantic music and their body language works to bring out the concept of love as intended by the director. Among the first motion pictures ever made was a film shot by Thomas Edison in 1894. This film made
immortal the revolutionary at the period Ruth St. Denis, a dancer, performed outside the movie studio in New Jersey. Here, dancing was a significant concept that appeared inseparable as part of the film. However, a dance can perform a number of varying functions within a film. The inclusion of dance always provides a different visual, movement-based effect that is based on the present visual communication media of the motion picture. When such visual effect is added it can provide major plot points, expand on the information regarding characters, act as non-verbal communication between characters and between the audience and the characters. It could also simply be related with adding value for the entertainment. Regardless of the function of a dance scene, it will always continue to play a crucial role in cinematography in the concept storytelling, as well as emotional impact. Another task of al Raqsa is the determination of whether the short film in question could exist without the element of dance element. Whether it was without the inclusion of a dance closer to the end of the film, the film could have gained or lost in terms in regards to cohesive narration and quality. Parallels will be drawn amongst other motion pictures to investigate the different implementation of dancing elements and their presentation in each film. Also, how such an inclusion will assist in the augmentation of the emotive message that the audience is expected to receive. Escaping from traditional narrative form, AlRaqsa features a brilliant storytelling: how did you develop the script and the structure of the film? What was the most challenging thing about making this film? When filming directors at some point tend to make the audience have a personal experience with a scene. This is done to encourage the audience to share a feeling with a character. For example, in Alraqsa there is a scene where
I took the sound from the audience. With the absence of sound, the audience get to use their emotions and the sense of sight to understand what a character is attempting to imply. The absence of sound was in one of the dance scenes. I did not want the audience to only enjoy what they hear, but also wanted them to pay close attention to the experience of being deaf. In this case, I deny the audience sound and lets them have a true experience of deafness and use their sense of seeing and feeling to understand the theme of the film. During the Edison era, dancing was made into the structure of films. As from this period, it was and still is often used as the source or basis of communication between characters through body language. The dances in films of this period had a number of purposes such as: characters bidding each other farewell through; and it could serve as a bridge in which characters moved to a different stage of their relationship. It can be noted that documentaries have also played a crucial role in the popularization of dance among other art spheres. For instance, Pina a film of 2011 was about the German Choreographer Pina Bauch. This was a recent documentary of dance that relied on the use of dance entirely. In this case, the story presents the life and work of the choreographer and the use of dance provide examples of this work. It also supports the audience to understand creative vision better on the film subject. It would have been impossible for Wim Wenders, the director, to tell the intended story to put onto the screen; a choreographerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work without the use of dance. Wim Wenders, as dance-film theorist can summarize his intentions in the perception that there are various approaches in which one could display an emotion as simply talking and hearing about it is just part of the entire concept. Through such films, the use of dance offers the core primary action of what takes place within a
film. Taking into account that if a documentary is heavily dependent on filmed performances, the experience of the audiences experience be similar to the experience of a live performance; however, there could be significant differences that will be explained. Among most of these dance documentary films, the primary conflict of the movie directly involves the performance portrayed and how it affects others. In addition, the theme presented in a movie may heavily depend on dance and the outcome of the dance performance shown upon the dancers’ lives. In such instances, dance and dance ambition have a significant role as the driver of the primary narrative of the movie together with the other conflicts that are commonly found in a movie. For example, hate, revenge, and love playing secondary roles. In motion pictures like “Take the Lead” and “Shall We Dance”, the theme is set as the central concept passed to the audience on the basis of dance. We like that way AlRaqsa shows such harmonic combination between body's movements and refined shooting style: what is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? It is important to get the best of everything in filmmaking. This means each and every word; action, sound, and colour associated with a particular scene must be in line with the intended scene. For example, the harmonic combination between body movement and refined shooting style is presented, as it should be. During rehearsal one must make sure the actors understand their roles and the depth of their participation in a film. In this case, I ensure they follow I ensure they follow together with other elements, such as giving the correct emotions and body language. The message they present through words should go in line with the non-verbal communication part of the film. It is important to have a personal understanding of the characters to be presented in a film. When preparing the story of AlRaqsa, I gave the Kuwait’s sport club for the deaf a visit and sat with deaf and mute people in order to analyse and examine their movements so when I do the rehearsal with the actor, he or she can provide me with what I would expect my audience to receive. I want my audience to have a realistic experience and not watch a film
and have to view it as just acting. I want them to have real experience with the film. To get such results I encourage the actors and actresses to take the intended character and personalise it in order to give their best. When you take any film and view it as being under a different editor, cinematographer, costumer, production designer, and composer, you will realise the result is a completely different film than what you know. This is regardless of whoever is the director. The same applies in film locations when the location scout is different. This is because a location in which a film is recorded plays a significant role. It could affect the whole film; since it has the power to dictate how stage sets appear and could also set the storyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s psychological mood. Letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s take an example of what I am trying to say from Alrasqa, the scene at the gym if it had been set from a different location, there is a chance as an audience we would not have the understanding intended in this scene. It is common knowledge that people practice at the gym so the audience expects the characters to be into some activity, which in this case is the dance. The gym location and the theme of dance go hand in hand in meeting the films expectations. This shows the importance of the location in which a scene takes place in a film. When rehearsing with actors, I always prepare the location; for instance, if it is in a dancing studio I make sure the background is all black behind the subjects. This is important so as to focus attention on the subject movements and how the camera takes us with their moves. I have used match Your elegant storytelling remind us of Asghar Farhadi's cinema. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? In particular, what are you hoping the film will trigger in the audience? To be honest, I was not influenced by Asghar Farhadi cinema, although he is a good director. We have less in common when it comes to filming ideas. Many filmmakers have motivated my career. I could name some such as Michael Powell, Maya Deren, Shirin Neshat, Martin Scorsese, Stanely Kubrick, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow and others. When you watch films of different directors and artists you will realise that each gives you a different experience. As a viewer you may concentrate on the theme and how characters fit
their roles. On the basis of a filmmaker, your attention will almost entirely focus on everything. This will include sound, colour, character presentation, and the plot and theme presentation. This information is gold to a filmmaker. We learn through each other and we prepare our projects with the assistance of others or by learning through their limitations or mistakes. When I am working on a project, basing on the theme I always hope it will have more than what I intend for the audience. For instance a love story that ends in happiness or leaves the audience in tears. In such films, I will pay close attention to the central theme and work on giving it the best of everything from the script, actors, to filming. I want my audience to have a personal experience with a film. So I work on reaching to their inner self and bring them closer to my idea. A good film relates to almost every emotion of the audience. It makes them happy or makes them sad and provides them with the chance to view life from a different perspective. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? Despite the challenges that women have encountered in the film industry, especially as female directors, the have managed to handle the pressures and emerge among the best directors. Some of the celebrated female directors include Nora Ephron, Julie Taymor, and Jane Camption only to mention but a few. These women have proved that women can have outstanding performances as filmmakers and once more are given the support and opportunity, there could be remarkable changes experienced in the global film industry. Women experience bias due to their gender, as indicated in a study conducted by the University of California â&#x20AC;&#x201C; School of Communication presented in the Guardian newspaper claiming women were under
looked in Hollywood films. It was also claimed that a large number of female film directors would work on independent films as compared to mainstream studios. This is because society still perceives film directing as a best fit for a man. Even Hollywood has been claimed to block female filmmakers. I wonder why women are blocked when they can be as good as male directors. It has been observed that women are judged quickly as their careers begin, which limits their chances to grow. This is not the case for male directors as their opportunities grow as they are introduced to the world of filming. However, despite the bias there are acknowledged female directors such as those mentioned earlier. These have given hope to women directors across the globe. The future is encouraging for women filmmakers and I would encourage more women to venture into the field and explore their talent. Thanks for your time and thought, Najat. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Najat Alsheridah? I am currently working on a documentary film that is related to my Ph.D thesis. a documentary film presenting the historical development of female dance performances in Kuwaiti films. It will be featuring interviews, look and the type of content (ie. interviews, contextual footage [cutaway material and the staged dance sequences, events] that I have shot and also dance scenes from Kuwaiti films such as Bas Ya Bahar (1972) directed by Khalid AlSiddiq, Al Samt (1976) direct by Hashim Mohammed and AlAsifah (1965) directed by Moahammed Alsanousi; informed by by film theory on feminine subjectivity, as introduced by the feminist critics. The subjectivity of the female experience finds expression in narratives and such narratives are created during dance performances in cinema. The interviews will expand on what the historical changes of these subjective narratives mean for the evolutiCon of Kuwaiti female identity, female social roles, taboos and norms.
Das Haus des Narren (The House of the Fool), 2014. Installation and film set for A Line through the Periphery by Dawn Nilo
Dawn Nilo Lives and works in Arlesheim, Switzerland I write poems in different mediums and translate them back and forth in order to discover what changes or is revealed through a new artistic language. Or perhaps I could say that I’m writing one very long poem that is a riddle or a story about “The Great Work” of soul transformation. I’m seeking the one thin line of space for the self to return to and trying to create pockets of time into which one can expand. This is really a riddle to me and I’m ready to experiment with any artistic form that may help me understand. I’ve studied and worked in social work, education and fine arts and I’ve written over 800 poems, recorded an album, created installations and curated art exhibitions. I’ve directed theater, taught and performed as a fool, jester and clown and developed a consciousness studies performance method called the art of the fool. I’ve also worked with film and video as a director, in front of and behind the camera, and somehow it’s all the same thing. My life and work is dedicated to writing the poem that is the riddle of the self. It’s the poem that’s important because technically I’m always an amateur. Artistically working with so many different mediums is professionally crazy. I always have to learn new skills in order to realize my ideas and I never feel good enough. But this state of perpetual beginner’s mind keeps me open and naïve. I think the riddle of the self is best approached this way. The film, A Line through the Periphery, is a good example. I was inspired by the idea from projective geometry that two parallel lines meet at infinity, and I wanted to work with it as an expression of the inner life through film. In order to realize this I had to do almost everything for the first time – perform for film, direct, transfer from analog to digital and learn how to use an editing program. What I thought would be a two-week project took me 9 months to edit! I had no concept for editing, but in the end the film came alive only through the editing. I learned so much about visual rhythm and rhyme and about time and space as a geometry of the self. I learned to love editing and that was totally unexpected.
Women Cinemakers meets
Dawn Nilo Lives and works in Arlesheim, Switzerland I write poems in different mediums and translate them back and forth in order to discover what changes or is revealed through a new artistic language. Or perhaps I could say that I’m writing one very long poem that is a riddle or a story about “The Great Work” of soul transformation. I’m seeking the one thin line of space for the self to return to and trying to create pockets of time into which one can expand. This is really a riddle to me and I’m ready to experiment with any artistic form that may help me understand. I’ve studied and worked in social work, education and fine arts and I’ve written over 800 poems, recorded an album, created installations and curated art exhibitions. I’ve directed theater, taught and performed as a fool, jester and clown and developed a consciousness studies performance method called the art of the fool. I’ve also worked with film and video as a director, in front of and behind the camera, and somehow it’s all the same thing. My life and work is dedicated to writing the poem that is the riddle of the self. It’s the poem that’s important because technically I’m always an amateur.
An interview by Francis Quettier email@example.com
your works? And in particular, how does your and your travels inform the way you relate yourself to art making in general?
is a captivating film by multi-disciplinary artist Dawn Nilo: through an effective non linear narrative approach, she initiates her audience into an unconventional and highteneed visual experience. Hello Dawn and welcome to : to start this interview we would ask you a couple of questions about your background. You have a multifaceted and cross disciplinary background: are there any experiences that did influence the way you currently conceive and produce
, there is a woman who In the documentary explains that when she’s hungry she searches in the rat holes for grains of rice until she has enough to go home and cook them. Then she starts again the next day. That is not my cultural substratum. I was born into the luck of the easy life of living in Canada, the United States and Switzerland. My childhood might have had it’s share of alcoholism and abuse, and I might have dealt with depression and things, but I’ve never
and Dora Tennant
experienced war and I’ve always been loved and I to search for grains of rice to eat!
I don’t know why I’ve had this luck, but I know that it comes at other people’s expense. That’s how our dysfunctional work socio-economic and political system works. This makes me feel very guilty, confused and angry because it doesn’t leave anyone free – neither the oppressed nor the oppressors. If I weren’t an artist I would be a warrior! But I don’t know practically how to fight it and I don’t like violence, so I have to look for another way to make a difference. I’ve chosen to try to do good things through art – things that could bring about freedom in a more gentle way, through the inner life. And the good thing about the inner life is that at it’s best it’s completely unique and individual, and when it’s free, it can’t be dictated or controlled. And freedom can also be love. So in my work, I really try to value, celebrate and explore the complexity and beauty of the individual human being, including the shadows and the struggles. And if I take the sanctity of the individual seriously, it doesn’t matter, weather we are searching for grains of rice or creating schemes to put whole nations into debt in order to buy a larger jet. We are all human and I’m rooting for team humanity on the deepest level. I hope that comes out in my art. You are a versatile and your practice ranges from video and public projects: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://dawnnilo.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: while walking us through your process,would
Film still from A Line through the Periphery, 2014. Digitally transferred and edited Super 8 film by Dawn Nilo
Film still from A Line through the Periphery, 2014. Digitally transferred and edited Super 8 film by Dawn Nilo
Women Cinemakers you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your multidisciplinary approach? In particular, do you think that there is that connect all your works?
I have a multidisciplinary approach because I’m basically sanguine and playful and each new medium is like an exciting toy. But I’m always playing the same game. It’s the search for freedom in love and love in freedom that is the one thin line, the red thread or the central idea that connects my work. It’s the idea that love and freedom are possible. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected A Line though the Periphery, an extremely interesting film that our readers have already staterd to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the geometry of the self is the way you have provided the results of your exploration with autonomous aesthetics and coherent unity. While walking our readers through the genesis of English: A Line though the Periphery, would you tell us how did you developed the initial idea?
