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w o m e n OLGA GERMAN RHONA FOSTER BÉATRICE STEIMER SONIA GUGGISBERG VRON HARRIS ESTHER VÖRÖSMARTY ZOË IRVINE PERNILE SPENCE PHYLLIS GRAE GRANDE CARLOTA CALDEIRA RAND BEIRUTY

INDEPENDENT

WOMEN’S CINEMA

Rand Beiruty


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Contents 04 Rand Beiruty

130 Vron Harris

Nudar

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter

26

152

Carlota Caldeira

Sonia Guggisberg

Bluebird

Partir

50

178

Phyllis Grae Grande

Béatrice Steimer

80

204

Haunted: A Last Visit to the Red House

Pernille Spence & Zoë Irvine

Seek

Rhona Foster

House Arrest: Tabling Actions

(Just an Egg Sandwich) A Sanctimonious Man

102

228

Esther Vörösmarty

Olga German

Kulturstick - Carribean Queen

La Fuerza (Strength)


Women Cinemakers meets

Rand Beiruty Lives and works between Amman and Berlin

I set off to tell Nudar’s story because I strongly relate to her, to that urge of wanting to make something out of yourself and be independent, no matter what the challenges are. What I really want to do in this film is to shine Nudar’s light on the spectrum of Arab women’s experiences, which are too often cast in the shadow of oppression by mainstream media. The process of making this film taught me a lot about the power dance between filmmaker and protagonist. I initially asked myself, how can I make a film about an apparently powerless person going through an institutionalized process without falling into the trap of shallow victimization. That certainly did not fit Nudar’s strength of character. I believe that confronting myself with such questions and communicating honestly with my protagonist helped us form a strong relationship where we both support each other's goals.

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

Sapiently constructed and marked out with briliant cinematography, is a captivating documentary by Jordanian filmmaker Rand Beiruty: when walking the viewers through the

epiphanic journey of a Syrian woman who came to Germany in order to pursue her career a doctor, this film triggers the viewers' perceptual categories to reflect the ambitions and challenges of integrating into the German society: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Beiruty's captivating and multifaceted artistic production.


Rand Beiruty Photo by Laura Blackadder


Hello Rand and welcome to : before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would ask you some questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your MA degree in Media Arts from Bauhaus University Weimar, you nurtured your education with a practice-based Ph.D. that you are currently pursuing at Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, in Potsdam: how did these experiences influence ? Moreover, how does your due to your Jordanian roots direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Up until the age of 13, I lived in different countries because of my father’s work. Going back to Jordan for high school and undergraduate studies was important for me to grow a sense of groundedness and belonging to my country. My culture and language constitute a big part of who I am, and that, of course, reflects in many aspects of my work. Living abroad also plays a big role as the recurrent themes in my work are migration and questions of identity that are integral to the experience of immigration. As for my formal studies, studying Visual Communication and Media arts opened many possibilities and pushed me to explore and

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Photo by Jasmine Wenzel


Women Cinemakers

Photo by Emily Daniel


interview

Women Cinemakers experiment with different art mediums. Pursuing higher education was not always a clear goal. In fact, it was a way for me to go abroad where I could gain further experience beyond the young Jordanian film scene. But more than my formal studies, I think what influenced my film practice was attending film workshops and talent labs. There, you get an intense time dedicated to film, to developing a dream project of yours, where you closely learn from mentors and fellow participants. For this special edition of we have selected , a captivating documentary film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your clear approach to narrative is the way it provides the viewers with such . While walking our readers through the genesis of , could you tell us what did attract you to this particular story? I first met Nudar in a small refugee camp in the city of Weimar, Germany. I was inspired by her determination and strength of character. It was clear that she refuses to be a victim of her circumstances, that she is working hard to learn the language of her new home country and to pass the exams that will qualify her to get a medical license. I set off to tell Nudar’s story because I strongly relate to her. What I wanted to do in the film


is to shine Nudar’s light on the spectrum of Arab women’s experiences, which are too often cast in the shadow of oppression by mainstream media. Featuring sapient cinematography with rich is a transporting color palette, experience, an unforgettable symphony of feelings: what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? To be honest, we started filming without a budget so we had to improvise and work with what we have. As you see from the credits there are different cinematographers and each used a different camera that was available at the time. We also used mobile-phone cameras and a gopro. Funny thing is what we filmed after we received funding looked too good in comparison to what we filmed earlier and since, content wise, the earlier material was much more important, we ended up not using most of the ‘good looking’ footage. With its elegantly structured storytelling imparts unparalleled psychological intensity to the narration, to explore the ambitions and challenges of integrating into the German society: would you tell us how important was

for you to make something you knew a lot?

, about

Both Nudar and I chose to come to Germany to pursue our careers. Albeit having a different status from Nudar’s, our shared language and cultural background made it easier for us to communicate. Initially, the plan was to follow Nudar until she is settled down with a steady job, observing the obstacles that she meets along the way and focusing on the integration process that unfolds within that time. But, during the research phase, the film took another direction. Often, I’m confronted by the hypocrisy of demanding vulnerability from documentary film participants while knowing that if the tables were turned, I would be reluctant to do the same. This very thought of hypocrisy is what motivated me to hand Nudar a camera. I thought, I’m making a film about this woman that I admire for her strength, so it felt natural that she should have bigger role in telling her own story. Upon having the camera, Nudar turned it on me. Even though I might have anticipated this action, it still somehow came as a surprise. When filmed and questioned, I appear to be uncomfortable and insecure (and that’s how I felt), even Nudar asks if


Photo by Jasmine Wenzel


Photo by Jasmine Wenzel


Women Cinemakers

she should switch the camera off. Looking back at it now, it was a fascinating experience to have the tables turned and losing the power of ‘invisibly’ controlling and recording things in the safe zone behind the camera. We have really appreciated your stunning approach to documentary, reminding us of Frédéric Tcheng's work and we have appreciated the way your storytelling captures hidden emotional reactions with a delicate, thoughtful detachment: could you tell us your biggest influences and how did they affect you current practice? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with ? I once attended a masterclass with Joshua Oppenheimer and I was stunned and impressed by his approach to documentary film. He talked about the hardships he has went through during the filming of “The Act Of Killing”, about the cycles of nightmares, insomnia and exhaustion, how he has insisted to see the humanity of every perpetrator that he has met, to understand the boasting for what it really is. In other words, he has denied himself the comfort of

judging these men as monsters because after all, the role of an artist is not to condemn but to understand. However, I think my biggest influence comes from my parents. Even though they have nothing to do with the arts but their love, honesty and integrity in doing what they’re doing is something I strive to have in my work. The special value that being an Arab woman brings is the perspective. I attended recently a film documentary workshop at a big international film festival where were discussing the ethics of documentary film. I was dismayed by the strict eurocentric perspective they had. It is essential that we have our diverse voices heard in order to even begin to have a fair eye-level conversation. We have been impressed with your stunning approach to documentary, that allows you to captures hidden emotional reactions with and at the same time with and we daresay that could be considered an effective allegory of : how does your fuel your creative process and address your choices regarding


Photo by Jasmine Wenzel


the stories you tell in your films? Moreover, what was the most challenging thing about making this film and what did you learn from this experience? My everyday life and my work are strongly intertwined. Any moment of listening to the news, traveling, encountering new people, reading a book, watching a movie, catching up with good friends or family feeds into my work. If it helps me reflect and grow as a person then it is also contributes to my creative process. It’s like being on a quest to find my voice as storyteller and as a human being. There were many challenging aspects in making this film but the most challenging was directing and producing at the same time and then distributing it. Even though I learned immensely from the process, I will not wear that many hats on the same project again. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that " ": what could be in your opinion in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to cultural moment?

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Photo by Jasmine Wenzel


Women Cinemakers

Photo by Jasmine Wenzel

A still from


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Women Cinemakers My current artistic research revolves around the social and ethical responsibilities of documentary filmmakers towards their film participants, specifically in the genre of ‘refugee documentaries’. With the socalled ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe, reports and images of refugees are in a state of perpetual presence in European media and news outlets. Parallel to that, films about refugees were commissioned and produced at an increasingly rapid pace and both TV stations and prestigious film festivals. Suddenly many seemed to work on a film on the topic, whether amatures, students, established filmmakers and even artists, riding the wave of trendy stories. Even though many of those films surpassed the narrower view of newsreel and shed a different light on refugees struggles and hardships, it is worth noting that most of them were produced, directed and funded by Western entities. I want to explore what it means when a socio-economically privileged persons represent a supposedly powerless refugee who is going through a complex institutionalized process without having a deep understanding of their situation, culture, religion and social background. It seems clear that while some films succeed in providing a fresh vantage point that maintains the dignity of the subjects represented, many are loaded with pretentious and shallow victimization and


Photo by Jasmine Wenzel


Women Cinemakers cliched preconceived ideas. It is essential for filmmakers to be self aware of their position and to fight against an oversimplified one-dimensional narrative. Your work has received positive feedbacks: you for the International won the Script Pitch at Interfilm Berlin 2016 for your short animation and Nudar was recently awarded withthe Tribeca Film Institute IF/Then Pitch Competition at CPH:DOX, 2017. How important is for you that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience? The cool thing about the positive feedback that it isn’t only a pat on the shoulder, but also hands-on training that provides you with a push and an opportunity to grow with your work. For instance, Tribeca Film Institute IF/Then award was not only a completion fund but also a training on multi-

platform distribution and monetization. It’s been an amazing learning opportunity. Showing your film in front of an audience is like bearing yourself, awaiting a judgment. The whole process of making films is a weird one. This part of

the process is where I become extremely selfcritical. But then again, I try to remind myself of how privileged I am to have the opportunity to try different things, maybe fail at them, reconsider myself and what I’m doing then try all over again. It is special when an audience contributes to this process and take the time to come up to you after a screening to share their thoughts. We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation 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 from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on ? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? I’m surrounded by strong leading female artists and filmmakers that are doing outstanding work. That empowers, inspires and motivates me. I can only talk from my own experience and so far, I have not had problems getting my projects greenlit for merely being a woman. However, it is quite clear that on the bigger arena, there’s much work that needs to be done (look at the role-credits of


any of your favorite films), but as long as both women and men are working together towards an inclusive fair film industry, I’m positive that things will keep changing for the better. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Rand. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? As many contemporary documentary filmmakers, I’m constantly striving to achieve frameworks and strategies that push the limits of the medium and challenge its limitations. We are soon going into the production of a short animation film. Also, I’m currently developing a feature length documentary together with the amazing Mihaela Dragan, a Roma feminist theater actress. I cannot say much about it because it is in early development phase. But this spirit of experimentation in order to find the best way to tell an engaging story and at the same time, staying true to the film participants is how I’m going about making this film. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Photo by Jasmine Wenzel


Women Cinemakers meets

Carlota Caldeira Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Carlota is an award-winning filmmaker from Cascais, Portugal, with a passion for music and traveling. Upon finishing her degree in Multimedia Art at the Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon, which included a year abroad at Southampton Solent University in the UK, she moved on to work for Show Off Films in Lisbon. With a fresh mind, Carlota has not only directed but also produced, shot and edited most of her films. The first web and television commercial she directed at Show Off for Johnson & Johnson Portugal, was recognised at “Prémios Lusos” and won both a Silver and a Bronze award. Since then, Carlota has worked with several different clients, making promotional videos and short documentaries in Lisbon, London, Copenhagen, Berlin, Bali and Hawaii. She is now aiming to work in features and television dramas and documentaries.

womencinemaker@berlin.com

area where reality and imagination find unexpected points of convergence: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Caldeira's stimulating and multifaceted artistic production.

