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w o m e n VICTORIA KARMÍN IZA CAMPOS ALEXA SELIGMAN MARILOU POUNCIN ANDREA HACKL LYNN BOOK JI SU KANG-GATTO ERIN GARBER-PEARSON EVA MILLAUER SAULE BLIUVAITE

INDEPENDENT

WOMEN’S CINEMA Ji Su Kang-Gatto


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Contents 04 Saule Bliuvaite

142 Andrea Hackl

Yana

TALES IN BLACK AND WHITE

30

174

Eva Millauer

Alexa Seligman

Love it through that open door to Me

Nude

60

192

Erin Garber-Pearson

Iza Campos

82

226

Ji Su Kang-Gatto

Victoria Karmín

City Steps

Between

How to cook Janchi Guksu

EXTRATERRESTRE

108

244

Lynn Book

Marilou Poncin

Derangements - a monster study

Welcome to my Room


Women Cinemakers meets

Saule Bliuvaite Lives and works in Vilnius, Lithuania

Yana is a young woman, whose life is dedicated to having fun. However, the party comes to an end when she has sex with her sisters’ husband and has to face a chain of consequences.

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

is a captivating short film by writer and director Saule Bliuvaite: shot with elegance and inventiveness, her film offers an emotionally complex visual experience, demonstrating the ability to capture the subtle dephts of emotions: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Bliuvaite's captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Saule and welcome to : before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would like to ask you a couple of questions about your background: are there any particular

experience that did particularly direct your evolution as a filmmaker? Could you tell us your biggest influence and how did they affect your work? Actually, there isn’t ONE particular experience that directed me to filmmaking, but there are many of them that pushed me one little step towards what I am doing today. I’ve started to make films just 4 years ago, it is actually a very short time in filmmaking terms. Although I feel that this time was the most important for me as a director – even if first films are very chaotic and roughly-made they actually capture the way of how you intuitively search for answers, with no experience or knowing how to express yourself. So, answering your question, I


have to say – making films IS that fundamental experience that is directing my evolution. Trying to express yourself and to communicate through the screen is a very hard task. Every time I try – I see if the core idea of the film has become somewhat comprehensible or if I got carried away with irrelevant things. Therefore, since I’ve started to make films, I’ve started to ask myself a lot of questions (sometimes, too many questions!), to dig into myself more deeply and to thoroughly observe the environment which surrounds me. All the thoughts and emotions that I share with people that I encounter, and everything that they share with me - inspires me to evolve as a human being, and, therefore, as a filmmaker. Talking about influences – I believe, as many of artists, I constantly have moments of watching films and reading books that move me deeply. There really are quite many film directors that I am influenced by, such as Terrence Malick, Andrzej Zulawski, Michelangelo Antonioni, Gaspar Noe, Derek Jarman and more. Although, I would say, they influence me more in terms of visual aestetic and mood, but the literature that I read and like inspires my characters and stories. There are two writers who are my biggest influence since I’ve first read them. It’s Henry Miller and Fyodor Dostoevsky. It may sound strange, as they are completely different from one another, one is modern american rebel, controversial for his explicit language

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Women Cinemakers and the other is XIXth century russian moralist. However, they both share a very sensitive and deeply psychological view to their characters that fascinates me. I think as one of Eastern-europeans born and raised just after the soviet collapse, I stand at the edge of slavic and western culture collision and therefore I can relate to either one of these amazing writers. I think that this radical combination definitely reflects in my work as I am very curious about this easternwestern identity crisis that my generation is in. For this special edition of we have selected , a captivating short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. When walking our readers through of , Could you tell us what did attract you to this particular story? I had a task in my film school – to make a short film based on any piece of lithuanian literature. I was looking for that piece for quite a long time, I just couldn’t find anything that would fit something I already had in my mind. I knew that I wanted to tell a story about a woman looking for spiritual connection in a very non-spiritual environment. I guess I was just looking for an inspiration, the main character, not for a story and I’ve finally found it. I’ve read a short story written by not-very-known lithuanian writer and


journalist Dalia Jazukeviciute, called ‘’The White Shirt’’. In terms of narrative ‘’Yana’’ is nothing like that short story, it’s just that characteristic of a woman that is quite similar in both. In Jazukeviciute’s story there is a woman, who feels unable to find a spiritual connection with men, and everyone around her. She wants to feel somehow special to a man, she’s looking for true love, but she realises again and again, that the body is the only part of her that matters to those she’s with.

Although she keeps trying, keeps searching. I was deeply inspired by this woman’s persona, it very much collided with what I wanted to make a film about. So I put this woman into the story that I created from the fragments of my own experiences. Elegantly shot, features stunning cinematography by Linas Žiūra: what were your when shooting? In


particular, what was your choice about camera and lens?

sensitive camera. Therefore we used Panasonic VariCam.

To be particular, almost whole film is shot with Red Scarlett camera and Cooke lenses, except one scene.

We used wide lenses throughout the whole film, because it was very important to effectively show the environment that Yana lives in and all the details that tell her story. We thought the surroundings was as important as the character itself. Moreover, it distorted the view a little bit (especially 9mm lens that we used in limousine

In a skyscraper scene there were so many windows, we had to avoid reflections, we couldn’t use much light, so we needed a very light-


scene) and I thought it’s the way to go for this film. We’ve decided to shoot in long-takes and, in terms of camera movement, we wanted to make a viewer quite dizzy, with lots of twirling and spinning around. I think it captured the dizziness of Yana, her confused emotions and mixed feelings. Talking about light – we had so many locations for a short film and we wanted to make a visual contrast between them. Even between two scenes in one location – when there’s night in Yana’s apartment, we wanted it to look somehow cosy, even romantic and mystic. But at the daytime all that romance is gone, there’s just a pile of empty wine bottles left. So, there are many scenes in the film that visually contrast with each other and I think this idea was our key to Yana’s story. In your film you leave the floor to your characters, finding an effective way to walk the viewers to develop between their own inner spheres and the character of Yana, brillantly performed by Justina Nemanyte: what was your ? In preparation with actors in terms of particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of your shooting process? To be honest, rehearsal period already started while casting – we invited quite many actors to the try-outs for different roles. Every time actors would play a

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Women Cinemakers whole scene with the main actress, Justina, and with every different actor the scenes looked completely different as well, it was fascinating! Throughout these try-outs we had to do scenes again and again, so Justina (and myself) started to understand and form deeper character of Yana than it was written in a screenplay. She was doing intimate scenes with many different male (and female) actors and I think it was very good thing for her character, which drifts through many men and women. When we had all our actors casted, we continued rehearsing. Although we have left lots of space for improvisation as well, especially for those scenes where Yana reacts to the world around her (in a limo scene, for example). I am really one of those directors who enjoy spontaneity and improvisation, there are many times that actor suggests something so natural and weird for his character that really surprises me in a good way. With its brilliantly structured storytelling imparts unparalleled to the narration, to unveil an ever shifting internal struggle. We have particularly appreciated the way your film gives to the viewers the sense they are watching : would you tell how did you develop the structure of your film in order to achieve such ? Moreover, how does


fuel your creative process to address your choices regarding the stories that you tell in your films? I wouldn’t say I was trying to make film’s structure as it is. It is quite loose, and, as you mentioned, it seems like excerpts from real life. Well, I think it looks that way because I constructed the screenplay from excerpts of my own environment. I cannot deny that my own experiences fuel the stories that I tell. Especially, the people that I meet in everyday life every character in this film was based on someone that I know. After screening ‘Yana’ in Lithuania I heard a lot of people, especially older people, saying that it is all made up, it doesn’t happen in real life. I think it made me love this story even more. It just showed how divided our society are, that older generation haven’t a faintest idea of how the younger generation lives and what they see around them. I am not saying that everyone lives like that, but I feel that I owe it to those who really do and, especially, women who are being called bitches or sluts, for being lonely, for making mistakes or trying to express their sexuality in their own way. We like the way you created entire scenarious out of : what are you hoping will trigger in the audience?

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A still from


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Women Cinemakers I am hoping for one thing in particular – that audience would understand a woman like Yana and would not condemn her. This whole story is about a woman who tries to get rid of a stereotype that is glued to her, so I hope the audience will watch it without any stereotypes themselves. I expect this film to trigger the sensation of despair, when you can’t turn back time and take back things that you have done. Also, a sense of chaos, through which people are drifting while searching for a place in their life. has drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful between the intimate qualities of its ordinary domestic location and the atmosphere that floats around the story: how did you select the locations and how did it influence your shooting process?

Well, we had quite a hard time finding interiors for this film. Mainly, we were looking for large and puzzling spaces – since we decided to film scenes as longshots, we needed locations which would create the impression as if Yana is walking through some kind of a maze. Apartments with many rooms helped to create this mysterious feeling and in these spaces we had many options for the camera movement.


I wanted all the environment that surrounds Yana to look hostile, so we’ve chosen interiors which were quite desolate. Talking about set design – we wanted all interiors to look half furnished, half empty. We thought that it add this feeling of void, that cannot be filled. For example, Yana’s apartment is so huge, but she stays in only one small room, sleeps on a single bed. Other rooms look very old and dusty, all the furniture looks like from 50 years ago, some of them covered with sheets. Similar to Yana’s apartament was the one in a skyscraper – it was a place with many rooms, but as she walks through those rooms, we see just a few furniture pieces, covered with plastic sheets. 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 from a century women have been 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? We are surely on a verge of a revolution, regarding women in cinema and not only. Today, when anyone

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Women Cinemakers who has a phone with a video camera can make a film, we are craving for diversity in stories, characters and point of view. I remember myself growing up in the 90’s while watching late-night films on television. Almost every film was American and almost every story was about a man’s world. And women characters were just beautiful holy angels or femmes fatales, surrounding men, looking pretty. I wanted stories about myself, my sister, my mother, I wanted to see a woman’s point of view for a change. I believe now are the times when everything is changing drastically and in my surroundings I see many women who are not afraid to make films in a way that they believe in. I am happy about that and I think we’re heading to a great future of more diverse art than ever. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Saule. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? ’, I’ve recently made another short film ‘ so we’re hunting for festivals to present this film in. Also, at the moment I am working on a few new film ideas, for a feature and a documentary short. I cannot be certain about my future work, I can only say that hope to continue making films and I hope to stay


Women Cinemakers meets

Eva Millauer Lives and works in Bristol, United Kingdom

Since childhood I have explored self-identity through creative means. Poetry and painting were my main creative tools when I was very young. And I always danced and created little performance pieces for myself and my family or for school or church plays. I had blissfull experiences at any age I can remember. Seperation and Union were always a creative topic as well as a yearning for global harmony. I did a lot of drawings in school when I was bored in lessons, and in retrospect I love these drawings…and paintings they were not refined by going to an art school, and they just communicate a lot of was present in me, that I wasn’t conscious of yet.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Eva and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to invite our readers to visit https://evamillauer.com in order to get a wide idea about your multifaceted artistic production we would introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions about your background: you have a solid background and you hold a BA (hons) in Visual and Performance Art, that you received from the University of Brighton. How did these experiences influence the evolution of your dance practice? Moreover, how does

your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? As a child growing up in Germany I was always the multidisciplinary creative type… I loved dance, had ballet and contemporary dance classes and acted in a drama group, I loved writing imaginative stories and poetry and already then oneness, harmony and even world peace were an important theme. My mother remembers that I told her about various blissful and mystical experiences when I was very young. I loved sewing and making my own rather wild clothes. I enjoyed a lot of different types of crafts, painting, drawing and photography. I doodled all sorts of drawings in school when I was bored in lessons, and quite a few of them showed dance in somewhat of an energetic ecstatic rather


than a just physical expression. When I was 18 I had the opportunity to teach dance to children, and I took them off the ballet bars and had them play improvisation games where a happy dancer pulled a sad person out of sadness and into dancing happily. I was interested in Philosophy and religious ways of seeing the world as well and my dad and I had endless discussions about what the ultimate Truth was with a capital “T” and if that “Truth” could be described in words or not. It was not easy for me to choose a particular creative career, because I always wanted to combine different creative skills. The combined Arts Course at Brighton University was exactly what I needed. I had just become very inquisitive and really wanted to know what human existence was all about. Liz Aggiss encouraged every single one of her students to truly discover who they were and what they wanted to do. So my journey in dance and visual art and inquiring into the deeper meaning of life through that began right there, fully supported. It was wonderful. Alongside the course I found out about unusual beings like Mother Meera in Germany and Mata Amritanandamayi and also the Spiritual Teacher Adi Da Samraj whose writing I found extraordinarily inspiring. I was interested in what exactly was communicated by these unusual beings in human bodies, when they gaze into your eyes, touch your head or give you and thousands of people all across the world big hugs. My question was ‘who am I’ and what is the true human potential and what are these extraordinary beings showing us. The more I inquired through the visual and performance and film work I did at University, the more I came to the conclusion that oneness of all there is can be the only reality. At that time this was more an intellectual understanding though, but I was also opening psychically in many different ways, which gradually led to a number of cultural identifications to feel increasingly insignificant. This included being German, being a dancer and being an artist. As all these identities were gradually peeled away I had become an intense seeker for truth and this was a very painful state of being which didn’t seem to lend itself to a typical career in the performance arts. I felt very disconnected from the ordinariness of being human at the time. And I couldn’t see how I could bridge that gap to the

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Women Cinemakers audience that felt like painfully far away from what really moved me. Even though my work was so highly appreciated at University I felt that I needed to go through a lot more to understand why and how I was moved to explore dance and art and how all the sum of so many creative explorations would make sense one day. The body of works that we have selected for this special edition of WomenCinemakers has at once caught our attention of your practice is the way you sapiently mix different disciplines as poetry, dance and videomaking to pursue such unique combination, capable of providing the viewers with such multilayered experience, as in the interesting presence, a short film inspired by a poem by Saniel Bonder, when walking our readers through your usual process and set up, would you tell us what is your main aesthetic decision when conceiving a work of art? My main aesthetic decision is always the same, no matter what I do, if I make a film, a photo montage, devise a live performance or improvise in spoken word and movement. My focus always is the understanding of universal oneness that has increasingly evolved from being an intellectual presumption to a literal and embodied understanding. As far as I can see non-separation is our natural state. In classic art works we perceive the object of art and the subject or the viewer of the art. I am not interested in that. A piece of art is for me only finished when I feel the idea of subject and object is significantly undermined in the process. Saniel Bonder’s poem “Presence� does just that. It takes apart the idea of separate events happening and by bringing the human body and movement into the film, I give the body or the movement permission to be presence rather than a separate entity dancing in the woods. We have appreciated the way your approach to dance conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and the need of spontaneity? As an artist particularly interested in flowing freely where creativity takes you, how importance does improvisation play in your process?


I wasn’t really aware of this at the time, but the grammar of body language plays an important part in my work. There is a clear bodily communication when there is a sense of separateness and there is clearly very different body language when there is ecstatic being. I have been working intensely with this contrast in the body in the multi media solo piece “The Ultimate Attraction”. This piece was entirely scripted and choreographed and it was still an object of artistic and humanistic research that wasn’t influenced by an audience. Since then and when my son was born I endlessly danced poems and texts by Adi da Samraj just by myself and I explored the contrast of choreography versus spontaneous

movement with these texts. I found that the more the whole body merged with the words ”I have never been born or died” for instance the more the body just wanted to freely move. The communication of ecstatic being becomes very powerful when it directly addresses an audience. The “Cycle of Life” had a structure in the order of the display of digital photomontages and every image was connected with a particular poem but the movement was free, the presentation of the poem was free and so was the beautiful musical accompaniment by Lindsay Treen. That allowed me to directly relate the piece to the audience. There was now a much deeper and larger communication that was just accompanied


by physical movement. And that happened in the realm of energy and that was at times very tangible. During the recent year I felt the movement to explore complete free-fall. I still felt the scripted poetry created a fine layer between me and the audience, that I didn’t want. I wanted to create the deepest possible levels of intimacy with any audience I could find. Living in Bristol is absolutely ideal for that type of artistic research, as there are numerous creative open mic nights. As my work fits into lots of different genres, whilst equally fitting into none of them I explore story telling nights and poetry nights as places for these explorations. It took a little while to make knowing absolutely

nothing about what I am going to do my new comfort zone, but I now trust that I can be deeply grounded in oneness and just get up and feel into the audience and the use of language will adapt to different ways of seeing the world. I will be completely in the moment and accept total ‘not knowing’. There is no thinking going on. Performing in that way doesn’t even really feel like performing. In fact I invite the audience into a deeply intimate and immersive process. And the responses I have been getting is that this way of working is very powerful for people of all walks of life. With all creative ways of working I have explored so far I find it is best to make as little rules as possible. There is a place for


choreography as well scripted works. For instance I love the power of contrasts. In my degree show a male and a female dancer did a dance together and the man’s steps were entirely choreographed, while the woman literally fell into a deep trance state during the piece and only had very vague instructions to how she moved. I gave her the outline of a story rather than told her particular steps. So there is a place for choreography and there is a place for freedom and spontaneity. Featuring well orchestrated camera work, your films have drawn heavily from the specifics of their environment and especially in Love me through that open door we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the landscape and your performative gestures: how did you select the locations and how did they affect the performing and shooting process? At the time of creating these four experimental films I lived in Stroud in Gloucestershire. The area is very well known for the stunning beauty of the countryside. I have always loved living there. And I love being in nature. Already as a teenager I loved to run into the woods and just get absorbed into the beauty of sun-rays shining through the branches of trees. I could just sit there for long periods of time and be in blissful contemplation of some beautiful moss, or fresh spring leaves and I loved feeling the warm earth under my feet. I feel drawn to film in nature, because the beauty of these places in of itself communicates boundlessly, and in a time where it sadly appears that a lot of people live very disconnected from the fact that we are part of nature and that we are effectively destroying the beauty of this planet, these films may be a reminder and help us to reconnect with deeper parts of who we are. ‘Presence’ and ‘Love Alone’ were filmed in Randwick Woods, a beautiful wood very close to where I lived at the time with my son. In May it is full of Bluebells as can be seen in the film ‘Presence’. ‘Love it through this open door to Me’ was shot on Selsley Common. Selsley Common unexaggeratedly is one of my favorite places in the world. Vast open places are not that typical in all the parts of England I have gotten to know and love, but Selsley Common is just this vast open plateau with