I had a little solo exhibition in a small house sitting over a river, on the edge of the railroad tracks and on the border between Switzerland and France. Everything about it felt like an in between place, not quite anywhere in space or time. You can’t imagine anything more romantic for a fool. So I decided to live that out and create the house of the fool (Das Haus des Narren in German). What does a fool
want for a house? I wanted to create a rabbit hole into the magic world between wisdom and absurdity and was inspired by the idea from projective geometry that two parallel lines meet at infinity. The proof is very convincing – wise and absurd at the same time, and I thought that a fool would like to live there, where the parallel lines meet. I asked, “What would it look like at infinity? What would be the mood?” I felt it would have to be both playful and lawful at the same time – both straight and circular. So I gathered a green oil lamp, a yellow metal teapot, an apple and a large wooden compass. I made a circle and constructed a geometric form, sewed a curtain and painted the outside of the house with yellow stripes. At sunset and sunrise I played excerpts from Bach’s Violin Partita #2 in D minor. It was all very whimsical, romantic and melancholic and it made me want to really live there, at least in my imagination. I decided to invite some performance friends to come and visit me at the house in their fool personas so that we could imagine that together and play that out. Then I had the idea to make a small film of it as a surprise for the curators of the exhibition. I wanted to show it on the last day without telling anyone before hand. It was exciting. We filmed late at night and early in the morning when no one could see us as a sort of secret gorilla action. Your observation seems to be very analytical, yet A Line though the Periphery strives to be full of emotion, and as you remaked once, what you thought would be a two-week project took you 9 months to edit: how would you consider the relationship between analysis and spontaneity within
Women Cinemakers your work? In particular, do you like or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of your works? How much importance does play improvisation in your process?
Spontaneity gives me the ideas and dealing with the details of reality (like… how do you turn the camera on?) keeps my fantasy in check and gets the work done. I’m actually not very good at dealing with matter and getting things done. Reality just seems to get in the way. But in the end I know that it objectifies the work and makes it better. So I’m trying to create art that arises out of a balance between form and freedom. That’s why I focus on play, because it dances in between. , I had a sort For example, for of story line that we improvised with, but the light was very bad and the camera kept stopping. Almost none of the footage turned out and I had to completely rethink the whole thing once the film came back. The reality of the material was stronger than my idea and I had to let it teach me. There also seemed to be forces (I might even call them little beings!) in the editing program that I just had to work with. They were very strict with me and only allowed me to cut, copy and paste. But they were friendly and fun too so it was also play. As for analyses, it usually comes after the work is done or at least only after different stages of the process have been completed. I think good work is created out of the continual death and rebirth of the idea as it meets up with reality. The idea needs to be spontaneous enough to change and continually reinvent itself without becoming
Women Cinemakers subservient to reality. That is the art of the fool. Your work accomplishes such insightful inquiry into the point of convergence between images that comes from perceptual reality and other ones that come from the realm of imagination: how do you consider within your work? Perhaps images arising from perceptual reality and those arising from the imagination simply show different aspects of the same thing. If so, then we could say that there is a perceptual and an imaginal reality. One illuminates the outer material aspects of the world and the other shows us the inner or spiritual world. An apple tree with it’s bark and leaves is no more real than the idea that an apple seed will sprout and grow into a sapling that will eventually produce an apple and then a seed. That idea is an imagination that creates images within us. We can imagine a fast forward stop motion movie of it and know that there is a reality to it. This kind of imagination is lawful. But fantasy is another matter. I can fantasize and even “see” images of myself morphing into a bird and flying away. But there’s no lawful physical reality to that. I think it’s very fun to play with fantasy, but in the end I guess I create art in order to be able to imagine more and more of a real world that we just can’t perceive with the ordinary senses yet. I use art is an opportunity to expand perception and knowing. is rich with high symbolic
values: what is your opinion about in your video? And in particular how do you conceive the narrative and especially for your works?
The symbolism, the narrative and the visual imagery flow in and out of one another, changing places, inverting and metamorphosing. And yet they are very specific – walking, a lantern, a kettle, a yellow line, looking, vertical, horizontal, moving, being, seeing, black, the moon, closing the eyes, opening the eyes etc. They are a poetic juxtaposition of verbs and nouns and there are as many different ways to interpret them as there are people who might want to do it. But that is another art that’s called art history, or maybe philosophy or psychology. I tried to cut a line through the periphery so that the meaning could fall directly through the crack and be understood even without the intellect. is a silent film: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear. Why did you choose to produce a silent film? In particular, how do you see ?
The film itself decided to be silent. It just rejected everything I tried, as if any sound was a violation that forcefully overlaid an unwanted interpretation. I chose
the soundtrack of silence because that is the soundtrack of being left alone. I didn’t want to decide how people should feel. If there is a sense bias that favors a visual logic, I would say that there can also be a sense bias that favors auditory absurdity. There is a sort of sound symbolism that might not be logical but forces us to feel in
particular ways anyway. It’s a propaganda that compensates when the images can’t do the job, which is fine for propaganda, and advertising, but not for art (well maybe for concept art because then anything goes, but we’re talking about sensual experiences now and not concepts right?). There has to be a good reason for the sound to be there. It should either
document the images or be just as aesthetically important. And it shouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be subservient or manipulative. It would be fun to play with this by making a film that keeps repeating the same images over and over again with different emotive sound tracks. Maybe one already exists? Multidisciplinary artist Angela Bulloch onced
remarked "that works of arts often continue to evolve after they have been realised, simply by the fact that they are conceived with an element of change, or an inherent potential for some kind of shift to occur". Do you think that the role of the artist has changed these days with the new global communications and the new sensibility created by new media?
Women Cinemakers I’m not sure what to do with this question. I really don’t know; but I can ramble and you can decide what to do with it in the end. Everybody seems to be changing roles today and the roles are getting really confusing and morphing in and out of one another. We’re not even certain of our gender roles any more so I guess it’s not surprising that I we might question the role of the artist. I think the changing roles rules apply equally to everyone, but it does seem that artists want more than others to be able to do everything today without having to follow any rules. I guess the fool is a good example. But a more confusing example is that the artist as ethnographer (which was very popular a few years back) or the artist as social worker, does not have to adhere to any code of ethics or get a license. I’m just waiting for the “artist as heart surgeon” performance. On the other hand, everybody wants to be an artist or to create. And why shouldn’t we? New technologies make it possible for more people than ever to express themselves without spending years developing skills. The internet really does allow us do a lot after watching a few you tube videos. I’ve learned almost all of my video editing skills from You-Tube and if I put enough time into it, I guess I could even get really good. But I’m not actually sure that would make me a better artist. Maybe it would. I don’t know. Maybe the role of the artist is just to be human. But now, with transhumanism (which is also very trendy in art today) even that role comes into question. We like the way
,a addresses the viewers to multiplicity of meanings: you seem to urge the viewers to elaborate : how much important is for you that the viewers the concepts you convey in your videos, elaborating personal meanings?
Art happens twice – in the creation and in the reception. Both instances are equally important and require equally as much effort. The spectator or observer is not just a witness, but also a creator in the realm of the imagination where the art wakes up and takes on new life every time it’s taken seriously. The richer the imagination, fantasy and pool of personal associations a person brings, the stronger the moment of rebirth. I’m trying to describe a moment of cocreation that transcends time and space. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create with the viewers, who are provided with the the opportunity to become active participants and are urged to evolve from the condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?
As a poet I would like to say something absurd. I use that word so much because it implies something illogical and playful but also real and possibly true.
Sometimes I work imaginatively with people who will see or read my art in the future or who have already experienced it in the past and know more about it than I do. I trust that I don’t understand it any better than they do. We make it for each other and for that I’m very grateful. So in this way, writing a poem or making a film is similar to an audience participation performance. I try to make artistic decisions about my language in actual and imagined co-operation with these imaginary but very real and also people of the past present and future. The other is of primary importance to me because I am searching for the self and paradoxically, I can only do that alone with other people. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Dawn. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?
In the future I want to bridge the boundary between logic and absurdity and I want to learn how to think and communicate with people through other organs than the brain. I don’t mean that metaphorically, symbolically or in any sort of dreamy way. I mean it, well… for real. In this way we could develop ourselves without needing machines to do it for us. Machines are very logical and not at all absurd. Only humans are absurd and in order to develop humanity, we have to develop absurdity. We have to become more human even as we become transhuman. That’s the one thin line of space for the self to return to and if I could find it, I bet I’d meet you there!
Umstulpen, 2016, Performance with Video Installation. Dawn Nilo
Das Haus des Narren (The House of the Fool), 2014. Installation and film set for A Line through the Periphery by Dawn Nilo
Women Cinemakers Can you imagine what it would be like if my spleen could speak to your spleen? Or if I could decide with which organ (or perhaps eventually which machine) I wanted to think? What if thinking could be feeling and the other way around? That seems very advanced to me, but exciting and I want to try. I will dedicate my life to trying. To do this I’m creating a playground (or a series of playgrounds) that wis like a research platform or a training ground for the imagination. It’s very serious but fun and it’s . It involves an ongoing online called experimental film that looks something like a series of vlog episodes that follow no rules. They flow aesthetically in and out of digital and analog forms and ideally in and out of logic. was a sort of secret or esoteric first episode because it’s not really online. I will work with the idea of what is exoteric and what is esoteric - what can you find online and what you will actually have to show up for. Fort example, will also include improvised sessions of absurd play with friends and audiences and a game of initiation called that can be played within a giant installation. Finally, unrelated to The Kingdom of fools (sort of), I want to edit, complete and publish, , my collection poems. And then I think I will die. Thanks for the questions. I do feel that we co-created this together, even if you are a cloud and not an individual. You see, trans-humanism is already well established! But still I have tried to speak to your individuality. I hopeit worked because you spoke to mine.
Julia Marchese An interview by Bonnie Curtis and Jennifer Druhn In a culture where digital presentation is taking over, Out of Print is a captivating documentary by Julia Marchese that celebrates the unique Revival and Art House Cinemas where 35mm film prints are still going strong. With elegant composition and effective storytelling, Out of Print addresses the viewers to a multilayered experience to urge them to inquire into the possible synergy between tradition and contemporary technology. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her multifaceted artistic production. Hello Julia and welcome to this special edition of Women Cinemakers: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell us something about your background? Are there any experience, along with your career as an actress, influenced the way you currently conceive and produce your works?
I have been a stage actor since I was a very small child, and was an ensemble member at the Rainbow Company Children's Theatre in Las
Being in the Rainbow Company put me light years ahead of most actors in LA, and when I moved here 15 years ago, I was shocked when I was cast in my first Los Angeles play (a stage version of The Breakfast Club in which I played the Ally Sheedy part) and some of my fellow actors showed up late, and failed to learn their lines. I had been a straight up professional since I was 10! More than anything else, Rainbow Company really prepared me for my life in LA. I can't imagine my life without having been in the Rainbow Company, which is still going strong in Las Vegas. I moved to Hollywood to become a movie star, like so many young girls before me. I have been in several independent films including Delta Delta Die, where I play a cannibalistic sorority girl, Golden Earrings, a Heavenly Creatures-esque thriller, and I am so happy that I was able to be in Joe Dante's Burying the Ex. I adore acting, and miss it at the moment to be honest. Directing Out of Print was a whole new foray into film directing that kind of came out of left field, and while I am itching to direct another film, I am itching to start acting again too. Also being on stage and being comfortable in front of large groups of people was paramount to my role when I was leading the Q&A's while working at the
Vegas from ages 10 -18. As a member of the ensemble, if I was not chosen to play a part in the half dozen shows put on each year, I was assigned to do a backstage crew job - lights, sound, costumes, set design, props, ushering - I learned how to do each, and learned about theater as a whole, and of course - the absolute necessity of a great crew to a production. We were taught to be professional, always punctual and responsible, and how to treat the theater with absolute respect.
I got to use all of those lessons when making Out of Print. I worked hard to have an easy going set, to put both the cast and crew at ease. To always be on time, professional and respectful of the crafting of a production. Plus, I got to totally geek out and talk about my passions with people I admire. It was pretty damn special. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production would you like to tell to our readers something about your process and set up?
My motto is the same as Elvis Presley - Takin' Care of Business in a Flash. I found the most important quality to have as a director is to be extremely organized. Of course I had an amazing crew, who were indispensable as well, but I made sure I did everything I could to make sure the day would run smoothly, and made sure every small detail was considered. My production manager, Alissa Davis, and my Director of Photography, Alex Simon, were both so incredibly crucial to this film. I honestly feel strange when I talk about Out
New Beverly. I wanted the New Bev to feel casual, to put the guests at ease and make it a fun, comfy chat with that particular awesome person. I had actually interviewed most of the directors that are in Out of Print before, just at the New Bev sitting on the stage instead of in front of a camera. I also learned to let my movie loving heart shine brightly, because there is nothing more exciting than enthusiasm, especially when it is obviously genuine.
We filmed nearly all of the interviews on a sound stage in two weeks, with a few pick ups interviews shot a few weeks later. The pace was steady, never frantic, and I used the crews ideas and suggestions as often as I could. I wanted my set to feel like a place where everyone's input was welcomed. Because it was. This is my first film, and I wasn't afraid to ask my crew for help, and learn from them, because every single one of them was astounding and great at what they did. The film wouldn't exist without them. If I had a question, I asked. Everyone knew it was my first film, so I never pretended I knew more than I did. An honest answer was always given, and I tucked everything into my memory because nothing teaches you how to make a film better than making one. For this special edition of Women Cinemakers we have selected the Out Of Print, an interesting documentary that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and we would like to invite them to visit http://outofprintfilm.com. Would you walk our readers through the genesis of Out Of Print?
Out of Print was born out of a letter received at the New Beverly. I had always wanted to make a documentary about the New Bev, but in 2012
of Print being "my movie" because there were so many superb people involved in the film. But that's what's great about making movies - it is a collaborative medium.
Crowd funding is much harder work than you might think, and very nerve wracking. I was online for six hours or more each day of my campaign, reaching out to folks on social media. I received 75% of my funding through Twitter. I made my goal the very day the campaign ended, so you can imagine how frazzled I was, but so very happy as well. I had made a promise to a Twitter follower that I would do the Roger Rabbit if my Kickstarter succeeded, and I made good on that promise. Filmmakers live in such a magical time. I was able to raise over $80,000 to make Out of Print through Kickstarter donations, and therefore was able to make the film completely on my own terms, as I wished. Because Out of Print is such a champion for 35mm, Panavision gave me a large 35mm camera package to use, and Kodak donated boxes of 35mm film to shoot on. So the film is shot half on the Red, and half on 35mm. And because I had raised the money independently, it meant I had to do every part of the films production, plus pre and post independently too. Making the film print, the posters, the soundtrack, getting the film shown
when we got the letter from one of the major studios announcing they were going to stop production of 35mm prints, I knew I had to make the film right then. I had a lot of help from some wonderful people, and also some incredible hindrances from some not so wonderful people, but I was able to launch my Kickstarter in May of 2012.
As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your ultimate goal with Out of Print was to inspire those who watched the film to seek out their local independent cinema, because each one is unique and so vital to their community. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s role differs depending on which part of the world youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in". What could be in your opinion the role of filmmakers in our unstable contemporary age?