Created for the NASA CineSpace competition, Bluebird is a brilliantly constructed and elegantly photographed film by Portuguese London based filmmaker Carlota Caldeira: through sapient storytelling and editing, her film offers an emotionally complex visual experience, demonstrating the ability to capture the subtle dephts of emotions and to walk the viewers through the liminal

Hello Carlota and welcome to : before starting to elaborate about your film we would invite our readers to visit in order to get a wider idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions

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


about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your degree in Multimedia Art at the Faculty of Fine-Arts of Lisbon, you nurtured your education with an MA in Directing Film and Television, that you received from the Bournemouth University: how did these experiences influence your evolution as a filmmaker? Hello! First of all I want to thank you for choosing Bluebird for this edition of WomenCinemakers, it is an honour. As a filmmaker, both experiences influenced me and proved very important in quite different ways. Back in Portugal, I was studying in a more traditional arts university, where theory was preferred over practice. The course was quite broad, as it was not focused on film per se, but rather offered an overview on the various facets of “multimedia arts”. I will be honest, at the time I didn’t understand the need to study Art History when all I wanted was to go out there and shoot films. But now I do know that all of those theory and philosophy-aimed classes taught me something very valuable - the ability to think conceptually. They have enabled me speak through my work. This might seem like something obvious, but it definitely is not. One shouldn’t make a film only based on how amazing it looks, or how much money it can make. It should at least try to say something. And I believe that, especially as Director, you need to have an answer to the “why” for everything you decide to show the audience who will watch your film. Your choices have to be conscious. As for my MA, I’d say that is when I was given the means put this theory into practice, specifically in narrative work. Although I had been working previously, it was during my Masters that I was able to write up my own original ideas into fictional stories, and finally into short-films. Bluebird, in fact, was made during this time. Most importantly, I was able to meet a great number

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers of talented people who have taught me to be a better filmmaker. We learned a lot together from mistakes and from picking ourselves up and carrying on with new projects. I was also lucky to have had a fantastic tutor who was always very honest about what I presented her, offering constructive criticism that made me realise when I was going wrong and when I actually had a good idea in mind. For both experiences I can be grateful. For this special edition of we have , a stimulating short film that our readers selected have already start to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your clear approach to narrative is the way it provides the viewers with such a multilayered visual experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? The starting point for Bluebird was the desire to take part in the CineSpace competition. CineSpace is a challenge set by NASA, where they invite filmmakers from around the world to create short-films, which in some way make use of their footage. Allied to my own enthusiasm about Space, and the fact that I had been contemplating making a film related to it, this was enough of a reason to get me started on developing ideas. From the beginning, both me and my co-writer Chris Tubb knew we wanted to create a film which could be funny, but with an underlying sadness. A dramedy, if you will. We wanted to tell a personal and human story, nostalgic for the “Space Age”, while shedding a positive light on NASA’s current endeavours. All these elements, and a whole lot of research, finally brought us to our premise. Bluebird was to tell the story of a young girl,


Women Cinemakers obsessed by the Universe, who manages to contact an astronaut aboard the ISS, who she believes to be her father. When writing the full script, and creating our characters, I not only wanted to include some references to NASA (the scene of Tom the astronaut playing guitar is a reference to Commander Chris Hadfield, who performed a cover of Space Oddity aboard the ISS), but also some of my own experiences as a child. For instance, the first scene in the film, when Lucy is doing a kind of presentation about the Universe to her friends, is very much influenced by how I was as a kid (believe it or not, this is exactly the kind of thing I used to do, as I was almost as obsessed by Space as Lucy). We were also careful to research into how plausible it would be to have Lucy speak to an astronaut in Space through a radio. In fact, we discovered that any amateur radio enthusiast could potentially (with some luck, correct timing and good equipment), speak to people aboard the International Space Station. Of course though, conversations are always brief, as the ISS is in constant movement around Earth. Going through NASA footage was also really useful in making us gather creative solutions for our story. For instance, finding footage which showed a point-of-view fly- through of the International Space Station with seemingly no human presence gave me and Chris the idea of having the character of Tom be just a voice. This would eventually create an interesting void of male presence in the film. Elegantly shot, Bluebird features stunning cinematography by Chris Nguyen: what were your

aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? As you might have noticed when watching Bluebird, there is a strong nod to Wes Anderson, when it comes to the aesthetic look (I just love him). This is seen in the use of symmetry and straight-on shots, which for some might be deemed as “artificial�. A perfectly centred shot happens only if premeditated and this can make the audience aware they are watching a film. But this


“artificial” look comes with a reason. In Bluebird, I tried as much as possible to build the world through Lucy’s eyes, a child who is constantly daydreaming of another reality. So to me it made perfect sense to use this style, because indeed the world of the film should look somewhat like a “childish”, “fantastical” version of reality. There are only a couple of moments when this style is broken and we shoot compositions in a more conventional way. In contrast with the rest of the film, this implies that Lucy is

then being dropped back down to Earth, being awakened from her fantasy to deal with reality. The use of colour in the props, costumes and sets was also quite important as a way of building visual cues and meaning. Our main idea for colour use was to input NASA’s main colours - red and blue - into the story. As the title suggests though, the most important colour throughout the film is blue. Lucy is always wearing her


blue astronaut jumpsuit, which from the start of the film creates a strong association between the colour and the character. Through colour alone, during the first scene, the viewer can immediately perceive for instance that she doesn’t quite fit with her friends, as their clothes and party hats have colours very different from blue - namely yellows, reds and oranges. Amelia, her mother, on the other hand wears blue and her top even features stars, which shows that she is supportive of her daughter.

Continuing this line of thought, blue will also offer a clue on who Lucy’s real father is and later comes to symbolise family. The choice of what camera we used was mostly motivated by the time we had to shoot. Because we had a limited amount of time each day, as we were shooting with a child actor, we chose to use a camera that was both small in size and could film in 4K. This saved us a lot of shots, as


Women Cinemakers like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of your shooting process? We rehearsed a couple of times, not only to introduce Paige (Lucy) and Mia (Amelia) to each other prior to shooting, but also to understand how to work out some cues I had in my head. A lot of the lines are meant to have a hint of comedy in them, and so it is quite important to see how this translates to a performance. What is written on paper might sometimes not work, or you might find something you haven’t thought of before during rehearsals, so these were for sure useful and necessary.

we could crop the footage and zoom in or out when necessary, instead of setting up dolly shots for instance. In you leave the floor to the character of Lucy, brilliantly performed by Paige Noyce, finding an effective way to walk the viewers to develope a bridge between their own inner sphere and her epiphanic journey: what was your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? In particular, do you

I believe in preparing things quite meticulously, in particular as the style, editing and performance had to come together in a very specific way in order for the film to flow how I had constructed it in my head. But it is equally important to have some sort of flexibility and allow actors to have a go at the characters they are playing, as they are the ones bringing them to life. In particular, Paige had very funny expressions of her own that really fit Lucy. When Lucy starts dancing after having spoken to Tom, some of the dance moves were improvised by Paige and by the crew as we were filming. I think this made the moment a lot more real and fun, than if we had rehearsed it as a whole choreographed sequence. With its brilliantly structured storytelling imparts unparalleled psychological intensity to the narration and highlights the resonance between the ambience and the story. We have particularly appreciated the way your film gives to the viewers the sense they are watching excerpts from real life: would


you tell how did you develop the structure of your film and the editing in order to achieve such moving autenticity? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? It’s interesting that you thought the editing brought authenticity to the film. It certainly couldn’t be called “conventional”, with its various match-cuts and whip-pan cuts. Mainly, we used these sort of transitions for two reasons - to better control time and to create associations between certain elements in the story. By using match-cuts, for instance, we can very efficiently say that time has passed while visually showing the audience something that needs no further explanation. When Amelia is given the doll by Lucy’s father, there is a shot of this doll in a dress and then a match-cut to the same doll, now wearing an astronaut costume. Very quickly we know time has passed, that Lucy’s father doesn’t know his own daughter and that Amelia certainly has a lot of patience and care for her. By match-cutting between Lucy’s “VHS Universe” and the real world, we are also using transitions to blur time and settings, capturing Lucy’s constant “daydreaming”. As for being a woman, I believe it might have influenced me mostly with regards to wanting to work on female characters. There is at times a problem with certain modern films, where they try and create female characters who are “strong”. And that is how they are described, simply as being strong. Would you do that with a male character? Would you describe Iron Man like that? You’d probably have many other things to say about him, including ones that are not really positive. I feel that the word “strong” doesn’t really mean much, because a character is more interesting for their weaknesses and quirks. If they are perfect, what is there for them to change or learn? It’s

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers also important to create female characters that actually have agency, purpose and importance in their stories. It's important to remark that you not only directed but also produce, shoot and edit most of your films: how much importance has for you being in control of all the steps of your filmmaking? I must say that the main reason I have often worked in this way is that I very usually work with small budgets. I enjoy this as much as working with a team, just depends on what I am doing really. With a scripted story and actors, I find it much better and enjoyable to work with a crew, as there are many things to juggle. While perhaps with some of my non-fictional work, I’ve liked working solo, or with a very small team, as it offers more opportunities to be flexible and improvise in the moment. As a director though, it is quite important to be in control of the filmmaking process, regardless of what project is happening. As I mentioned before, I feel that every choice has to be conscious. You need an answer for everything that you do, otherwise it’s meaningless. Why shoot something a certain way and not the other? Why choose a melancholic piano ballad, instead of a jamming rock song to accompany a scene? You need a reason, because these choices will influence your audience as they watch your film. We like the way you created entire scenarious out of psychologically charged moments: what are you hoping will trigger in the audience? As previously mentioned, Bluebird was created as a dramedy. With this, I am hoping that the film will trigger a duality of


emotions in the audience. There are various comedic moments, especially through Lucy’s child-like vision of the world, her little quirks, her speaking directly at times with the audience. But a heartbreaking reality is always underlining it. While Lucy is a happy child, full of hopes and dreams, her true goal in the story is not to become an astronaut, but to fill the void of this father she never had. Furthermore, the fact that we know, basically from the start, that her real dad is not really an astronaut, as she believes, makes her whole endeavour feel very bittersweet. We relish in watching her happily creating her radio, we feel her excitement when she gets to speak to Tom for the first time, we might laugh along when she dances in the dunes as the sun goes down… But simultaneously, we know that her dreams are dreams that might be shattered at any point. Reality is just around the corner. With this mix of emotions, we were hoping to create a somewhat nostalgic film. A film that can awaken the curious child in all of us. Bluebird has been recently selected by several festivals, including Catharsis International Film Festival and CortoKino 2k18: how much importance has for you the feedback that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience? Feedback is always important, as is showing your film to other people, because without this you have no way of knowing if your film works. A film without an audience serves no purpose. I feel quite nervous showing my films, exactly for this reason. Because you’ve built a story, your characters, your shots, with the intent of creating meaning

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers and calling out certain emotions in the viewers. If that doesn’t come across, it could be quite disappointing. I must say that in general Bluebird has been quite appreciated by the ones that have watched it, which is great! When you see someone getting emotional about something you’ve created, laughing along at the lines, holding their breath before the final shot of the film, it’s a special moment. It’s greater even to know that all the work put in by the actors and crew were all worth it. I was a bit nervous for instance when I showed Bluebird to the directors I used to work for when I was back in Portugal. Their opinion meant a lot to me, as they gave me my first full time job in the industry and taught me a lot of what I know. Hearing from them that “they would have cried if it wasn’t for watching it in the office” made me quite happy. Before leaving this conversation 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: as a passionate advocate of women in film, what's your view on the future of women in cinema? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? I think today there are more opportunities than ever before, as news is flooded with #metoo and #timesup stories. Finally whistleblowers are opening the doors to the truth about this industry, as people are more aware of how women have been mistreated or misrepresented. Because of these movements, many companies and producers are seeking women for their


crews, seeking stories about women, or green lighting projects directed by women. There is a slight problem that these are being used as mere publicity stunts though, and not to incite real change in the world. A great imbalance is still present. For better or for worse, we need men to be part of the change, as the truth is most decision makers are still men. Most of all, I believe that if we want things to change, we need to keep pushing, go out and make our own films, whether supported or not. We cannot let these movements die, because otherwise they will just become old news. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Carlota. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Uh, that is actually a tricky question, because I want to do a bit of everything. I’d love to do more short-documentaries about people all around the world and just travel and travel. But I also very much want to do more fiction. I have some ideas in mind that I want to work on, including a piece about my gigantic crazy family (I’ll let you guess how many siblings my mother has). Me and Chris also want to try and write up a longer version of Bluebird, so who knows if someday in the future I’ll be able to send you a feature film about Lucy. Most importantly, I want to continue to tell stories, as this is truly what keeps me alive. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Phyllis Grae Grande Lives and works in the Philippines