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Women Cinemakers views all across the Cotswolds. It has an incredibly expansive feel to it, as you are simply alone with the land and the beautiful open sky. I can not go there without feeling uplifted and nurtured and expanded. So it was a perfect place for a film expressing oneness and infinite feeling. And the stunning images of the beach in Wales where “To my Beloved” was filmed were just jaw- droppingly inviting to merge with the beauty of Linday Treen’s song. At the time I was also fascinated with how filming affects perception. I can see that there are ways of filming that solidify the idea of subject and object and there are ways of filming that don’t. If I was filming a dance piece that was expressing oneness I would get as many different angles and points of view on the piece as possible and would probably be myself in constant movement. But in this phase I explored mainly what happens when there is no film maker which was also convenient, as I could be in the image and just spontaneously head off with my camera out into nature whenever I felt moved. When no-one films, then the camera work just is a silent witness to the process. There is no personal view- point communicated alongside it. So my process was very simple. I would just go into nature, put the camera somewhere in the grass and allow the body to freely contemplate oneness with all there is through movement and stillness. Working in this way was very exciting, because I would only find out at home what the footage was and how movement and what movement was captured in the image. Also when I held the camera, like in the landscape pans on Selsley Common, I playfully allowed there to be wobbles and I didn’t use a tripod. I saw the wobbles as a creative opportunity rather than a problem, and when I layered the images and mirrored them, the camera wobbles turned into a dance of the clouds and landscape reflecting the movement of the body. One of my creative principles in creating art and also in life in general is that mostly when something looks like a hurdle, or a problem or something unwanted its actually a creative opportunity to break into new grounds of creative expression. Sound plays a crucial role in your practice and you are particularly interested in the intersection of poetry and sound. According to


media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of modern alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear. How do you consider the role of sound within your artistic research? Marshall’s perception of the alphabet being a visual phenomena is very interesting to read about. I would like to make a distinction between the visual communication of say colours, shapes or forms that are not associated with the phenomenon of forming a word. Looking at letters of course is also a visual experience but we immediately associate those shapes with the meaning of words, hence create the auditory experience somewhere in our brains if we are not reading aloud. In my experience the meaning of letters and words communicate very differently to the way images communicate that are not associated with words. I certainly can say that there is a very clear difference in just reading a poem in a book, to reciting the poem aloud from that book, to learning the words by heart and speaking them out loud to then letting the whole body experience those words by allowing the body to flow with them in movement. The medium of film has always fascinated me as so many different dimensions of life can be played with and so many ways of experiencing can be addressed simultaneously. We can take images that are recognizable as what we would ordinarily identify as a landscape or as a person, and the media of film and especially all the different techniques to make new images from original footage allows me to dismantle the ordinary sense of space and time and object and subject. In the film ‘Presence’ I chose to display the visual of the poem written down. Saniel Bonder had chosen to write the poem in a circle, hence breaking down the usually perceived linear narrative of poetry perceptually. Sound and spoken word are very important in my work as is silence, and how image-word- silence-sound and movement correlate. I aim to use language in a way that gets us in touch with a bigger picture of reality. As Marshall Mc Luan says: “the phonetic alphabet has given us the idea of private identity”. In fact we take one letter, the capital “I” and we presume a personal identity to go along with it. But where is that personal identity when we go looking for it for real? Does it exist? And what is there when we don’t presume the private or

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A still from


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Women Cinemakers separate identity of an I? My creative consideration is how words can be used in such a way that the verbal mind and the rational understanding part of our being associates and collaborates with a greater possibility rather than the idea of separate self. In the film ‘To the Beloved’ the musical improvisation by Lindsay Treen fascinated me as its expressiveness of depth and beauty is phenomenally touching, she sang spontaneously arising non-existing words. Juxtaposing those with a poem suggesting that there is no I or other felt like a very powerful combination. Vilém Flusser defined ‘imagination’ as the ability to abstract surfaces out of space and time and to project them back into space and time: we have really appreciated the way to my beloved challenges the viewers' perceptual categories to create personal narratives: what are you hoping your film will trigger in the spectatorship? In particular, how much important is for you to address the viewer's imagination in order to elaborate personal associations? That’s such an interesting question. The fascinating element of working with film is that imagination and what we consider the definable world to be begins to intermingle. The boundaries get blurred and challenge common associations and create new ones. The imagery in ‘to my beloved’ is highly symbolical, whilst not suggesting a linear narrative, it still juxtaposes different ways of self-reflection. When I first saw Andrew Wood’s elaborate art work of the Narcissi in his Stroud Studio I was very intrigued and grateful that he let me film them for this project. Through the imagery chosen I ask the viewer of the film to reflect on who they are. Are they the shadow of the body on the sand? Are they the water that consumes the shadow? Are they the fabric of the dress in the wind? Are they the reflection of a face in the mirror, are they the vast openness of the sky and the beauty of the ocean? Are they the sensation of the feet in the sand? Are they the contemplation in the movement when it begins to reach beyond space and time into infinity? This particular film addresses the consideration of I and other in contrast to oneness and full being in a very simple, minimalistic and symbolic way. My wish for the viewer is to fall into or at least intuit this “one heartbroken form of infinite beauty” that the poem suggests.


Women Cinemakers Your practice deviates from traditional filmmaking technique and seems to aim at developing the expressive potential of the combination between words and images: how important is it for you to convey symbolically charged elements in your work? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between poetry and your filmmaking practice? Yes, symbolism is important, however I do not approach the filming and the symbolism in a mind-based way. I do not sit there and think lets film images for the film ‘to my beloved’ with shadows of myself in water to contrast with the images of the statue of Narcissus. The image of the shadow in the sand with the hair flying in the wind and water moving onto the sand just spontaneously grabbed my attention when we were filming. I just contemplate and get lost in the magic of what the camera sees. So my work is not conceptually conceived anymore. The contrast with the static statues then seemed an obvious visual opportunity to create a contrast, a feeling dialogue between the elements of the film. The relationship between the images and the poetry is of utter importance. I feel we tend to underestimate the potential power of the verbal mind. We give language that role of being rational, of being linear, of being functional. In different meditation practices the thinking mind is often viewed as a disturbance to in-depth understanding. I do not have the impression that there is any part of the human being that can not be extremely powerful, beautiful and free in their expression. Verbal expression and the use of language and spoken word can be a beautiful collaborator in the direct expression of the mystery of life, the oneness of being and the unfathomable nature of who we are. Powerful poetry in immediate conjunction with symbolically charged imagery allows me to address in-depth being in a viewer in a multi-dimensional way. In this way I am attempting to bypass the separate self sense and connect the viewer with the profound beauty they really are.

We have appreciated the way your approach invites the viewers to rethink about their cultural parameteres: to emphasize the need of establishing a total involvement between the work of art and the spectatorship, Swiss visual artist Pipilotti Rist once remarked that "we are trying to build visions that people can experience with their whole bodies, because virtual worlds cannot replace the need for sensual perceptions." Do you think that this statement reflects the directing of your artistic trajectory? Moreover, do you think that the role of artists has changed these days with the new sensibility created by new media? It is very interesting how Pipilotti uses the play of perception of journeying through the physical world across physical bodies and plant life, how she creates unsual close-ups like a huge tongue half under water projected large. As a spectator I can literally experience every element of her work sensually in my own body. And yes that total involvement between the work of art and the spectatorship is exactly what is the most important in my work, too. I can definitely see an increase of creative work that moves from the object- subject separation into what we now call immersive experiences and my sense is that the possibility to have all surrounding large scale projections for instance created completely new opportunities. Art can be simultaneously behind you, above you and all around you and hence create a different bodily experience for a viewer, or perceiver. But I also see that just a body in space, simple movement and spoken word can create a totally immersive experience, as I may suggest that reality is an immersive experience in of itself. Marina Abramovic was deeply impacted by her work “The Artist Is Present” where she just gazed an endless stream of people into the eyes. She was then inspired to move her work towards “Immaterial Performance” and created the Marina Abramovic Institute that basically created interactive performative spaces and experiential spaces similar to what we may be doing on


Women Cinemakers various spiritual retreats or self-discovery workshops in a slightly different way. Her website says: “The Abramovic Method is a public participatory event joining people in a communal experience to connect with oneself and with each other.” The boundaries between in-depth experience of oneself and one’s whole body and art have become beautifully blurred. My work fits right into that world between all the worlds. In one live-performance of “The Cycle of Life” a woman told me that when I reached out to her from the heart area of the body saying the line “and touch the heart to eternity” she literally and tangibly felt touched at heart. The more aware we are how we constantly communicate through and as energy the more powerful our communications in art and in creative expression can become. Film doesn’t have that immediate possibility to be alive and relating in the moment, in direct response to someone there, but the quality of reaching to infinity through a movement or reaching out to the viewer like at the end of the film “Presence” still is a direct energy communication that a person who is open and perceptive in their own bodily sensations could perceive as tangible touch. So yes I would say artists become more aware of the invisible aspects of artistic communication and how it can affect us whole-bodily. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in performance art, how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the concepts you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your practice? Gerhard Richter’s quote here is profoundly interesting. He describes the act of painting “always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable.” And he continues “and

certainly there is sometimes also the necessity to paint with the whole body”. I could just as much say that a physical body in space as living art in a film or in a live performance is a matter of seeing and that the physical act is just the unavoidable part. The ‘dance’ I engage in is one of seeing without an I behind the eyes… the dance is just that spontaneous communication of that seeing. And that pure seeing without definitions and without boxes is then expressed through the whole body. And then the body in movement is nothing but a communication of seeing. When Richter paints by scraping large pieces of wood across his paintings, he explores one of these to me most powerful ways of working… he allows his body to engage in painting in such a way that it completely serves that process of scraping… there is no “I need this to look like that”. So he allows nature to co- create an image with him and he just decides when it is finished. And my impression is that he loves to finish an image at that place of ‘life fullness’ where an image literally appears to be lit up in beautiful aliveness that just is unqualified. Similarly to him I do not engage in a conceptional process. I do not mentally design a certain creative communication. I work entirely intuitively and in the moment and I never know how an image or a film will look before it is actually finished. So I do not actually distinguish between abstract and physical in my work. How we perceive physicality and abstraction depends so much on what we see to be real. So for instance when I abstract the body by overlaying images of it and filming it in odd ways, than I can evoke a quality of seeing it just as it is: a body, not an idea of a separate entity in a separate environment. So you could call that an abstraction of what is there, or a reminder that what is there is not necessarily what we presume it is. Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our contemporary scene it has been


Women Cinemakers a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in in this interdisciplinary field? Artemisia Gentileschi’s life story breaks my heart, and it is even more heartbreaking that women all over the world still today face unimaginable abuse and horror at the hand of men in cultural contexts where women have no opportunity to walk away from injustice. Artemisia’s courage and resilience has my total respect and admiration. And so have all the women who have spoken up in courage and through their creative expression. As a girl growing up in the western world with one sister and no brothers and the free spirit of Pippi Longstocking being my favorite female childhood role model I only became painfully aware of presumed male ‘per se superiority’ as a highly destructive force later in my personal life. The art-world has changed a lot since the late 90ties when I graduated. The Internet and social media make it possible for anyone to say that they are an artist and to offer their work for sale, women and men alike. It is much easier to be authentic and independent, as it is much easier to find the people who really resonate with your work. ’Artfinder’ is a good example for that and it is interesting that women on ‘Artfinder’ sell more art than men. I wish in fact for women and men that they allow their uniqueness in creative expression to shine for real and that they follow their hearts instead of any potential ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and ‘shoulds’. There is also incredibly beautiful and powerful potential in creativity expressed without dominance and


Women Cinemakers competition in women and men, and I wish for artists of all genders and humanity as a whole to see that cooperation and equality is a much happier and healthy place to be for all in art and life. Just whilst writing about this an email came through. It is from Helen Cole at the Arnolfini in Bristol announcing “We are Warriors” a sound and light installation involving 100 girls and women from Bristol. This is the future of interdisciplinary work for women artists. Art for social change that has the power of giving voice to many. Sisterhood. Collaboration. Mutual Empowerment. Cooperation. Global creative movements for change and for equality. I have a sense that women will lead the way in that. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Eva. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? Are you working on another film at the moment? I always have many more ideas than I can manifest. The ways I work are very organic and very fluid and very adaptable. Since January this year I have been concentrating in creating collective creative spaces, where the realm of the heart, the realm of oneness can literally be explored. It is much more powerful of course to explore this in groups than just on your own. A human being living through heart consciousness literally embodies universal love as his her her own true nature. It may sound tacky to some people, but I can’t help that. It is beyond emotional and mental states yet doesn’t exclude anything. It is also a healing space for men and women, as they discover what benign ways of conscious relating are possible. When a group of people opens into that reality something incredible happens. In and as oneness people completely mutually empower each other’s individual creative expression yet it simultaneously heightens the deepest sensitivity to the totality of what is going on. That sensitivity arises naturally in


Women Cinemakers these creative contexts as it is the expression of oneness, however does not require anyone to be other than themselves as fully as they can. In fact it allows for infinitely more freedom in creative expression than we normally presume. I have made a number of amazingly beautiful connections through beginning to establish this collective work with women and men. I ended up calling these creative environments “Embodiment of the Conscious Heart- creative retreats” as every single one ends up being more profound than any of the participants including me can imagine. So workshop wasn’t quite the right name for it. But really just like for Marina Abramovic’s vision for the Institute of Immaterial Performance Art, there is no known genre for this type of work yet. The feedback I am getting from participants is phenomenal. One woman recently told me: ”I have never participated in a space like this, I haven’t come across anything like this anywhere else”. Another one said that she felt that in that space ”the myth/ ideology of separation made no sense whatsoever”. This is profound. This is the place where art can meet reality. Where art can be reality. There is deep healing involved. People speak of coming home. The creative potential for groups of people working in this manner in truly embodied unity is unforeseeable. It is breathtaking. This process also shows very clearly how something as big as world peace is not an unrealistic goal. It is not impossible. When this type of awareness awakens on a larger scale, humanity will simply not be able to be the most cruel and the most destructive and self-destructive being that has ever walked this planet. To some people this may sound like idealism, but I know those who have touched upon the potential of relating, of communing from human to human as the same heart intelligence know that if humanity begins to live as that, we won’t be made extinct. Instead pollution will be extinct. War will be extinct. Torture will be extinct. Exploitation will be instinct.

Suppression will be extinct. Genocide will be extinct. Genderinequality will be extinct. Factory farming will be extinct. Ecocide will be extinct. World Hunger will be extinct. Animal testing will be extinct. Racism will be extinct. The whitewashing of any nations past horrors will be extinct.The list is endless. I feel very much moved and ready to create films from a heart perspective giving voice to pressing issues of today’s world. The work will be raw and it will be vulnerable. I have recently met young people in their early 20s whose priority is to move the world onto a positive course, before they can concentrate on anything else. I have spoken to young women who feel it is irresponsible to have children in this day and age. I am also working envisioning building a live performance company of creatives who understand the principles of creative expression as one. That would allow a wider range of audiences to feel the attractiveness and power of a space like that. I can also imagine large video installations mixed with live performance in gallery spaces to give people immersive experiences of oneness. I can imagine exhibits of digital photo montages with live performances along side it. I can imagine simple yet powerful improvised and devised live performances and also talks and experiential explorations with members from the public at many different places, festivals, peace conferences, retreats, interfaith events, the United Nations. I am very passionate about inspiring as many people as possible, seeing them shining in their true creative potential is the greatest gift to me and I hope this work will contribute to the creation of a world of a lot more true heart beauty and a lot less suffering and horror. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Erin Garber-Pearson Lives and works in Toledo, Ohio, USA

Using performance, video, and sculpture, I create art that investigates how place creates and affects identity. Raised by artists, I grew up living in multiple cities, and my family reinvented home and community in each place. Windows with cracking paint appear in works about Ohio, interconnected pathways are navigated by performers for work made in Michigan, the sun shines on repeat for video and neon signs in Arizona. Using connective practices such as walking as tools for embodiment, I draw from the everyday routine of life and public space to question how place and time can impact our lives. In this way the projects I pursue define how I approach my life, cultivating daily practices that connect the brain and body. While my work has a basis in fabrication, I utilize a range of time-based mediums including video and movement art in collaboration with objects. I believe strongly in pursuing ideas through the lens of experimentation and play, engaging in a community-minded approach that attempts to link disparate ideas, circumstances, or people through art. I specialize in several movement-based art forms including aerial rope and the meditative practive of tightwire dancing. I am enthralled with the ways that sculpture can provide a tactile and immersive situation, while the inherent ephemeral qualities of movement harness the time-based essence of experience. An interview by Francis L. Quettier

and after having earned your Bachelor of Fine

and Dora S. Tennant

Art, with emphasis on Sculpture from Northern

womencinemaker@berlin.com

Arizona University Flagstaff, you nurtured your education with a Master of Fine Art, with on

Hello Erin and welcome to

:

Emphasis 3D, that you received from the

we would like to introduce you to our readers

University of Arizona, Tucson: how did these

with a couple of questions regarding your

experiences inform your current practice?