The role of filmmakers has never changed, no matter what age we are talking about - to make movies that entertain the audience. That's what movies are for. If you can make people think, and show your view of the world while you are at it, you're way ahead. The thing with movies is that there are so many to choose from, and so many people to watch them that every single story told will resonate with someone. When people tell me that Out of Print made them go to their local independent cinema they had never been to before, I feel like the film is a success. Because that's what I set out to do. Make
around the world (it has played in the oldest cinemas in the USA, Canada and the WORLD), getting a sales agent, selling the film - all of it - I did on my own, and learned how to make a film from soup to nuts. It was intense, but it was also awesome.
Film is the most incredible medium there is - it's our only form of time travel, it allows you to experience other people's lives and thoughts and love and pain and do it all surrounded by strangers, all feeling the same emotions together. I was asked what my idea of "joy" was recently, and I replied that it is the moment just before a film starts in the theater - when the possibilities are endless, and I am ready to be transported into my very favorite thing in the whole world. I wanted to make a film about the people who feel the same way I do about cinema - the ones who have it tattooed in their hearts, who can't live without it. I wanted to celebrate filmmakers and movie theaters in my film, but most of all I wanted to celebrate the film goer. The audience doesn't get celebrated very often, but they are the real reason movies are made. Out Of Print is not a classical talking heads documentary and manages to capture extraordinary moments of genuine emotion as well as references to historical situations. We appreciated the way Out Of Print weaves past and present: how did you conceive the balance between the effective storytelling of your narrative and the real situation you described?
As in all documentaries, Out of Print was crafted in the editing room. My fantastic editor, John Quinn, and I spent weeks trimming the
people realize how special seeing movies in a cool cinema with an enthusiastic crowd is.
documentary to its current 86 minute iteration. We had over fifty hours of footage to sort through, and so many incredible stories from our interviews that it was heartbreaking work. I was able to speak to many legendary filmmakers about their love of film, and hearing all of their stories, beginning from where their love of cinema began, was absolutely enthralling. But I wanted the film to be about a very broad subject - the importance of independent cinemas - through the keyhole lens of just one example of this kind of cinema The New Beverly Cinema. And because the film was tackling a subject that was very new in 2012 (the switch to digital), I knew that the film would very quickly be dated, but that is what I wanted - to capture a snapshot of a newly developing, critical time in the history of cinema. To have so many filmmaking legends describe the history of independent cinemas in their own words is the real treat of my film. The directors I spoke with are so knowledgable about film, and talk about it with authority because they have loved film since they were kids, and just love it with all of their hearts. That's what makes them such great filmmakers. But I didn't want to just only focus on famous folk - I wanted the little guy to get just as much screen time, and was very discerning about picking lines and stories based solely on what was said, not who said it. Every single person I interviewed was equal in my eyes. Because that's the way it was at the New Bev. Everyone was equal because everyone adored film.
Finding the "flow" of the film was definitely the hardest part, and my editor and I switched sections around many many times before we were satisfied with the order. My first cut was over two hours, and I was lucky to have several of the directors give me notes on that rough cut before I sliced it to under 90 minutes. Then, once picture was locked and a 35mm print of the film was made, I was fired from the New Beverly. I then had a finished film about my absolute unconcealed love for a cinema that I was no longer welcome at, and no longer wished to promote. It broke my heart, and made it very difficult to watch the film for a long time. But I know that the film has a bigger message than just the New Beverly, and my ultimate goal for the film was to show the importance of independent cinemas to culture, which Out of Print still does. People asked me why I didn't put a coda in at the end of the film showing what happened after the film was finished, and my answer is I didn't because the film isn't about me. It's about the community every cinema has. Whether or not I work there is irrelevant, because the New Beverly continues to show fantastic double bills on 35mm and will forever. And there are so many other terrific cinemas around the world to visit too. That's pretty damn great. Out Of Print explores why 35mm film should be allowed to coexist with digital forever: do you think that there could be a proficient synergy between a traditional and contemporary techniques? Or are in your
opinion Tradition and Contemporariness opposite, conflictual aspects of filmmaking?
There's room for both. There are some people who enjoy the old school, analog, traditional aspect of filmmaking and film going, and there are some who can't get enough of the brand new, cutting edge technology of the future. Both viewpoints are equally valid, but I just happen to be made of the stuff that craves physical media from the past. I love books and VHS and cassettes and vinyl - I adore holding something a piece of art in my hand, feeling the weight of it and knowing it is real. But - we are moving into a digital future and that is something I have to embrace as well. Digital has actually opened so many doors for filmmakers - not only can anyone afford to shoot a film now on a digital camera or even their phone, but they can edit, add effects and music, and distribute it all by never touching an actual frame of film. The democracy of filmmaking is still a very new concept, but it's one of the reasons I like digital. And it is becoming democratized on the exhibition end as well. Out of Print played several dates in the UK this past September as part of an amazing film programming series called Scalarama, that honors a New Beverly-esque art/grindhouse that used to be in London in the 70's and 80's called The Scala. In addition to touring with the 35mm print of Out of Print, I also used the time to interview several independent cinemas across the UK. There are so many exciting screenings going on over
there, in pubs, in charity shop basements and on the side of walls - anywhere you can possibly imagine. And it's all because of digital and its ability to be played anywhere. Hearing the film programmers I spoke to talk about these imaginative screenings honestly made me like digital exhibition for the first time. If you are a tiny village in rural England without a cinema, you can rent equipment and a film and show a film in the town hall for all to enjoy. There are even awesome national support organizations like Cinema for All and the Independent Cinema Office set up to facilitate these local screenings. Cinema for All has been helping film clubs acquire films since 1946. I would really love to go back and shoot more of these incredible cinematic happenings going on in the UK right now. They're fucking on it. In Out Of Print you have combined clever attention to details and accurate attention to close up shots: what were your main aesthetic decisions in terms of composition and shooting?
I knew most of Out of Print was going to be interviews, so I made sure to have a variety of camera angles, lighting and backgrounds so it wouldn't feel too repetitious. My DP, Alex, let me know early on that we needed to always have two camera running, at least, on every interview, so we would have wide shots and close ups for everyone. It helped my editor, John, tremendously during the editing process. The other thing I knew I wanted to do, ascetically, was to use lots of public domain film
footage. There's an amazing website called The Internet Archive, and every single one of the film clips you see in Out of Print is public domain footage from that site. There are so many great films that are public domain and completely free to use- Freaks, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Night of the Living Dead, Battleship Potemkin! It was absolutely a dream to be able to use clips from such legendary films in my documentary. On the same site, I stumbled upon a massive collection of vintage animated drive in snipes that I use in Out of Print. (Remember "Let's all go to the lobby?!" - that's a snipe.) There were so many great ones to choose from, and since the New Bev frequently plays vintage snipes and trailers, it felt very appropriate to the film. I had a hard time picking which ones to use because there were so many great snipes, but I'm very happy with the ones that made it in to the final cut. The hot dog slipping into his bun to go onstage is my personal favorite. Flat images, both natural and meticulously composed are a landmark of your shooting style: what focal length did you use to throughout your film? And what was your approach to lighting?
My spectacular director of photography, Alex Simon, gets all of the credit for the look of my film. On our first meeting he pitched me the idea of lighting the directors in the look of their own films, and I was sold. You'll notice Stuart Gordon's lighting is reminiscent of Herbert West's infamous green filled syringe in The
Reanimator, for instance. It was such a brilliant idea of Alex's and he and the crew pulled it off beautifully. We also filmed interviews in several houses, so it was imperative to be respectful to the homes and get in and out with as little fuss, and as little equipment, as possible. It was a limited space, and a limited time for set up. But the thing that makes Alex Simon the best director of photography ever is he is completely unflappable. He will adapt to any location, any circumstance, anything you throw at him. He makes it look easy, but he worked super hard and does amazing work. He's the best. Alex also had another challenge in that we shot the interviews of Rian Johnson & Noah Segan, Joe Dante and Joe Carnahan in both digital and 35mm with cameras running side by side simultaneously. I knew going in that I wanted to have a side by side shot of 35mm and digital in the finished film, and since I knew all of those gentlemen are huge 35mm lovers, I made the choice that the side by side footage would have to come from one of their interviews. Joe's Carnahan and Dante both gave superlative interviews, but when Rian Johnson started talking about the difference of looking at the 35mm print and the digital print of Looper, he actually started talking about split screening the two formats side by side! I heard a click and I knew I had the footage I needed. It was perhaps the greatest moment of pure joy on set for me. He provided me with the complete apex of the film's message, said brilliantly and succinctly,
distilling the film down to its most crucial argument. God fucking bless Rian Johnson.
other things. But this was all instrumental, I didn't want any words. A film score.
Sound plays an important role in Out Of Print: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects contemporary societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear: how do you see the relationship between sound and images?
I had recently had my mind blown by Banksy's fucking kickass documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, and loved his use of Air's Kelly Watch the Stars in it, so I told my brother to think Air when he started composing. Then, once I began editing and really started getting into the funky, groovy stuff I told him to think James Brown. And if you listen to the soundtrack (you can buy them from me!) you can really hear different pieces of music that range completely from Air to James Brown and everything in between. I am so ecstatic that I got to fulfill my childhood dream of having my brother score a film that I directed. And he deserves so much of the credit for my film, because it would be nothing without his tremendous contribution. Music and movies are interlocked.
My brother has loved music just as long as I have loved movies, and I always had a dream in the back of my mind growing up that maybe one day I would make a movie, and my brother could write the score. I even told my friends that this was my plan. Once I knew Out of Print was definitely happening, I called my brother, Peter, and asked him if he would do the soundtrack to the movie I was going to make. He sounded trepidatious, and said "I've never scored a movie before." I said "I've never made a movie before, let's figure it out!" And he said yes. Most of the music I love I know from films, and music and movies are so intertwined there's no way to separate them. Peter had a tough job because he had to start composing the music before I had started editing the film - I had no idea what the film was, then, really. But he is so incredibly talented - he has been in several rad bands, like Voyager One and Tokyoidaho (check him out!) - he sings wonderfully, plays guitar, bass, drums and keyboards, among
We want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value?
Honestly, during the making of Out of Print I never once thought about being a "woman
director". I thought about being a director. That's all. I was nervous making my first film, but I that feeling is genderless too. Never at any point in the process of making my film did anyone ever treat me differently for being a woman. I never felt that I wasn't listened to, or that I was at a disadvantage in any way because of my gender. I worked hard and hustled like a motherfucker, but that's what every filmmaker out there should be doing, regardless of gender, sexuality or color. For me the only question is: do you like my film? Yes or no? That's really all there is. It shouldn't be a good film for a girl, it should simply be a good film. My experiences completely give me hope for the future of cinema, and I am so happy to see filmmakers supporting each other more and more. I love what Women Cinemakers is doing - calling attention to films directed by females is so positive and necessary, and I am beyond honored to be included in this issue. But the reason I feel honored is that the people at Women Cinemakers liked my film enough to include it, not because I am a woman director, but because I made a film that resonates with them. That is the true honor. I am proud to be a woman. I am proud to be a woman filmmaker. I am proud to be a filmmaker. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Julia. Finally, would you like to
tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?
My next film will be a narrative feature called Quaalude Kittens, which is a Russ Meyeresque sexploitation film I wrote set in the 1960's which exploits boys just as much as it exploits girls - it's time for sexploitation to swing both ways! I am such a fan of Meyer's buxom, badass females, and this film pays homage to them with all of the sex, drugs and rock and roll you would expect. Exploitation has always been a male centric genre, but I'm super into it and think it's about time for sexploitation to be seen from a female perspective. Just like Out of Print, this is a project I am very passionate about, and think I could really knock out of the park. As far as the evolution of my work, I hope it gets better the more films I make. 5 years on I look at Out of Print and see all of the changes I would make to it now. But I made the film I wanted to make at that time, and that's what a film is - a snapshot of a moment in time. I'm proud of it, and I'm proud of its message, and I will never stop loving quirky independent cinemas. But I have a lot more to say, and I think some of it will surprise you. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
Corinne Charton Photo by Sally Eidlitz
My current practice spans across painting and digital film where I create deceiving portraits and withholding close-ups that do not partake in a postmodern “emptiness of the image” (Parveen Adams). “Rather, an unexpected and disorienting plenitude flows out of these representational shells. Beneath the hollowed out faces lies a motley crew of passions and ideas: the eternal vicissitudes of carnality; love lost and found; the feminist art historical imperative of (re)discovering women artists of the past; that old chestnut, looking and being looked at; the troubled marriage between images and meaning.” (1) My fascination with the face has always been at the core of my practice; even before I embarked on my current work with digital video in 2014 therefore it is inevitable that it permeates every aspect of my current video practice where I continue to explore the face as Masque, especially the female face where the revelatory promise of portraiture is disturbed through facial mash-ups, splicing and sound desynchronization. My video practice explores disturbances, ruptures and disruptions by taking very short segments of both appropriated and original footage and splicing them up into small portions, approximately one to ten frames These are then repositioned, repeated and some times also reversed. The repetitive repositioning of the frames dislodges the original narrative from the emerging piece, making it rhythmic both on the visual and audio level with at times quite funny results. The aim is to remove these short films from the usual rather passive event of watching a Movie where one sits down and enjoys (or not) what is occurring on the screen. The plot is laid out, nothing much to do except to follow it. Additionally, adding new sound-tracks to some pieces accentuates already existing narratives as for example, the heightened salient sense of unfortunate fate of two protagonists engaged in a disjointed, ludicrously silly “Dance Macabre”, (Cock fight) or by adding birdsong in an attempt to remove the performer’s incoherent dialogue and spasmodic movements from the surreal. (The penetration of twitter onto a soundtrack of missing)
Some original pieces are shot concurrently on two cameras, each frame serving as representation of an individual’s space where the performers interaction happens when entering the other’s frame The positioning of the frames next to each other and the black space surrounding both frames on the screen is an attempt to negate the “out-of-field; that which exists elsewhere, to one side or around” (Deleuze 1986: 17) , the out-of-field that potentially could be considered threatening as it cannot be observed. These attempts at disrupting narratives are informed by Riddles of the Sphinx by Laura Mulvey / Peter Wollen , Granular Synthesis, «Model 5», 1994 – 1996 and also, Passage à l'acte by Martin Arnold. The “Face” central to the majority of my short digital films, is most appropriately thought of in relation to what is visible to the viewer and as posited by Rushton; “relating to or reading a face is not a matter of interpreting certain performed codes and applying those codes to the markings one sees expressed on a face; it is rather, an intuitive mode of seeing.” (Rushton 2002: 220) 1: Alexandra M. Kokoli BA Fine Art Joint Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer in Visual Culture at Middlesex University and Research Associate at VIAD, University of Johannesburg. Part of text about mywork for MA Degree Show Catalogue 2016
Born in Paris and raised in Sweden, Corinne Charton decided to pursue her interest in art following a career as a fashion model. Graduating from Central Saint Martins with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Fine in 2003. She went on to complete her MA in Fine Art at Middlesex University in 2106 graduating with Distinction. The revelatory promise of portraiture in both her painting and video practice is obstructed through facial mashups, splicing, reordering and sound desynchronization. The artist probes and comments on these emergent conditions by giving form to their potential fallout. Her work is in public and private collections, including Central St Martins, UAL.