A crumbling past. A destruction. Darkness meeting light. A looming amnesia. With the demolition of the Red House, a WWII Japanese garrison, a group of youth pays their visit to one of the most haunted places in the Philippines. Stepping on another realm hoping to find ghosts, they sink into the horrors of the past as they visit the remaining living victims of the house. During the war, the Japanese set their camps in various places in the Philippines. Soldiers raid houses, capture the girls and kill the men. The girls end up in their garrisons where they were treated as sex slaves, known as comfort women. However, during the war, the little town of Mapanique was burned and men were killed. Women were taken to the red house and was raped continuously for 24 hours. This documentary serves as a memory of a past that’s soon to be forgotten, a collective memoir of the women and the horrors that continue to haunt us today.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com is a moving documentary film by Filipino filmmaker Phyllis Grae Grande: through a realistic and clichĂŠ-free narration, she introduce the viewers to the horror of war in Philippines, demonstrating the ability to capture struggling emotions as well as to reinforce the collective memoir of the women and the horrors that continue to haunt us today. One of the most captivating

quality of Grande's work is the way it involves the viewers into a sustained and emotionally resonant dialectic with the stories she tells: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Grande's captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Phyllis and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as a filmmaker? Moreover, could you


Women Cinemakers tell us your biggest influence and how did they influence the trajectory of your artistic research? My name is Phyllis Grae Grande and I’m from the Philippines. Haunted is actually my first documentary and my first full-length film. I am 28 years old and I’ve been working in the film industry since I graduated from university 8 years ago. I started as an editor for esteemed film historian-author-director, Nick Deocampo, and I think that is what influenced me until today. I’ve edited some of Nick Deocampo’s documentaries and ever since those days, I’ve wished to document people’s lives and make my own documentary film. Making a documentary film, however, has just been at the back of mind until I discovered the stories of the Malaya Lolas. Two years ago, it never occurred to me that I’ll be making my first film soon. But Cinema One Originals, a respected film festival in the Philippines that give grants to filmmakers, gave me trust and I was able to finish Haunted. we have For this special edition of selected ,a captivating documentary film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful exploration of is the way your sapient narrative provides the viewers with with such an intense and struggling visual experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of , could you tell us what did attract you to this particular theme?

My province is a 6 six hour drive from the main city and you can pass by the Red House when you use the inner road. I was on my way to my province when I passed by the Red House 2-3 years ago. It was still majestic, you can still see the full house in its full glory. I am quite an advocate of all things ancient and have always been interested in ancient house that I the red house took my interest in a snap. I stopped by the house that day and asked the caretaker about the house. There were several people there, mostly students and bikers, who were all taking pictures. Then I eavesdropped on the caretaker talking about the house being a haunted house, that it has been featured in may tv shows already as a haunted house and that a lot of people go there to try hunting ghosts. Me, as an avid horror fan, got so excited, that when I got home, I googled the red house and google showed me stories and history that the caretaker forgot to mention. I don’t know why, but stories about ghosts and old people interests me. As I’ve said before, I’m an avid horror fan and I like everything scary, but I don’t really know when my interest in old people started. I have written scripts that I’ve submitted to producers and they all say the same thing what’s with the old people?. Even my short film, “Kun’ Di Man”, is about blind, old people. I’ve never really thought about it, but maybe my fear of death and growing old alone attracted me to these kind of stories and subjects. I also think that old people hold a lot a stories and memories and I want to tell all of them, because they stem from real life stories and real experiences. This particular theme about sexually abused girls from World War 2, in particular, is a story which has been told many times - in newspapers, online articles, tv specials - but it’s continuously being forgotten, and these women are the


Women Cinemakers

only people who hold these memories special, and if they die, no one will remember them anymore. It is my dream to preserve memories of people, and this might be the main thing that attracted me to this theme. With unsparing realism, is directed with spare eye and effective : what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? I collaborated with my DOP, Ian Guevara, in all aspects of the cinematography of the film. This is my first time directing a documentary film and also Ian’s first full length documentary and so it was a very collaborative process. The choice of camera were mostly based on budget and accessibility (and also movability), but the choice of lenses, which are old Nikon lenses, were preferred by Ian because of its softness and rawness. We used a Sony A7sII camera because it is light and we can move around with it easily, especially because most of our shots are hand-held. I also asked all of my teammates to shoot with their phone cameras, and some shots were used in the film. My goal is to really shoot in different cameras, shooting everything - the lolas, the crew, the environment realistically. I wanted to achieve that look of rawness and sincerity, and the realistic depiction of the crew in the film, since the film is not just about the women, but also the people documenting them. I also wanted to shoot the house like a ghost hunt, seen from the lenses of the crew documenting it. Featuring sapient editing, offers an extraordinary revealing look at the condition of Philippines in the WWII, exploring the


Women Cinemakers devastating aftermaths of war, and we have particularly appreciated the way your narration pulls the spectators into . How did you achieved such powerful outcome regarding your choices about editing? Me, as the main editor, and Celina Donato, my co-editor, spent a lot of time figuring out the editing flow of the film. We made a lot of rough cut edits and viewed it so many times but it was John Torres, my creative consultant, who suggested the editing style of the film, particularly the segment of the women telling their stories simultaneously and collectively. That editing move was a revelation, and that was the time I realized what I really wanted to achieve in the film. During the shoot, me and my staff would always talk about how the women have the same, exact stories and that we think they’ve already memorized it, but during the editing, it came to me that it was really just a collectively memory, a collective hurt, and that they’ve told this story a million times already, that certain words and sentences are already engraved in their minds. The editing, it just really popped out, and I am glad. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your documentary serves as

: what do you hope to trigger in this situation, by making aware of this issue a wide audience? In particular, what could be in your opinion in our unstable contemporary age?


Women Cinemakers I’ve always been fascinated with memory, aging, and fading. I myself don’t remember being taught about these kind of stories in school. These women, however, are slowly dying, and they are afraid that after the last of them dies, nobody will be able to tell their stories anymore, and nobody will remember them, and that their tragedy might be repeated again. This is why I wanted to tell their story - to continue the stories they have already told so many times - because I know movies are endless and stays for forever. As a filmmaker, it is my duty to tell these stories, even if it has been told many times already, so it can be preserved. They might say I’m exploiting their stories and these women, and people might ask why I’m telling a story that’s already been told many times, but why not? These women have been talking about it for ages and they’ve not really received any justice yet, and maybe by telling their stories and showing it to the world, I can help them reach their goal, or reach more audience, so that their stories and histories won’t happen again. As a filmmaker, I believe that we can tell any story we want, whatever and however we like it, as we see fit. We reveal what we believe in, and in this film, I believe that the world has already changed and the people, especially the youth, has already forgotten about our history, or might not care about it anymore. I believe that as a filmmaker, it is my duty to tell stories I know will help shed light to current events or stories I know which are relevant. You balance social issues with the telling of compelling narrative, something not very easy to do: in your documentary you leave the floor to the people that you introduce to your spectatorship, to develop between the viewers' inner sphere and the stories of the people you introduce in your film: do you think that your


Women Cinemakers being a woman provides your artistic research with some ? While making the film, it has been my utmost priority to treat the subject as sensitive and fragile as possible. Since I’m doing a documentary about a very delicate issue on women, I made sure that we, as filmmakers, treat the lolas with care and sincerity. I think being a woman myself has given me leverage on shooting the documentary. The lolas’ stories disheartened me so much that I want to give them the care and sincerity that they deserve. I also see myself in them - I see myself as them 50 years later. I hope to be like them - strong and full of passion - but I also don’t want to experience their history, and so I treated them with respect and admiration. This is a film on women made by a woman filmmaker. I think it is much harder to make a film about women when you’re a woman - you had to be careful of everything you say and do, you have to show how special you treat your subject, you have to make a film that empowers women. But isn’t that the case? Why you do women films - to empower women and show the audience the power of cinema. We like the way you created entire scenarios out of and we daresay that besides documenting s crumbling past, could be considered : how does fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories you tell in your films?


Women Cinemakers I don’t really know how to answer this (haha!) But yeah. I am such an observant person and I like writing down stories of random, ordinary people I see in ordinary places. I am mostly interested in stories about old people, or very young people, because I think they have the most stories to tell. I see random acts and my mind would just wander around, thinking about how to tell their stories. That’s why I take a lot of photos and write notes and journals. These stories and photographs inspire me every day. It makes my boring everyday life a little more fun. That’s why I love cinema. Your works have been presented and screened in several occasions: how much importance has for you that you receive in the festival circuit? And how do you feel previewing a film before an audience? Haunted is my first feature film and my first documentary. When Cinema One Originals is having its annual selection process for films to produce for its festival, I took the risk and submitted the concept. Even before the film finishes, the selection panel already critiqued and made feedback on my film. Even more when it was first shown in the Philippines. It was a weeklong festival screening, and even though only a few people watched it (because documentary films are not well-screened in the Philippines), critics and film reviewers voiced out their opinions. It was a mix of great and not so great reviews - mostly great - but it opened me to more possibilities about the film. I felt ecstatic reading about good reviews and at first, it saddened me when not so good reviews about my film popped up.


Women Cinemakers However, upon reading these reviews, I saw how the different ways my audience viewed and dissected the film. It felt surreal, but I was glad to have made a film that not only affected me but also the audience. I love showing my films before an audience because the give me different kinds of feedbacks and comments which can help me helm more the film and my future films. It’s not really important - the feedback that I receive in the festival circuit - but I believe it will help me on making my next films if I want it to be shown in festivals. I remember screening Haunted during the festival run and there was a Q&A after. I was overwhelmed by the questions and the comments - each person asking me what my vision was, or each person voicing out their own interpretation of the film because I made the film open to your own interpretation. The fear of screening my film and speaking in front of an audience slowly subsided, but it was fun and there was a lot of lessons learned. We have appreciated both the originality and the of your approach, so before leaving this conversation 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 from getting behind women have been the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? What's your view on ? I am very glad that more and more women are being given chances in the field of filmmaking. There is a rise of women cinematographers and women directors for the past years.