background. You have a solid formal training

Moreover, how does your cultural substratum


direct the trajectory of your artistic research? As an Undergrad at NAU, I cemented my relationship to fabricating objects, which gave me a good foundation of problem solving through materials. My graduate program in Tucson was called 3D, and included all sculptural as well as time-based mediums such as performance and video. I started using my object making skills to create work that had performance and community purpose. Tucson has a really rich culture of community art, festivals all year, and performance. I was lucky to see acrobats using large scale puppetry and spectacle a lot when I was growing up. For example, I saw the artist group Flam Chen perform when I was 16, and they still contribute to the All Souls Procession in Tucson which brings over 20,000 people together to celebrate and mourn the dead. Some of my first performing and directing experience was made possible when they gave me space in the finale of the procession. After my graduate program and after working as a performer and a college instructor for, I attended Aloft Circus School in Chicago for nine months. This experience opened up tight for me, as well as deepened my ideas about character development. I am fortunate my graduate program supported such social practice projects, and I felt encouraged to take risks and grow there. In 2010 I cast cell phones into edible sugar lollipops that

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers I sold in a bicycle powered wagon, cycling around the city selling the art. This project, called Presently Decoding, had a script about the interconnected nature of all things, but was broken up into fragmented messages in each phone. This was when I realized how much power video had to capture the performance act. I edited studio footage in to better conceptualize an idea for more traditional art venues. I also had exceptional theory and art history classes and was particularly influenced by the writing of Rebecca Solnit about landscape, power and gender. Both art schools I attended are on different ends of Arizona, north and south, and I spent a lot of time traveling in between. There’s a romanticism to the desert, a sense of endless space, but also a discord between humans in this environment. I was really interested in the New Topographics photography movement, but also social practice sculptors like Mark Dion who uses landscape to reveal the discord between humans and their environment. All of my installation work at that time was a mix of technology in the environment and video loops that were integrated into sculptural elements within objects to create my own version of a technological landscape. You are an eclectic artist and your versatile practice embraces performance, video, and sculpture: 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: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating


multidisciplinary approach? How do you select in order to explore a particular aspect of your artistic inquiry? Years ago I was on a circus tour with friends from Minneapolis and one of the musicians, primarily a flutist, was learning bassoon while we were in the bus traveling from place to place. She stated that by 80 she thought she would finally be a master of all the instruments she has started. I love this goal

in terms of art making, that we should never stop learning and trying to find the best tool for the idea we are working with. I definitely have tools I delight in using, steel being a consistent medium, but once I opened myself up to other mediums, I really surprised myself with what came out. This approach goes hand-in-hand with working collaboratively, or outright hiring artists with specialties I need help with, to assist me in techniques I need to know for a project. I get ideas


for projects and go through a phase of feeling overwhelmed and defeated. I’ll obsess with all the possible options; do I learn a new skill, do I have a skill that could replace the unknown idea, or do I know someone I could hire to help me? Eventually I find a solution and sometimes there’s a trial and error process until I’m excited about the results. Usually I stop if I am experiencing dread about the process; I really want to enjoy the investigation.

For this special edition of we have selected , an interesting experimental video that can be viewed at and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into , is the way it provides the viewers with such an intense and


multilayered experience, balancing emotional and intellectual involvement. When walking our , would readers through the genesis of you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens and how was the filming experience? I wanted to make a video that encompassed the sense of purposeful wandering, the small and large places that are easy to overlook, and the embodied play I have found in exploring where I live. In my tight wire practice, I spend hours every week experiencing the act of walking, first with my body and second with my brain. There is no other way in tight wire; if your brain gets hold of the reins, you can barely stay on and it’s easy to lose the sensation of joy. Tight wire walking is also about retraining our sense of fear through posture and breath. It is a profoundly minute sensation. This practice has challenged my idea of multitasking and efficiency. Taking the long way or having nowhere to go, as a concept, took root in my mind as radical in its inefficiency, and I wanted to channel that experience into a video. I shot most of the outdoor sites using a Canon 64mm lens, and an iPhone attached to a handheld Gimball. These shots gave me the freedom to try out graphic relationships I had in my sketchbook, such as using power lines with tight wire footage from below. I brought the camera everywhere with me for a month

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers and would review it at home with my sketchbook so see what I wanted to keep. The studio shots on the tight wire were taken in collaboration with videographer Matthew Miller using a Canon C100 Mark ii, and multiple lenses but mostly a Canon EF 16- 35mm f/2.8L USM lens. I created a shot list and we went through it, problem solving as we tried each out. Matt is really great to work with and has a lot of ideas about getting uncommon points of view and unusual lighting. has drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such powerful urban environment and choreographical gestures: as an artist particularly interested in investigating how place creates and affects identity, how did you select the locations and how did they affect your shooting process? The locations were mainly places I am really familiar with in my everyday routine, but I tried to find angles that were more intimate, or a point of view that gave scale in relationship to the body. I remember standing with my back to an alley getting ready to film a main road, and realizing the alley itself was filled with light bursting between two tall buildings. This had so much nuance and mystery that I turned around and began shooting that instead. There were a lot of shots I tried that were unsuccessful too, such as anything with a GoPro. I had a list of locations I wanted to film, and each had their own


mini exploration, but I often found what I was looking for in between the two locations. We have been highly fascinated with the way you combine realism that comes from outdoor location and gestures. In this sense, we daresay that responds to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that : in particular, you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their perceptual categories to create : how important is for you to trigger the viewers' perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate ? And will trigger in the what do you hope spectatorship? It is really interesting you bring up this idea of personal narrative, because that issue came up a lot in the editing process: what parts of the city to include and what to omit. Toledo is in the Rust Belt of the United States, so there’s a lot of old industry and factory buildings repurposed into small businesses as well as a lot of unused space. The architecture tells the story of the decline of industry that is part of the Midwest in general. Coming from the western U.S., I initially saw the city as crumbling and empty, because a lot of the buildings are in such disrepair. It’s easy to see that the more affluent people live in the suburbs

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


A still from


Women Cinemakers and the urban areas tend to have less tax funding for upkeep of infrastructure. Over time I realized I was missing a lot of the subtleties of positive change, that you have to get involved with the community to know what’s going on behind closed doors. I chose to omit specific references to Toledo that were in murals or street signs, and focus on shots that were more universal to implicate that being physically present is critical wherever you are. Here, you get as much as you give, and there’s a reckoning process involved which is the subjective view I take when meeting and re-meeting myself in the different locations of the video. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the soundtrack provides the footage of with such an : how do you see ? For this video I chose to address sound after I had made the majority of the visual decisions. I knew I wanted the sound to reference footsteps on pavement, but act more universally to maintain a sense of pace and assimilation with the visuals. I worked with talented drummer and producer Steven Warstler who recorded live while watching the video. We tried a lot of different objects and

then I brought a foam block to the studio and we both seemed to know it was the right object. Later he recorded another musician, Dean Tartlier, on saxophone. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you are

: what does attract you of this apparent dichotomy? Objects have a power of presence that provides structure and tactility. The smell of wood or the way an object’s scale can relate to the body in space can be very commanding. Video can capture moments and repeat them, slow them down, enlarge or distort movements that I have not been able to do with objects. Because of television, all viewers know their relationship to this medium and video often directs a viewer on how to begin an experience. When I have put the two together I see the sculpture come to life in a living, breathing way that I haven’t found when it exists apart. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "


": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in performance, how do you consider the relation between of the concepts that you explore in your artistic research and of your practice? There are a lot of different ways of learning and acquiring knowledge, and practice-based research or practice research (PaR) is an important aspect of my work. The body’s experience provides abstract knowledge which is felt before thought, such as empathy. For example, when my body has an injury, I am closer to understanding other states of being and can reflect past myself, since constant pain is not a part of my everyday physical experience. In my work the specific practice of tight wire teaches lessons which are difficult to describe, such as becoming aware of or overcoming many of the body’s built-in fear reactors: the fear of falling or how to harness momentum. These are physical lessons that are, as you said, abstract in nature, yet are universals for being human. Tapping into this physical aspect of my practice leads me to thinking more generally about many types of bodies finding agency in space. You are an established artist and over the years you have held lots of exhibitions, including your recent solos and , at , Toledo. Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers contemporary scene it has been a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ' ', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on in this field? There’s a status game called “1, 2, 3” that gets played in many clowning technique classes. If you are a 1, your job is to be in charge of 2. As a 2 you must please 1 and control 3. If you are a 3 you have no power, but also no rules. If you are in the role of 3 you are likely ready to subvert rules and create something new. Interdisciplinary art, and in particular technology, has empowered women with tools to subvert the status quo, which has historically been used to keep women artists locked into roles of subjugation by controlling whose voice gets heard. We have more tools then ever to create and disperse content and that content is a real form of power. The interdisciplinary field is particularly suited to subverting power and creating new formulas for the premise of how art is judged, both in material and content. I see women, in

particular people of color and queer voices, consistently using these tools in innovative ways, and emerging as dominant forces in contemporary art making. While I do not think that will change, we still need to advocate for continued access to these tools, so the work continues. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Erin. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently working on a collaboration project in Detroit, performing on a radio tower in harnesses with another aerialist and making video for that. I’m also working on a series of sculptures made from repurposed shoes. They are nice breaks from bigger production projects because the shoe has all this history from the body that wore it for me to react to. I started by building the shoes up with steel, but lately I have been cutting into some of them and reshaping, which has opened up a lot more ideas. I am also carving out some of my studio time to learn new software, which is time consuming but necessary. Thanks for talking with me, I appreciate your interest. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Ji Su Kang-Gatto Lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany For a time I thought that I could decide myself whether to do art or not. Then I realized that this wasn’t a matter of choice: expressing myself through art is essential to me. Through my work I speak, and I want to be heard and seen. "How to cook Janchi Guksu" is part of my art-project titled: "Identities and Recipes", which makes use of Youtube and exploits the phenomenon of the cooking-tutorial popularity. On the 15th of each month, I upload a new video-work on my Youtube- Channel "Identities and Recipes". The title: "How to cook/make…" reminds that of a common cooking tutorial though, at a first view, it is immediately clear that something different is displayed. This might irritate the viewer. Within the format of a cooking tutorial I explore my own identity. In my videos I also use sculptures, paintings and clothes that I have made as props. In this project a very private and intimate exploration of my own identity is made public. The videos „How to cook Kimchi Jjigae“, „How to make Chocolate Chapssal Theok“, „How to cook Janchi Guksu“, „How to make Tteokbokki“, „How to cook Doenjang Jjigae“, „How to cook Kong Guksu“, „How to cook Sujebi“, „How to cook Bulgogi“, „How to cook Red Bean Porridge“ and „How to cook Godeungeo Jorim“ have already been published. The videos „How to cook Samgyetang“ and „How to make Kimbap“ will be published in the next months, and other videos will follow. In total this project is carried out for two years.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

start this interview with a couple of questions about

and Dora S. Tennant

your background. You have a solid formal training

womencinemaker@berlin.com

and after your studies at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf you attended the Meisterschülerin of

Hello Su and welcome to : we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would

Lucy McKenzie: moreover, you are currently nurturing your education at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne: how did these experiences influenced your artistic evolution? Moreover, how does your


cultural substratum due to your Korean roots directs the trajectory of your artistic research? When I started art school in Düsseldorf I felt quite overwhelmed. I just graduated high school and didn’t have a clear idea about what I wanted. Back then I knew already that doing art was about myself, but the atmosphere of the art school intimidated me. Meeting Lucy as my teacher changed a lot. I felt estimated as an artist and got great support from her. After graduating at Kunstakademie Düsseldorf I did a project called White Lies. It was a series of photographs taken in Korean love-motels in 2016. During this project I have made short videos for the first time. They last only a few seconds showing myself lonely in a motel room. Back from Korea I realized that these videos worked really well. They caught a certain atmosphere exactly how I wanted. Furthermore I continued doing sculptures, paintings, photographs and clothes. But the work itself, even in a show where the works were displayed, did not totally satisfy me. While struggling with that discontent I thought about the fact that the green screen replaced a lot of props at the film set. It is not that I dislike visual effects, but I really appreciate the idea that real handcraft was needed to create a certain scenery. For my generation the digital feels natural as well as the analog. Probably because we know the analog world as children and grew up with the digital while getting grown-ups. I felt the need to give my works life and using them as props for my video works was the solution. I began to plan my currently ongoing project Identities and Recipes. I also took the opportunity to continue my postgraduate studies at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. I have started to focus on video art only after graduating at the

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, so it will be a good support to be accompanied by a media art school while realizing Identities and Recipes. My cultural background is the reason and breeding ground for my work. Art needs to be authentic. So it is a logical conclusion that my work is about myself. Besides that, I need to express myself through art. I would get sick if I couldn’t. Doing art is a never ending search for identity. I was born in the capital of Southkorea, Seoul, my parents decided to move to Germany to study German Literature and Social Science when I was two years old. We were quite poor, but I can not really remember missing something materialistic. While growing up in a small city like Osnabrück nothing really spectacular happened. A lot changed when my mother finished studying and moved back to Korea with my nine years younger sister. At the same time my father died of cancer and I was left alone in Germany to finish the last two years of high school. Suddenly, I was separated from my family at the age of sixteen. The big age-gap between my sister and me, and the circumstances in our lives, made us to have two di erent mother tongues. While my mother tongue is German, that of my sister is Korean. Although I have a slight foreign accent, my spoken Korean is quite good but I still make some writing mistakes. On the other hand, my sister understands German a bit but does not speak it anymore, even if she was born in Osnabrück and spoke fluently German until the age of seven. This is exemplary of how I feel, not only in my own family, but also within Korean society: there is a strong connection, a lot of misunderstandings but also comprehension. It is a love-hate relationship. While being in Korea, I always feel alien even if I fit with my appearance to the other Koreans. As a contrast, German society is to me so familiar that it shocks me every time somebody emphasize my


being a potential outsider. I feel nowhere home. Maybe I would feel even more comfortable in a city which is neither German or Korean. Those emotions I try to process in my work.

the viewers with a multilayered visual experience. When walking our readers through the genesis of this project would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea for this series?

For this special edition of we have selected , 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 concept of identity is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with allegorical qualities capable of providing

Food is such an important part of our life. We wouldn't survive without it. So, food is something essential on the one hand, but on the other it is much more than just something to stop our hunger. Food is very much about identity. Depending on its origin, a certain dish discloses a lot about the culture and the environment of the people who invented it.


When I was already an adult I realized that my food has always been Korean. I am so used to German culture and language but I still do not know very well what type of dish is very typical for a German family on a Sunday evening, for example. I have never experienced it. Also my family had breakfast with bread, and every Saturday morning my father used to buy BrĂśtchen, but for lunch and evening we always had a Korean meal. Rice and Kimchi were obligatory to have in our kitchen. My experience with German food comes mainly from the student canteen where my parents used to take me sometimes. My door to Korean culture has been food. While I wanted to make an artwork about food, I had to think that I learned the preparation of all the

dishes I can cook from the Internet. It is not only about cooking: If I need a certain skill, I type what I need on Youtube and find somebody showing me very detailed how to do what I want to learn. As Youtube is nowadays commonly used for entertainment, tutorials, music and private videos, it is not easy to find artworks on it. I want to use Youtube to show a wide audience my work. My short videos appear like common cooking tutorials, but turn out quickly as something else. For two years I am publishing on my Youtube- Account Identities and Recipes on every 15th of the month a new video work with the title How to cook/make (‌). Antithetically to the title and what the


Women Cinemakers viewer will aspect, a very private and intimate exploration of my own identity is made public. We really appreciate the way you explore the expressive potential of a wide variety of materials, and as you have remarked in your artist's statement, sculptures, clothes and other props are artworks themselves: German art critic and historian Michael Fried once stated that "materials do not represent, signify, or allude to anything; they are what they are and nothing more." What are the properties that you search for in the materials that you include in your works? Some of the props for Identities and Recipes were made before I even had the idea for my current project. The pigeon with the cigarette stub, which is shown in How to cook Janchi Guksu for a example, was a part of an installation I did for my graduation at the Kunstakademie 2013. The dress I am wearing in the same video, on the other hand, is made for this occasion. I have never seen myself as a painter, sculptor or a designer. I always have an idea first, and then I decide how to implement this idea and through which media. So it comes naturally that the result is a wide variety of materials. I think that, if I declare a work of mine as finished, and this work is given out of my hands, I have no influence on this work anymore. If I upload my video works on Youtube, they can theoretically be seen from everybody on the world who has an internet connection. I am not empowered to influence the viewers feelings towards my work. The artwork stands for itself. While this process with a digital work feels releasing, I always felt not truly

satisfied after realizing a sculpture or another object. I want to give them a function. To use old works of mine is like blowing them new wind of life. I also really like the idea of making connections through my own works. In Identities and Recipes old and new materials create new videos. I can totally imagine to continue this process and to use the videos for Identities and Recipes as well for a work in the future. While in my videos themselves silence and repetition are very important, I do not want my work to stagnate. In How to cook Janchi Guksu you sapiently mixed realism of gestures with a subtle surreal quality of the ambience, that speaks of tension and loneliness and that reflects your very personal process: how important was for you to make a personal film, about a theme that you know a lot about? Moreover, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? I cannot really imagine to make a work which is not about me. It sounds more egocentric than it actually is: I am a young Korean-German woman. I have something to say and I think it is important to be heard. So what I am trying to do is to give the audience a view of the world I have created. I am the only actress in my video works too, because it is actually about me. There are a lot of movies with a protagonist who actually resembles the director but in a more handsome version. I do not feel the need for that. I am not a trained actress but it is the most honest way to play myself. But actually I feel quite vulnerable to make


Women Cinemakers

my inner feelings public. Not only in my videos where I am shown as a person. Also the cat sculptures with plastic bags inside are „me“. Showing my work to the public in general always feels like a knife making a cut through my stomach. I literally show this in the video How to cook Samgyetang. While doing research for Identities and Recipes I realized that also the cooking scene is male dominated. The most of us have their mother in mind when it comes to the person standing in the kitchen. Especially in Korea the roles are clear. The woman does the household and the man earns the money. Nowadays it got normal that women work too. But now the modern woman has to work twice. The household is still her job. In case the man does also some housework it is seen as helping the woman. When it comes to high class cuisine it is usually the male who is the leader of a star restaurant. It is hard for women to make career even in their „own“ field. Cooking TV shows are very popular. Depending on the format there is a highly dominated female or male rate. A show inviting professional chefs is full of male guests. A contest between amateurs is dominated by housewives. When I started art school in Düsseldorf I felt the same inequality. In childhood painting and doing something creative was seen as something for girls. When I specialized on the art sector at high school I had a class of around 25 students. Three of them were boys while the other were all girls. The turn came at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. It was easier for the boys to be taken seriously. As more professional my interest in art got I felt the disadvantage of being female. I truly felt like trying to survive in a rough men dominated place. So meeting Lucy was


Women Cinemakers

very refreshing and I felt lucky to study in her class until I graduated . My work is relatively simple to understand if you know my background well. My personal experiences influence my work directly. Doing art is not a „nine to five“ office job. I always work for my art in some way and life circumstances effect my work, sometimes unconsciously. For example, I shot the first time outdoor for How to make Gimbap. I wanted a place neither Korean or German. I have chosen a spot at Monte Grappa, in the Italian pre-Alps, which I know through my boyfriend. The spot can be identified maybe as a European scenery, but it is clear that it is not located in Germany. In the last years Italian culture influenced me a lot through my boyfriend. Before knowing Federico I felt fallen between two stools, dragged by two completely different cultures. The addition to get to know the Italian culture in a very intense way made me think wider. It also helped me accepting the hybrid and contradictory human being that I am. How to cook Janchi Guksu is rich of symbols that urge the viewers to interpret them. Austrian historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the audience to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? When my work once leaves my hands I do not have the control over it anymore. Just like Umberto Eco, I also believe that "..an object is endowed with structural properties that renders


A still from


Women Cinemakers possible a number of successive interpretations, a series of evolving perspectives, but that also enable us to coordinate such a series."

society and culture influence your work? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment?