An interview by Bonnie Curtis and Barbara Scott Hello Corinne and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would start this interview about a couple of questions about your multifaceted background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BA (Hons) in Fine Art from the prestigious Central Saint Martins you nurtured your education with a MA in Fine Art, that you recently received from the Middlesex University: how did these experiences along with your career as a fashion model influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum address the themes of your artistic research? For a while I was as much an emigrant as an immigrant. And I am sure these experiences sneak through to find their position, niche, or little corner within my art practice. However I do not consciously take that part of my background and separate it from the rest. To me it is nothing out of the ordinary. It is simply the life that I have lived, and part of who I am. I can very much relate to parts of Stuart Hall’s “Minimal Selves” (1988) as I consider myself to be a migrant as well and have never been anything else, I don’t even know what the opposite would be. Is there one? This might sound silly, however I just realised that I kind of migrate back and forth from different art-practices as well. So I guess that could be the link; being a perpetual migrant! I am very much migrating from one discipline to another,
Stills from (Paroxysms erupting because) Mr Rochester does not quite get it
The piece is shot concurrently on two cameras, each frame serve as representation of an individual space where the person occupying it stares straight out at the viewer and only looks away when scrutinizing the other person’s face. The interaction between the performers 'occurs' when each performer enters the adjacent frame, highlighting a gap that can or cannot be bridged by touch. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://www.corinnecharton.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: while walking us through your process, would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, do you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works? The first works were made or are directly linked to the work I produce during my final year at Central Saint Martin’s and is heavily influenced by my stepdad’s Alzheimer’s. As his illness progress I became more and more obsesses with photographs and 8mm home movies he had recorded and kept. With the aid of these films and “paper symbols”(Kabakov 1989, “Ilya Kabakov”, 1998: 100) I placed nostalgia; an emotion/symptom that I consider to be in search of an identity at the centre of my practice. This was a direct, possibly slightly petulant response after being advice by a tutor to "Be wary of straying into nostalgia" Why should anyone be dissuaded from venturing into a territory where there is so
appropriating cultural references from wherever I feel a connection and just discarding the rest. The piece that I consider incorporates reflections and ideas relating to my background as a fashion model is “S&L @ 70% or the deerotification of “touch” where I specifically chose to use two fairly young and good looking performers. I asked them to reach in to each other’s spaces and calmly without haste, touch the other person’s face in a manner that should be as diametrically opposite as possible to anything that could be interpreted as “erotic. The idea was for the piece to counteract the relentless erotification of “touch” especially when involving people that are attractive and often young, its ubiquity in fashion, advertising and media in general, today is relentless and hard to avoid.
Looking through my writings for this interview I found some old notes relating to my approach to the continuation of memory as a succession of archived films running through our heads. How they are cut and edited depends on perception. Although not yet immersed in my video practice it was still somehow waiting to pop out… After graduating from CSM’s my practice continued to touch on memories exploring what part of us has been shaped by lived sensory experiences and what might be an amalgam derived from events lived via mass media. Especially important to me are childhood iconology, hence the Disney characters, especially Donald Duck because I absolutely loved him for being naughty and maladroit and so completely diametrically opposite to Mickey Mouse who was always so nice and perfect! Photography continued to be an important part in my work, as I examined photographs of my childhood questioning the truth and authenticity rigidly frozen at a specific moment. While continuing to position nostalgia at the centre of my practice, I never allowed its emotions to consume my paintings but instead attempted to utilise nostalgia’s subversive qualities to underpin my recollections. And by introducing strangers, for example the twin boys in photographs from an old family album bought at a flea market into my very own familiar spaces I extend my interrogations of my own identity and existence and that of others. Doing this I pretend to give them a new and more recent history thereby temporarily preventing traces of their existence to disappear into oblivion while also questioning if things would have been different had other people inhabited the scenery and backdrops of my childhood and vice versa. Nostalgia then became not simply about the glorification of bygone times but also an attempt to deconstruct it. Although I still remove the personages depicted in my paintings from their original background/context, my recent body of work has moved away from the “personal” and is
much potential? As long as I was aware of the possible pitfalls of that space, I should be safe from too much self-pity and sickly sugar coated memories, framed by soft, fluffy summer clouds.
exploring notions of identity, especially female, in addition to the refusal of the gaze. In some I have scavenged images found in magazines and on the web such as the image of a bird demanding to be fed, a fifties pin-up, a lonely child, and the interior of a hotel room that reminds me of a screenshot from a film seen on the TV or from a movie. Similarly to the paintings with the twins I use these “stolen” fragments and merge them with photographs of actual spaces from my childhood recently re-visited and photographed. Oh dear I better stop here, otherwise this interview will go on and on and on…….. and I realise I’ve basically just talked about my painting practice… For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected (Paroxysms erupting because) Mr Rochester does not quite get it., an extremely interesting video that our readers have already began to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that is available at https://vimeo.com/169368522: what has at once captured our attention of your successful attempt to disrupt narrative is the way you have provided the visual results of your analysis with coherent combination between autonomous aesthetics and visual consistence. While walking our readers through the genesis of (Paroxysms erupting because) Mr Rochester does not quite get it., would you tell what did draw you to inquire into the notion of narrative from a perceptual point of view? It is very much a continuation of my painting practice where I corrupt narratives by blending visual anecdotes, and “(Paroxysms erupting because)….” was most probably an intentional accident waiting to happen, specially taking into consideration my research and writings about the face, where I examine the gaze’s ubiquitous residency within the frame of a photographed portrait: The “Face” is most appropriately thought of in relation to what is visible to the viewer and as posited by Rushton; “relating to or reading a face is not a matter of interpreting certain performed codes and applying those codes to the markings one sees expressed on a face; it is rather, an intuitive mode of seeing.” (Rushton 2002: 220) By splicing up this animated “portrait” I attempt to disrupt
and refuse this slightly voyeuristic and interfering facet of the gaze, resulting in a piece that automatically now is extricated from its original chronology. These attempts at disrupting narratives are informed by Riddles of the Sphinx by Laura Mulvey / Peter Wollen , Granular Synthesis, «Model 5», 1994 – 1996 and also, Passage à l'acte by Martin Arnold. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you explore the face as Masque. German multidisciplinary artist Thomas Demand once stated that, "nowadays art can no longer rely so much on symbolic strategies and has to probe psychological, narrative elements within the medium instead". Do faces act as symbols in the non linear narrative of your works? I am fascinated by the face because it is a significant element of social interaction carrying essential information required to communicate, I’m interested in exploring whether our ability to retain the automatic reference points we are familiar with are still intact, or are these fractured once a face has been modified either by doctoring an image, still or moving.? The consequence of this modification can initially be confusing, for although there remains a sense of familiarity, our ability to instantly recognise these composite images is obstructed. As in the series of collages where I used images of generally recognisable people found in magazines, altering their appearance only slightly by cutting out their eyes and mouths, then adding new ones from images of different people underneath This is similarly applicable to my piece “Mumblings and the impossibility of speaking through a gaze.” A work consisting of four separate digital videos, each around 3 minutes in length. The “Face” of the women in the short fragments cannot return your gaze, cannot reveal its vulnerability. It can only exclusively stare back with the frozen emotion attached to the photograph from where the eyes were taken. The women’s eyes have been removed from the footage then and there faces then repositioned over four separate sets of photographed eyes belonging to men. There is no visual evidence of
the male face, only its rigid gaze peering back at the viewer from behind the “Masque” of the female face. In addition to the disconcerting stare, the bare background occupying the frame behind the women filmed in near “Close Up” reveal the salient presence of the ominous threat in G Deleuze’s “out-of-field” “…it testifies to a more disturbing presence, one which cannot even be said to exist…”(Deleuze 2005:18) This video piece and the face collages together with the series of loosely painted faces based on photographs of my Swedish Stepdad’s Co-workers from the late 1970’s emerged from my initial research into in polemic regarding facial transplants, where questions have been raised concerning deep, possibly disturbing psychological
influence on the recipients’ identity. Could the new face rupture a person’s sense of self? How does this compare, with the parallel effects cosmetic surgery could have on a person’s identity, when ultimately a new breed of humans, void of unique characteristics is being crafted, resulting in an absurdly anonymous look, making them look virtually identical. What impact has this had and will in the future have on Art practices and portraiture in particular? Within photography, Phillip Toleado, Michelle Shank and Ji Yeo have produced captivating, if somewhat disturbing images around the subject of cosmetic surgery. I have yet to find much of interest in painting with the exception of Mark Gilbert’s very interesting engaging if somewhat gory Saving
Faces Art project, and there is of course Khader Attia’s comprehensive practice examining facial deformities. We have appreciated your unconventional approach to video and sound manipulation: many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body in their creative process. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once remarked that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how would you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of the action that stays behind of the production of a video? How would you consider the relationship between your post editing work and the performers?
I find it interesting and a little perplexing that my ideas could be considered abstract in any way? To me they are concrete almost physical before they emerge, acted out and recorded in front of a camera. Perhaps this is because they exists written down on paper, therefore I cannot consider them abstract…. Which is silly really as I have no problems whatsoever acknowledge that marks on a piece of paper, a canvas, you name it, be considered abstract. So why not marks assembled into words…? I really truly believed that I had complete control and had mastery of the direction in editing. Well this delusion did not last long. I rapidly realized that I needed to work with professional people actors or performers. The exception being “Ahnectdauten om Beurken” where the participant were hastily gathered and had virtually no idea what
would be asked of them. The video piece was produced for an interim show Gasworks1 as part of the Middlesex MAFA course involving a poem being translated back and forth from English to Swedish via email. The poem was then read out in Swedish and transcribed by a native English speaker spelling the sounds made phonetically. The video shot with two cameras simultaneously and shown together next to each other on one screen, and it documents these randomly selected participants whose native tongue is not English reading out the transcribed poem. (https://vimeo.com/169372494) I tend to use the same actors/performers in my work especially Salka Backman a young Swedish actress based here in London. This is not a flippant remark, but using an actor performer I have grown accustomed to and trust, equates a little to me always using the same brush and paint brands. Having said this I’m always open to try new people out, but only once! It is too costly and not only financial but also time wise when a booked session goes to waste because I cannot convey what I require from the participants.
very important as long as I have setup and conveyed the boundaries within which I want to keep the performance. Anyway I am a firm believer that boundaries are often a safe space to be spontaneous and in.
I admit to having to develop my directing skill, for sure, because I am certain that the responsibility of a good performance is as much the one of a director as it is the performer’s. My editing is only as good as the performance I can manage to get from the actors, I cannot, or at least until now have not been able to rescue a performance I was not happy with.
I totally agree with the fact that there is a sense bias and that ocular-centrism is way to prevalent and this bothers me, perhaps because I increasingly recognise how little I am able to remember with any of my senses other than the visual. My head is filled with images, with some being more vivid than others. However, my olfactory sense is virtually devoid of any recollection of the past. I can hardly ever summon up a smell that once was, the way I can invoke a visual memory. The few times that I have had a whiff from the past glide under my nose I have had to stop and think hard trying to remember where it came from. Although from time to time I am able to retrieve sounds that I once heard, I can hardly ever remember any sounds other than music. I so wish that I could remember the voice of my daughter when she was a small child, the way I so perfectly remember her face. (If I had recorded her voice for posterity and thus able to listen to it in the same way that I can just take out photographs to look at her as she was back then, would I now remember her voice as it was when she was younger?
How would you consider the relationship between analysis and spontaneity within your work? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticulously schedule every details of your works? how much importance does play improvisation in your process? I usually have a very clear, specific idea of what I wish to achieve, however within that framework I give the performers as much freedom they require to interpreted my idea. For example I let them chose their own monologue. Sometimes I just ask them to talk about anything that pops into their mind, something they feel comfortable recounting. So I would say improvisation is
Where I am quite rigid is the set up of studio lighting etc. As I am a complete novice I have always had help with setting up the lights and cameras and that can be a struggle when trying to convey slightly nonconventional ideas. However so far so good… I’m becoming rather accomplished at bossing people around! As I shot Paroxysms in daylight I had to slightly tweak the footage in post-production to try and eliminate the variation in light. The soundtrack of (Paroxysms erupting because) Mr Rochester does not quite get it. plays a crucial role, as well: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favouring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear. How do you see the relationship between sound and moving images?