Women Cinemakers Here in my country, a rise in women directors is happening. Films made by women directors are dominating the box office here and younger women filmmakers are venturing into cinema. I think more and more companies and investors are entrusting their projects to women filmmakers now, especially with the rise in women empowerment and women supporting each other. I believe, if we continue supporting each other and voice out our concerns and recommendations, we can achieve a bigger diversity in the field of filmmaking. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Phyllis. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Last year, I made my first short film and my first full-length documentary film. This year, I’m developing my first narrative feature, which is a horror film. I’m also producing more films this year - I’m producing three independent films for different festivals this year. I’m a multi-tasker and I don’t like resting (haha!). But I’m really looking forward to making my first narrative feature. Me and my producer are now trying to get funding for it. It is a horror film with an allegory to the current state of the women in the Philippines. I can now see myself doing more films about women and the reality that we’re all in. Also, genre films, especially horror films, which I love. I am trying to make directing films as a hobby and producing as a work I love. I hope to share my next work to all of you in the future. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Pernille Spence & Zoë Irvine PERNILLE SPENCE is an artist & filmmaker based in Scotland who has been creating performance and moving image works since the mid 1990s. She has created work in the sky with a team of skydivers, been lifted into the air by 22 giant weather balloons and devised a series of performances that took place in over 50 locations in the landscape alongside railway lines from Aberdeen to Glasgow. Exhibiting nationally and internationally her work has been shown in many galleries and festivals including the National Review of Live Art, Glasgow, the Edith-Russ-Haus for Media Art, Germany, Alchemly Film & Moving Image Festival, Hawick, Scotland and she was recently part of “>>FFWD:Artists’ Moving Image from Scotland” in Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum, Shanghai Biennale, China . She currently lectures in the Contemporary Art Practice department at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Dundee, Scotland. For more info see www.pernille-spence.co.uk ZOË IRVINE is an artist and sound designer. Recent works include Workers Union (2016), a film installation created in collaboration with Rebecca Milling and Alice Nelson. The Edible Pet (2016), a 38 min experimental radio documentary, commissioned by Radiophrenia (Glasgow) which has been broadcast in UK, Germany, Norway and France and was included in New Adventures in Sound Art’s album Deep Wireless 13. ŠUMA (2015-6) a promenade performance work to be experienced in woodland, created with Balkan choir Kuchke. Commissioned by SanctuaryLab and performed 4 subsequent times. It features radio transmission and live performance. She is a member of collective Ethel Maude whose work was included in Edinburgh Art Festival 2017 From 2013 – 2015 Zoë was artist in residence in the Scottish Parliament collaborating with composer Pippa Murphy. Their piece Democratic Resonance was installed in the Scottish Parliament during the Festival of Politics 2015. Zoë is lecturer for sound in film on MA and BA film courses at Edinburgh Napier. For more info see www.zoeirvine.net Both artists received Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Awards over a decade ago to create major works. Irvine - (2004) created DIAL-ADIVA a 24hr global telephonic singing event in 2005 (CCA Glasgow) & 2007 (Stavanger European Cultural Capital). Spence - (2006) created Here Now,There Now, a series of interventions in the landscape, viewed from commuter trains over 3 days in 2008.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you

and Dora S. Tennant

to our readers with a couple of questions about your

womencinemaker@berlin.com

background. Are there any experiences that

Hello Pernille and Zoë and welcome to

particularly influenced your evolution as artists?


Moreover, how would you describe the influence of your cultural substratums on your general vision on art? Sometimes we make overt reference to work that has gone before and other times, of course, we are not necessarily aware at the time that the work is expressing influence. Our environment, backgrounds, education, interests and cultural substrata exert a range of direct and indirect conscious and subconscious influences on our collaborative practice. We have both come from different educational backgrounds prior to our art school experiences but we studied around the same time (ZoÍ in London, Pernille in Scotland) and met when we started teaching quite soon after graduating from our Master Degrees. We were both involved in and experienced many of the same art events/exhibitions over the years, which would have had some influence on how we have evolved as artists and understand each other’s artistic language so readily. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established together are today ever growing forces 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 proficient synergy? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different disciplines?

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers

We have known each other over a long period of time as friends and colleagues, while teaching at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. Broadly speaking we come from different artistic backgrounds, ZoÍ from sound art and sound design, and Pernille from performance and video. We find our common ground in conceptual art. We designed and delivered an Ephemeral Practices module at art college, which explored much of the work we are enthusiastic about such as feminist performance art from 60’s to today, alongside Roman Signer, Tehching Hsieh, Janet Cardiff and many others. This lead to a wide variety of responses from students and also allowed us to develop our own common language prior to actually making work together. We enjoy that the work we make collaboratively is very different from our individual practices. Our collaborative work emerges from a genuine synergy of our interests and experience that continues to surprise us. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected House Arrest: Tabling Actions, a stimulating performance video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your insightful inquiry into the norms of domestic behaviour is the way your approach conveys both humour and a sharp eye on the constructed identity of domestic environment. When walking our readers through the genesis of


this project would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Yes, humour is important to us, to our sensitivity, our aesthetic and as a tool of enquiry. We don’t mean a laugh out loud kind of humour, but a wry smile, a lightness of touch. House Arrest, our first collaborative body of work, emerged from the wonderful shared experience of an artist residency at Cove Park on the West Coast of Scotland. We had both been independently commissioned to make work for a show

reflecting on motherhood. We realised that this was our opportunity to make work together. It began with an idea of table top performance – the kind of thing you might see at an art festival – sound artists laying out their wears on the table, the gadgets and noisemakers and then performing those objects for an audience as a concert. Although this does not necessarily need to be gendered, that type of noise/sound performance often has male protagonists and has a great deal of masculinity about it. We


thought it would be interesting to transpose this form of performance to the domestic table and what sort of domestic actions we could enact that might create sensually and conceptually interesting effects, whilst being somehow recognisable as quotidian actions. Our initial work on House Arrest was the creation of lists – lists of objects and lists of actions. We developed a palette, so to speak, and then when we returned from the residency we went about collecting the objects and setting up the studio for

shooting where we worked regularly over many a number of months. House Arrest: Tabling Actions is rich with objects marked out with evocative quality: eggs, dishes, sugar and butter, all belonging to universal imagery. How much importance do symbols play in your practice? In particular, are you interested in creating allegorical works capable of reflecting human condition in a wider sense or do you think


Women Cinemakers that your practice is strictly circumscribed to subvert the norms of domestic behaviour? We did not hold specific allegories in our minds through the making process but, as we worked out actions and experimented with the objects, they became symbolic in different ways that were useful to us during the making process. As the work emerges from the studio and faces an audience it has been our hope that there are multiple resonances and readings available within it. We are always reluctant to be drawn on ideas of ‘this (egg) means this (fertility)’ and ‘that (knife) symbolizes that (violence)’ and so on. In both our individual practices we often start with a clear conceptual framework and work, relatively strictly, with in that, but our collaborative practice is quite different. We spend more time working/playing with the objects and allow the work to evolve more intuitively. Having said all that, subverting the norms of domestic behavior and maintenance, that was at the forefront of our thinking as the work developed and it is good to feel that is embedded in the work. House Arrest: Tabling Actions evokes a caustic, still realistic vision in our contemporary, still patriarchal societies. Over the recent years many artists, from Martha Wilson to Carolee Schneemann have explored the relationship between the culture’s expectations about what women are supposed to be: not to remark that

almost everything could be considered political, do you think that your practice could be considered political, in a certain sense? Yes, indeed our work could be considered as political, this piece in particular. As we mention above an element of humour is often present in our work as well as sounds and images that are more unsettling and occasionally grating. We see our work as layered and gender politics and domesticity exists within these layers. How do you consider the issue of audience reception in relation to your creative process? What do you hope House Arrest: Tabling Actions will trigger in your spectators? We hope that the work remains productive of meaning – that is to say, as mentioned above there can be multiple meanings and resonances suggested and available. We have very much enjoyed how much this work is appreciated by younger audiences too. They seem to respond positively to those small domestic transgressions – the naughtiness in a way. 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 artists


Women Cinemakers particularly interested in exploring the dialogue between the human body and its limits, how would you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of producing your artworks? The idea of the exploration of the human body and its limits is something that emerges directly through Pernille’s performance practice, but as we both bring much of our experiences and interests from our individual practices to our collaborative space this particular area of interest manifests in the collaborative work in a very different way. In House Arrest we see this emerging in the way we perform with the objects in the confined space of the table top. We often refer to House Arrest as a series of micro-performances and the hands/objects are performing for camera. The abstract ideas and the physical acts have been for us utterly linked through the making of the work. Sometimes the abstract ideas have triggered choices of objects and the choreography of actions and sometimes it is the other way around, one or other of us is drawn to working with particular objects or a specific action and once we start to investigate that, to work with it, the ideas and resonances emerge. In her well-known Semiotics of the Kitchen, American artist and performer Martha Rosler inquiried into the taken-for-granted role of happy housewife as an ubiquitous sign of

women's harnessed subjectivity: do you think that social pressure is functional to our patriarchal societies? Do we need to reset the current system of values in order to build a society where women and men have really the same rights or do you think that our current system of values could evolve towards an 'acceptable' situation? We can’t erase history and the embedded values that can often seep from generation to generation. Hopefully an ‘acceptable’ situation can be reached the more equality is at the forefront of a wider, ongoing conversation and interrogation in our society. It is also vital that a deep awareness of equality is embedded into our education systems to ensure attitudes evolve. Of course this depends in which part of the world one lives in but we very much see the change in attitude amongst school children right now and the positive discussions that occur within some schools. Martha Rosler’s, Semiotics of the Kitchen was a huge inspiration when we were developing House Arrest – much has changed since that work was made but we still have some way to go. Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled BOB & SINK and it follows the journey of a group of oranges through rivers, burns and over waterfalls. We have really appreciated the way it highlight such insightful resonance between environment and


the abstract idea of stream. Moreover, as you have remarked in your artists' statement, the oranges are reminiscent of the peloton of cyclists in the tour de France: did you conceive it as an allegoric report of human condition? Moreover, how important are metaphors in your artistic process? Metaphors have been useful to us in describing elements of our motivation to ourselves and others, but we would shy away from saying this is a metaphor for that, as this closes the possibilities for meaning and resonance down. You are both established artists and you received Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Awards over a decade ago to create major works. So before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? In some ways that question is leading. We wouldn’t consider ourselves to be outside or uncommon in some sense. We have both received support from the

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


A still from


mainstream funding bodies here in Scotland and have had work celebrated nationally and internationally. We are both also dedicated to teaching which is hugely challenging and rewarding and pushes our own practice and values into discussion. Teaching and freelance work also help support us financially which means our art practices do not bare the sole burden of making a living. We have both been lucky in our careers to find encouraging contexts for our work and living in this time we have been able to connect with different global cultural contexts so, based on our experience, it is a good moment to be working as women in the contemporary art scene. Perhaps we view the uncommon, beautiful, political, activist work as much more common and this is where the strength lies. We still somehow manage to feel positive about the future for women working in this interdisciplinary field despite the serious environmental, political and economic challenges that we are facing. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Pernille and ZoÍ. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? We completed BOB & SINK very recently, and are in very early stages of discussing ideas that may form the starting point of our next work. We’re both very much looking forward working together again and the process of developing new ideas. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Esther Vörösmarty Lives and works in Vienna, Austria

Esther Vörösmarty does not depend on answers. The Vienna based artist asks the right questions. Reflecting on life, its metaphors and contradictions, she opens our view on gender related physiology and psychology in a most philosophical way, without ever loosing the most precious gift, an individual can obtain, humour. She is not afraid of imperfections, taboo topics or chliches, but interested in complexities, sensual and idealized questions. Freeing it from stereotypes whilst adding another point of view. Vörösmartys work explores the surreallistic reading “between the lines” of human life surrounded by state of the art technology and is indeed mesmerizing the spectator, and develops alternative, social perspectives. What distinguishes Vörösmarty's work is her use of Color, Light and Form to create a surreal visual stage; her subjects poised somewhere between fiction and reality. She is a visual storyteller, playing with Youth Culture to comment on Pop Politics. “In my photographic work I am creating a space on the threshold between installation and photography to highlight presumed imperfections, thematise taboo topics and exploring a surrealistic reading “between the lines”.I frequently work with materials such as ceramic and reflective surfaces like mirrors to change the way bodies, objects and subject matters are commonly perceived and to develop alternative perspectives. My motives are often pictured in a bold and kind of aberrant mode but also in fragile, subtle ways of expression, strengthened by sharp colour contrast and light sources which mesmerizes the spectator.