My work comes from me and I would like the viewer to feel the way I have drafted it. But, at the end, it is the power of the work itself and the viewers mind that determines how the work is understood, not only in a psychological way. Once leaving my hands the work can be destroyed or reproduced. In a digital world it is even easier to manipulate an artwork if someone wants. So, I can totally understand that a lot of video artists are quite careful to present their work outside common art spaces which are better protected. Not only the protection, also the meaning of the content can be in danger.

As I described before I feel very alien in Korea. My family circumstances contribute to it. I know Korean society and culture only from the viewpoint of a Korean who grew up in Germany. After graduating art school in Düsseldorf I have planned to live for awhile in Korea.

In my case, I like to play with this condition. Outside of a safety-zone, like a film festival or a white cube, so as in a platform like YouTube, my videos work di erently. In the best case, I would like the viewer to get the first time in touch with my videos on my Youtube-Account accidentally maybe on a small mobile screen. Probably the expectations were different when clicking on the video. Hopefully, I can trigger irritation and curiosity in the viewer. My wish would be that, after this first experience, the same viewer would see my work at a show on a big screen. I am sure the feelings towards the same work will be di  erent. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "

": How does Korean

Though, I have never lived in Korea longer than a few months. I still have never experienced a Korean spring. Mainly, I visit Korea during summer to see my family. Once, when I was younger, I have spent an entire autumn and winter. In addition to it, I lived apart from my family since a quite young age. I wished to catch up the family time I have missed and to experience Korean society and culture better. I had a one-way ticket and the intention to stay as long as I wanted. I even considered to change my residency completely to Korea. Eventually I realized that I couldn’t stay longer than a few months. In other words, it revealed impossible for me to live in Korea and to catch up the time I missed in my childhood now, as an adult. Of course it was impossible and the cultural gap between my family members and me felt very deep at that time. After a time, I felt like I could not breathe properly. I still have this feeling when I am in Korea, even if it is only for a visit. Maybe, I feel like this because it is mainly summer time and very hot when I am there. But also the immensely fast lifestyle of the Koreans and the big pressure in society could be a reason for my breathlessness. On the one hand, Korean society is a lot


Women Cinemakers about pride, success and judgement, while on the other hand, another characteristic of this society is jeong: a word which, although it is impossible to translate exactly, expresses the warmth of Korean people. Another feature of Korean culture is food. It is so much about food in Korea. It happens quite often that the first question somebody asks you is if you have eaten. This instead of asking how you are doing. Anyway, one day I would like to try again to live for a longer time in Korea. Germany, compared to Korea, is a more familiar environment to me. Differently to the Koreans who grew up in Korea and came to Germany to study or work, I never had an active confrontation with German culture. German is the language through which I can express myself at the best. I grew up reading Michael Ende and Erich Kästner as a small girl. In school, I learned about the history of Germany. I am very aware of German identity. I feel like Germany is my natural place to stay. Yet, although I feel completely integrated in this society, there are situations in which Germans give me the feeling of being an eternal outsider in this country, only because of my look. Of course these people are ignorant and in my near surrounding there is no racism. But in general, racism is tragically present, and this makes me feel to be never a true part of German society. While the conflict with Korean culture is very loud and ambivalent, the dispute with German culture is silent and passive. These conditions make me feel alien in both countries. Therefore, it is so refreshing to be in Italy. In Italy I am what I am: a foreigner who is getting to know the country. I am a very ambivalent human being and so is my work.


Women Cinemakers Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? The physical act of creating my artworks is not that important to me as it may appears. For sure I like the idea of handcraft, and this is why I use my artworks as props, or create specifically artworks to be props. A film which contains physical sets and real props has always a di erent charm compared to a work which is only digital. In my case, I like to combine both. Indeed, I permit that during the creation process of a work something can mutate its shape, but in general I know in detail how I want the result to be. There are some steps which I need the total control over. The origin and the final look of my artworks has to come out of my hands. The middle part of making, depending on the physical object I intend to create, can be taken over by somebody else, but following my instructions precisely. This applies to works as sculptures, paintings and clothes. Different goes for video works. It is possible to shoot by myself, but with somebody helping it is much easier. This does not apply to editing. The editing process has to be done completely by myself. Even little decisions can change too much of the work, and thus I cannot let somebody else edit for me, even if I give precise instructions.


Women Cinemakers In general, I put as much time and e ort in a work as needed. For one work it might take a very long time, for another less. Quite often I am working on several videos at the same time, because I have works at di  erent stages. At the moment I am doing the editing for one video, I am creating the paintings and the clothes for another, and I am recording the audio tracks for another one. I do not want to employ to a work more time than what is actually needed. Excessive diligence doesn’t make an artwork better. I want to interact with the audience and not to impress it. Marina Abramovic once remarked the importance of not just making work but ensuring that it’s seen in the right place by the right people at the right time: how is in your opinion online technopshere affecting the consumption of art by the audience? Do you think that today is easier to speak to a particular niche of viewers or that online technology will allow artist to extend to a broader number of viewers the interest towards a particular theme? It became very easy to get access to art, movies and music through the internet. But the internet is not precise, and it is often random and unselective. The same sculpture or painting will always work better in the original than in a reproduction online. Speaking in terms of films it means that the vision is of a much better quality in a cinema. It is not only the hightechnology which makes the quality of the screen and the audio better. The whole atmosphere of a cinema creates

the background to concentrate on a specific movie. When you enter the cinema, the smell of popcorn, the compressed sounds, all the environment prepares your mind for the movie. When you take a seat the hall is made smoothly dark and everything else is forgotten except the film. In a well made exhibition the curating has a big influence on the viewer. It can be a clear hanging that makes the artwork in the best conditions to appear to the viewer, or a specific curating, which makes the viewer feel in a certain way towards a work. Above all, the perception of an artwork depends very much on how distraction is given. The reason why I do not appreciate exhibition openings is that it is not possible to concentrate on the work. Social interactions are in the foreground rather than the work. The presence of too many people can destroy a show or a cinema visit. While watching online, most of the people are alone. But even in privacy, there might still be too much distraction to focus on the work. The majority of people give themselves too less time to enjoy artworks. The internets value is its velocity. Maybe it is easier to get a broader number of viewers through this media, but at the same time the artist has less influence on how the viewer will absorb the work. I chose Youtube, knowing exactly how this portal is used. I am playing with the fact that the minority of viewers will expect video art on Youtube, especially with the cooking-tutorial-titles I am giving to my works. If the artist has a sure understanding of how


Women Cinemakers artworks online are perceived, the internet can be used as a playground. We have really 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 '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? Well, I hope in the future women will be taken more seriously not only as artists. My wish, is that it will be natural to have women and men with different backgrounds in positions that are not dominated by one gender, also in any other field. But this will take a very long time. When I was younger, I self-questioned myself much more than I do now. I try not to care about opinions and circumstances which distract me to keep going with my work. Every artist, a female artist even more, needs to be very stubborn to survive. I have started questioning myself about having children. I have never had the wish to have a child until now, but at my age I know there is a limited time window for women to have a child. I am absolutely sure about the fact that my life would completely change with a child. I can not tell in what kind of way, but for sure, with a child my artistic life would be much different than now. I am too much afraid to loose my life as an artist. Art is nothing you can stop for awhile and continue when you want to.


Women Cinemakers When I think about this problem I think in a quite abstract way. I do not feel very emotional, so I think it is not the time for me to have a child at the moment. But I am worried that this state will keep going until it is too late to have a child even if I want to in a later time. I don’t think that male artists have this issue. For sure a child changes every parents‘ life but it doesn’t affect a male artists career as it does for a female artist. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Su. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I want to keep going with video works and using other artworks as props. After finishing and publishing 24 videos on Youtube for my ongoing project I want to use all these short videos to make a long film with the same title Identities an Recipes that I used for the project. It will be more than a summarization: It will be a self-reflection on what I have done in the past two years. With this long film I want to finish Identities and Recipes and then start a new project. I have sketchy ideas about some kind of „fake documentaries“ still using an Internet platform. Definitely, I will still digest my own identity in my work and let you participate in this process. I thank you for your honest interest in my work. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Lynn Book As a transmedia artist, I delve into questions and experiences of bodies in order to explore the nexus between power, vulnerability and the world. I move across disciplines and cultural spheres to make performances, exhibition, text and media works and public projects. In general, I am concerned with the transformative potentials between people, practice and place. This is to say, I want to liberate desiring bodies to reimagine ways of living together – physically, socially, poetically, politically, planetarily. Over the last 40 years, I have built expertise in the visual arts, contemporary dance, new music and sound and media arts, as well as ancient and adventurous body practices. In my studio process, I instigate a weave of finely tuned, affective research and development threads informed by contemporary theory, including critical feminisms and performance studies, among others. My projects take shape in city sites and galleries, in clubs, fields, online and in concert halls with a range of collaborators including architects, a whole village and an opera company. Historically, and as a fundamental motive, I’ve confounded boundaries between disciplines, genres, forms and structures, just as I interrogate the un/boundedness of bodies. For the last several years I’ve been making a long-term transmedia project called UnReading for Future Bodies, anchored by a suite of videos that have been shown in festivals, at conferences, within performance contexts as well as online. Derangements – a monster study, which has been chosen by Women Cinemakers, is from this project. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Hello Lynn and welcome to WomenCinemakers: your

practice is marked out with such captivating eclecticism, traversing the boundaries between performance art, dance, theater, writing and new music forms. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would like to invite


Lynn Nook photo by Michael Hicks


our readers to visit www.lynnbook.com and www.vimeo.com/lynnbook in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production. In the meanwhile, would you tell us how you came to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your 35 year history of interdisciplinary artistic practice direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Thank you for including me, a relative ‘outsider’, as I am not a filmmaker per say. However, I’ve returned to making video art these past several years as a core part of my artistic practice. I think of my work as more syncretic, than eclectic – a binding and weaving of modes of production appropriate to the concepts I want to develop. I would say that the marrow of the work is the body; not only my fleshly one, but also my voicing body. I have an abiding interest in the cultural construction of bodies, including social, political, spatial and indeterminate coalescences that we don’t necessarily think of as Body. I’m very interested in contemporary scientific research concerning the “human” microbiome which demonstrates that there are trillions of cells that are on, in and around our bodies that are not human. This kind of idea lodges in my consciousness, performing symbiotic relations between ideas and practices about what it means to be a Body in the broadest sense of the word. So the trajectory of my life as an artist necessarily engages my very physicality that began with an early involvement with modern dance that then migrated to bodybased performance art within a visual arts setting. These expansive explorations included early experiments with video, film and other media. In graduate school at the

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Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers School of the Art Institute of Chicago, studying feminist and critical theory led to an activation of my voice as an extension of bodied existence and as a poetic-political tool. Language play through creative writing became entwined with my new music and sound art experiments, and so on. It was really a matter of I/my body being the site of inquiry and experimentation; the push across different disciplinary and cultural boundaries is an essential part of a delimited practice. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Derangements - a monster study, an extremely interesting experimental short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/156461926. When walking our readers through the genesis of Derangements - a monster study, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Derangements – a monster study is part of a larger transmedia project that I’ve been working on since 2012 called Unreading for Future Bodies, a suite of video works that, at the meta level are concerned with reading, reception and knowledge making as performative acts. I’m interested in challenging and reworking the book form itself in a highly mediated cultural regime, magnified by a super-saturated technological one. Escapes is the first video, framed as a ‘book of poems’, and can be viewed interactively by clicking on individual poems in any order, or watching the full piece chronologically online at: https://vimeo.com/lynnbook. This is where I got interested in ancient narratives from Greece and the Mediterraneo. Here the Phaedra figure is a


sign of infinite escape, not a woman fated to die. In Derangements – a monster study, I’m tracking the Chimera figure, an impossible ‘she-monster’ whose multiplicitous, ever shifting body/ies becomes our guide. The expedition is the organizing principle that drives the explorer to unknown places to experience, study and propose theories about what is found there. I’m currently creating an archive of my work over the past 40 years (my first video document is of a performance event in 1979). This is also a kind of expedition. As I am looking back at materials from the process of making a

performance project titled, Gorgeous Fever, about women, madness and power, I am finding what I think are my first notes on the Chimera. That’s 25 years ago; so you can see how my interest in bodies and their reinvention is central to my guiding principles. We have appreciated the way you have imbued your short film with such a poetic quality, capable of establishing emotional involvement in the viewers. What were your aesthetic decisions when shooting and what did you aim at triggering in the spectators?


I am glad for your interest in the aesthetic ethos of the work. I remember making an early performance that involved projected still images at Chicago Filmmakers and having someone tell me that my work was cinematic. I think that is due, in part, to my interest in the image as a reverberant site for abstract interpretation. I also understand images to be vectors for reading culture, and as an artist who performs her body, I am keenly aware of not only being ‘seen’, but being ‘read’. And because my body is a highly sensitized medium I am attuned to how I project

subtlety as well as power. Meaning gets carried along from image, to action, to word, to sound and so on – it’s fluid as much as it’s fixed. Or at least that’s what I have come to insist on in my work. In this video, I love the intersectional ‘stage’ of the screen, where image/text/sound, etc. converge and force new ways of reading, of interpreting, of knowledge making. This confusion of signs asks that the viewer must feel (and hopefully question) their own sensing bodies so that at a cellular level they understand that they, too, are becoming Chimera; they, too, are monsters, being


monstered… In terms of all this being in my purview when shooting occurs, well, no and also yes. I believe in a kind of live composing, and trust that. Clearly this is connected to my performance practice, which, from dance to new music, has privileged improvisation as an essential method for locating organizing principles. It’s important for unearthing that which cannot be articulated through language, cannot be touched by the rational mind. That said, I always have a kind of map, a body of knowledge derived from material and theoretical research, writing and strategic planning. In this particular shoot, the camera people, costume and make-up artist, grip and sound recordist were also spectating, so my performance reflects that condition of acute and unexpected intensities that arise from a more open ended framework in the dark, timeless box of a production studio. Centered on the Chimera figure, Derangements - a monster study draws the viewers to explore the ever blurring boundaries between ancient myths to concepts of hybridity that marks our ever changing contemporary age: how do you consider the relationship between ancient cultural heritage and contemporariness? Somehow, it seems to me that books, knowledge – how we come to know – is at the heart of this question. Ancient, and in this case, Greek, but also other more remote cultures of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East gave birth to contemporary narratives, paradigms, etc. The more easily transmitted bits, or what suits the ruling elite, are embedded in the power structures of today’s world, and that in turn dwells in the innermost parts of us. We, each of us, enact or react to these layers of, as you say, ‘cultural heritage’, but that sounds too nice for my meaning. Blurred boundaries, while at first appear to be

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Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

a confusing state of affairs, are in fact, the antidote to this ‘inheritance’ that wants to streamline, reduce, and otherwise make individuals, bodies into a data point. Hybridity is an entangled condition of being ‘many-bodied’, therefore resistive to the crush of increasing technologization of life. This impossible, but very real problem of bodies that don’t neatly accord with norms, is a kind of dangerous freedom. Derangements - a monster study deviates from traditional filmmaking technique and seems to aim at developing the expressive potential of the images and the symbols that you included in your work: how much importance do you place on symbolically charged images in your work? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between poetry and your filmmaking practice? Great question as we often have only the map that we know how to read to venture into new terrain. My reference points have been located in contemporary dance (bodies mapping space), the visual arts, including video (I got my hands on my first black and white surveillance cam in 1979), and by extension, dramatic image, performative gesture (it should be noted that I never formally studied theatre). It can definitely be said that I’m a deviant, but without the assumption that I’m deviating from the (central) concern of filmmaking, in this case. I will say that film theory was really informative early on when my work was gaining heft through studying critical French feminisms, psychoanalysis, semiotics, the Frankfurt School, etc. I was interested less in technique and more about experimentation of forms through timebased media as it intersected with performance. Just as,


much, I was interested in the overall condition of spectatorship and the constructing of bodies, consciousness, and so on. I use symbolically charged images (often enacted by me and having cultural, social and political dimensions) as arrows that point to structures of signification to be felt, deciphered, and reflected upon by the audience-viewer. Poetic treatments of language, that I’ve used in performance and now as a central thesis of the Unreading series, dissociates meaning from norms, including personal habits, as well as social standards. The intersection of poetic language with culturally resonant images invites the audience-viewer to be a more acute participant in their own interpretative and transformative potential. Derangements – a monster study points to the chimera and also splinters the idea of it as a fixed thing, or artifact from some ancient civilization. After all, this ‘shemonster’ was already an entanglement of earlier, preliterate stories, fears and beliefs before the Greeks gave ‘her’ an ancestral family tree – hierarchical, patrilineal, yet inscribed as heretical. In the English language, we have the word chimerical, which can mean improbable, “given to fantastic schemes”. We have particularly appreciated the way Derangements - a monster study highlights the ubiquitous interstitial points and mutual influences between human interaction with nature: how do you consider the role of direct experience as starting point for your artistic research? In particular, how do the details that you capture during daily life fuel your artistic research?