As to sound and the moving image… I have an aversion to soundtracks that overtly directs the viewer through a film and becomes almost dictatorial and. Having said that I will now contradict myself as I am working on similar pieces to “Cock fight” where the main purpose of the “soundtrack” is to direct the viewer. The original footage is from “Hemsöborna” a Swedish TV series adapted from the novel of by August Strindberg, shot in black and white first aired in 1965. There is such a sense of animosity between the two men in that clip and don’t ask me why but Stravinsky’s Le Sacre Du Printemps, The Adoration Of The Earth, Dances Of The Young Girls, began to infiltrate the space between my ears where my brain resides. I decided to attempt making the version I could visualise in my head where the obvious resentment the two male characters have towards each other in the original footage was exaggerated. Removing the original sound and adding this new soundtrack emphasised the salient sense of unfortunate fate in edited piece and conversely made the resulting short film where the men are now implicated in a strange disjointed macho “Dance Macabre”, ludicrously silly. This also removes the edited piece from the original narrative and relates back to my painting practice where I as mentioned above, seek to bestow new altered biographies to the strangers in my paintings. As for the sound on Paroxysms, I am eternally grateful for the assistance and guidance I received from Senior Sound Technician, Peter Williams at Middlesex University. To be honest I don’t think I would even have a video practice without the enormous support I had from the tutors and technicians there. The fact that should consider develop my art practice to include these two at first completely different mediums seemed to be a natural progression to them, probably before it was evident to me. To quote Alexandra M. Kokoli's words, your work explores the feminist art historical imperative of (re)discovering women artists of the past: we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary-art. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing artworks, however in the last decades
there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in Art? Half a century!!!..? you mean half a millennia… if not longer, right? How many female artists are known to the general public? Not many! That was made clear to me when answering questions about the series of paintings I made and exhibited during my time at Middlesex University. They are all based on paintings of women by female artists such as Louise Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, (1755-1842), Adélaïde Labille-Guiard, (1749-1803), Elisabeth JerichauBaumann (1819-1881) and Marie-Guillemine Benoist (1768-1826). Despite thorough and insightful texts by writers such as Germaine Greer (The Obstacle Race, 1979), Frances Borzello (Seeing Ourselves, 1998), Liz Rideal (Mirror Mirror, 2001) and Whitney Chatwick (Women, Art and Society, 1990) these often highly skilled women and many others are still regularly hidden from the annals of history. It took France until 2015 to show a comprehensive retrospective of Vigée Le Brun’s work! That’s crazy considering her extensive body of work and its amazing craftsmanship and quality. Even during their lifetimes although admired by some, both Vigée Le Brun and LabilleGuiard had to fight hard to be accepted and respected and not discarded as some frivolous little damsels. Hillay Robinson who during my time at MDX served as Dean of the Fine Art Faculty, writes that Labille-Guiard “who was often given the compliment that she painted like a man, had to go so far as to paint portraits of the male academicians in order to prove that she not a man had produced the painting. (Robinson 2006: 185) … So absurd!!! True things are slowly changing and work by living artists such as Cady Noland, Tracy Emin, Jenny Saville and Beatriz Milhazes, to name just a few, do very well at auctions. However, it is still less than their contemporary male artists achieve at auction for their work. Others such as Ida Applebroog are respected and represented by a major commercial gallery, and women artists like Carolee Schneemann , Judy Chicago and Joan Jonas are well known but perhaps mostly within a “feminist context”
Thankfully the anonymous feminist group “Guerrilla Girls” are still around persevering on their mission devoted to fighting sexism, racism and highlighting inequality in the Art world! It is really sad that their actions are still necessary especially their work exposing the sad reality regarding to how few women artist have their work collected and exhibited in the world’s big National Galleries and museums. As written on one of their posters, from 1889 “Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.” This was related to the Met in NYC but is valid for most if not all large art establishment This is a subject that drives me bonkers as I was around when feminism started to become a force to be reckoned
with in the late 1960, although I was way too young to burn any brassieres! I just cannot understand that we still have to confront sexism in addition to race issues. During the duration of my Master’s degree I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a bunch of super dedicated female tutors such as the artists Sonia Boyse, Rebecca Fortnum, Judy Cowan and Tanzy Spinks just to mention a few. These women I am sure will inspire a new generation of female artists to fight for their just deserves. There were some really good men teaching there as well! Over the years your work has been showcased on several occasions: you also held two solo shows the first at The Muse at 269 and Twin Obsession, StART SPACE, both London: one of the hallmarks of your
work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are provided with the opportunity to become active participants and are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? Yeah…. It is a question I have been asked a couple times and I am really bad at answering it… I obviously want people to like my work. I’m not producing a bunch of paintings for them to be stored in a bedroom, although a few are, or videos that are never shown although thankfully they take up much less space! Like any artist I desire to exhibit and sell my work. All this “suffering for your art malarkey” is really not my cup of tea! It is interesting to invigilate my exhibitions anonymously because I find that people talk more about their view, their feelings about the work compared to when they know whom I am. Nope, I do not take into consideration the audience perception into my “decision-making process” that would be claustrophobic and limiting! Although admittedly, I like making people slightly uncomfortable… I’m not making art to caress or pamper anybody’s ego except for possibly my own. The best I can aim for is being able to convey my intentions without excluding a space for the viewer to fill it with whatever reflections, reactions or understanding they may get from my work. Does this make any sense? Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Corinne. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Well I am going to enrol on film making courses, I have not decided where though. I feel that I have so much to learn and worry that my lack of knowledge could restrict developing my video art practice. That’s about it really…. And thank you! I am still high-fiving myself because of your interest in my work!
Vicky Calavia Sos (Zaragoza, 1971 www.vickycalavia.com) is a restless and active professional who deals with audiovisual creation from her generational perspective, faithful to the culture and the work in Network, picking up the best of classic and modern sources from every century. Teaching history and film analysis, audiovisual language and theory and practice of documentaries and experimental narratives, this is the latter discipline which she enjoys most and best expressed as a filmmaker. María Moliner. Speaking words is one of Calavia's latest projects. The dictionary of Maria Moliner was a methodical, laborious and enthusiastic work, attitudes that are also present in the work that from her community has been shared by Vicky Calavia as curator and promoter of ProyectAragón, an important Aragonese Audiovisual Show organized in 2007- 2015 for CAI, Fundación Norte, City Hall of Zaragoza, Municipal Society Zaragoza Cultural-, as well as the new showcase for trends in art and technology ProyectaMedia -Etopía / CAT- since 2012, obligatory and referent appointments in Aragon and the State. The interest in the culture of film memory is one of the constants of Vicky Calavia, as the identity and the territory as a rescue, consequences of the first one - in which his documentary Filming Aragon (78 min., 2014) and the series FilmSet (5 pieces of 5 min each) stand out with sensitivity and sincerity, with reflection and depth just to gain momentum in the future of those who enjoy them. The protagonists of many of his audiovisual works are caught up in everyday life. Approaching urban and narrative cosmos, her documentaries combine contemporary characters of similar life trajectories - The city of women (2016) Simón Prize Best Documentary and Best Production 2017; Spaces inhabited (30 min., 2012) -, with the necessary recognition of great names linked to the celluloid of our region - Eduardo Ducay. The film that was always there (55 min., 2015) Simón Best Documentary Award and Best Production 2016; Alberto Sánchez, the projection of the dreams (54 min., 2011) Mention II Aragonese Contest of Cinema and Woman; Manuel Rotellar. Notes from row 8 (47 min., 2009) -.
Various themes of society and literature also lead her screen - Fighting for Europe: Brandt's footprint (12 min., 2017), María Domínguez. The free word (25 min., 2015) Silver Biznaga Malaga Film Festival 2016; Why I write (documentary with animation, 15 min., 2013, co-directed with Gaizka Urresti) Best Documentary Film Festival Zaragoza 2013 and Best Documentary National Award, SCIFE, 2013; Canto a la libertad, Anthem of Aragon (54 min., 2011); Zaragoza Poética (report, 45 min., 2008); Alfredo Gaudes Munárriz. Sew and sing (16 min., 2007); Along with first pieces of the genre - as Ramón Vs. Greta. Collecting Mysteries (56 min., 2006); Get active. The music of your life (57 min., 2006); Poetry of the moment (59 min., 2005); Crossing. The authors (59 min., 2003) - added to the production of several scientific documentary programs, for museums, festivals and televisions, others. Vicky Calavia is a member of the Film Academy epañol, Spanish Association of Women Filmmakers and Audiovisual Media (CIMA), Union of Cinematographers (National Association of cinema professionals), General Society of Authors (SGAE), PROCURA (Cultural Managers of Aragon) , Association of Independent Producers of Aragon (APROAR). Her personal brand from the genre is part of her style. Concerning themes, tone, vindication and sensitivity in their messages, her films combine her commitment as filmmaker and as woman, a look with free and serene discourse, far from artifices and fashions, close to fidelity with sources and to the Care of the most essential in rights, aesthetics and virtues. Your soul is a chosen landscape (video poetry, 1 min 52 sec., 2011) as a final quotation on a coherent and joyful production of the Aragonese audiovisual, or what is the same, the identity of the memory, thanks to Vicky Calavia, with trace of woman. Carlos Gurpegui Vidal Profesor UOC y Experto en Lenguaje del Cine
Vicky Calavia An interview by Miguel Ă ngel Escudero
What is the origin of your vocation? As a child, at the age of eight, I attended an extraschool class where we were taught about the language of cinema, the types of frames, etc., and I was fascinated forever. Do you remember the first short film you saw? I do not remember the first one, but the one that shock me the most, and that I saw in my twenties, was Neighbors by Norman Mclaren. How did you show your commitment to the role of filmmaker? I show it since my first steps in the world of audiovisual, through conducting cycles, exhibitions and festivals that are a window to display as much and as good as there is in production. What golden advice would you give to a fellow director-novel?
How has your filmmaker's glance evolved from the beginning? It has evolved in a technical aspect, of greater perfection and professionalism. But in essence, at the level of narrative concerns, it has not changed. I have always wanted to put in value the "forgotten" of the world of cinema. How do you write for male characters? In the documentary field and the video creation, which I dedicate, I have put my eyes on both male and female characters, with the same interest and enthusiasm, because what moved me was to tell their story, special and particular in each case. What do you miss in the world of the short film? More risk and experimentation. Your cinema in which film stream is encompassed? In none. What are your references as a filmmaker? José Luis Guerín, Iván Zulueta, Agnès Varda, Pipilotti Rist, Win Wenders, Basilio Martín Patino, Isaki Lacuesta, Luis Buñuel, Carlos Saura, David Lynch, Kieslowski.
Equality, Fraternity, Democracy
Do you consider yourself a filmmaker and / or author?
Watch movies, without ceasing.
Do you have a road map as a filmmaker? I would like to be able to cover all my list of forgotten characters and give them light and voice. With what media did you count on your first short? With an amateur camera, the edition of the loan center of the city of Zaragoza and the help of my friends and my sister. An anecdote from which to learn a lot? None in particular. What I have learned is that to do good interviews it is essential to document yourself and absorb the character and maintain a mixture of closeness and rigor throughout the recording. Also that the work of the last technician is as important as your own, cinema is a team work, a gear in which if something fails, everything goes wrong. Another, that positive energy, education and joy, get better shootings and montages. What feelings do you remember when you sang ACTION for the first time? I loved it and was thrilled. I was also aware that in a shoot there are hierarchies to respect and fulfill, and the work of the director is to
Author, filmmaker and producer. Girl for everything.
Be the book our weapon of combat
Do you have family support in your career as a filmmaker? Yes, with my sister and my mother always. And my father, already deceased, who instilled in me the love of cinema, after long evenings before the television and in the cinemas. How critical are you with your work? Very much, I am able to delay the works much more than the sensible so that they remain the best possible ... and still would never close them completely, there is always something to improve. Do you share experiences with other directors? Constantly, especially because I organize festivals and shows, where I deal with all of them. What are your favorite Spanish short films? And international? That rhythm, by Javier Fesser Neighbors, by Norman Mclaren
provide security to the rest of the team, among other things. That is why that word and that gesture serve to emphasize that the filming begins, that everything must be in order, the whole team warned and that the moment of recording is sacred.
A solid instruction, open-minded, clean of fanaticism
Our motto must be: ahead, ahead, ahead
By vocation, by passion, by unconsciousness. In what size of shots do you see life? In detail shot when it comes to emotions and in general shot when it comes to planning my work. From your filmography, which plane are you most proud of? Of almost all, of my documentary "The city of the women" and especially of the plans fiction for "Maria Moliner. Stretching words " Does a short film play it all in ...? In the decision of the director when choosing plans, equipment, do the editing and choose the soundtrack. Is the natural place of the short film once finished ...? Broadcast channels that can access: televisions, festivals and exhibitions, screenings, online broadcast, etc. You do your work so that it has visibility, not to leave it inside the hard disk without seeing the light. How do you see the current panorama of the short film? Fantastic, every time there are more and better shorts.
Why dedicate yourself to this profession?
Is the short film and the documentary a cultural asset yet to be claimed? I think every time the public knows how to appreciate it more. The short films and documentaries in the cinemas? Always, of course. Film as a method of life or vital need? As a vital passion. Where are your stories born? In my archives and film documents. To be a filmmaker is to be Don Quixote by definition? Yes, it has its positive side, because of illusion, and its not so positive side, because of delusion. Professional film or guerrilla film? Both are valid, necessary and complementary. What movie quote do you identify with? "To kill a man is very hard. You take away everything they have and everything they could
We are called Queens of the home, while denying us the right to instruct us
Let's break the molds traditions and customs
Impartially. Define yourself with 3 adjectives. Documentalist. Perfectionist. Workaholic. We know that many jobs are done on the basis of favors, but what is the need to pay for better production? In the purely technical aspects: camera, lighting, assembly and postproduction of image and sound. School filmmaker or self-taught? Self-taught, because I studied Veterinary Medicine. Do you promote yourself as a filmmaker in any field or only in your professional circle? In any possible field. For the improvement of the sector and its professionals, say something critical. You need to risk more on the stories. Do you belong to any group for corporatism, to find support, to share at all times? For all these reasons and for solidarity with other colleagues. Should filmmakers have a public critical opinion or should they only express themself from their films?
have "WITHOUT FORGIVENESS (Clint Eastwood)
My golden dream was always to become a teacher
My golden dream was always to become a teacher
By phases, what time, on average, do you dedicate to the production of the documentary? A year and a half or two years. What functions do you assume in the production of your short films? Which one do you see with difficulties? Script, production, direction. The technical part was left to those who know really, that's why there are teams and offices in film. The short film is a bridge that you have to cross to get to the feature film? No, it does not have to. When do not you lead what you spend your time with? I run film festivals, I teach, do production for other directors, try raising projects on film ... a thousand things, you have to live and pay the bills! Do you want to add something? Thought, reflection, criticism ... Long live to the cinema! Long live to BuĂąuel!
An interview by Miguel Ă ngel Escudero
That is absolutely personal to every filmmaker.
Revolutionize consciences, evolving ideas
Julie Gemuend An interview by Bonnie Curtis and Jennifer Rozt Druhn Hello Julie and welcome to WomenCinemakers: you have a solid formal training and you studied visual arts with an emphasis on photography and video at the University of British Columbia and Brock University as well as Ryerson University in Toronto, where you received your Master of Fine Arts: how did these experiences along with your personal cultural substratum influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? Academic institutions have definitely played an integral role in the development of my practice. The kind of structure offered within these institutions created a learning environment that catered to my strengths. I find my experimentation and growth to be most fruitful within a framework of limits, clear boundaries, and deadlines, though admittedly it does seem strange that oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s experimentation would require a set of limitations. Yet, If there are no limits or margins within which I can circumscribe my work, I feel a wild panic in the face of infinite time and space and all that endlessness. I feel oppressed by this type of freedomâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; paralyzed. Measured freedom works best for me. I need something I can wrap my head around. One of the most seminal works on Canadian cultural production is the text Faking Death: Canadian Art Photography and the Canadian Imagination by Penny Cousineau-Levine. In this book,
Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://www.juliegemuend.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: while walking us through your process, would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, do you think that there is a central idea that connect all your works? My primary interests are place, origin, and the physical body. I’m drawn to landscapes and how our bodies both experience and represent those landscapes. Even in some of my earlier work, such as Tell Me What You See, I experiment with a variety of channels through which we
Cousineau-Levine reveals a preoccupation with death and dying that expresses a collective Canadian desire for a symbolic passage to national maturity. Canada is a young country—150 this year in fact—and these faked deaths represent a kind of rite of passage into adulthood. And though I’m not faking any deaths in my own work, I do see this constant flirtation with the concept of transformation as well as the macabre. Furthermore, Cousineau-Levine discusses the influence of John Grierson and subsequently the NFB on Canada’s contemporary cultural production. She claims that documentary is the quintessential Canadian form of representation. Performance-based video, surely a descendent of the documentary tradition, requires that artists engage with places, communities, and materials in ways that more traditional media do not. This genre asks the most trenchant questions about our relationship with the natural world. Nature contains its own stories within which our narrative is deeply embedded. Our future world threatens to contain no stories of outside, unless we continue to remember what we made that world from. With phrases such as "global warming" and "climate change" never far from headlines, I see my work as tying together the environmental and creative worlds in an act of beauty and activism.