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

Hello Esther and welcome to : we have particularly appreciated the way your unconventional approach walks the viewers through a surrealistic journey through , addressing them to develop alternative perspectives. Before

starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: in the meanhile, we would ask you to talk about on the importance of addressing the spectatoship to elaborate . How open would you like your works to be understood? I think art should be interpreted subjectively, so I can't


Women Cinemakers foretell the process of observation since the perception of any artwork may differ from one individual to another. I think reception works subconsciously and my way of working is very intuitively, I usually don't have a restrictive idea how my work should actually turn out. Art users don't need to recognize themselves in my artwork nor they have to understand some sophisticated meaning. This way of creating art through my intuition and its unconditional perception is what matters to me. The end result of my working process should finally rise individually in every person on their own, depending on their subjective and independent feelings and thoughts. Art should be contemplated versatility without having the fear of appearing simple- minded or bovine, what you think and feel about an artwork is the truth, there is no right or wrong in perceiving arts. I would never represent just one single point of view, although I have one that influenced my very own message I want to spread. I also don't want to feel forced to explain my work, the explanation lies in the spectators free interpretation. Independent thinking is essentially important as it is dwindling more and more in our time. It seems we have more freedom, which applies to some topics and is a good development, on the other side there is a dependence on certain patterns of thinking and way of living that became incredibly strong. Relinquishing of other people's opinion or expectations and working on your own thinking is more important for me than continuously explaining some subject matter to others. We are all familiar with the intrinsic value of culture as a repository of symbols and identity.


Women Cinemakers I assume that, regardless of the overt content of visual art, whether a landscape, a natural object, or merely a geometrical pattern, there is always or almost always the expression of some constructed social situation which will bear a definite relation to the real and desired social situations of the artist and his society. Incidentally, while this point of view that one projects his society into his visual art will not seem especially revolutionary to many anthropologists or to psychoanalysts, it is one that is by no means universally accepted among art critics, who often emphasize historical relations. "To every age its art. To art its freedom.� (Secessionist art movement motto from Ludwig Hevesi) explains that very well!

we For this special edition of , a captivting Video have selected Installation that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your captivating inquiry into constructed realities is the way you have provided the results of your artistic : when research with stimulating walking you readers through the of , would you tell what did draw you to focus on ? Today´s values have changed tremendously compared to when I was working on composing my values back than in my youth and early adulthood, till now, you just see that literally everywhere in every part of our lives. Values from


Women Cinemakers the past are dwindling, they barely no longer exist, if I assume my values, I recognize that they are mostly outdated and unusable within today's society. Furthermore, values are abused for political purposes nowadays, they became populistic terms, or what also happens, people are making fun of you when you express your kind of fundamental values which are somehow more rooted to the soil. Sane moral concepts are often considered as old fashioned or they are also used in order to play perfidious games with other people's minds and feelings, which I find can lead to catastrophic consequences. What the whole construct of society desperately needs is a fundamentally rethought, until that happens, I will hold on to my own beliefs, they are more important to me than anything else. Everything seems kind of wrecked and meaningless without values. When I first thought of initiating the topic Kulturistik, the theme has already been around for a long time, watching facebook go down the drain with all the narcissists content, trillions of selfies and this bizarre urge to expose what the food you´re just about to eat looks like, all those cat videos and this pseudo-wisdom through posting smart quotes, ‌ Collecting likes has become a real job, tough work indeed, and this whole social media bubble leads away from what I think is essential. Nowadays the social media society simply puts on a show, presenting slogans and swearing blind about reality, whilst actually taking action that has the opposite effect and impedes real lasting development. It saddens me that these self - loathing, narcissistic characteristics have taken over, and have been made socially acceptable by the society which is a bad report of our society. People are completely lost in the cyber dream, everyone is a star, but finally the question is what remains

and what is real? In self-presentation, one assumes the position of wishful thinking. Displayed is what should be seen; outwardly presented fragments that fake an illusion of the supposed optimum of the self that erroneously requires a restless retouching. Since the genuine defective human being and the damaged psyche of society do not accept their own imperfection as part of the whole big picture, nervous additions and


hysteric extras must be subjoined and the true self ekes out its existence behind the scenes. Exposed bodies, deformed and grotesque faces, pictured just to get noticed, otherwise you get lost in the crowd, which is paradox because those people and so called influencers are mostly unauthentic characters who would take off their last shirt only to get attention. Don´t get me

wrong, each person has other values, but I think there are a few that should remain unchanged.

deviates from traditional video installation technique and provides the viewers with such an immersive visual experience that seems to aim at developing


that you included in your work: how much importance do play images in your work? Symbols and allegories are easily perceived but often misjudged. As they occur in religion, myth or art, they are anchored in people's history and can not be translated or interpreted in a purely rational way

because there is a surplus in significance and meaning. The meaning of a traffic sign for instance is precisely defined, the meaning of a religious, dream or mythological symbol exceeds the rational level and often has an intimate psychological meaning beyond the cultural context. I prefer to create new symbols or, of course, subconsciously and also consciously create new ones from common symbols which I connect with my


Women Cinemakers superficial interest. I use the past, I integrate in the work, but to show them as a result or result interests me less, because I move more skillfully in the present or better still in the future. A distinguishing mark in philosophy or aesthetics, simple in form, rich and deep in mind, that is more important for me to work out.

We have appreciated your elegant still effective criticism and your insightful inquiry into the notion of . Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, " ". Not to mention that almost everything, ranging from Caravaggio's to could be Maurizio Cattelan's considered , do you think that your approach and your works could be considered political, in a certain sense? What could be in your opinion the role of Art in order to sensitize the viewers in our media driven contemporary age?

own subjective memories. Sometimes I use old symbols but interpret them visually modified but I don't picture them obvious, but reworked, newly constructed. the surrealistic approach to my work is more important to me - in modernity and surrealism, on the other hand, the individual and free use of symbols takes the place of traditional image programs. if optical, old symbols are re-diced, they result in something else, there lies my

Transferred to the present, Caravaggio's painting perfectly fits into our highly competitive, achieving society that is oriented towards self- optimization and compelled inspiration and forced creativity. The angel intertwines with the old man, apparently whispering inspiration into his ear, but during this interaction, Matthew seems stressed, restless and as if he is under pressure to be productive. At the moment this painting reminds me of the current neoliberal political situation almost everywhere around the globe, people


Women Cinemakers must be productive, useful, busy and profitable regardless if they are inspired, creative, motivated or even healthy. Especially the innovative and alleged inspired world of the start-up industry became extremely popular and gave fresh impetus to neoliberal policies. So if you are inspired to work, you may soon be catched in the vicious circle of exploitative work conditions and the will to be creative and inspired. Every industry has become political because politics means power, ever since. was very Maurizio Cattelan's controversial in a religious and also political sense, it has a clear political position and significance. Religion and politics are part of almost any work of art, otherwise art would not reflect our lives so substantially. Gabriel Orozco's statement is true because art is still defined as something degenerate in some regions, and various positions of artists are not exposed in some countries, because there are many restrictions. In comparison to the first world, art as a narcissistic form is highly rewarded and is traded at very high prices, so art seems to enjoy a certain freedom but the question always is, who pays for it? Artist in our first world bubble have a privilege, I would say it's a kind of jester's licence, but above all the capital is the main factor that goes with it. The responsibility as an artist and the role of art should be to point out, to demonstrate and to clarify, but I don't think every artist must or should necessarily be influenced by political issues. I think it is better to stay true and authentic and to show passionate devotion to whatever matters to us as artists. As Cattelan once said: ''The more I work, the

more I want to step toward pure, straightforward communication. Who cares about art? Art is such a little world.'', I think nowadays more than ever, we should work on sharpening our senses in order to use them for the implementation of our intentions. In the age of permanent media confrontation, where digital channels influence and manipulate individuals as well as a whole society's opinion, people needs to decide whether they want to reduce the influence of the media on their own personal life or if they allow a constant impact on their way of thinking and their own actions. I think we should refrain from most of the action that happens merely when we are online, instead we should sensitize ourselves and encourage the personal initiative and our personal responsibility and strive to act accordingly. Recent developments show the media´s takeover which has become an unstoppable, automatic mechanism, that can't be controlled anymore. All existing channels are active and penetrate everyone and almost every situation which I find highly concerning. In this process the role of art is often blurring or even merging with commercially used platforms. It's a shame how art gets commercially exploited, because art can only sensitize if it is not exploited.

You frequently experiment combination between materials such as ceramic and reflective surfaces: art critic and historian Michael Fried once stated that ' .' What are the

that you search


Women Cinemakers for in the materials that you combine? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between traditional and non-traditional materials? I hardly agree with this statement from Michael Fried, of course I can create an allusion or a deeper significance with various materials. In combination with other media or in fusion with selected materials as well as in connection with a concept or a specific idea, I can create something new. Certainly, the material remains what it is, the mirror still is a mirror, but once I add another component, it gets another meaning, the construct transforms into something it wasn't before. A helmet made of porcelain isn´t just a porcelain item, nor the porcelaine helmet is just a helmet, due to the composition of the material and the given shape, the object gains in significance and gets a deeper meaning. The object immediately tells a story and conveys a feeling, it is more than just porcelain, isn´t it? Commodities like a porcelain plate or a bathroom mirror has been created for just one purpose, art has the power to change the purpose and to create a deeper meaning with various materials and items. The attributes of my chosen materials must create a supportive character and should act explanatory. Properties such as form, material, colour and feel are closely linked to the initial idea and certainly to the finished artwork. I'm always looking for a well merger between the material, the object and the addressed theme, I want to create a narrative that works through all components, one helps the other to tell the story better. I can see the dialogue between the materials and how they inform each other. Furthermore, the “tradition” of using non-traditional materials in art goes back awhile – from Braques and

Picasso’s collages to Duchamp’s urinal. By now we are accustomed to see everyday things which are part of an artwork in the museums and galleries. For me, the use of non traditional or random materials has the intention to transform that material in a way that it becomes something else than the novelty of the material itself. What I love about working with an unfamiliar material is that it imposes different constraints but offers various possibilities at the same time.

Your artworks have often evokative titles, ad as you have remarked once, is also the title of a Billy Ocean 80ies track. Is particularly important for you to tell to the viewers something that might walk them through their visual experience? Not in the first place, the title should just complement my artwork. In greater detail, music is one of my most important sources of inspiration. Give me music and I'll tell you a story! Music videos have influenced me a lot and as a young person I have had a visual story in my mind regardless of the actual video content, it is rather an associated feeling. I associate and combine music in forms, colors, materials, and so on. Madonna back in the 90ies was phenomenal at this unconventional combinations of symbols, materials and colours, she used crucifixes, neon, plastic, rhinestones, leather, fire, glitter, ... all of this can translate a hidden message, transported through a special feeling or a significant era. I don´t design my art according to the


Women Cinemakers music texts, but I connect the words, extract them and put them together again, or they act subtly in the background, as an observer or or not even that. The story behind the title of the video work is a good example for a more detailed explanation. The installation was part of the art exhibition which I initiated and conceived in 2017 and was exhibited at the Academy of fine Arts Vienna and also at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Vienna. When the installation has been set up completely, I stepped out the deformed black canvas tent which used to be a tent to grow marijuana plants, and I puffed because of the heat inside the tent. I thought about the people who regularly harvest plants in these tents and how on earth they can stand the heat. Right in this moment from Billy Ocean was playing in the background and I knew immediately that this must be the title of this installation, also because the refrain perfectly supported the project .

It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established with your technical assistant Victor Urturbia are today ever growing forces 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? In particular, can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between creative people from different disciplines? Of course I like to communicate through speech but I put matters better through my work, my expression through my artwork is much easier for me indeed.