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


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Women Cinemakers The chimera figure is a kind of transmogrification of ‘nature’, which was seen as a threat, something to be tamed, named and otherwise contained by patriarchal forces. To become powerful is to control – land, animals, other people, etc. To name that which always escapes control – wild animals, fire, sexual desire, etc. – is to exert some kind of dominion over it, or at least the appearance of it. S/he/it is the epitome of restlessness, of threat, because Chimaera is elusive, unstable, nomadic. These kinds of ideas arise from a practice led research mode that is radial or rhizomatic, in structure, and admits an array of forms and approaches. I read theory and poetry, investigate new scientific findings, keep an audio journal, do a lot of writing, and shoot from the hip. Derangements (the full work to be completed in 2019), has probably more than 200 hours of footage from studio grade cameras to iPads, digital still and cell phone cameras. It has at least 50 hours of audio recording, more than 500 still photos, a collection of drawings, and close to a 1000 pieces of text. A key phase of development for this project occurred in 2014, on coastal Turkey, in proximity to ‘Mt. Chimera’, or as the Turks call it ‘Yanartas’, meaning flaming rock. Chimera’s point of origin is contested for many reasons (and this is also what makes the subject so interesting). S/he/it is a sign of change – deep, elemental, bodily metamorphosis. I knew that I must conduct an expedition to this fire breathing mountain that became a monster in early myth. And so I did, spending 20 days there conducting research, shooting, writing and creating an exhibition in the delirium of summer’s heat. While this wasn’t a starting point (where is that, anyway?), it was momentous for the project’s development. Actually, the footage used in Derangements – a monster study was shot first, in the artificiality of a production studio (which is also apropos), at the university where I teach in North Carolina.


Almost a year later, I’m in Berlin (where I have taught many workshops in the summer), then coastal Turkey. Within 5 months, I’m in Istanbul, investigating the politics of space and cultural consumption, which I considered part of the network of relations between the many-branched (many-bodied?) streams of my working practice. My task is always to make another body of my work, a work-body that breathes, that has traveled afar, that has news to show and tell when it returns. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the minimalistic and refined soundtrack that you created with Shawn Decker provides the footage of Derangements - a monster study with such an ethereal atmosphere and as well as the way you have sapiently structured the combination between performance gestures and sound: how do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? Sound has always played an important role back to my earliest multimedia performance projects. Since the early 90s, a significant stream of my artistic activity has occurred within contemporary new music settings that lean towards experimental, free jazz, sound art. In Berlin, for instance, I’ve performed most recently at an underground noise space in Neukolln and a couple of years ago at an international jazz and improvised music festival in Austria. Here my performance orientation focuses on the work I do as an extended vocal artist using electronics and sound or Foley effects, often in duo collaborations. I’ve made a few audio recordings and of note for Women Cinemakers, I co-produced a recording of adventurous women composers called the dice project. The first video in the Unreading series, Escapes, in fact, emerged

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers out of one of these collaborations with Shawn Decker, a Chicago based sound artist. The Phaedra Escapes was the title of the duo concert he and I performed in Chicago, Vienna and Slovakia. I was invited to create an online work of some sort from that project, so I decided to extract what I considered to be ‘sound poems’ from the live concert recordings. That became the basis from which I developed the image and text material from – sound was first. By the way, my interest in the Phaedra figure had its origins in a project called Froth that I was commissioned to create with a small opera company in New York City concerning a French Baroque opera by Rameau. This is where I found Phaedra, who I thought of as the negative sun in the dark heart of the gorgeous music of Hippolyte et Aricie. Eventually it transformed into a multimedia concert project with video projections with 3 other women, including my long term Viennese collaborator, Katharina Klement. Sorry, I love the title, so I will mention that, too – HOLE: in search of opera without Opera. So you can see the overlaps and expansiveness of my interests in sound and performance, moving image, text, etc. For Derangements, the full project, sound will come in at a later stage (unlike Escapes where the sound led the making of the video). In this way, Derangements is more typical of a film, with a ‘soundtrack’ added, although source sound, my performative sound and text, etc. will be maintained for the most part. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in dance, how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the concepts you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your practice?


I would say that I have a deep involvement with bodies, with lived experience as physicality, consciousness and transformation. Dance was a starting point when I was a young student that enabled me to contact what I called ‘the power of the physical’. Over the years I interrogated concepts of Body as theorized in feminist theory, phenomenology, and ideas of the trans or post human. Since Richter is a visual artist, he would privilege seeing first. I get a curious feeling that he’s a bit disturbed by ‘physical acts’ that are ‘unavoidable’, as if to say he prefers the distance (and therefore control) that sight allows over the immediacy and unpredictability of bodies. He does, however like to keep the ‘hand in’ his works; and figures do appear, their bodies or faces smeared across the canvas. It seems I am attracted to both intensive, fleshly presence, as well as the abstract, but very real conditions that attempt to locate and capture the ultimate moving image – the body (that) is seen. And who can’t help un-see other bodies, when we find it so difficult to ‘see’ our own, except in partial, fragmented and mediated ways? Something else about bodies that I’m thinking of in this moment is the French idea of longue duree. The Body also has a deep history on the planet with layers of structures and forces that intersect and morph. Maybe I’m trying to create a continuum for imagining this transience and depth simultaneously through my performing body, my becoming Chimera in Derangements – a monster study. We have appreciated the originality of your approach 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

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers 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? It’s very important to speculate about this, because in doing so, we bring an unwritten, unseen future into view. I would call this a speculative practice that imagines women artists making ‘uncommon’ creative works in inventive ways. It’s just as important to create the critical visions that guide the structures for women and all Others to venture into radically unconventional territory. Interdisciplinarity is more bridge than field, I think. The view begins by stepping out of specificity and technological prowess and into less familiar artistic areas with open curiosity. Disciplinary paradigms, knowledge and craft are important, but I think they limit creative, transformative potentials in all kinds of ways, by their canonical weight and intractable architectures. The world is alive, culture is mobile and who knows change more than women – the ones who often are the first (and last) to navigate life passages. Some might call this improvisation – or revolution. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Lynn. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? The Unreading for Future Bodies series that includes Derangements – a monster study will have a third work. For the moment, I have titled it Fragmenta and it will weave


together multiple voices of women and girls from across time and culture whose desire for knowledge transcends the risks in obtaining it. Guest filmmakers and video artists will contribute material to a syncretic network structure that becomes archive, repertoire and possibility. I think it’s especially resonant today, both in collaborative focus and participatory structure. Maybe we can work on this together! I also really want to make a new audio recording that circulates as that – probably a CD, but will also have a web presence. One thought is to actually take the occasion of making sound for Derangements as a springboard for that. Finally, I’m in the process of creating an archive of my creative works over the last 40 years with the support of my university and incredible former students interested in aggregating experimental work like mine to create an online presence for interactive access with my artistic, as well as teaching work. It’s super exciting to see the digitization and preservation of works - over 300 video and film objects, audio and a host of process artifacts that include sketchbooks, journals, performance texts, photographs, and more. It’s so fascinating and deeply fulfilling to see the entwinement of roots with desires growing – and deranging – the current works. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Andrea Hackl Lives and is based in Amsterdam / Holland & Austria Most of all, my work is a celebration of and driven by my hunger and zest for life. This is my political action. To share a passion for life, to hopefully trigger a life force, wonder and hunger for life in others. Whichever subject I might should choose to talk about, on the one side, I am driven by my believe in the communication through body and its physicality. – the immediacy of our presence as performer and the knowing that everything that lives within us speaks. I feel passionate about the poetry of movement and dance. The power of a kinetic force and the ability to talk on a level that reaches beyond the rational, readily defined. On the other side, I love visual composition and to design space, to let a performance space become a sensorial universe – be it in a black box or alternative space, at times using video or, generally, designing with light.My wish is to create performances in which action is informed, driven by a certain necessity and urgency; I believe that movement – in/from whichever language – should be informed by and born out of something that we wish to express. Performances are like a journey we go on and invite an audience to come along onto.I believe that on this journey magic can happen – magic that has the power to bring empowerment, beauty, transformation into this life. These last years, processes of Life and Death, life cycles, the theme of Rite of Passage and Catharsis…. aspects around human behaviour as well as stories and mythology as archetypal expression of our psychology have been thematically and as inspiration central to my work. We are living in, what seems to be, the most crucial times of human history on this planet. We are standing at cross-roads. We are facing complex challenges that ask for new ways of perceiving and living life – an eclectic fusion of ancient wisdom and the wonderful achievements of nowadays society. Most of all those challenges demand to a new openness, to step beyond stereotypes and status-quo. Those challenges call for transformation of how we perceive our individual role as well as ourselves as part of the organism of this world and society. I believe, transformation can happen, if we empower one another and learn to act from Vision. As artists we have the power, if not responsibility, to question the status-quo, to give visibility to issues, to create shifts of perception and to inspire reflection and dialogue. I am inspired by cross-pollination and creative interdisciplinary work, by seeing different fields nurture one another; seeing how science and art, working together, have the power to create wonder, to find and inspire new ways. We can create change and transformation, if we reach, touch and move others; if we create inspiration & wonder.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

we would like to introduce you to our readers

and Dora S. Tennant

with a couple of questions regarding your

womencinemaker@berlin.com

background. You have a solid formal training and

Hello Andrea and welcome to

:

you studied at the prestigious ArtEZ Dance


Wild Horse Run, performance photo: Sjoerd Derine


Women Cinemakers Academy: how did these experiences inform your current practice? Hello! Thank you very much for inviting me and your interest in my work. As I see it, any education gives you a base to start from, to take flight from. Of course, my education as well as any following artistic and professional experience that has come since then have influenced my perception of art and, equally, my film / choreographic work, my performance my artistic practice – people I've worked with or who's work I got to know about; films and performances, installation work I've seen; It has all been and is part of an ongoing forming, evolving process.... What I can definitely say: Also in my visual / film work, body and communication through body, its presence, the kinetic and sensorial are quite important and that has definitely been supported by my education. So that has been a major influence that has stayed with me. My studies have been part of developing that aspect of my work and exploration. After that many projects and as well the work of other artists have influenced my perception and work. To give one example: One artist who's work has come to my attention in recent years and has given me much inspiration is the work of the finish artist Elina Brotherus. She works with photography and, equally, with the medium of video. One series of her work is inspired by fine arts and, in a way, as I experience it, it has an almost performative quality to it. I appreciate how well


Tales in Black and White - video still installation produced at CIDADELA | CASCAIS ART DISTRICT, Cascais, Portugal


Tales in Black and White, installation


Women Cinemakers composed her work is. Further, having studied fine arts, various painters and visual artists have given me inspiration as well. I love strong contrast and to work with light. In a way, Rodin, Caravaggio as well as Rodin are an inspiration as well. I was very lucky to have had two wonderful art professors in high school that really supported me, my exploration and my dreams. Your practice is marked out with such captivating eclecticism and we have really appreciated the way your approach combines a variety of features from different art disciplines, including choreography, dance and video art, with such consistent aesthetics. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit https://andreahackl.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: in the meanwhile, would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? What to say? I love complex and multi-layered work. It corresponds with how my brain works. I love the “challenge” of composing a complex, rich work. Normally, once hooked on a subject that I work with, there are millions of associations coming to my mind – and I see them visually as well as physically. I see them in the lighting. I see them iconographically as well as in an abstract way – when choreographing I often feel, I create “physical metaphors” for something. I read a lot and I get


back-wash, dance film produced @ Malakta Art Factory, Finland, 2015


back-wash, dance film

inspired by music. I simply love exploration and the alchemy of different disciplines, as well how they can produce a multi-dimensional, immersive work together, a unique universe. I love the physical kinetic, i love the visual aspect of artist work, light and contrast is extremely important to me, I love to compose in a very visual way. I love music and also to work with live music. - one way in which I also love to present my installation work is

with live music as live cinema. An interest would be how to make this more and more alive. For my “inner child� I love when I have the opportunity to create installation performances. It's so rich. it's like setting up a playground of my own or of all the performers involved that we can invite others to and take them along with us on a trip somehow. There's something that stays fresh and exciting about this.


back-wash, dance film

An artist and film maker who I had the pleasure to collaborate with and that i respect very much is Jukka Rajala- Granstubb. He's said something that is very beautiful: “If feature film is the prose, dance films are the poetry.” (He might have formulated it slightly differently but that was the thought...) I love this. Dance is poetry as well, within / through the body, through life energy. The same counts for music. I love the poetic. And though I love the research aspect of a

new work and believe that work has to be informed by some “thought”, something that wants to speak or that we want to share, the rational consideration is a starting base and I love to reach and enter a realm where things aren't readily defined. Reaching there through the alchemy of different disciplines, is one very rich way. For this special edition of have selected

we ,


Women Cinemakers an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. We have deeply appreciated the urges the way audience to develop personal narrative: as a multidisciplinary artist whose practice is deeply concerned with the relationship between the power and poetry of dance in its physicality, how do you consider the relationship between perceptual reality and the realm of imagination ? Moreover, how important is it for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? Let me start with one thought: I do believe that us human beings, our brains making up stories and producing associations is more like an unstoppable process, rather then something that I would need to initiate. As maker / artist – the one who composes a work and uses a certain style / certain parameters - the one thing I can consider, if I should wish to do so, is how I guide that stream of thoughts, associations into a certain place, direction - how to create / compose a certain work in such a way so that for the majority of people it might communicate a certain idea. Those considerations have a lot to do with psychology and also understanding which things might be collective, how my work is embedded in a social, cultural environment and context, what might even have an archetypal impact.


back-wash, dance film


Women Cinemakers If I want to speak about a certain subject it is naturally part of my work as maker to consider this. I'd say, perceptual reality and imagination go hand in hand; they are very closely linked. Any reality is perceptual and to some degree that “dream” we move in, it's collective. Everyone of us, to a smaller or bigger extent, we all perceive the world around us, our reality, through our perspective and filters. To some degree they are individual, to a certain degree collective. Psychology always having interested me, it does definitely interest me to explore which aspects might be “collective” / “human', even archetypal and which are more individual, related to a certain society / culture, our own personal history. This also interests me in regard to processes and things happening in society. communicates sense of freedom and at the same time reflects a conscious shift regarding your performative gestures: how would you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a performance and the need of spontaneity ? How much importance does play improvisation in your practice? Any good work, I dare say, is a marriage of both: On the one side, planning, consideration and improvisation, play, on the other. - in its production as much as in its execution. Obviously once a film is done and presented as film, that work is set. I do like to present film work equally as installation at times, where elements potentially loop


back-wash, dance film


Women Cinemakers independently and meet / touch in different ways. I appreciate the have an aspect of randomness and “surprise”. I would definitely say, a factor of improvisation is very important in my work. One book that I've found extremely inspiring: “Free Play, Improvisation in Life and Art” buy Stephen Nachmanovic If I prepare a filming process I always have set ideas that I want to film and a shooting plan for these. Besides, when possible, I keep space for the things that I find through the process and in the very moment. When choreographing and creating a performance, first, I start off with a lot of improvisation around the ideas central to a new work. When eventually composing the piece, I set a clear structure that contains scenes and “images” that are worked out and embedded in a trajectory. Next to that, many scenes are improvised - though the movement language and material has been worked out. Equally, I like to use the two “extremes”: to either use completely set movement material which is very precisely timed and composed or to, at times, “throw in” a moment that is completely open. Improvisation, to maintain an aspect of “playfulness” as well as exploration is something I cherish. It can bring a certain magic. The minimalistic soundtrack by Andy Keep plays an important role in


Women Cinemakers

Silent Fragments, dance film produced at Malakta Art Factory, Finland 2015

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers and it sometimes provides the footage with such uncanny atmosphere : how do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? The sound and music I choose are essential to a work – as every element of the work is important to the overall composition and what the work will communicate. Equally, whether I decide in a more abstract artistic work to keep the natural sound or to only lay music over the work. The natural sounds ground a work; without the sound the work becomes, in a way, detached and more “dream” like. Also silence would be a “sound” I choose – which I decided to work with in my last work, Silent Fragments. Whichever sound and music I may choose, they definitely influence – not to say manipulate - and give color to what the spectator sees and how the audience perceives the work. Sound & music co-create the narrative and storyline, especially also in its emotional dimensions. Music creates an emotional context. Equally, sound impacts and cocreates dynamic and rhythm of a film. We will experience the rhythm and quality of a work in different ways because of the sound – even if we shouldn't change anything regarding the visual composition of the film. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " i


": how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? In fact, my work is always based on quite concrete ideas. Tales in Black and White is a rather abstract & dreamy work – it's like a dreamlike, an emotional landscape traveling on the edge of light and shadow. Generally my work is based on concrete ideas for which I am – I think, I've mentioned this shortly in response to another question above – exploring something like “physical metaphors”. I look into how I can work with a sensation, a thought, the essence of something physically - and, following that, how I would compose / choreograph this in a performance or compose / capture this in a film. The ideas in themselves aren't actually too abstract. I often work with “base emotions” and themes that seems quite universal to the human existence – just from my point of view and in my way of dealing with them. We all know fear. Freedom and courage means something to all of us, I assume. We all know anger. We all know love. All of us have been in love at some point and we all have experienced loss and some kind of “dying” process. - when a part of us or our lives died. We know hope and all of us might have lost it at some point in our lives. We've most likely all been through some kind of cathartic process in our lives.