I want to feel places. Not as an inert object, but as an instrument of touch; as an empowered physical being capable of reading the landscape. All these feelings are likely driven by my hypersensitivity to any given environment. I exist in a world of peaks and valleys. When the outside matches the inside—when I feel a harmony between my self and my environment—I am an elegant, inspired, peaceful creature. But when I feel a severe discord between the interior and exterior, I default to fight or flight mode. I cannot think or relax. I am too preoccupied with fending off the toxic space so as to absorb as little as possible. In a sense, this is what Imprint is about—the harmonies and discords of our relationship with the (natural) world. The central theme in my work is this conversation between interior and exterior landscapes and why it’s so important to engage in this dialogue. What do these harmonious and/or discordant relationships tell us about what it means to be human? For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Imprint, an extremely interesting film that our readers have already staterd to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Inspired by your current solo, your film looks at the bodies response to fear as a infectious malignant: what has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the intrinsic nature of this dynamic by imprinting the landscape upon human flesh is the way you have provided the visual results of your analysis with coherent combination between autonomous aesthetics and visual consistence. While walking our readers through the genesis of Imprint, would you tell us what did draw you to focus your artistic research on the connection between human and nature? Our earliest loves, like revenants, have a way of coming back in other forms, or to paraphrase Wordsworth, the child is mother to the woman. I hail from Niagara Falls, Canada. Raised in the north end of the city, I grew up at a distance from the famous flow of water and its ever-present sea of swarming bodies. Naturally, the popularity of the falls repels many of the locals. This perhaps explains why, despite growing up in a place famed by water, I gravitate towards the land. I spent my youth playing on the fringes
experience the natural world and furthermore what that experience looks like when drawn or photographed.
The ambience you captured for the sound of Imprint provides the film with such atemporal atmosphere: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear. How do you see the relationship between sound and moving images playing within your work? First, I should say that all of my sound is diegetic and I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t necessarily consider image and sound as inseparable. I treat the two as distinct parts that belong to the same whole though I approach both with the same structural and aesthetic application. Typically I layer the audio from the footage with separate recordings made on long, meditative walks. Sound is a crucial component in terms of installation. I do my best to create an atmosphere that evokes the spirit of the landscape for the viewer, which would be impossible without the element of sound. My aim is always to construct an image or a soundscape both rich in feeling yet minimal in aesthetic. My hope is that the viewer will be able to hear more in less. In other words, that the austere quality of the soundscape will make the nuances more discernible for the viewer. Your observation of our profound connection with the natural world seems to be very analytical, yet Imprint
of well-manicured backyards, enchanted by the damp, fragrant, early-morning forest floor, the light play on the silver dollar surface of the Lunaria, the smudge of a magenta wildflower. My process draws heavily on these formative yearsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;as an adult, my approach to artmaking mirrors the experience of playing as a child. I embrace a sense of curiosity (grass imprints on my knees, dandelion stains on my arms) and tenderness coupled with an agenda to dismantle the theory that nature is inexhaustible, self-renewing, and ever bountiful, something independent and apart from us.
My process is very cyclical, intuitive yet structured. When I visualize this process I see concentric circles. The closer my project comes to completion, the smaller and more focused the circle. I begin with research, including a broad sweep of the landscape I’ll be working with/in. That research inspires ideas, which in turn inform the artmaking. First, a rough storyboard and then a series of preliminary shots. These shots raise questions, which return me to my desk for more intensive research sessions (evaluation of equipment, further exploration of the landscape and its narrative as it appears throughout history, literature, film, music, and other forms of art). I then find myself in the field once again, completely immersed in nature, performing and shooting rigorously. I view the footage daily and make selections. This process continues, a ring of research within which lies a ring of practice, and so on—a Russian doll experience that reveals a landscape of interior depth. That being said, when relying on or working with nature one is forced to improvise. The wilderness chooses when to reveal and conceal. In this way, what becomes essential is my own ability to intuit these fleeting moments. In order to be successful, the performances are spontaneous yet each performance is repeated one, two, three times. Many revelations have come out of these trials even though some performances never reach the projected goal. Yet, these “failed” imprints are important to document and I prefer to represent both working and non-working footage in the final video. I’m not interested in constructing a narrative from a singular point of view—nature as idyllic, passive, and harmless, for example. I have, on a number of occasions, experienced what I refer to as the pushback. Experimentation in my practice is essential and fruitful though not always pleasant. Poison ivy, ticks, fainting spells, stings and allergic reactions were insightful (though, at times, ferocious) experiences, which presented themselves as initiations—the more I suffered, the more I understood my place in the (natural) world.
strives to be full of emotion: how would you consider the relationship between analysis and spontaneity within your work? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of your works? How much importance does play improvisation in your process?
The act of bringing the body into direct physical contact with the earth creates an impression on the skin, which memorializes a moment of contact and initiates a play of presence and absence. Belonging to that species of sign Charles Saunders Pierce termed the index, the imprint implies both a material connection between sign and object as well as the reproduction of a past moment. The index can be defined as trace, typically exemplified by a footprint or a photograph. It is a representation that refers to the dynamical connection both with the individual object itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s representing and with the senses or memory of the person for whom it serves as a sign. What really happens though, when the body meets the landscape in this way? Something of the landscape leaves a legible residue through the medium of touch, yes, but another quieter affair transpires. Human beings and the organic bodies that make up the natural landscape are both organs of perception. The skin is permeable, allowing energy to pass through the surface. Though the imprint is only skin-deep, the exchange between the body and nature penetrates much further. The energy disregards the particles of matter and permeates the unexplained spaces between them. There is meaning to be made or found within these imprinted spaces, which capture the rapid traces of a moment. Imprints are ephemeral records of a pictorial, energy-based conversation between the earth and the body. To read them, more precisely feel them, one must make them or watch them being made. We like the way your work brings to a new level of significance the relationship between interior and exterior landscapes: how do you consider the notion of beauty in relation to the idea of using the artist's body as a medium?
Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative process. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once remarked that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist involved both in body art, performance-based video, and land art how would you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of producing your artworks?
Art was unkind to beauty during the twentieth century. Modern art, as a general rule, scorned beauty. The suspicion of beauty as a mere façade masking the horrors of existence reduced beauty’s rank and elevated the aesthetic of the abject. Beauty is commonly associated with mystery—it is somehow available and unattainable at once. Agnes Martin wrote extensively on the concept of beauty, always maintaining that reality, the truth about life and the mystery of beauty are all one and the same and the first concern of everyone alive. Martin celebrated beauty and believed that all positive art was beautiful. Conversely, beauty has been considered too near perfection. A beautiful image is like a circle, which closes itself off from the viewer, from interpretation and meaning. Beauty is the harbinger of secrets and unanswered questions. Beauty deals in uncertainty. In visual arts, beauty is often now identified with a seductiveness to be avoided. Rebecca Solnit, who writes extensively on the subject, asks, what is this fear of seduction? Beauty draws a person from the realm of intellect into the body, which speaks to the senses. The rational space inside the head is a safe zone, a place where we can exercise our control. But to be seduced is to be reminded that there are things stronger than reason and agenda. Our senses provoke feelings and our feelings make us vulnerable to others. Solnit claims that beauty reminds us of vulnerability, which is traditionally located in young, fragile things, in flowers and children, yet also in emblems of mortality, such as the ancient, decrepit, beautiful ruins of lost worlds. We are afraid of beauty because it trumpets the things we bury—namely our mortality. Imprint uses beauty and the sublime to keep us in mind
You ask about beauty but I would also like to talk about the sublime. Beauty and the sublime are two different sentiments. According to Kant, the sublime, in the fullest sense, moves a person to amazement in a very serious and rigid way. The sublime overwhelms and is often associated with the aesthetic of the terrible, the violent, and the destructive. The sublime is beautiful but also awe-inspiring and almost always so large that we are made to feel our own smallness when in its presence. Nature tends to have this effect on us. I’m thinking of the feeling one is confronted with when gazing down into the Grand Canyon or up at the starry sky on a clear cold night.
You are a versatile artist and your practice is aligned with a number of intersecting movements that emerged in the 1960s, including body art, performance-based video, and land art. What does draw you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? And in particular, when do you recognize that a technique has exhausted its expressive potential to self? It was made very evident to me as I was coming of age that I did not possess a natural ability to draw. That is to say, I was not gifted at rendering realistic representations. I assumed that this meant I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be an artist. So I thought to become a writer. And though writing still exists for me as a form of expression, photography came along shortly thereafter and just sort of took up more real estate. And then a few years later video came into my life and replaced photography as my number one. Everything I wrote or photographed or filmed was always centered around self-portraiture, so performance was naturally present from the beginning. What Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m trying to say is that I have never felt consciously aware of a moment when a technique has exhausted its expressive potential. I suppose an exchange naturally occurs, where the baton is passed from photography to video for example but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always been very fluid for me. I think as well, that as I come to understand my practice more and more, I gravitate towards the tools that I feel are the best vehicles at that particular time. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are provided with of the the opportunity to become active participants and are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context?
of our mortality, to remind us of our origins and what it means to be human.
Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Julie. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I'm currently working on a third Imprint, which points to the darker undercurrent of this relationship between the body and the landâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; eroticism, mysticism, and violence. I have, since the making of my last Imprint in 2015, had some experiences that illuminate the discord between the body and the land. As a result, I often contemplate this, albeit sci-fi, kind of idea that the human race is working to sever our connection with the natural world, with our origins, to such a degree that some day soon we will completely break ties. When this occurs, we will become a post-human version of ourselves. Maybe we already are. We will lose all of our shamans and alchemists and the many narratives of our relationship to the natural world. The loss of that relationship will give rise to a futureoriented being with no collective memory of the past. And so, this third installment in the Imprint series addresses that fear with a kind of blind aggression and violence. I am here now, in the most remote parts of Northern Ontario, quietly revolting.
I do not consider the audience when I'm executing the work. I perform with the most primitive mindset possible. I do however think very much about the viewer when editing and installing the work. During post-production I construct a narrative, no matter how non-linear that narrative might be, so that the meaning of the work emerges in a way the viewer can understand. I have a wonderful circle of fellow artists, former instructors and friends from all walks of life that I count on to provide initial feedback. If I have the opportunity to show the work in a gallery setting I prefer to project the video large-scale, sometimes on multiple channels if it makes sense. Combined with surround sound, the large-scale projection works best to transport the viewer from the gallery to the landscape, the cerebral to the corporeal.
Anna Grenman Irmisul explores how a moving body constantly creates and recreates its immediate environment. Investigating the space between interiority and exteriority, it plays with the possibility of involving the viewer in the experience of the fold, of infinite becoming, through filmic means. The dance itself draws from the ritualistic practices dedicated to the goddesses that since the dawn of time have been keeping the skies from falling.
Anna Grenman An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant is a captivating video by Anna Grenman that initiates the audience into an unconventional and highteneed visual experience that plays with the possibility of involving the viewer in the experience of the fold, of infinite becoming, through filmic means. One of the most captivating aspects of Grenman's practice is the way it accomplishes such insightful inquiry into the space between interiority and exteriority: we are pleased to introduce our readers to her multifaceted artistic production. Hello Anna and welcome to
you have a solid formal training and after having degreed from the prestigious University of the Arts London, you nurtured your education at the Escuela de Cine Ciudad de la Luz, where you undergraduated in Cinematography: how did these
produce your works? Hi, and thank you - its a real pleasure to be part of this years edition of WomenCinemakers. In a sense I became dedicated to film making rather late, after first having left it and performance aside for a long time in favour of pursuing a career in science. When I finally landed at the University of the Arts London to study animation, I was a completely open book with very little technical knowledge of film making and a lot of curiosity. I have always been drawn to drawing, so this whole journey started with a doodle, a character that suddenly came alive. I had no preconceptions of where it all should lead me, but beginning my filmic journey through animation made me appreciate and respect the craft of film making from the very beginning. I had the pleasure to study hand drawn animation under Jill Brooks, which made me appreciate the study of movement to a whole new level. To this day I edit everything frame by frame. Animation is such a liberating art form - the freedom to experiment is next to none, and there are no rules, except the ones you make for yourself. Stylistically this was was very significant, I discovered a kind of deep non-verbal symbolism I feel very connected to. So studying animation has definitely informed my process in its entirety and continues to do so today - the constraints of form are intriguing technicalities to explore and probe at, never hindrances to creativity. I think realising this early on has made me stylistically bolder later
experiences influence the way you currently conceive and
interesting pair, an entire world can come alive with sound, and this - truly recognising the impact of the sonic on an image - is another deep interest I carry around with me from my days of animation I became fascinated with capturing and studying the dynamics of movement early on, and having a past as a performer myself, I quickly began using human characters in my animation. This is where the shift from solely capturing movement frame by frame happened, and I began to explore live action as a process. Consequently lighting and camera work became even more central to the work. Studying cinematography specifically and to such an extent was not on my mind at the time, but having studied animation for a year I got the great surprise of receiving an offer to study for a degree at Ciudad de la Luz under a scholarship from CAMON. As with any knowledge, I never suspected the profundity with which learning about the cinematographic craft altered my thought process. In addition to studying movement, and what it tells about a character, I suddenly began to see light! Now exploring the technicalities of a scene, the lighting and the camera set-up, becomes an intriguing puzzle in itself for me in the end the technical challenges begin informing the way I construct and imagine the scene in the first place. During my studies at Ciudad de la Luz I found it such a privilege to be part of other film makers
on. Also, sound and the animated image are a very
camera operator. This process has definitely influenced the way I look at the collaborative aspect of film making, and I always highlight the importance of open communication within my crew. I love collaborating, and have had the pleasure of sharing a set with such characters. For me a large part of the joy of making is about the shared journey. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://www.annagrenman.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: while walking us through your process,would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, do you think that there is that connect all your works? For me its all about movement and rhythmicity and what it reveals about a character or a material. I have a background as a performer and a dancer and I think this past has left me with a solid interest in the human body. I’m always fascinated by the stuff, the materiality..the stuffness of reality and how we can never escape it. That’s where the love for the filmic technique also comes from - it’s all about playing with the stuff, be it a dancing body, a memory, the film stock itself, a lighting set-up or a landscape. Then its about becoming part of that motion with the camera and transmitting that experience onto the screen. I’m also fascinated by the stories that unite us as human beings, the realities that create a shared understanding and allow us to share meaning. What unites these two topics is that they are inextricably linked to the body, and embodiment is therefore the one unifying theme in all my work.