Women Cinemakers

During the past three years I have been looking for more cooperations because I'm curious how other artists deal with specific topics and how they approach and develop various issues. I like working on themes in teams with different kinds of people because fresh dynamics arise due to different perspectives, each artist expresses their thoughts and feelings variedly. This exchange was very inspiring and fruitful so far because merging creative processes is very exciting and has a precious effect on the projects. As the curator of the art project Therapy BlauW, I had a very precise vision of how the artists I had invited to participate should fit in thematically and generally. The show was planned, prepared and realized during months of process and progress. It was especially vibrant to work with the dutch artist Helene van Duijne, a fantastic conceptual artist. She used completely different materials and her conception and realization of the themes led to an altered picture of the project. It was fascinating how the golden thread ran through and in the end the show felt complete, it was amazing to see how suddenly everything finally makes sense and becomes one. That's the way it should be, I don't want to only understand a concept, I want to feel it when I see it in exhibitions. I got a fantastic feedback on this exhibition but in order to accomplish this, you need to pay attention to a key component that is communication. We had endless possibilities to work on the project and boundless thoughts and visions, there was so much scope to use and everyone felt free to bring their creativity to life and was


Women Cinemakers independent in their decisions. I think that's how communication and creativity go smoothly.

Your work includes both references to everyday life's experience and digital technologies We are sort of convinced that new media will bridge the apparent dichotomy between art and technology, and we dare to say that Art and Technology are soon going to assimilate each other. What's your point about this? In particular, how is in your opinion technology affecting the consumption of art? Art and technology go in tandem for decades by now, you see that at the early days of photography, where certain techniques were invented to visualize images. Until now there were major steps in technology, today almost everything is possible because of various smart software and affordable equipment. Digital art has become very innovative and widespread in recent years, the possibilities are unlimited and everyone can work on digital art. This simplified access is a beneficial development but it also raises questions such as “How do I distinguish between good or bad results?, “What is demanding and what is not demanding?”, “Who decides which way of combining art and technology works?”, and so on. The merge of art and technology is emergent and will certainly show enormous developments in the next few years. Scientific achievements combined with artistic work creates vivid results and there is a huge moving space for animated images, interactive experiences and possibilities to use, art and science in combination. What I find especially exciting is virtual art such as we see in

virtual reality, but actually I hope we will be able to fly soon and not only through virtual reality glasses. Of course technology has two facets, if you use them properly then technology can be supportive and enriches our lives. Anyone can continue to educate themselves, gather information and track every step one takes. But can we trust our information sources, for instance the world wide web, so for me the main questions always are, how can I select which information do I provide for data collection and how should I deal with various new media? Which source is reliable and which providers only waste my time?

Over the years your works have been showcased in a number of occasions, and has been recently exhibited the Art Fair “Parallel” in Vienna and received an exceptional respond. One of the hallmarks of your art is the ability to address the viewers to question their own cultural and perceptual parameters. So before leaving this interesting conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of medium is used in a particular context? Most definitely, the exchange between the spectator and me as the artist is an important component of every project. It is about shaping, questioning and changing perception whilst a dialogue should arise. The


Women Cinemakers

communication happens on a rather spherical level, thus the parameters change from one project to another and the choice which medium I want to use also depends on those moving parameters. Regarding to Kulturistik, my decision to install a perspex disc in front of the video installation was the most relevant besides using mirrors. The perspex disc was so transparent that people would have run into it, due to this incident the spectators were torn out of their perception, then they reorientated and automatically created a new perception, a new viewing angle. The view on the installation was limited which also caused a reaction. This transparent "stop sign" signaled that you are not allowed to go further, that brought up the question “Where, when and why are we excluded and how does that feel?�. I personally hate exclusion because this is often a lousy game with power and usually means oppression. Using the material perspex combines both virtual worlds in a very artificially created haptic way and at the end of the day, hundreds of fingerprints could be seen on the perspex, which is an interesting result. Those fingerprints were interactive, like a handshake or an invisible touch, a reaction that I could not see in the moment of the perception because the room was blocked and I could not have been present as an artist in the exhibition room, but the visitors have left a mark. This is one important part of my work, to evoke this state of mind, I scream for you but not loud and intrusive. I do

not want to create pictures through an attention-seeking style but rather through fine, melodic, fearless and hopefully inspiring vehicles. Which medium I choose depends exactly on these components, they must harmonize and develop, they should create a language, perhaps a new or an old language, which may work universally, intuitively.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Esther. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I already have some exciting projects for 2018 in preparation, exhibitions have to get organized and fixed, also a new music video is in planning. My current projects have a strong tendency towards film and video, and I plan to use or create new methods of applying work techniques in this area but photography and object art continue to act as part of the bigger picture. I won't commit to just one methodology, so I will definitely continue to use all the possibilities of the visual language. Above all, I strive for international presentation opportunities and cooperations in the future. An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Vron Harris Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

12 minutes, continually looping video installation.

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter was shot between March 2017 and February 2018 in Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses, a community garden in the centre of Lambeth’s Brockwell Park. The charity champions diversity and inclusivity running a garden volunteering scheme, school visits, family events, courses and workshops. Vron Harris’ practice is interested in the construction of film, the representation of time and the materiality of different media. There’s an interest in the possibility of using still images to create a sense of movement and moving images to create a sense of stillness. This sense of a still image: of a moment that 'was now’ but has since past, and the possibility of the moving image to re-animate these stills into the appearance of life, allows an exploration of both the materiality and the illusion of the moving image and how these oppositions and tensions might relate and interact with one another. Thus, the film explores the passing of time, the changing of the seasons and the cycles of life in this precious, green oasis in the heart of south London. Thanks to Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses, Middlesex University, Family and Friends

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Vron and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions

regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BA(Hons) Degree in Film, Video and Photographic Arts, from The University of Westminster, you nurtured your education with a Post Graduate Diploma in Screen Arts and Sciences Cinematography, from the National Film and Television School, followed by an MA in Photography from the


Š Vron Harris


London College of Communication: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Thank you, it is very nice to be here thank you. Yes, I have been lucky enough to be able to study what I wanted to study. The degree was good and then, after a year and a half of working as a freelance focus puller and clapper loader, I went to the NFTS to do three years of traditional training in cinematography. This was very interesting and useful. On graduating, I continued freelancing and earnt a living working on a really wide variety of productions in film, television, theatre, opera and art. On the one hand, I was one of the operators on Channel 4’s ‘Scrap Heap Challenge’ for eight years where I really learnt how to shoot handheld and to shoot both in a multi-camera and in a self-directed documentary style. On the other hand, I DP’d a really wide variety of productions including a lot of work with some very talented artists including Gillian Wearing and Graham Gussin. The work in this area really sparked my interest so I did an MA in Photography as a way of further exploring my own work as an artist. For more than twenty years of freelance work, I earnt a living being a bit of a chameleon as I worked on such different projects in such different areas. I worked my way up through the camera department until I did a lot of work as a Director of Photography and Lighting Camerawoman. In later years, I directed, produced and edited. Likewise, the education with similar subject areas but different approaches was also very meaningful to me and I think that all of these mixed experiences have informed where I am now. For the last two years, I have been working as an Associate Lecturer in Film and Television Production at Middlesex University and I think that this has also had a great impact on me: partly because the students and their work is inherently interesting but also because in teaching it forces me to really break down a concept to be able to explain and share it clearly with another person. All of this makes me think! For this special edition of

we have selected , a stimulating experimental

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Š Vron Harris


Women Cinemakers

Š Vron Harris


interview

Women Cinemakers film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once impressed us of your insightful inquiry into is the way the results of your artistic research challenges the viewers' perception to question the elusive nature of time: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Well, it has been a long process. Initially I just had the idea that it was a very interesting location and I had in mind to make a short one minute film, but as I began, I soon realised that the possibilities were much, much richer than I had imagined. I interviewed Kate Sebag, the Director of the Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses and many of Kate’s colleagues and volunteers also kindly gave me an interview. At the same time I was also shooting fairly abstract stills as an attempt to capture something of the feeling and a sense of the place. This was in February, March and April 2017 and at that time, I could really feel the gardeners rushing around, trying to keep up with nature as Spring was exploding and I was also sprinting to try to keep up! Initially I tried to edit theses images and the sound interviews together but after a while I realised that they would be far better being separate. Therefore, I made a sound piece ‘Volunteer Voices’ for the Herne Hill History Hear and the Lambeth and Southwark Archives

The images that I was shooting were mostly still images that I was editing together to get a sense of movement. I made a short film called ‘Spring’ at this point, and though it was mostly made of stills, I think that that film has a real sense of urgency as we were running to keep up with nature which was changing so rapidly. After that, I still wanted to shoot more and to attempt to capture Summer and then Autumn and then Winter. I gave myself a deadline of three months to capture each season. After the initial urgency of Spring, Summer felt more languid and Autumn and then Winter all felt


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© Vron Harris

more increasingly contemplative, which I reflected in my shooting and editing. The idea of a detailed study of the passing of time, the changing of the seasons and the cycles of life really grew on me as I worked on the project. I’ve always been interested in the construction of film and I think that the representation of time is such an interesting part of this. I’m very interested in the idea of using still images to create a sense of movement and moving images to create a sense of stillness. It’s interesting to consider the idea that photographs / still images have an immediate pastness to them. As Roland Barthes wrote in ‘Camera Lucida’ in 1980, ‘I now know that there exists another (another “stigmata”) than the “detail”. This new which is no longer of form but of intensity, is Time, the lacerating emphasis of the (“that-has’been”), its pure

representation.’ ….. ‘This more or less buried beneath the abundance and the disparity of contemporary photographs, is vividly legible in historical photographs: there is always a defeat of is dead and is going to die.’ Time in them: If you play them back fast enough, the magic of film, is that it can re-animate these stills into the appearance of life, creating an illusion that appears ‘natural’ as it hides it’s construction. Many theorists have pointed out how this illusion of a world can portray a certain ideology as natural whereas it is actually highly constructed. For example, Laura Mulvey’s 1975 seminal article ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’ discusses the idea of the ‘male-gaze’ as it is the male hero that actively drives the plot forward yet it is the passive, objectified female that the hero and the film itself pauses to simply watch. I’m just scratching the surface here, but the work of many artists and theorists is helpful


© Vron Harris

in thinking about how film is often used as a way of reinforcing a specific ideology, making it appear natural. In Mulvey’s 2006 ‘Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image’ Mulvey considers how the impact of video and DVD technologies have altered the relationship between film and viewer as we now have much more control in how we can choose to watch a film. We can even randomly access, slow down and halt the screen image as we wish. ‘Out of a pause or delay in normal cinematic time, the body of narrative film can find new modes of spectatorship’. For me, this sense of a still image: of a moment that ‘was now’ but has since past, and the possibility of the moving image to re-animate these stills into the appearance of life, allows an exploration of both the materiality and the illusion of the moving image and how these oppositions and tensions might relate and

interact with one another. Therefore, I love the possibility of the absolutely still image to disrupt the illusion of the film world, to foreground it’s construction and to allow us to think. Elegantly shot, features stunning cinematography and a keen eye for details: what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? Thank you for saying that. I think that perhaps the most important thing for me was to look, as possibly one of the advantages of doing a detailed study of one location is that you have the chance of getting to know it a little bit. So, I was always looking at the light and the best places and times to shoot things relative to the light. Also, I often let the camera run for quite a while to try and capture the slight changes that occur.