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Depth of Shadow | Silent Fragments installation performance, produced at Malakta Art Factory & TREenit!Ry, Finland, 2018


Women Cinemakers And catharsis as well as Rite of Passage are two themes that interest me very much and that keep coming back as central aspects in my work. I believe that through the body we can capture and express the essence of a theme, an idea. We can work with it energetically which is very powerful. In regard to the process, I would say, it is a process of asking questions and looking for answers through the body. How does something feel? How does / would it feel inside my body? What movement would be triggered when thinking about, working with an image? Where could a certain memory sit? Where would I place myself? What is the energy of something? How can something be embodied? In which part of my body could that thought sit? Etc. There's something very concrete, direct and immediate about the body and communication through the body, using the body – we all have one after all. Over the years your own work has been presented internationally, in several areas, including Europe/Scandinavia, North/Central America, S/E Asia & India. One of the hallmarks of your practices is the ability to establish direct involvement with the viewers, who is urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship with your


audience . Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope to trigger in the spectatorship? Maybe I would like to frst share a quote by Wassily Kandinsky that I've just come across: “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” ....I think, this is a beautiful thought, a wonderful way to put what we do as artists as creative makers sharing work with others. What comes to my mind first, when hearing your question: I hope that my work is strong enough – whatever constitutes that “strong” and there might be various different parameters / aspects - to trigger involvement, engagement and this, desirably, in a constructive way. I do always see my work and its presentation as “exploration” & “sharing” and I'd love to involve my audience in such a way. I love to invite them onto a journey or into a certain Universe. Yes, onto that playground. For that I equally love installation and performative with work. I also love to ask questions to my audience and receive feedback – hear people's associations and thoughts. I love to invite them to share their ideas about the theme of a show or

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers their associations and thoughts about a work. That's very inspiring for me. It's become a bit of a “social investigation” when, e.g.: having the chance to ask people in different countries and places around the world what something means to them. In one case, I did that with freedom and courage and it was beautiful to see that certain things are just always mentioned and then some very special and unique things got shared as well. It's very touching really. It would be an interesting exploration & project to collaborate with media artists who can help me create more “responsive” / interactive installations in which the work responses to the audience, to the movement of whoever is in the space. Two things that come to my mind that I would love to share is beauty and a sense of empowerment – a certain strength and vitality, working with a life force, visually as well as in performance. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Andrea. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? First: Thank you. As a next step, my plan is to develop a recent project further: SILENT FRAGMENTS. The work speaks about the emotional topography of the body. It's on the one side inspired by how our biology is formed by our history and,


on the other side, by our body's fluidity and potential to transform. Equally the process of catharsis is an important aspect – a process of becoming empty and silent and being in a dialogue from that place. It is an installation performance that I've developed at MALAKTA Art Factory in Malax Finland. On more general terms, though I do want to create dance films which can be presented as film on screen, I equally, see my film work evolving more towards installation work. To use the medium of film in this format and to explore space and lighting and timing – possibly but not necessarily, in context of a live performance. A further wish is to keep on exploring the possibility to present work as “live cinema” with live music and even to have the composition of the video, the scenes, composed at the actual event. I wouldn't say that it is the direction my work will take as a way of “no return” but, at this point, I have a strong desire to explore & use video in an even more experimental & abstract way – to explore and play with the potential of the image, its rhythm, it's texture and quality. There's so much (more) to explore and I love that. I love visual composition and textures. So far, my film work, though the content might have been more or less abstract at times, has not pushed the medium itself as much as it would interest me. Those would be some thoughts in response to your questions. Thank you very much.

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Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Alexa Seligman Lives and works in London, United Kingdom Nude is a collaboration between Seligman and composer Donna McKevitt, performer Marivi Da Silva, poet Jan Noble and choreographer Phil Sanger. It is an homage to Marcel Duchamp’s painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2 (1912) on the 50th anniversary of his death. Themes of transcendence and transformation resound in this time-based artwork which interrogates the aesthetics of montage and close-up in a meta-cinematic context. The closer we get, the more we cut our subject to pieces, the less intimate we become. Yet the Nude transcends our gaze to glide on downwards in her ineluctable descent. Themes of female subjectivity and the female gaze, anti-objectivity and radical agency are expressed. Seligman returns to the original Greek conception of the Nude as ‘an enlightened state of mind embodied’, retelling the legend of the goddess Hera, who breastfed Herakles, her husband Zeus’s son by a mortal woman, in order to give him godly powers. In so doing, milk flew from her breasts and created the Milky Way. The work takes up the theme of compassion, a state of mind through which humans transcend the boundaries of the self. As thoughts become rocks (the Nude) so drops of milk become the stars.

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

Hello Alexa 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 in Philosophy and Modern Languages from the University of Oxford you nurtured your education with an NFTS Diploma in script development: how did these experiences influence the interdisciplinary nature of your creative process? Morever, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Hello and thank you for this interview. It’s a wonderful thing to be included in your trailblazing magazine. Certainly my educational background is broadly based and my artistic research is a synthesis of these various studies, the most

effective way I have found to combine them perhaps. I see myself as much as a philosopher in moving image as an artist, although I’m not sure the philosophical establishment would see it that way. I emerged from undergraduate study with a total frustration at the absurdity of the philosophical enterprise, its impossible insistence on true/false, and with a love of modern French literature, a much more potent conveyer of truth. Studying the French OULIPO or Ouvroir de Littérature POtentielle “workshop of potential literature”, founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais, alongside Georges Perec, I was inspired to learn about their experiments in literature. The OULIPO writers set about experimenting hard with the very fundaments of language whilst making it all a wonderful, playful social endeavour and coming up with some outstanding results in terms of literature and form (some perhaps more than others but that was the point, surely?). Meanwhile, French dramatists such as Beckett and Artaud, led unerringly towards the core of dramatic expression, again probing


and groping towards the inexpressible. I felt I witnessed, in their work, some truths beyond words, alternately hilarious and horrific. These influences show through in the way that I work in moving image experimentally. It makes sense to me to approach each work as an experiment, as an open ended and sometimes playful jab at the truth to see what might emerge. As if it’s some kind of dangling pinata! This makes it easier to cope with the sensation that you cannot control every element of a moving image piece, so vast is the synthesis of creative expertise, voices and technologies in even the smallest video shoot, and it makes this into a virtue. No more distress when you view the rushes and they look nothing like you imagined! No more distress when your post deal vanishes and you have to rethink everything. Or not so much. It’s all part of the experiment. This could sound very lackadaisical but I find that running experiments through image and sound can bear interesting and enlightening results. In my artwork The artist-mother, an exquisite corpse. Cinema and reality in the digital space of casual sharing. (2016), presented at the University of Westminster symposium AFTER CHANTAL, I worked with a specific OULIPO drawing game, in which artists gather to draw, on folded pieces of paper, a head, then a body, then legs, unfolding their pieces to reveal the finished collaborative chimeras. Working with screen writer Line Langebek, we shared videos of mothering through a social media app, piecing together a composite ‘day in the life’ of two mothers, in a collaborative and experimental fashion. The project was playful and technically lightweight (one academic asked very rudely at the symposium if the ‘point’ was that it’s impossible to make good work as a mother) but the questions we explored, around showing images of the almost unseen world of new mothers and mothers in general on screen, were serious. The result was a picture of intimacy at once deeply mundane yet extraordinary. We did our best to honour Chantal Akerman in this. In Nude, the experimental question is about portraying female subjectivity on screen through working with a nude female form. I will describe later a little of how approaching the work being as an experiment enabled us to ask a question and to collect results which were not at all what we expected. These experiments as much exercised in creative freedom as they are of scientific constraint. And perhaps it's that freedom, ultimately, which I found first amongst the great modern French writers.

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers I was working as a producer of feature films in the UK while undertaking the NFTS Diploma in Script Development. This was an incredible course about story, story, story with some great teachers. We learned that story was like architecture: a house which needs certain things - doors, windows, a roof, floors, furnishings - which you can make function better or worse according to where you place them. This was fascinating and a little intoxicating (still I am trying to detox from the idea that you can control story) but a deep truth was to be found in the discipline of listening, creatively, and in resisting the urge to direct and affect the creative thoughts of others. Your role in story development is ultimately that of a shrink, listening to a writer at great length in order to help them to bring out their story, from the form in which it resides in their mind (whatever shapeless, glowing, brilliant, snapshot of mental truth that is) and to place it into words, in characters, action and dialogue on the page, for others to play out. Having studied literature for so long, it was amazing to learn that I could have ideas about someone’s work and that those ideas could be wrong! I was encouraged to think that I understood, entirely transparently, what Artaud, Beckett, Perec and Queneau meant in their work. Or perhaps I just misunderstood Barthes? In any event, now faced with living, breathing writers I found that I could be very wrong indeed. This listening muscle and sensitivity to the creative thoughts of others, was gradually toned, like a feeble pelvic floor, through ten years of working professionally with film writers and directors, to the point where gradually I could hear the creative voices of the people I worked with (perhaps some belated development of my own retarded theory of mind?). And this enabled me to listen to my own creative voice too. As far as a formal education in Art goes I have none. Both my parents are artists, my father for as long as I can remember; my sister too. My great aunt was a sculptor who sculpted busts of Emperor Haile Selassie and of his daughter Princess Tsahai. None of these people created with a formal art education behind them. So I see art as something you do rather than something you are taught. This is not to say that developing your skill and craft doesn’t take a lifetime of applying yourself to art, or that teaching and learning can’t have a very important role, far from it, but that it doesn’t have to be something that is passed to you. You already have it. It is necessarily, then, a synthesis of your formative experience and you bring to it everything you have.


In terms of a cultural substratum, I see my work more as a frantic attempt to dismantle the substance of my formation than as an act of perpetuating it. You will see that not one female is mentioned in the outline of the studies above and it was a stark realisation, many years after completing my degree, that not one female French writer, dramatist or philosopher even featured on the reading lists for my courses (with the sole exclusion of the English philosopher and writer Iris Murdoch, whose very short and excellent book on Sartre I was prescribed; she remains a guiding light for me). 100 pages in perhaps 10,000 hours of study! It’s lucky the French taught me about absurdism. It’s with that anarchic spirit of revulsion and rejection that I feel able to tackle an ancient Greek myth with Nude, the story of the goddess Hera, queen of the gods, nursing her husband Zeus’s son Herakles and creating the Milky Way, and to appropriate it entirely for my own female-centric ends. My artistic research is driven by a desire to upend the canon and plant seeds for a new one, constructing a female-centred story for female eyes, here around the fact-of-itself

female body, unadorned and unadulterated. The story of Hera nursing Herakles has many iterations, most of them not favourable to Hera, but at its core is a very powerful female act, of nursing a child to preserve a family, in-so-doing creating the largest collection of galaxies visible in the night sky. It demanded a feminist retelling. Of course, if I had been offered the chance to study French post structural feminism in my course at Oxford (I have been enjoying recently the writing online of philosopher Jane Clare Jones) then I could be seen to be drawing directly on my studies. But that wasn’t the case. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting experimental 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 inquiry into the themes of transcendence and transformation is the way it draws the viewers to a captivating and multilayered visual experience: when walking our readers


through the genesis of develop the initial idea?

, would you tell us how did you

I was given the brief for Nude by composer Donna McKevitt, a long time collaborator and friend of mine, to make a film to accompany a music piece she had composed. The music was inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s 1912 painting ‘Nude Descending a Staircase No.2’. I was to collaborate with choreographer and dancer Phil Sanger, who was working on a dance piece, and to create something which incorporated all these elements whilst also standing alone. I jumped at the chance to work with Donna in this new way. I began early talks with Phil, who has now too become a long time collaborator and friend, although back then was a new connaissance, and we talked in some depth about form, time and the playfulness of Duchamp. We then ended up splitting our creative paths, the sheer force of creative momentum propelling us in different directions, but we remained in touch and remained in

parallel in that we were each informed directly by Donna’s music and by Duchamp’s painting. For my own creative trajectory, I knew that I wanted to disrupt Nude as watched or viewed or objectified in any way, to create a subjective Nude. I wasn’t the first artist to consider this. Manet’s Olympia, for example, stares out at her viewer with utter and, it was thought, horrific defiance, and I found myself going back to the original Nudes, the ancient Greek Nudes, to find my inspiration. As Kenneth Clark writes in his book The Nude: A Study of Ideal Art, the first Greek Nudes, sculptures of gods and athletes, are the physical embodiment of an enlightened state of mind. That is not to say that these were images devoid of sexuality and sensuality, indeed Clark’s entire theory rests on the duality of the Nude as both elevated and mundane, but I liked this concept. At their very essence, these beings had minds, they were physical because they were spiritual, not empty vessels or surfaces to be regarded. This thought got me going.


I also knew that I wanted to work with a story around breastfeeding, as that was what I was spending most of my time doing at that point in time (and still am), and it interested me a great deal and seemed unrepresented in the world of images, indeed in the world at large, with the UK having one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world (see French feminist post structuralism!). I didn’t know yet how this was going to work with the other creative elements but the desire was there. Then, I wanted a character for my Nude, if she, and it was a she, was going to have a subjective point of view, and I wanted her to have a story (thank you NFTS). A descent of stairs has its own wonderfully pure narrative, a beginning, middle and end, the propulsive force of gravity and an ineluctable end point, but I wanted a little more than that. A quick google of Greek myths, it is that simple, found me the story of the goddess Hera, queen of the gods, coming down from heaven to feed the mortal child of her husband Zeus, Herakles, in order to give him godly powers, her milk flying out to make the Milky Way. Well it fitted perfectly. I promised Duchamp in my heart that I would remain faithful to his painting to the bitter end, and took a leap of faith into this melting point of messages. The other thing that I knew was that the film would be an experiment in form, from a theoretical perspective. I was interested to portray on screen a state of active female subjectivity, a counterpoint to the male gaze’s objectifying of a female image. Not that Duchamp, in his painting, was necessarily guilty of the latter - his image is wonderfully ambiguous and so dynamic that I challenge anyone to assign a conclusive gender, art style or physical motion to the Nude depicted there. But my art interest lies in dismantling cultural forces of female objectification and creating counter forces of female subjectivity, and this would be an experiment (thank you OULIPO) in evolving forms with which to do so. The Nude, once an expression of divine spirit but subsequently degraded to the point of mundane titillation, was a great form in which to work with this. It is already a highly unusual viewing experience to view a naked female form on screen outside of a sexualised and objectified context viewer to gaze upon a female body. And what if you are invited to identify with her, to empathise with her, rather than simply to gaze or feast your eyes? What would be the visual language to distinguish between the two?

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers Reading what scraps I could of the American theorist Mary Ann Doane online, outside of an academic subscription, I began working with the idea that the close-up was a tool of female subjugation on screen, at once cutting the body to pieces or removing the head (a typical move in dehumanising the female form, widely visible in advertising), and enlarging parts which the male gaze is interested to rest upon, so affording a closeness, an intimacy, which the viewer has not earned; you might say without the character’s consent (surely the central topic in cinema right now?). So I conceived of the piece as working entirely in the wide, keeping Hera’s body intact and so, in theory, preserving her agency on screen. I would also prescribe that the work be projected large so that she towered in a godly way over her viewers. It was storyboarded that way, and that is how we shot it, but when it came to cutting - film has such great potential for experiment, with its many processes and its collaborative nature - it was not to be. I learned quickly that you cannot tell a story in a wide! It was unwatchable in the form I had storyboarded and we moved quickly to work with the gliding shot which forms the backbone of the finished piece, shot with a gimblebased piece of grip equipment called a Ronin. This shot came at the insistence of the cinematographer, my friend John Henderson (who I met whilst staring at the Milky Way in the Mayan Jungle at the turn of the milennum), who wanted to use a Ronin to articulate the sequence in which Hera creates the Milky Way. I have co-existed in camera-wielding situations with John for decades, from jungles to deserts, usually involving dancing or singing, and his ability to move with the camera is like no other. Here, afloat a giant, powered gimble, he really brought Hera’s descent, and the parallax dance of the stair and bannister perpendiculars to life. That magical movement draws us instantly into Hera’s world in a way that I couldn’t predict, placing us in an empathic stance to her which makes it irrelevant that her foot or arm may be missing. You don’t feel less of a person because you can’t see your own feet the whole time do you? So we worked with that. I would still come to play with close-ups in the edit and find what this particular piece would have to say about them, but as far as the genesis of the idea is concerned, it was a desire to convey female subjectivity that led me into the shoot, and on through post production to the finished piece.