process while working with directors as a cinematographer, or as a
the material very early on, and providing the audience with a complete experience in order to invite a sense of transcendence is an important aspect I consider when designing the final form of a piece of work. My process usually follows a two-fold path. The theoretical research is often one starting point to a project. I am on a constant mission to explore the embodied mind, and this exploration is both intellectual and physical in nature..which is the whole point of the embodied theory. So, naturally, in addition to exploring a philosophical theory through filmic means, the ideas are explored materially, through a specific technique I am intrigued by at the time, and finally an idea and its material form organically find each other. As far as style goes, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a big fan of the impact of an aesthetic experience and have always stayed true to a level of visual pleasure. So Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m on this perpetual journey to better my craftsmanship. The drive to evolve technically has led me to appreciate and explore film as a medium, to explore diverse aspects of film making, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m hoping the end result also stylistically develops accordingly, evolving with this new knowledge. For this special edition of have selected
, an extremely interesting
video that is part of a trilogy and that our readers have already staterd to get to know in the
Equally, the presence of an audience becomes part of
introductory pages of this article. What has at once
Irminsul actually began as a daydream, a single visual image
captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into
that followed me for years. With my interest in shared
is the way you have provided the visual results of your analysis
readers through the genesis of
research I had already started exploring and these ideas found each other in Irminsul. As you mentioned, I
with coherent combination between and
human experience, dance as ritual practice was a line of
appreciate the autonomous impact of aesthetics, and
. While walking our , would you
tell us how did you developed the initial idea?
always strive to give an immediate sensation with my work, a sensation that can be felt without any prior knowledge of the piece or my line of thinking.
With Irminsul specifically, the tale is an old saxon concept
instructions, in order to allow her to create her own
of an â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;all supporting pilarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; that has spawned several lines
dynamic rhythm and action. I drew inspiration from Louie
of speculation of its meaning. One such line of enquiry
Fuller (1862-1928), an inspiring pioneer of a woman who
revolves around the may pole and the ritualistic dances
linked artistic and technological intervention, and can be
around it. According to a theory the pilar and goddess,
seen as a central figure in her time in freeing dance and
Irminsul, keeps the skies from falling. This fear of the skies
performance by allowing the internal rhythm and internal
folding on us is shared by many ancient cultures, or
qualities of the performer to shine through. Conceptually,
actually all cultures I have studied thus far. The fact that
the fact that the body and the mind are the same, that
we do a rain dance, a dance for fertility, a dance to keep
the expression of our internal qualities is our external
the skies from falling.. These themes are always about
form, was central to creating the setting for the dance of
abstract concepts that challenge our understanding of
Irminsul. While the landscape of the body is the construct
the world around us. Ellen Dissanayake in her book Homo
that defines its internal processing, the internal is
Aestheticus: Where art comes from and why? outlines a
inextricably linked to the constraints imposed on the
theory where human beings instead of only having a
body, be it architectural, rhythmic and sonic, or psycho-
flight or fight response to a threatening situation also
physical through costume. The internal process and its
have a third way of dealing with threatening uncertainty -
external condition are one and the same. Finding an
that of art making and ritual practice. In our
expression for this through the costume is where Irmisul
contemporary culture the mysteries remain but the rituals
began to feel really personal and intimate to me - the
have changed or vanished. I wanted to bring some of this
fear of the collapse of the body and the intensity with
rituality back into my life and give it form, create a shared
which we fight this sensation, inevitably leads to the
experience with the audience of the mystery of our
intense condition of eternal becoming.
internal fears and their external, ritualistic expressions. This is where the camera work, the intimate relationship
Your exploration of the notions of mythology and
between the eye and the infinitely changing form were
embodiment seems to be very analytical, yet
central to the work. I wanted to
and invite the
strives to be full of emotion: how would
audience with me into the dance and its intensity, not
you consider the relationship between analysis and
merely document a ritual in action.
spontaneity within your work? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously
When developing ideas for the choreography of the dance, I wanted to give the performer, Saija Kangasniemi, freedom and free her from intellectual, formulaic
schedule every details of your works? how much importance does play improvisation in your process?
For me improvisation and spontaneity is key. Theory is like the spark, the gunpowder that is necessary for initiating a process. What mostly happens, also on set, is that I create certain boundaries, certain realities which set things in motion. From there on its all consequential. Sometimes it feels like I just happened to be there with the camera. This is where collaboration becomes a central aspect of my working method, and I choose my collaborators carefully. As a director I aim to recognise the current interests of each individual, be it the composer or the lighting technician, and explore their interest with them to the fullest. This is where the project also becomes theirs, a shared experience were the unexpected happens, and the process is allowed to completely take over. I try to always say yes, to always have time to try the new idea out. Whatever the result is, is what I then bring to the editing table, where I continue the experiment on my own. I love this stage of a project, its so intense and filled with memories. Its so often the happy accidents that create the best moments of impact and surprise, and with this working method also the memory of being on set remains joyous, as an open platform for experimentation. The soundtrack of such
I see them as absolutely and inextricably linked. I think that our inner experience and the rhythms that surround us are completely bound to each other - look at the differences in body movement of a person moving to a reggae beat at 60bpm which is a resting heart rate, as opposed to a drum and bass beat at 180bpm, or a running heart rate. The
of a moment is often very
much bound in the sonic, and this property is often exploited in audiovisual material. The awareness of the power of sound is something I have carried with me since studying animation, as the world of an animation is initially a silent one, and in the absence of sound I quickly came to appreciate how influenced we are by the sonic in making meaning of the world. It is difficult to disagree with McLuhan when it comes to describing how we logic, but the aural remains a very powerful, if often unconscious component of an image. The interesting difference between the eye and the entire body as a hearing instrument is that the listener is inevitably inside the soundscape, while visual observation has the power to confirm a sense of distance from the observed phenomenon. This inherent property of the eye creates the clear-cut division between the subjective and the
provides the film with : according to media
objective, while sound doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t provide the viewer with this separation. Therefore the symbolics of the visual and
theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that
the sensations of the sonic inevitably mix when audio-
affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift
visuality comes to play. It is also interesting to challenge
that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the
this idea of a division by exploring the possibility to
eye became more essential than ear. How do you see
evoke a physical sensation with the image. There are
the relationship between sound and moving images?
several contemporary film makers challenging the solely
psychoanalytical approach to interpreting film and
impact, a sensation that is difficult to describe verbally,
instead call for a more embodied approach, and
and the relationship between the sonic and the visual
interestingly it is this line of thinking that initially led me
often confirms this. One doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exist without the other
down the rabbit hole into exploring embodiment, both in
and they are always in a dialogue. My most successful
practice and through philosophy.
pieces have been conceived in this way and I enjoy this non-linguistic conversation with my collaborators. There
My process with the composer is always a very intimate one, and the piece is often passed back and forth in the editing process as both the sound and the image develop side by side. As we all know sound has great emotive
has thus far never been a moment where a visually impactful edit hasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t informed the creation of a new sound, or vice versa.
Many artists express the ideas that they explore
very immediate and intimate basis. A heightened
through representations of the body and by using
awareness that the body is a construct that exists in
their own bodies in their creative process. German
dialogue with the forces of its environment was achieved
visual artist Gerhard Richter once remarked that "
through the physical act of dance in Irminsul. A body never exists in a vacuum but is the result of its form and
": how would you consider the relation between
of the ideas you explore
the relationship of that form with its environment, which is a theme that was very present in creating Irminsul.
that you show in ?
provides the viewers with an immersive experience and brings the notion of landscape to a
Gerhard Richter certainly isn’t alone in his line of thinking
new level of significance, evoking an atmosphere that
- among others also Lacan spoke about us being caught
reminds us of the idea of
in representation, and so did Plato.. The abstract and the
French anthropologis Marc Augé. How would you
physical are born from the same construct - the body -
and we can never understand what lies beneath the life
in particular, how did you select the location for the
force that gives rise to the form, we only see the
initial sequences of
representation. The mystery of life! So I find dance in itself an abstract, mythical act, a pure expression of the internal workings of the body, a straight line of communication between the internal and external. As I mentioned before, one of the central themes in Irminsul is the fear of the material collapse of the world, the body folding in on itself. For me the natural way to explore this is through representations of the body, and the becoming of the movement of the body, the eternal transformation which is represented here by perpetual movement. The fact that the dancer responds only to a physical constraint, that the movement of the dance isn’t motivated by an external stimuli such as music, makes it very concretely a meditation of the body, crucially also to the dancer in the moment of the performance, as the body experiences the potential collapse of the fabric on a
elaborated by in your work? And ?
Both Irminsul and Seulaset explore the theme of eternal journeying, of transformation. As much as the body is a mythical active entity, so the existence of the landscape also has this mythical quality of time. In stark contrast to the way the environment is explored in Irminsul where the theme is about the internal journey, Seulaset deals with the pilgrimage. We attach a lot of meaning to places, assign them with their own stories, which seems to me the basis of most ritual journeys. Ofcourse reaching the sacred place itself is never the point, it’s all about the transcendence, the passing through. Even arriving bears this sense of non lieu - the more sacred the place, the less likely we are to leave a mark on it. So we knowingly create non-places that are activated only by transient, ritualistic behaviour and the stories surrounding the place. In my work the role of the
body with itself to its dialogue with the exterior. When it comes to choosing the location for Seulaset, it was when I began to realise how profoundly this myth allowed me to explore my own human condition, that I made the connection between the myth and this landscape. Initially Irminsul was a stand-alone piece, but as I discovered the myth of the sky falling down in growing detail, I became increasingly fascinated by it, and it started to become intertwined with the personal. The trilogy seems a very organic way to explore these themes from different angles, and with each film the myth becomes more my own, more personal. In Greek myths it is Atlas who holds the skies from falling, and as the story goes, he had seven daughters who in mourning for their fathers death committed suicide. Seven sisters, the location of the shoot is a mythical place even in current times, ranking as a very popular suicide spot in England, and the cliffs themselves are also in a transitory state of constant, unpredictable degrading. These cliffs seemed like a perfect character for the film, as Seulaset deals with the infinite journey, the pilgrimage we all make in the name of our beliefs, and as very rarely these beliefs bear the same significance to other people, the journey is always an intimate one. I have a very personal history with the landscape of Seven Sisters, and deciding to shoot Seulaset there is when the myth of Irmisul and my own story begin to intertwine, and I began making my own story, my own myth. The fact that the Seulaset as characters rise from the sea also bears significance as a symbol of femininity and creation, the eternity of death, becoming, and the transience of form. Exploring
works are pervaded with images rich with symbolic values:
landscape also then extends from the interior dialogue of the
work? Going back to your first question about my past training, it is again from the world of animation, specifically Eastern European animation from the 1920s onwards that made me appreciate the symbolic potential of film making to the fullest, and to explore my own personal style of visual symbolism. The visual language of these animations is so rich and delicious in quality, at once completely understandable but shrouded in myth, and is completely freeing as a form of juxtaposing verbal and non-verbal language. The metaphor takes our unconscious value systems as symbols and runs with them. Also, metaphor is very closely linked to the experience of the body, and the academics studying embodied cognition have repeatedly used the art of the cinematic language to illustrate their theories. There is a very nice paper by Maria J Ortiz on the theme of primary metaphor and the construction of the filmic language - Every abstraction is a metaphor, and that includes the setting of the scene in film, the mise en scene as a technique. To provide you with an example or two, in visual terms more is up and less is down, size is power, going forwards is progress and going backwards is an act of retreating. When applying this to film making, these metaphorical symbols become palpable elements in the visual construction of the narrative. Much in the same way, mythology always follows a certain formula, I think this is to confirm a certain logic - a sequencing that highlights the rationale, however abstract and forgotten. Metaphor and ritual are a pair, and it is inescapable to me that in creating a film I also explore the depth of its metaphor. For me to create film without metaphor might be an impossible task.
how would you consider the role of metaphors within your
Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions and one of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create
with the viewers, who are provided with
of the the opportunity to become active participants and are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? The audience is very present in my process and considering audience experience is an integral part of my making. Often my films start as an intimate exploration of something personal, but as soon as my ideas begin gaining a concrete visual style, I naturally begin imagining experiences and sensations I would like to create for the viewer. This leads to the ambition of creating evermore immersive experiences, and more recently Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m developing a process and a skillset that allows me to create pieces that directly respond to the viewer in real time. So in the past few months I have found physical computing and coding as a way in, as an augmented way of editing, and am at best exploring the coding platform MAX Msp to do so. It has blown my mind, the immediacy of the interface, and adding this new skill into my toolkit is fundamentally changing my idea process. My ongoing ambition to further explore audience interaction has also led me to continue my studies, and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m currently studying towards a masters degree in Information Experience Design at the Royal College of Art in London. As computation and
technology increasingly begins to form a part of, and inform my work, I am developing systems that turn the camera onto the observer, thus creating artworks that presuppose and require the presence of an audience to be activated and created in the first place. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Anna. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I currently have two projects under development. One of them is a very personal and symbolic journey of discovering how the structures we live by influence our personal metaphors and behaviours. I’m feeling very attracted to exploring writing and the classic film form, and am very intrigued to start building a game of the structure of the narrative in order to explore my own. At the same time I’m currently looking into ways of expressing embodied memories in an immediate way, without the need for a verbal intermediary. So I’m working on sonifying the memories bound in the body through creating a musical instrument you can play with your eyes. This project was born from the discovery that eye movements can act as triggers for memories - the gesture of the eye has the power to retrieve a memory that can’t be brought up by conscious efforts alone. This project is still in its infancy so let’s see where this process leads me. Maybe eventually I can provide the audience with an ocular instrument each and see what happens in the interactions of all our memories as a choir.