The film was supported by Middlesex University so therefore I shot on a Canon C300 Mark ii and a Canon 5D Mark ii. These are perhaps not the most ergonomic of cameras but I do really like the way that they reproduce colour. Shot in , a local charity and vibrant community space in south London has drawn heavily from the specifics of its ravishing location and we have highly appreciated the way it questions the nature of our perceptual process, and its with the outside world: how did you select the location and what does fascinate you of this green oasis in the heart of south London? I had often visited these community gardens while walking around Brockwell Park and had often felt that they had a lovely feeling of calm and peacefulness. As I was thinking of where to shoot a film, it just popped into my mind as a good possibility so I researched it further. I spoke to Kate Sebag, the Director of the greenhouses and explained my idea of shooting there and the response was immediately incredibly kind and supportive. I think that this reaction reflects the magic of the place which really champions diversity and inclusivity and supports a very wide variety of activities. It runs a garden volunteering scheme, school visits, family events, courses and workshops and it is a really enabling and educational environment. So yes, it really is a precious green oasis in the heart of the city. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, your practice is centered on the examination of the construction of film, the representation of time and the materiality of different media. In this sense, seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that : are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate ? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Following on from my answer in question 2, I think that this question also reminds me of subject-object relations, as I think that the film has

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

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Women Cinemakers

Š Vron Harris


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Women Cinemakers a fairly oblique approach to this. By this, I mean that as the artist I am not visually representing or objectifying any specific person in the film, but on the other hand, the sound track and the visuals do allude to the presence of people and perhaps also to our own experiences, memories and imaginations. This may seem incongruous at first, but one of my favourite films is Andy Warhol’s ‘Blow Job’. I think that what Warhol does so brilliantly here is to use the offscreen space to conjure up our imagination to wonder what might be going on rather than to show anything graphically. Rather than aiming to describe a particular situation or story, your practice deviates from traditional filmmaking to question the nature of perception, with a particular focus on the relationship between stillness and movement. Austrian-British historian E. Gombrich, writing in , talked about the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can participate in the illusion: how did you structure the editing process in order to achieve such brilliant results? The post production is a really interesting process and with this film I was lucky enough to be able to edit while still shooting the film. I shot a really large amount of rushes which I then spent quite a lot of time working with in the edit. This was helpful as the editing could inform the shooting of both image and sound and vice versa. Not just the image, but the sound is also incredibly important in providing a backbone and motivating the edit. It was like an enormously complex jigsaw puzzle that I was constantly trying to improve upon and ultimately solve. In 2001, Walter Murch wrote ‘In The Blink Of An Eye: A Perspective On Film Editing’ and even though Murch is talking much more about traditional filmmaking, I do really like the clarity with which he writes. There’s a really interesting section where Murch describes the hierarchy of the edit and how different edits might have different qualities and how Murch tries to achieve all of them.


Š Vron Harris Š Vron Harris


On the other hand, if this is not completely possible then Murch prioritises them in the following order. 1 2 3 4 5 6

Emotion Story Rhythm Eye-trace Two-dimensional plane of screen Three-dimensional plane of screen

According to Murch, “Emotion, at the top of the list, is the thing that you should try to preserve at all costs. If you find you have to sacrifice certain of those six things to make a cut, sacrifice your way up, item by item, from the bottom”. I think that Murch is so right; emotion is absolutely ‘at the top of the list’! Deviating from traditional filmmaking, we daresay that your artistic research subverts the notion of elaborated by French anthropologist Marc Augé, to highlight the elusive with our environment. How important is the role of everyday life experience playing within your artistic practice? Does direct experience fuel your creative process? I think that I can understand your reference to ‘non place’ as the people are indeed anonymous in the film, though in reality, I imagine that the actual location could be more defined as an ‘anthropological place’ where individuals are valued and where there is a meeting place and a sense of community. Perhaps for me, my film-making is a form of self expression, of wanting to say something, and whether this comes from direct experience or imagination…? Well I think that it’s grounded in my experience of everyday life and then I think about how I might be able to express that… The sound of the ambience is a crucial component of : How do you consider the role of

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Š Vron Harris


Women Cinemakers

Š Vron Harris

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers sound within your practice and how do you see ? Yes, I agree that the sound is really important in this film. All of the images were shot within Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses but the sound was shot in the wider area of the whole park itself. There are a few shots with sync sound, but mostly I shot the sound and the images separately which meant that I could really concentrate on them. For Spring and Summer I got up very early so that I could record the birds at dawn before the planes started flying over, and then as the year developed, I recorded more of the ‘dirty’ type traffic noises. I was really interested in trying to capture the ‘feeling’ of the sound. In terms of the relationship between sound and movement, I think that for me, the sound is particularly crucial in the editing stages as sometimes the images are images and it is the sound that motivates the cut. Over the years your work has been showcased in several occasions and you recently have had the solo , at Creative Industries Trafford, Waterside Arts Centre, and one of the hallmarks of your practice is the ability to establish with the viewers, who urged to from a condition of mere spectatorship. So we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And will trigger in what do you hope the spectatorship? Yes, I do think a lot about how the viewer will receive the film. Throughout the process I am constantly evaluating the rushes and the edit; contemplating what works and why and what could be improved and how. Ultimately, I hope that the film will enable or encourage the viewer to have time and space to think. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Vron. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I wish I knew the exact answer to this question! Recently, I revisited the rushes of some of the things that I shot on my MA which has given me food


for thought. Though really at the moment, I would say that I’m reading and thinking about things. I hope that my work will move forward in considering the construction of film, the representation of time and subject-object relations but perhaps the subject-object relations will become less oblique and more direct as I think that this is also a really fascinating area. In the meantime, I'm so delighted that Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter has won the international "Earth Photo 2018 - Moving Image Award" which is currently being exhibited at the Royal Geographical Society: https://www.earthphoto.world/films/ “A shortlist of 50 exceptional photographs and films that document the earth in all its diversity, are presented at the Royal Geographical Society in London from 23 July to 21 September 2018 for the inaugural Earth Photo exhibition. Developed jointly by Forestry Commission England and the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), and supported by Cox & Kings and Stanfords, Earth Photo aims to enable a better understanding of the world around us, focussing on four key themes - People, Nature, Place and Change.” There is a radio interview on Effra Sound with John Flannery, Kate Sebag, the Director of the Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses and myself: http://effrasound.blogspot.com/2018/08/brockwell-communitygreenhouses.html And my website is www.vronharris.com Thank you for reading!

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Š Vron Harris


Women Cinemakers meets

Sonia Guggisberg Lives and works in SĂŁo Paulo, Brazil

The short film "Partir" is a documentary organized by layers of time. Mounted with old files, videos and musics, Partir shows the story of a family. Current images of the demolition of a family heritage, are joined to the super-8 files made by the father in the seventies and the soundtrack is organized by lyrical songs sung by the mother between 1970-2005. Between demolition scenes and scenes shot in the 1970s, children play and dance with their mother's songs. The songs are made by the sincere voice of a woman, a mother and a wife who spent her life caring for her family keeping her talent locked indoors until the end of her life.

the Pontifical Catholic University of SĂŁo Paulo: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your Brazilian roots direct the trajectory of your artistic research?

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

: before

starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://www.soniaguggisberg.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Master of Arts from the State University of Campinas, you nurtured your education with a Ph.D. in Communication and Semiotics, that you received from

My return to academics was a way of expanding my research and rethinking the huge network of interwoven connections in the art world. In my opinion, the research artist seeks a multiplicity of perspectives and other conceptual focuses, activating his or her work and the expansion of critical knowledge. We know that the vision of artists who go into academics has its specificities. The very difficulties they experience reveal a rhizomic thinking process that is often hard to understand. Understanding this non-linear and non-narrative way of thinking has become fundamental, for it was where I began to reflect on the idea of


the ecology of knowledge developed by Boaventura Sousa Santos. It’s a theory based on plurality, it’s where knowledge from the most varied of sources meets with the objective of ushering in new forms of thinking. To talk about my Brazilian roots I would like to talk a little about my personal artistic trajectory, which began 25 years ago. At the beginning of my work, in the 1990s, one can clearly see this influence of Brazilian neo-concrete artists Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica. The work I produced was about objects that could permit the establishment of malleable and constructive relations, and, as such, I devoted myself to the elaboration of works structured on the folding of flexible materials (canvas, felt and rubber). These works in a permanent state of modification were supported on the ephemeral quality of their forms. The material took shape when handled, as it allowed itself to be attached and moved around. During this period, the instability of soft works of art brought the concept of mobility versus immobility to my work, and this began to be a recurring subject in my research. After using different flexible materials I started my way with inflatables and water. There was a deeper question in this experimentation with materials, in the manipulation and relations. The question was, how can water be modeled? How can giant pieces of plastic be modeled? Everything was possible through the interplay of tensions and the balance generated. The collision between the “vigorous materials and the delicateness of soft forms” led me went on to occupy bigger spaces like old ruins. In 2006, I began a work proposal that would result in my master’s dissertation. This was the (Urban Bubbles) Project, elaborated with large-scale works made of transparent plastic filled with water. “Amorphous and ready to take on shapes, the Bubbles presented themselves to the geographies of the different spaces as living elements.” Historical ruins were chosen to carry out this project, for through their abandonment they revealed memory chastised. The project was a construction of various different levels in which the main object was the relationship the object was able to establish with the place. In the ruins, the time gave rise to a social landscape sculpted by wear and tear showing the accumulation of different times.

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers The issue of movement was already part of the work. In the next stage, the interplay of tensions presented by the soft and unstable structures, ended up being substituted by the image in movement. In 2006, the video-installations began, and these, through projections on the ground, moved across the hard surface of the ground, generating virtual holes. From this moment forward the ground became mobile and unstable, and surface became a matter of interpretation. I can say that through the dynamic process of experimentation along with technological evolution, the entry of technology into my work was inevitable. The next step in this perpetual motion machine was the choice of water as material. Water, as an asset of life, drew me onto the surface of the ground and then to its place of origin – in other words, into the earth, where underground reserves are found. At this time, I produced the video installation (Source). With the projection of a source in a water mirror inside the former vault of the I presented a reflection on the relationship between natural springs and the country’s financial reserves. In this way, political weight was given to the work. ((I)mobility) A paradox led me to develop the project 2007-2010 at the same time, in which a series of video installations were carried out. In them, swimmers, always in pools, have their movements contained by confinement, by a contrary force, a situation with no way out. They swim to exhaustion without going anywhere, they swim against the current or remain stuck and confined. The proposal consists of a reflection on the immobility of the citizen and the moroseness of the socio-cultural condition of the contemporary world. Perhaps this is an attempt to highlight fluidity as a metaphor for current times. Next, with the (I)mobility concept still in mind, I began researching the undoing of urban space through demolitions, its re-design and what this means for citizens. In recent years, I’ve begun to think about new possibilities for documentary video and its extensions, the subject of my doctorate. Besides the political concept, my research became too more focused in the realities captured by the camera, in the construction of clippings, in technological and sound manipulation, and in aesthetic and sign-related issues.