Nude became a piece about transcendence and transformation not by design but through analysis. Now with a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary, multi-strand project based on both a 20th century painting and an ancient Greek myth, it was essential to find a unifying thread and shed anything which didn’t stick. Looking always first to Duchamp, the original painting was, for me, an anarchic exercise in transcending form, the expression (and I may of course be wrong) of Duchamp’s desire to give motion to a painting, to make a still image dance. So I planned, in my own piece, to experiment with transcending form, transcending time in a moving (time-based) image, to convey a state of eternity. This resonated with the Greek narrative too - in what state would add a massive bulk to the cosmos if not in a state of eternity? But what about the Nude’s descent? I initially set out to show Hera pausing on the stair, as if time itself had stopped but, in the end, I worked with something subtler. Working in the edit, I employed jump cuts and reverse-time to disrupt our sense of cinematic decorum where usually a scene is constructed from a variety of shots which merge seamlessly to create a coherent and continuous sense of time and space. Instead, I worked in Nude with jumps in time to challenge our assumption that we own and inhabit the image in time, instead making us work to piece together a coherent reality ( work which our consciousness performs naturally). Meanwhile, close-ups revealed less, rather than more, of the subject, conveying a sense of a body not-at-ease with our proximity, twitching under the microscope. Such is the constructive nature of perception, driving always to make something whole out the fragments presented (an echo of Duchamp’s painting, part cubist, part futurist) the effect was to lure the viewer outside of time into a state of timeless descent, an endless descending, rather than a movement from A to B. The magic, far beyond my control, was that somehow this formal disruption created the transcendence I was searching for. In refusing to allow us to grasp Hera’s body fully with our eyes, we were pushed into a state of empathy with her being, travelling with her downwards rather than just following with our eyes. These were the dynamics of formal transcendence with which I was working.

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers Transformation, meanwhile, because the muscle of transcendence, the mechanics by which it was achieved, here on a cosmic, biological and emotional level. The Greek myth is full of transformation: gods transforming to earth-dwellers and mortals to gods; a goddess lactating, entering a liquid form; milk turning into stars and galaxies; liquid to burning gas and rubble…light. Likewise the Nude itself was a perfect state of mind embodied, the efforts of ancient Greek sculptors to render, in stone and metal, a physical manifestation of spiritual perfection. This resonance was compelling. And at the emotional core of the story, I found for myself a story of a maternal archetype overleaping herself to preserve the fabric of her family through a very human act. It was Hera’s overleaping of herself that I wanted to portray, the burst of compassion for Herakles and her fierce protecting of her family that caused her milk to let-down, a burst so powerful that entire galaxies were created in the emotional crossfire. This was an act of physical transformation, of transcendence in the human body where milk is created from blood (depicted quite literally in the finished piece) and an act of emotional transcendence in reaching out to this alien progeny as an act of preservation. Perhaps Duchamp too felt a crise in his heart to leap beyond himself and his material, the Pissoir the galaxy that resulted from his original cataclysm of form? We have appreciated the way your approach conveys sense of freedom and at the same time reflects rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and the need of spontaneity? How importance does improvisation play in your process? I’m afraid I’m very unrigorous when it comes to performative gestures. I have found that, in not ordering people around on set, but inviting them to express their own thoughts and feelings, for their character but also for themselves, you give space for spontaneity and for something to happen. That said, I was very lucky to be working on this occasion with dancer Marivi da Silva, who brought her own discipline and rigour to the piece which perhaps made up for my lack. We had the framework of telling the story of Hera creating the Milky Way as she descends the stairs, and her main actions are those of reaching out to an imagined Herakles and of cradling a newly formed star in her hand, then discarding it casually, as if she did that kind of thing every day. How to do that, was a matter for Marivi and it was


my job to capture it. I hope that this wasn’t infuriating for her! We also discussed the motion of Hera’s descent and took some inspiration from the Greek Nude statues who had a curious pose, slightly rotated from straight-on, which was designed to make them look as if they were walking even whilst they were still. We tried to incorporate that reference, which made her progress more technical and more challenging physically. Rich with allegorical qualities, is an Marcel Duchamp’s painting and inquiries into the original greek conception of the Nude as ‘an enlightened state of mind embodied', Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": how do you consider the role of artists in order to raise awareness about social issues in our unstable and everchanging contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Well this is the moment of toppling the patriarchy! I don’t see my work as responding to the #meetoo tsunami which crashes through industry after industry, bringing down men in power who have abused that power, but it certainly emerges from the same cultural moment. Cinema is the cruellest means for the creative subjugation of women, both on screen and behind the camera, and my work is about dismantling those systems of power and creating new female-driven ones. I have no qualms about utilising moving image work, as have other artists such as Chantal Akerman and Derek Jarman, as an experimental forge for developing techniques to be used on screen for all purposes, from factual television to the so-called big screen (which could be small and you just sit closer?). And, if I can have my cake, it can be Art in its own right too. Certainly that is my intent but it is ultimately up to the viewer. Or perhaps the buyer… In you sapiently mix realism of choreographic gestures with surreal qualities of the ambience, and we have appreciated the way such coherent combination addresses your audience to a multilayered experience. Austrian historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the vaudience to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers the illusion: how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Well I think this is what we have lost so much of in our mainstream culture today. My love for the screen grew from watching films by European and arthouse directors such as Godard, Almodovar, Tarkovsky (at university) and later Sally Potter, Andrea Arnold and Chantal Akerman. There is a freedom and a lyrical quality of this work which does leave room for us to create our own understanding of what is going on on the screen. For me that is richer and more truthful in the same way that I found more truth in studying literature than ever I did in philosophy, for all its purported rigour. So I would like my art to be understood with complete freedom. It’s my work to be as clear as possible but to acknowledge that if truth is to be conveyed, it is through the freedom of those who viewed it only. I often recall an anecdotal tale of the late artist Eduardo Paolozzi who was handed one of his ready-made casts by a friend who asked what it was about. He answered that it was about whatever they wanted. And for me that is inspiring. I don’t see it as a throw-away comment but rather a gift. But I’m still delighted to rabbit on at length about what I think my work could be saying! Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? It is all very shocking. In making a film. Because really I am an ideas person and for that idea to be worked and worked and then perhaps written and drawn, or ideally drawn and then written, and then discussed with other people engaging with the idea (itself the most cataclysmic privilege) and perhaps redrawn, and given a date, and unbelievable quantities of money, even if it is tiny, and actual people show up on the day and bring equipment they know how to operate, and suddenly you can see the idea and people are doing it,

and it feels as if you have done it! And then it is a picture, in a computer, and it’s nothing like the idea, and you start almost all over again, and you let everything go, and work and work again until it starts to resemble something new, and you try to remember the original idea and do justice to that, and you keep working and working until it becomes something you can show. And now the physical form is the audience, actual real physical people who give their eyes to comprehend your thoughts and the work of your collaborators. And the circle connects and you can all respond together, simply by standing side by side to view the work, or even by talking together to create new ideas. Really it is an extraordinary experience to go through that process and I feel truly blessed to be able to share my ideas in that way even once. But then that is what we do every day! Live in the grand canyon chasm between eternal consciousness and the palpable moment. Now perhaps you see why we need the Nude. Sound plays an important role in and we have appreciated the way the soundtrack by Donna McKevitt provides its footage with such a dramatic and a bit unsettling atmosphere: how did you create such captivating soundtrack? And how do you see the relationship between sound and movement? I am so lucky to know and work with composer Donna McKevitt. She is the most talented, bold and humble of creatrixes and I find her music utterly beautiful. Just listen to her soundtrack for Derek Jarman’s poems, Translucence! My work with Nude was only to respond to her pre-existing track. So I had no role in creating it, except that afterwards we were lucky to add the lyrics by the wonderful poet Jan Noble, who sealed the synergy of the piece between sound, light, body and word. What I see as key, in working specifically with Donna, is her incredibly talent in placing us right in the heart of a character, so we live and breathe with them, rather than watching them. So for all my efforts to portray female subjectivity, it was ultimately Donna’s work which did that, not mine. When expressing the themes of female subjectivity and female gaze, deviates from traditional approach to provide the viewers with such an immersive visual experience, to subvert


the clichéd techniques used within the cinema and developing the expressive potential of the images and the symbols that you included in your work: how much importance do play symbolically charged images in your work? I’m not sure I know how to answer this as I didn’t consciously work with symbolically charged images, beyond the Greek myth as my starting point. Really, if they are charged, they charged themselves! Do you think I’ll manage to do it again? But I hope I have answered something of your question about subverting clichéd techniques in some of the above. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established with composer Donna McKevitt, performer Marivi Da Silva, poet Jan Noble and choreographer Phil Sanger 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 backgrounds? There were two synergies to the making of Nude. The first was the synergy of collaboration and this was a true collaboration, with each person involved contributing a piece of work to the finished piece with a high degree of agency. I saw Nude as a cascading ‘staircase’ of creative elements, beginning with Duchamp, the top stair if you like, and his painting on which the project was based. The next stair was Donna McKevitt’s music, inspired by the painting, and then choreographer Phil Sanger, with whom I had early discussions and who informed some of the dance movement within the film. Then the step of shooting the film, which integrated the steps which came before if you like, incorporating those elements in something new and composite. Deserving of their own step are cinematographer John Henderson and his creative-and-life partner Cristina Valverde who brought their incredible expertise and vision to shooting the film and pulled some serious magic to make it happen, as well as Executive producer Kabir Malik who supported the entire process of filmmaking along with his team at post facilities Slk and Bble in London. The next stair is Marivi da Silva, the dancer who performs in the film and who brought her own physicality and intellect, her subjectivity being crucial to complete the experiment in female

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers subjectivity. A stair for milliner Jayne Hepsibah, a true shaman of headpieces. Then, for the poet Jan Noble, who put words to Donna McKevitt’s music. Jan elevated the piece with such sensitivity and vision, giving Hera her voice as sung by Donna, “I am in pieces everywhere” resonating on many levels. And finally in editing, the vital technical support and life-saving advice I had from Lud Monaco, Bahman Kiarostami and Joe Carey. The staircase is starting to resemble an M C Escher staircase perhaps, or a Klein bottle staircase? Certainly it exists in multiple dimensions! In any event, with these steps together, you have the staircase which is the artwork Nude and I am indebted to all who participated. The cascade of creativity meant that there was a high degree of agency on each step, and room I think for each voice to be heard accordingly. Communication was mostly via the artworks themselves, rather than requiring meetings, calls or emails to explain anything, and when it came to filmmaking we just went for it on the day, with some room for experimentation, and made it the best we could. This was all very fluid and fortuitous, but also necessary, given the locations of the artists taking part, with me in London, Donna on the east coast, Phil in Leeds, Marivi in Spain, John and Cristina in the USA. It was also in the spirit of the low budget and experimental collaboration and we were lucky to be flooded with good will. Perhaps the OULIPO gods were smiling on us. The second synergy was through my work as an artist mother, a synergy with my - then - one year old child. I undertook Nude as part of an Artist Residency in Motherhood, ARIM, through artist Lenka Clayton’s scheme, and conceived of the artwork and shot it during the first year of my child's life whilst caring for them full time. I worked in nap length bursts, instead of sleeping myself (I didn't have more than two hours unbroken sleep the entire time) and whilst they were awake, allowed myself to dream as we nursed, conveyed on waves of oxytocin to creative realms. Known as the love hormone, oxytocin is responsible for, amongst many things, the feeling of falling in love, our drive to fight or do battle, our sense of belonging and a mother's milk let down. Indeed the whole story of Hera nursing Herakles can be painted with an oxytocin brush: her

conflict with Zeus, her desire to nurse Zeus’s child (high levels of oxytocin lead people to avoid conflict and draw people together, rather than the typical ‘fight or flight’ in a behaviour known as ‘tend and befriend’) and the release of milk that throws droplets out into the universe to create the Milky Way. So you could say there was a deep biochemical logic to my expression through art of the story of Hera and Herakles, a logic with origins both in the ancient Greek myth and in our own humanity. Added to that, oxytocin, along with the other breastfeeding hormones prolactin and dopamine, is found at up to eight times normal levels during the act of nursing, and together they form the cornerstone of female creativity, according to writer Naomi Wolf in her book Vagina. Combined with the creative nature of parenting, the joy and the way your child forces you to be in the moment, it was a very creative time and Nude emerged from a mother-child consciousness, a dyadic perspective perhaps rarely seen in art. It is at the centre of the ARIM philosophy that your creative work and your work as a carer for your child do not come into conflict but, instead, gently inform each other and Nude was a proof of concept in that respect. With the support of collaborators who understood and supported this approach, it was a wonderful and intensely creative experience in a cherished period of my life. And hard to say who really created the work - perhaps the baby as they nursed industriously, releasing the hormones and driving the show. We have really 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 '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? So far I am something of an outlier to the art establishment, and certainly nobody has discouraged, nor encouraged me to make anything in particular, so I am lucky in that sense. But really, the


future is for Women Cinemakers! In her recent book She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy, writer-director Jill Solloway describes her Thanksgiving Paris Manifesto, co-written with her expartner, the writer and poet Eileen Myles, which calls for art made by men to be outlawed for fifty years in a ‘climate of reparation’ and in order to ‘begin a revolution’. One of several measures which ‘while extreme, are the only method through which we can experience what authentic female representation would truly look like.’ I think this will be adequate. Perhaps at the end of 50 or 100 years of female-constructed reality, when we’re totally tired and fed up of what the vagina has to say, we will come to see that men and women are pretty much alike, perhaps not, but we need to go through something like that in order to recalibrate our human consciousness, renegotiate gender and heal both males and females from an era of horrific subjugation and inequality. Starting now! Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Alexa. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently in post production on part two of the diptych, Hera, a companion for Nude. In the second part, the goddess Hera returns, now giving birth to the god Hephaestus, who she gives birth to through parthenogenesis or self cloning. It is a collaboration with architect Lily Jencks and dancer Olivia Peers, who was 29 weeks pregnant at the time of filming and DOP Luke Palmer. I am lucky to be working again with Phil Sanger and Donna McKevitt and with these fantastic new voices coming into play. Here the physiological phase of oxytocin is ‘birth’ and its emotional phase is ‘forgiveness’. It’s a very different looking piece with lots of bright light and shades of white on white and I believe it will form an interesting complement to Nude. I look forward to exhibiting them side by side. My work will continue to experiment with portraying female subjectivity on screen with a view to evolving a form with which I can communicate more complex human stories and eventually…destroy Hollywood. Well that’s the dream. Thank you.

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Iza Campos Lives and works in SĂŁo Paulo, Brazil Nobody is prepared to that point where nothing makes any sense. The moment in life that we need to establish new ways, new roads, new challenges. Start over, reborn. This video is about us, women who are always looking for our power setting goals without all the difficulties in being a woman. It's about our movements to get out and get deep inside our own thoughts. We look for strength not for loneliness.

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

Hello Iza and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background: are there any experience that did particularly influence of your evolution as an

artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your multicultural roots direct the trajectory of your artistic research? My entire educational and humanistic base was turned to creativity. I grew up with 2 artists who have always influenced and encouraged my formation to be based on artistic manifestations. My relationship with body was intensified from my insertion in the


Iza Campos photo by Rony Hernandes


Palacio das Artes’ dance school, where I realized limits and possibilities of how the body can express diverse narratives and it was through dancing that I discovered myself as an artist. When I had to make the professional choice, I decided on journalism, for allowing me to change some realities. For some time the impression that I had a soul of artist, was diminished by a profession that in Brazil is very directed to the traditional office. However, in the formation of Social Communication itself, I knew other areas of activity that expanded my perception of involvement with art and found in the visual arts my escape point. And at that moment I was seeking not a language, but a reconnection with myself. Today, I try to be influenced by emotions that are imaginatively dialogues with stories. And merge my instrument of work, my professional life with feeling. we For this special edition of have selected , an extremely interesting dance short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/259251177. What has at once impressed us with your exploration of the notion of change in relationship with the issue of women's identity, is the way the results of your artistic research provide the viewers with such a multilayered visual experience: when walking our readers through

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Between was created from a fragment of the spectacle "Entre Corpos e CĂ´modos", in which I and my life and professional partner - Biel Machado - did the photoshoot. The presentation is about a couple who can no longer identify themselves within the relationship. During the process of rehearsals and creation of the characters we could confirm how much the woman is - in fact - placed in a fragile place in society. And how we need to learn to be strong in order to start to know ourselves again. And it was from conversations about feminism and empowerment that I and the dancer Sissi AbrĂŁo found in her solo a starting point between the need to make a decision, to move forward, or to risk the new, inviting to revisit the past choices. All this movement can breaks her or even causes the need to redefine herself. Featuring ravishing and elegant cinematography, is brilliantly composed and we have appreciated the way your sapient use of close ups and long shots allows you to capture emotionally charged moments: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens and how was the filming experience? The film is divided into two very clear parts: the discovery of impotence and the fickle search to find. The first closeup moment presents the woman in her blurred state of


anguish and self-seeking in an unfamiliar inner environment. Overflowing from conflicts and tensions.

The filming process was during a holiday trip and I

And when his physical structure shifts, meets and meets again, it is the body subjectively creating internal forces to re-establish itself.

tour. So, I used the most compact and simple

used what I had taken for experimentation during the

equipment I had, a Sony 6300 and a 50 1.8mm Canon. Which intensified my interaction with the place and


the moment, allowing me to create a more intimate

the choreography by Andrea Spolaor: how do you

atmosphere with the dancer and space.

consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative

We have appreciated the way your approach to

gestures and the need of spontaneity? How did

performance allows you to capture the rigorous

you structure the collaboration with performer

approach to the grammar of body language of

Sissi AbrĂŁo?