The creation of Irminsul and Seulaset was made possible through funding from Svenska Kulturfondet in Finland.
Iona MacLeod Lives and works in Santa Barbara, California, USA
An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant Hello Iona and welcome to WomenCinemakers: you have a solid formal training and you hold a BFA of Sculpture and Installation, that you received from OCAD U, in Toronto. Moreover, you also attended the Florence Off-Campus Studies Program, in Italy: how did these experiences influence the way you currently conceive and produce your works? Hello there, it's a pleasure to be sharing with you all at WomenCineMakers. These experiences have both had a huge impact on how I currently conceive and make my work. I see my work is a direct product of my self, as it has to go through me in order to exist. I feel that who I am as a person, and the way I perceive the world is sculpted through each experience I have. Both my formal training, and my time in Florence were the major factors that determined where I was living, what I was doing, and who I was interacting with, all of which shaped who I am now, directly impacting the way I make work.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have step into a different culture part way through my formal training. It gave me space and contrast to view the culture I was coming from. Viewing the culture I was living in, from the space of another culture allowed for me to notice things, which previously hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t caught my attention, as they were a part of the cultural norm. This provided a direction for my work, as I felt compelled to use my creative practice to talk about these aspects of North American culture that were now standing out to me. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://www.iona-macleod.com in order to get a synoptic view of your work: while walking us through your process, would you like to tell to our readers something about the evolution of your style? In particular, do you think that there is a central idea that connects all your works? Shifts and changes in the style of my work are directly linked to how I have changed and developed as an artist, and as a person. My work is all connected through the central idea of noticing. My work is either about noticing something, or is a reaction to something that I have noticed and want to bring to the attention of others. Noticing of all kinds are tremendously important to me. Noticing the beauty in something spectacular, noticing
After noticing something, I like to think about what I noticed. If it was beautiful, why did I find it beautiful? If it was unpleasant, why did I find it unpleasant? When I follow these lines of inquiry they reveal to me different aspects of my self, as well as different aspects of the world around me, and how I feel about my self in relation to the world. Artist Grayson Perry stated in his book The Decent of Man, “’normal’, along with ‘neutral’, is a dangerous word” this line reignites with me tremendously, as noticing the normal is something I feel passionately about. What we deem to be normal often constitutes the backbone of our day-to-day reality, and something that plays such a fundamental role in our lives, I feel deserves our attention. After noticing something is deemed to be normal I like to think about why is has been deemed normal? Has it always been normal? Who all is this normal to? How does this normal affect different people? How does this normal affect me? This line of questioning is some times the process of how I arrive at a work, and is often the reason why I don't make work! These questions can be hard to answer and lead down a million different rabbit holes which scatter you in all directions, but these questions keep me and my mind moving, and I cant move forward with out moving, so I don't mind running around in circles every now and then. At the moment what I want from my work is to encourage others to notice, and to think about what they have noticed so that they can be active participants in their reality. We create our reality, and the realities we create can have a big impact the how others create their own realities. We owe it to our selves and to those around us, to be conscious of the reality that we create, so that we can work to creating a reality that is a more positive experience for every one.
the beauty of something from mundane every-dayness, as well as noticing what is unpleasant about something spectacular, or noticing what is unpleasant about the mundane day to day.
With out a doubt my time spent in Italy ignited an interest in the relationship between the institution of Catholicism and sexuality, and my interest in this relationship has played a large role in setting the tone of my last body of work that the Ecstasy of Saint Sadie came from. It's a bit uncomfortable to say this, but I made The Ecstasy of Saint Sadie right after I my self has stopped working as an escort. When I moved from Florence back to Toronto I knew that I wanted to use my creative practice to investigate and turn sexuality into a more open and public conversation. Shortly after being back in Toronto I was presented the opportunity to work as an escort, I knew was comfortable and at place with my personal sexuality where I would be ok with doing it, but initially the thought of it made me super uncomfortable and I turned it down. But I couldn't get it out of my head, I felt like a coward for running away from an experience that would give me a whole new perspective on a subject mater I was planning on devoting my creative practice to, it felt like I was supposed to do it, so I just went for it and did it!
For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected The Ecstasy of Saint Sadie, an extremely interesting work that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/157875378. What has at once captured our attention of this work is the way you have provided the visual results of your analysis with coherent combination between autonomous aesthetics and visual consistence. While walking our readers through the genesis of The Ecstasy of Saint Sadie, would you tell us how did you developed the initial idea? Reply: I remember clearly when I had the idea for the work. It seemed to spontaneously pop into my head out of nowhere; I did very little in the way of conceptual development, as when it arrived in my head it was already quite complete. I know there were allot of personal experiences and events from my life that lead to the genesis of the work, which my subconscious used to construct the concept, and then when it felt ready delivered it to my conscious mind. Although it came from my head I don't quite feel like I was an active participant in the conceptualization process, so instead Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll talk you through the events and experiences my mind had to draw upon.
I have to say, I am so glad that I did it. It was a fascinating experience, and I took allot from it. It is the type of experience I would love to see talked about in the public sphere more frequently. But for those what have experience in that line of work there is an overwhelming amount of negative stigma, which can have some seriously negative repercussions if they decide to publicly step forward to talk about it, which really holds back the ability to socially move the topic forward. Now I wasn't Sadie, Sadie was one of the women I worked along side with; I truly looked up to and admired her. She loved what she did, and was empowered by it, she was also an incredibly kind and generally wonderful person, the kind of person if not for her line of work people would consider to be an excellent role model. Before I had the idea for the work I received some sad news that Ashley, a women I knew from my time in Florence had been found dead in her apartment. It only took about a week for the investigation to unfold the events that had lead to her death. They caught her killer. He was a man she had taken back to her apartment, and had willingly had sex with. After this was made public the tone of news reports and commentary surrounding what had happened to her completely changed. They tore her character apart, and blamed her for her own murder, basically saying she deserved it for being a slut. Some how her sexuality was enough to completely write her off as a human being. I felt quite moved upset and anxious after this event. About a month and a half later I made The Ecstasy of Saint Sadie, so I feel like the event may have set my mind in motion to create something in response to what had happened. The work is about the empowerment and celebration of a womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s decision to do what she wants with her body, so I suspect this work was my minds way finding personal peace and creating something positive from something so ugly. Your artistic practice stems from noticing the world around you: how would you consider the relationship between everyday life's experience and your artistic practice? Does in your opinion direct experience fuels your creative process? My artistic practice comes from every day life experiences. As I brought up earlier, my entire practice comes from my experience in the world; I can only genuinely speak to my own experiences, as I have never experienced life
As you have remarked in the ending lines of your artist's statement, the goal of your work is to create conversation surrounding the topic of your observations, and encourage viewers to practice actively noticing and think about what they encounter in the world around them. How much importance has for you the chance to address the viewers to elaborate personal associations and interpretations? For me it is very important for viewers to elaborate personal associations and interpretations. I want to encourage people to be active participants in their world, and considering the personal is an important aspect of that. I’m not say thing that people should be selfcentered, but it’s important to factor in that we are at the center of all of our experiences. Many thoughts and opinions about the world are pre-prescribed to us so that we don't have to go through the hassle of thinking about it our selves, but this one size doesn’t fit all, and people might find that they are uncomfortable if they force themselves to make it fit. If people actively think about their experience, and place importance on their personal opinions, then they will become more active in participating in creating their reality, and I feel that tis is where personal empowerment comes from. Your works urge the viewers to think about the impact that the item of my observation has on shaping the world we live in: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in". What could be in your opinion the role of artists in our unstable, ever changing contemporary age?
through some one else, and I want my work to be genuine. Every day life is the life we most commonly experience; I feel it is well worth our time and consideration. We owe it to our selves to improve upon daily life, and work on making it as enjoyable as possible for every one. And that's why I make art from it!
For the most part I agree with Orozco’s statement, I feel that it is the universal role of the artist is to hold a mirror up to the world, and depending on which part of the world you’re in, it is the role the artist mirror plays with in its culture that changes. An artists work can reflect physical observations like that of an apple, emotional observations, how the apple made them feel, or social observations, like how they perceive the apples attitude towards the orange through the way the apple has physically positioned its self in relation to the orange. Artists play a critical role in creating social and political change. By making art those who are silenced by social inequality can give them selves a voice to talk about their position in the world. Politically citizens can create art to critique their governments, and encourage change. On a social level I believe artists of all types play very important roles in reflecting and critiquing culture. I think that an artist interested in making work about the physical appearance of apples or that of the landscape, in its self provides an interesting critique, as it says, “Out of everything in the world right now, this is what is most important and relevant to me, and I am free to devote my time and effort towards this.” For example, Cindy Sherman, a female artist born in New Jersey during the fifties, created conceptual portraits commenting on the roles women play within her culture. Being female during that time period Sherman’s life and role in the world was quite affected by the topic of her work, and is likely why she devoted her time and effort towards it. I think that right now, and in every moment of the ever-changing contemporary age, we need responsible artists. To me a responsible artist is conscious of what they are creating, the position they are creating it from, and how their position impacts what they have created. You are a versatile and your practice ranges from creative figurative sculpture and photography to experimental video and most recently film making: what draws you to such captivating multidisciplinary
I think that what gets exhausted is not the technique its self, but the reason I am using the technique. As an artist I create two different places; one is a conscious place of observation and reflection, the other type of making comes from an instinctual urge to just create. The instinctual making is the overwhelming feeling that I just need to make something, and I that need to make something NOW. I call this â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;making with my dickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; as I cant help but feel that it is tied to my natural urge to pro-create, it's the innate drive to take a part of my self and physically bring it into the world. It can be quite carless as I think very little about what I am actually making, my subject matter is usually figurative, and focused on depicting emotion in the body or between bodies. When I make from this place I find my self using hands on mediums like clay, drawing, or painting. It feels quite indulgent, as artistically I get the most immediate satisfaction out of doing things with my hands. As an artist I began making art from this place. It was a way for me to work through my emotions, and express my self to the world. I think that as I have become more comfortable, and at peace within my self as a person, I feel less satisfied with making from that place. Physical mediums like drawing, painting and sculpting have personally been most effective for communicating emotion; at this time I find it difficult to use them to communicate beyond that, and I feel that I have exhausted their expressive potentials for the time being. I currently feel most satisfied with my work when it is created with purpose and extends out side of my self in a positive and more constructive way. I find that videography and photography require allot of planning, I am more thoughtful and conscious of what I am making when using those mediums. Conscious creation is something I value highly at the moment, so for the time being I feel inclined to pursue these mediums. The sound of spoken words play an important role in The Ecstasy of Saint Sadie: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense
approach? And in particular, when do you recognize that a technique has exhausted its expressive potential to self?
bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear. How do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? I am fascinated by the relationship between sound and moving images. Sound is incredibly strong at influencing and conveying emotion, and visuals are effective communicators of logic. However I find that this changed in day-today interactions, we primarily use verbal communication to convey logic, on an inter-personal level seldom use visuals for the purpose conveying logic. The Ecstasy of Saint Sadie deals with a topic I wish to bring into the attention of day-to-day life, so I wanted to create an inter-personal relationship with the viewer, and utilize the audio to communicate logic, and the visuals to convey emotion. From a more critical stand point I do think that sound is over used for manipulating the emotions of audiences while viewing moving images. With the way sound is used in conjunction to moving images within popular culture, the viewer doesn’t have to make any decisions about how they feel in relation to what they are seeing, sound is used to communicate when to feel sad, when to feel anxious, and when to feel happy. Sure the use of sound creates incredibly immersive and moving work, but I think its over use is having a mentally numbing effect on the viewers, as they don't have to do any thinking about how they personally feel, it discourages active viewer participation, and creates a passive viewing process. We want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in Art. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing art, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in artistic productions? My view on the future of women in artistic production is the fact that there is a future. This is something I am very excited about. I see art as a mirror reflecting the world, and for it to best do its job, it its self needs to be a reflection of the world. The public sphere was ‘a man’s world’ the culture and art created in the
Natural evolution occurs in order to improve things; art will do a better job at reflecting the world when it its self is a reflection of the world, which will happen when the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s population is accurately reflected in it. Yes it has already begun moving in this direction, however there is still a long way to go. As artist there is a lot of work to do, it is our job to fuel the momentum of the change. This isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t just a job for females working in artistic production, it's everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s responsibility, the future is for all people, not just women or men, we all need to work together to make this change happen. Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions, both in Canada and in Italy, including your recent show Get A Load, at the Gallery1313, in Toronto: one of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are provided with the opportunity to become active participants and are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? Due to the fairly explicit nature of my work audience reception has always been one of the more personally uncomfortable and difficult aspects of my practice. I am grateful to this though, as it has allowed for a tremendous amount of personal and artistic growth. Being open and unapologetic about female sexuality was one of the conceptual pillars of my past body of work. I knew that the visual and verbal language it used made it unpalatable to large demographic, but the concept behind the work required it to act with
time that the public sphere was dominated by men is a clear reflection of that. However things are changing, women are not as tied to the domestic sphere as they have been in the past, and are slowly gaining space and representation in the public sphere. Representation is curtail, making sure that the population is accurately represented through the professionals working in that field is with out a doubt the best way to improve it.
integrity, and it needed to embody the change it was encouraging. So as an artist I couldn't be apologetic about the open sexual nature of what I was making, even though it meant that the message couldn't get through to a larger audience. This has how ever made it difficult to publicly exhibit my work; for example, the security at my university confiscated all of the wires in my video installation at my graduate exhibition because I had refused to put warnings, or sensor the content. I am interested in communicating with a larger audience. I am proud of my past work, but I felt due to its explicate nature, isolated the audience to a demographic which for the most part already concurred with the messages it was trying to convey, so I felt I was ‘preaching to the choir’. Language is such a curtail aspect of communication, and directing the trajectory of the communication. I am now exploring new types of language in my work to move my practice forward, and personally innovate new methods of communication with the world. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Iona. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Thank you for taking the time to inquire into and conceder my thoughts and work; it has been a pleasure being able to share them. I moved from Toronto to Glasgow about a year ago, I spent allot of my childhood in Scotland, and felt compelled to move back as I could not see the future of my work with out the natural beauty of Scotland’s landscape in it. Over the past year though I have experienced allot of change in my personal perspective, and general outlook in life, and I feel that this phase personal of transition is not yet complete. I don't feel comfortable utilizing the visual language I have personally developed, as I no longer feel it currently reflects who I am as an artist, I know need to develop a new one in order to move my creative practice forward. I’m excited about these changes, and am looking forward to what’s coming next. All I can tell you for certain is that it will probably involve the Scottish landscape, and hopefully include my newly found passion for geology, it rocks!