The objective of the thesis was to analyze the process of documenting memories and testimony, using different languages, presenting experiments that would test what the research proposes as a “performative documentation of knowledge.� The themes discussed refer to documentation, translation and the constitution of images, and the meaning of terms such as witness, archive and memory. The main hypothesis is of a practical theoretical nature, based on the concept of the ecology of knowledge, extended to the universe of the documentary. we have For this special edition of selected , a stimulating experimental short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory

pages of this article. What has at once caught our attention of your insightful inquiry into is the way you provided the results of your artistic research with allegorical and multilayered qualities. When walking our readers through the genesis of would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? My research is thought by the relationship between testimonies and memories with the question of time comes mixing them in layers. The witness tells stories based on cuts of reality; but the report carries the power of reflection on what has been silenced. Testifying implies activating memories and understanding the fragility of the binding capacity of them concerning to time passage. Full of false


impressions on memories veracity, reports present themselves in a permanent changing state, for time puts memory in movement, transforming it at every new report. One of the possibilities of activating the past is the artistic production in its documental format, because it develops testimony difficulty, questioning the empty, the silence and the gap, those being reality indicators. To build documentaries we need to unveil testimonies and files, recover the memory and reality connection points, and relate them. My documentary proposal is that of recovering connection points between memory and reality, working on the difficulty of testimony and questioning the emptiness that accompanies it. The production of films shaped by a collage of diverse references is capable of generating documents as well. Documenting is also a way of

reviewing a past that invades the present, presenting possibilities to think on a future elaborate from reflexive criticism and activation of memory by files and testimonies. It is an imagistic construction that generates in the viewer ideas maps, because during remembering memory is not passive. It constructs itself in a bounding, perceptive action, elaborated by emotions, relationships that activate the senses, reasoning and ideas. The ecology of knowledge in my work means renouncing existing rules on a given subject and proposing another mode of organization. It’s also a mode of organization of thought and of interpretation of differences as a political act. It has to do with reformulating procedures and finding points of convergence for different languages.The interweaving of formats and different


artistic visions is not only a strategy for the production and expansion of knowledge, but also makes the continuous emergence of other languages and other forms of thinking about and building art possible. Gathering archives, inquiring propositions and questioning them in a collective manner is a way of devoting oneself to the construction of a different reality, of a new gesture, even if this gesture is unable to make a full, entire truth to emerge. In the 2013 I started working with the demolitions and I did two works, (Urban Falls) and , they were based on observation of the urban redesigning of the city of SĂŁo Paulo and the redesigning of the citizens. In cities without planning, neglect of public space seems accepted and almost institutionalized as something that is part of a path of no return. In them, I found a large number of depersonalized spaces that had their stories stolen by constant demolitions. It can be said that witnessing the constant process of replacement of historic buildings for modern, over the years, citizens no more recognize their own city. They are subject to deformation in terms of possibilities and expectations to integrate the space they live in. Now, citizens who grew up and survived in this context have their answer. What I witnessed was a social landscape carved by wear, full of anesthetized and almost powerless citizens in relation to the space where they live. It is a process that triggers the deconstruction of urban space, with a society forced to participate in this game, a game built through manipulation of capitalist interests. Here, the testimony is in a way the city itself. In a process of no return, citizens daily witness the erasure of their history and experience a city full of gaps. They are ruins that explicitly reveal a void that bothers, where we see the erasing of the past, apparently forgotten. is a work whose images were captured during a demolition and which shows the end of a family history. It presents a personal situation, but one that is nevertheless common in a city like SĂŁo Paulo. The video images focus on the movement of the smoke and dust caused by a felling, the remains of the remains. The dust is the final fragment of the demolitions and floats in the air until everything is

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers over. It’s footage that literally shows the end not just of yet another piece of real estate in the city, but the crumbling of the history that was built there. The soundtrack was made using sounds from the demolition, but in the background we hear the voice of a child reproducing old songs captured inside my family house. The sounds of the collapsing of the building’s walls and structure are presented alongside the sincere voice of a child insistently playing a guitar, evoking the destruction of the childhood dreams that have definitively come to an end. After my mother died, on July 2016, I decided to use her old archives and . The film was made with her voice singing, with scenes shot by do my father, in Super 8, before his death on 1974. In 2013, when my father office was sold to be demolished, I decided to capture the scenes. With and 4 years after, (Leave), 2018. this material I did 7.37 The short film is a documentary organized by layers of time. Mounted with old files, pictures and music, shows the second part of my family’s history. Current images of demolition of a property, family patrimony, are united and files in super-8 recorded by the father, in the seventies, and mounted with a soundtrack with lyrical songs executed by the mother between the years 1970 and 2005. In the middle of the demolition scenes, the children play and dance with their mother's songs, recorded inside the house. The songs are made by an incredible voice of a woman who spent her life caring for her family keeping her talent locked inside the house until the end of her life. in its attempt to show a positioning on artistic production presents an ecology of different languages and times in order to propose a reflection, a construction and a space for discussion. It is a question of investing in a hybrid proposition, instead of simply insisting on the eternal repetition of existing systems. We have particularly appreciated the way you sapiently combined images from the demolition of a family heritage with archival super8 files made by the father in the seventies to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to question the relationship between


memory and experience. How was your editing process and how did you structure the flow of images in order to reach such powerful and moving narrative? And what were you aesthetic decision when combining footage from different sources? As I told before, one of the possibilities of artistic production in its documentary format is the one of researching and working the difficulties of testimony, before the effort of revealing an event, of putting together a puzzle with many missing pieces. Gathering files, inquiring witnesses and questioning them oppositely is a way to resist to erasure of tracks, to dedicate to the construction of a possible reality, a new gesture, admitting precariousness of inevitably constructed truths. In the creation process, files and testimonies are collected data that precede the work and end up structuring it physically and conceptually. The work, in turn, is a testimony which comes as a deployment of such information, mediated and translated by the author. It may present in its project the past social and political values review proposal. History is constructed not only through historical facts, but also by speeches from the lived and perceived world. was not a technological but a sensible challenge that works with a time gap (42 years) between the losses of my father (1974) and my mother(2016). It was a way to understand my past and put them together in these 7 minutes. Partir seems to reveal a cultural curiosity with real people and their perspectives: how does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? If ecology of knowledge is a flexible system, its existence condition consists in movement possibilities, and the speculative capacity. I’m always opened to new movements, new ways of thinking because this is the place of the creation. In that case, conditions of existence are: reality, traffic, and possibilities of action. We conclude that there is no static file, because an event, even when documented, filmed and photographed is always opened to new mediations

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers and connections. We have to bring ecology of knowledge for practical thinking about image and sound, including the sounds and silences, events and gaps. The strength of image in its immediacy is shown as the alleged intention to expose truths, while it hides not only the functioning of technologies, but its uses, its aesthetic and personal choices, among others. Performative Documentation of Knowledge considers documentary as performative movement, as an action, an active voice that can prepare statements that speak and have repercussions, performing in act and reverberating in the environments where they become explicit. Documentary never represents only reality, it is a dialectical combination of real space and video-makers that invade it, the truth presented is the one chosen by them. We really appreciate your successful attempt to develop an experimental language for documentary film and we dare say that walks the viewers to the thin line that divides reality to dreamlike dimension: how much important is for you to address them to elaborate ? I think it's not important but it can happened sometimes. As an art researcher particularly interested in developing new kind of languages, how do you consider the role of technology paying withon your creative process? In particular, 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? I can say that through the dynamic process of experimentation along with technological evolution, the entry of technology into the art is inevitable. It is a way of expression connected with contemporary way of living. In my way of seeing it is only one more way to open your creativity, to grow and expand your mind in another way. It is not an obligation, it is only one more possibility. Your experimental practice deviates from traditional videomaking to between everyday life's question experience and the realm of memory, reminding us of Sondra Perry's approach to the interstitial point between cultural issues and the digital


Women Cinemakers technosphere. Especially in relation to your editing decision, how do modern digital technologies affect your creative process? The modern digital technologies can improve reality in some concepts or ideas and also in creative process. In my research I can talk about as an example: .Conceived as an ecology In 2014, I produced the work of sounds and noise, presents the result of extensive research on the local history of a public incinerator. Its objective is to recreate passages about the “day-to-day experience” of the burning of waste and the bustle around it. This work brings the audience a sound experience about the past, an opportunity to activate memory through sounds and to reconstruct a possible local history in its own imagination. The sounds represent the remains of what was incinerated, the buried ashes, seeking to reconstruct the memory of what took place. The old trees are the real connection with the contaminated ground and its past, which is why the work was conceived for that space. Six speakers with independent channels and a technological system that organizes all of the sounds in a specific way were hung from an old tree, which not only touches the contaminated ground, but grows from and lives on it. Sounds of machines, noises of fire, sounds of bodies but also of hospitals, of walking and of various different movements form an ecology of sounds. The result, a sound history, can be compared to a body of hidden voices.

from a condition of mere spectatorship. So we would like to ask a question about the nature . Do you consider ? And what do you hope will trigger in the spectatorship? I believe that elaborating upon issues in art and bringing answers to the audience also means extending possibilities of sharing visions on their time. The most important is stimulating reflection and building thought to the public. As I see it, art doesn’t get stuck in concepts, it doesn’t allow itself to stop the movement or the development of discussions that permeate society. On the contrary, in fulfillment of its political role, in due proportion, it can denounce destructive schemes that penalize society, it can destabilize corrupted sociopolitical structures that work against the real development of society, and it has the potential to operate freely. Art fulfills its role when it continues to violate organized structures generating strategies, building autonomous compositions and presenting tools through which society may rethink itself. I present my answers in documentaries, installations and site-specific works, aware that every work of art is open testimony that transits and expands through the audience. I can say that my works have been welcomed with great interest and curiosity, which reassures me as to the fulfillment of their role.

I can not talk about Sondra Perry's approach and I prefer not talking about the career of other artists.

We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ' ', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field?

Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions and one of the hallmarks of your practice is the ability with the viewers, who urged to to establish

As I mentioned in the beginning of the interview, there is an reason in making art that the reading of certain topics, little by little, explained that the work builts a path for growing and geting

For the realization of , a digital sound system was programmed so that six speakers associated with three independent stereo audio channels, could reproduce 388 soundsprepared in six groups..


Women Cinemakers stronger, independent of the gender. In this sense, the work builts a path for growing, independent of the gender. I can say that I had to expand my artistic research in unexpected ways and I was open for it. I understood the ecology of knowledge as a kind of transformations operator able to promote public discussions and I started using as a personal strategy to improve my work. All persons needs to understand personal strategies, as triggering networks of knowledge, to opening spaces of otherness in creative processes. As for the work of art, for me, it gets important when considered as a testimony that generates contact zones capable of translating the discourse and knowledge porosity, pointing to new possibilities of thinking. They enlight latent issues and this is the most important. It is not easy for the women artist, used to translate sensibilities, convictions and questions on images, to test new organizations and new ideas today, however it is an exercise that is in many ways surprising. Talking about ecologies and the rhizome artistic thoughts, we are talking about mobilityof knowledge, allowing to understand better passages of our own life. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sonia. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? About my future projects or the projects that I’m involved today I can say that my research goes more and more to the discussion and art in political terms. I came from a research on the cities redesign, using demolition falls as a metaphor to talk about the dismantling of the city and subject’s memory, and about political and institutional power. Nowadays I’m very interested on the redesign of the identities. Nothing is given or ready in documentary poetics. Memories and testimonies are starting point of this constant listening, always focused on the voice of the others, always facing images of others and their singular embodiments. In 2014, together with the docyumentary I started project. In order to talk about the refugees, we need to understand their place in today's society; we need to consider them as members of a community of those who don´t belong to any community. After crossing the Mediterranean, trying to save their own lives, they turn into a group of excluded people that happens to exist because of the nuisance they cause where they arrive. Their


inclusion in new countries takes place under a deeply hard way that is by exclusion. People of different origins, religions and ethnicities are joined by the fact that they crossed an ocean and entered countries that don't recognise them. It is important to understand that the refugee crisis in Europe is considered the biggest humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War. Thousands of people deprived of their own lives. They mourn their families, with no money, without a state and are at the same time unwanted in almost every place they go to. The question is: how to react or promote the rethinking of a society that has been founded on the politics of fear? The politically used “control mechanisms” are based on the fictional idea of safety which also authorizes and institutionalizes the “security mechanisms” to protect society. Seen as non-citizens, mute, they are bodies that speak through their living conditions, speak through impossibility and shout through the silence of their pain. In this connection, we have to understand Art as a political gesture of activation and social reflection capable of generating “work-testimonies”, objects and documents that present sensitive reports inserted in their right time context. It is a way of resisting the erasing of trails, of attempting the construction of another reality, of a new gesture, even if this is not able to produce an absolute truth. The goal is the awakening of the spectator and citizen in an effort to induce him/her to a conscious attitude. In fact, the spectators rebuild their conscience when trying to understand Art and its reflections. My research called Migrant Dream it is not only an artistic research, but also a channel to challenge the silence of the intellectual comfort zones that camouflage the contemporary migrations reality. The main idea is to shed light to underlying processes, like the constant redrawing of human identities. Under such conditions, the deconstruction of their identities followed by the need of tranforming it is inevitable. The research project proposes an approach to these identities that are forced to adapt. It presents the 'redesign' of identities, focusing on their dreams and their losses since the crises until the long waiting inside the Camp.

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  
WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  
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