Andrea Spolaor’s dance is very intense and reconfigure the systemic dance. Creative co-creations allows the character to feel encouraged by creating autonomy for the performer Sissi find her own way of dancing. Beyond the fact that dance can reach your deeper side spontaneous through self-knowledge. The dancer is flooded with all the daily afflictions and brings to her performance all the recurring feelings both in her real and personal existence, as figurative. As one the pioneers of feminist art, Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi, the performer did not fall prey to the emotional prettification of a beloved subject and in this sense BETWEEN seems to be a tribute to the issue of women's identity in our globalises still patriarchal and male oriented society. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artists' role differs depending on which sociopolitical system they are living in.' Not to remark that almost everything, ranging from Gentileschi's Susanna and the Elders to more recently Valie Export's work could be considered political, do you think that BETWEEN could be considered political, in a certain sense? When we express cinematographically with a thematic that involves a struggle, for which I and the main ones involved, it makes us reflect on the feminine empowerment. In Brazil, the country in which we live, about 13 women are murdered per day and every five minutes a woman is abused. In this way the call for

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers doing something with women, by women and for women becomes fundamental in a context that we witness the Brazilians aren’t recognizing or identifying the importance of women's place. Orozco's positioning is very appropriate for the reality in which “Between” was created. Brings women's concerns to the foreground for sociopolitical issues faced years ago in our country. The way Gentileschi and Export express themselves is also a response to our vulnerability in a medium of oppression of gender. And I’m certain that to break paradigms we need to express ourselves freely, politicizing and intensifying our own identity. Using a combination between verité style and well has dawn orchestrated camera work, heavily from the specifics of its environment and we have highly appreciate d the way you have created such insightful resonance between the environment and performative getures: how did you select the location and how did it affect your shooting process? Establishing a relationship of my work with style verité, makes me flattered because reinforce the setting of my filming process, which was very intuitive and the camera was a mediator that provided us with an immersive interaction in the movie proposal. Opening visibility of narratives produced from the women's view. The environment was selected because it reminded us a feeling of isolation. The shooting location should allude to what was being proposed on the scene, and therefore


the choice of an empty space, in a wild landscape that could not be modified. In the middle of a quarry, where lives - in the form of vegetation - are emerging without control in the middle of the abandoned terrain. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the soundtrack by Felipe Dias provides the footage of with such an emotionally charged atmosphere that challenges the viewers' perceptual categories to create personal narratives: how do you see the relationship between sound and movement? Moreover, how important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? I consider silence is always annulled by noise, sounds and music, our body responds culturally and naturally to sound stimulus and vibrations. The sound stimulus is capable of provoking images, be they subjective or physical, resulting in spontaneous or choreographed corporal scores, as in “Betweenâ€?. Felipe Dias composed the soundtrack influenced with all the questions around the discourse approach of both the film and the spectacle. Dias, as well as composer and musician of the work, is also a professional and personal partner of Sissi AbrĂŁo which brings him closer to daily life, strengthening the poetics and political discussion in which the artist is inserted. The soundtrack drives sensations in the viewer, establishing moments of tension and creating - from continuous rhythm ostinato textures, consolidating the ballet's body pulse

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers and fixing the relationship between body, music and movement. The use of off-screen space and stillness creates a , sense of suspension that marks out provides the result of your artistic research with such a consistent cinematographic quality. How did you develope such effective style? In particular, were you interested in creating an allegorical work capable of reflecting human condition in a wider sense? The space of shooting brought itself the agony of the dancer. It couldn’t be in a secondary role. Explor the human behavior it’s a way to stablish some kind of connection between my camera and what I’ll communicate. Besides the fact that in projects like this one, you can learn and explore yourself to produce a wider sense of human condition merging concepts, ideas, feelings and thoughts. I named the project “Between” cause it’s what the most of people are feeling right now. We all have more rights than before and a billion more to fight for and we still feel like we are stuck between something, the human condition put us in a place that we can live 80 years always trying to find a way to go, to follow. And either way that you choose, you'll have a “Between” to face. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German


Women Cinemakers visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? Personally, I view the physical act as inevitable. When "exploring the body" is the basis of the project for the conception of its creative process, the work ceases to be only mental and the physical involvement begins. Non-ownership of the director during performance opens up ways of subjective contemplation and involvement. when I film something that touches human existentialism, my body is also influenced by internal or external factors. My work is to communicate an ephemeral art scene that stimulate feelings to the director who is also a spectator. According to Heisenberg, "The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known", so the physical impact is part of a mutual exchange between dancer, director and spectator. 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


Women Cinemakers '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? The field of the discussion of the future is in the present. The present needs to be work, challenges, breaking paths, barriers. For my reality is not about thinking in the future, we need to modify cultural patterns that are rooted and affect life today. The future is designed from the urgency that the present is addressed. Reality overcome women in social, cultural, economic and family scope all the time. We are still submitted to a patternal hegemonic in our country - featuring machinist actions and thoughts. Women are growing stronger and daring to outsource their thoughts. The world has become accustomed to seeing the women from the point of view of a man and the reality is changing. Women have to express themselves and bring to art all their truths. I always find myself confronting men so that my ideas are represented and I feel that acceptance has now been revealed in a different way, with more respect. Far from what could be ideal or “ok�, we must impose ourselves while it is still necessary to transform reality. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Victoria Karmín Lives and works in Mexico City

Experimental expression of the origin and evolution of life on Earth, which uses the scientific literature and a chaotic imagery as a metaphor of emotions and human reason.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

background. You have a solid formal training

and Dora S. Tennant

and after your studies in physical sciences at

womencinemaker@berlin.com

the National Autonomous University of México

Reflecting a powerful combination between experimentation and references to scientific literature, EXTRATERRESTRE is a stimulating work by interdisciplinary artist Victoria Karmin. Triggering the viewers' perceptual categories, Karmin demonstrates the ability to capture elusive potential of moving images, inviting the viewers to unveil what goes beyond our ordinary perceptual experience: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production.

(UNAM), you nurtured your education with a

Hello Victoria and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your

revelation to comprehend that some drawings -

specialization in animation at “La Esmeralda” School of the National Institute of Art in México: how did these experiences influenced your your cultural substratum and address your decisions in your artistic research? Both my wonder of scientific thinking and visual arts have their origin in the same episode: when I was introduced to the simbol “+”. It had been a numbers- could represent objects, but the day I knew a drawing could represent an action -


adding- was really like turning a light in a dark place inside my brain. From my point of view, mathematics are a collection of virtual games where symbolic objects and actions interact under a system of rules. In the study of physics drawings adquire a more important role because they are more than abstract symbols, they are visual abstractions of consensual reality relevant to a specific line of questioning. I say a physics book is not so without drawings, just text and equations gives you philosophy or mathematics. My drawing teachers knew it: to draw is to explain. Such games and drawings where a recurrent field of search and exploration during my art studies. The more abstract parts of Extraterreste, the dancing graphs for example, are a result of that process. After a while I realized my main interest was the act of representation itself, in a general sense. I was slowly drawn away from the representation of physical phenomena and started questioning how I could represent, in drawings and images, the human drama: the inner universe, unfathomable and infinite as the physical one. That’s when I moved to arts school. There I studied, among many other things, symbols, which are useful when building images. Since then I consider symbolic representation a field of investigation in my artistic work. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected EXTRATERRESTRE, a stimulating that our

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your sapient narrative style is the way it provides the viewers with such an intense visual experience, enhanced by elegant composition. When walking our readers through the genesis of EXTRATERRESTRE, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? In particular, what were your aesthetic decisions to achieve such powerful outcome? Before “Extraterrestre” I codirected an animation film with my colleague Adriana Ronquillo, entitled “Fosca Liebre” (Fosca The Hare), that treats native communities resistance against mining megaprojects. During a research we did on opencast mining I looked at many different mine photographs which, to my own amazement, seemed to me aesthetically beautiful in spite of their horrific aspect in the context of the exploitation and devastation they imply. Those photographs were of gigantic interventions of the landscape, of paintings with an extraordinary color palette in multiple tones of red, soil, clay, black and brown, all in different textures, elemental and powerful compositions. All had a big hole as the central figure, around them a lot of movement, a violent dynamic created with the most varied of forms. How something that beautiful could be so cruel? I looked in my imagination for a mine that had nothing to do with the exploitation of the earth and the people, unrelated to social inequality or geopolitics, none of that: a mine that does not destroy life but preserves it. My answer was that such thing


could only happen on another planet, that it had to be an “extraterrestrial mine”. I translated that idea into a large oil painting which I showed to Denise Hernández (a paleontologist friend who would later join the project) by chance one day, she identified herself at once and gave me feedback on the Earth’s processes. At that moment I had a strong feeling that this would become the script for my painting: an ode to Nature where the

stories of the seas, the volcanoes, the rocks, their life, could be portrayed. What I understood on that brief class of paleontology is that life emerges and is in a state of constant motion, and that motion itself is generated from the blend of the opposites. Contrasts became protagonists in this new project. The choice of using different animation techniques has its reason in this principle. From this a synthesis of antagonistic pairs arised, which helped me reach


decisions in formal considerations. I wanted to contrast the rigorous account of science embodied in the scientific literature, with a freer, more sensorial and psychedelic imaginary. The contrast between masculine forms (geometric, precise and harmonic) and feminine forms (organic and chaotic), the contrast between what is seen from the sky and what is seen on earth, between the abstract and the figurative, between the natural world and the action of man on Earth, all those contrasts had to be there and it was thus that

“Extraterrestre”, a strange object with multiple articulated edges, came to be. Your animation style in EXTRATERRESTRE eschews traditional narrative to pursue captivating allegoric storytelling: is this the result of a meticolously scheduled editing process or do you like spontaneity? Narrative on “Extraterrestre” is unconventional because its bet is on generating an aesthetic happening rather than a discourse. And so the


argument was written from the paintings I described before, that acquired the role of key frames from which everything else unfolded. In this film the script is subject to the images and not the other way around. Animation is a very meticulous process and is not advisable to shot more sequences than those you’re going to use, but of course spontaneous decisions can happen. My storyboard was made using free and spontaneous associations during a constant dialogue with the paintings which led me to certain decisions, expressive forms and techniques. I have learned to listen to the claims of the artwork and not to impose myself on it. There is a general plan that has to adapt to reach the plausibility condition of fiction, that comes to be in the creative dialogue of the workgroup, and finally adapt to the material constraints of the production. Both realistic and marked out with dreamlike quality, EXTRATERRESTRE reveals exquisite eye for the details and breathtaking editing style, to walk the viewers into a multilayered visual journey. We daresay that this video attempts to unveil the invisible that pervades our reality but that cannot be detected by our sensorial experience. Do you agree with this interpretation? Moreover, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your process?

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

Effectively there is an interest to reveal the invisible to everyday experience. At that time I was studying the philosophical concept of “The Sermon of the Inanimate�, which I paraphrase this way: an individual stands in front of a mountain, contemplating and hearing it appears as if nothing happens but slowly the life it contains manifests, the mountain immensity and time flow give a speech -a sermon- of humility, of discernment, of compenetration. While animating I realized inanimated sequences where a playful device I could use to communicate in a similar fashion as the mountain. It happens four times in the film: the origination of life, the extinction of the dinosaurs, the leftovers of human civilization integrating to the natural landscape and the launch of new transmuted energy. Those are all outer space landscapes, the Earth viewed from the outside. In formal terms, and in order to accomplish such monumentality, I decided to represent those events using oleum paint on two to four meter wide canvas, which were portrayed and animated with a barely perceptible palpitation. Furthermore, and with the same intention, those sequences exceed the 50 second benchmark against all contemporary canon on the duration of a cut in an audiovisual product. In the rest of the sequences an intense search for detail endures, different microcosmos are there to be


revealed upon close attention and that’s precisely the intention: to make the viewer pay attention. The final edition, on the charge of my colleague JosuÊ V. Peralta, helped accomplish that experience. Even though I had a pretty tight storyboard, I cannot but admire his mysterious mind which knew where to make the cut and give the film its inner congruence. Marked out with such a refined and at the same time seductive beauty on a visual aspect, your video addresses the viewers to a wide number of narratives: in our opinion EXTRATERRESTRE could be considered an effective allegory of human experience: would you tell us how much important is for you that the spectatorship rethink the concepts you convey in your pieces, elaborating personal meanings? How open would you like your works to be understood? I completely point in that direction. From my own ethical reflections, the artistic task involves creating a space of freedom, provoking the subversion of the dominant discourses incorporated into our lives, propitiating the healing of our afflictions through awareness at the individual level. Of course it can be a collective event but in principle the process takes place in each individual personally. The aesthetic experience shows us as unique beings, irreducible to the

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


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Women Cinemakers combination or sum of others, and in this short film in particular I tried to be very conscious of that. The strategy was to make the script structure surprise the viewer. I wanted to talk about the human experience, but that is not revealed until the second half of the film. The appearance of the human being in a gesture that seems to break out of place is without a moral approach, their acts are not judged as good or bad, they are only portrayed, and are incorporated into the dynamics of evolution as a form of inherited change woven into its complex. Charles Darwin’s theory of the evolution of the species can be applied literally and metaphorically to the changes and knowledge about oneself. The tides, volcanic outbursts, fear or beauty as experienced by the animal and vegetable kingdom, are all metaphors of human emotions themselves. On the other hand, but under the same precepts, I do not use dialogues because I realized that it is through dialogues that a lot of ideology is poured, and by the work of ideology, many motivations, ideas and beliefs appear as genuine, when in fact they correspond to a mixture of deformed information that hides certain power structures. It is then that audiovisual products become an unavoidable reference of how we relate, both in collective and private spaces, and become the


standard by which we approve or discredit the reality represented. In the absence of dialogue the viewer gives the interpretation, traducing and narrating the events, and is by means of its voice that the films deploys its discourse. The dialogue happens, if so, between the viewer and itself. The composition between sound and visual is crucial in your practice and we have appreciated the way the minimalistic sound tapestry by Fernando Vigueras provides the footage of EXTRATERRESTRE with such an ethereal and a bit unsettling atmosphere: as an artist particularly concerned in the connection between sound and moving images, how would you consider the role of sound within your practice and how do you see the relationship between sound and movement? An inherent process in the making of Extraterrestre was the development of the sound design and music, elements that merge and feedback in a particular way in this work. There are no dialogues and yet there are argumentative lines that wanted to be transmitted. Voiced from ‘concrete modes of sound production’, using unconventional instrumental techniques, Fernando Vigueras, an experimental sound artist, made the sound design in its entirety with only one instrument: the guitar.

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers

Immediately after meeting Fernando's work I contacted him. There was something special about his sound, something strange: I had never heard anything like that before, and that was exactly what the extraterrestrial universe I was creating needed. Directing him was relatively simple because I trusted his aesthetic decisions. I gave him a runway for the sound design with precise indications of the emotions, sensations and atmospheres that were required in each filmed sequence, and he gave me a proposal that was almost always approved without changes. The way Fernando works comes from a daring improvisational exercise, and although there is a composition work at the moment of putting everything together it seems to me that it maintains an spontaneity that manages to make credible what is happening on the screen. I esteem music as a deity whose temple I have not been invited to but as a spectator, unable to understand its logic, I accept the deal and appreciate its shapes. I found myself surrounded by sounds that trigger in me all kinds of experiences. Working with musicians and thinking about sound has been a gift of film production to me, that has nourished my soul and my experience as an artist. We have really 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 the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades women are finding their voices in art: as an artist interests in the cinematic arts with feminist theory, how would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I like to think that collectively we are moving to a more equitable society and a system of thought where there is no hierarchy of the masculine over the feminine. Meanwhile, it is undeniable that today there is gender inequality and in my experience I have had to face it from art school to different places in professional life, having to prove that I am as or more capable than my male colleagues, having to do an important personal work to feel entitled to direct a project, I have had to face contempt, rejection and doubt. And I am aware that this is among the least serious things that can be experienced as a woman in a country like Mexico. The future of women filmmakers depends on the strength of the networks we make among women, this magazine of yours is an example of support along this lines: by documenting woman directed productions and creating

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers a record, a dialogue is staged that otherwise might not be. It is our task to occupy spaces in the cinema, from direction to production and writing, and from there pull more women up, because we, who have been overportrayed in the history of art, remain inaudible, unjustly represented . I think it is the beginning of a new cinema, a new history and we are the ones who are about to create and tell it. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Victoria. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Interestingly this involves the previous answer. After doing these animations I noticed this kind of intense collaboration between women was very peculiar. I thought it did not have to be so, that it should be a common practice, so I looked for ways to do it better and with greater awareness. Both as a woman and artist I became interested in feminist theories. Approaching feminist study circles I found very interesting texts about non-patriarchal forms of female sexuality. I have completely prosecuted my aesthetic research to investigate these forms, pointing to dance as the most conducive medium to such exploration.


Now I am collaborating with choreographer Azhareel Sierra, in a transdisciplinary project that we have called "Danzas Uterinas" (Uterine Dances). We convene women's meetings where we run a laboratory for body expression and audiovisual creation. We lead a creative process encouraging women to explore a dance that sprouts from the uterus as the epicenter of body movement and its expressive potential, later we make joint decisions to create choreographic sequences leaving room for improvisation- and record in different scenarios . The objective is to produce an experimental film collecting all these experiences, which narrates the story of a group of women that explores autoerotism and different collective practices in order to recover the consciousness of their bodies and discover a way to experience pleasure confronting dominant morality. My contribution to the project is mainly through cinematographic decisions. I intend the resulting aesthetics to be something very free, covering several genres: video-dance, video-essay, documentary, fiction, choreographic ritual and so on, in order to expand my own limits on what I understand by "experimental". An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Profile for WomenCinemakers

WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  

WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  

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