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Contents 04 Iwona PasiĹ„ska
124 Tinu Verghis
Recounting Attempted Termination
Ivetta Sunyoung Kang
Isabell Bullerschen & Felicia Eisenring
Women Cinemakers meets
Iwona Pasińska Lives and works in Poznań, Poland
Iwona Pasińska is a choreographer, movement dramatist, theatre theorist, artistic director of Movements Factory and co-founder of the Movements Factory Foundation. She graduated from the F. Parnell Ballet School in Łódź. She holds a degree in theatre theory from the A.Mickiewicz University in Poznań, where she also did her PhD, focusing on the experience of the body in contemporary theatre from the perspective of dance theatre. In 1997 Pasińska became the principal dancer of the Polish Dance Theatre (PTT) – Poznań Ballet. A year later she won the Leon Wójcikowski Medal for the most outstanding young dancer. At PTT she mainly danced leading or solo roles. Among others, she performed in Ewa Wycichowska’s, Jacek Przybyłowicz’s, Rafał Dziemidok’s, Mats Ek’s, Virpi Pahkinen’s, Susanne Jaresand’s and Thierry Verger’s choreographies. Since 2002 she has displayed interest in movement composition, dramaturgy of body expression and choreography, which materialised in the form of three productions premiered at the Atelier of Polish Dance Theatre: Game I. Time, Moment: game, We Play x3. Since 2008 Pasińska with the ensemble Movements Factory produced Steam desert, We Play 4 U, Saligia. 7 Urban Sins. In 2010 she created two pieces for Movements Factory: Trop: DaNce as Art (premiered at Teatr Wielki in Poznań), named the most interesting dance theatre event of 2010 by Teatr magazine, and BodyLand (produced on invitation from Teatr 8 Dnia as part of the project Drugie miasto). Since 2010 she has been collaborating as choreographer or movement dramaturge with dramatic theatres, operas and alternative theatres, including: Teatr Wielki in Poznań, where she also directed Peter and the Wolves, Teatr Wybrzeże, Teatr Współczesny in Szczecin, Teatr Ochoty in Warsaw, Teatr Powszechny in Warsaw, Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz, Teatr Lubuski in Zielona Góra, Teatr Modrzejewskiej in Legnica, among many others. In 2011 she was involved in the design of the pre-match ceremonies for the UEFA Euro 2012 which Poland hosted. In 2012 she established Movements Factory Foundation to deepen her professional experience of creative cooperation with the seniors. In 2016 she has become the Director of the Polish Dance Theatre. Her authorial conception encompasses interdisciplinarity, reaching the areas of dance film (“Initiation” was the first premiere in this field of interest) and social dance theatre. It also embraces presentation of theatre’s achievements on national and international scale and inspiration of dialogue with the most rewarding accomplishments of Polish culture. Since Pasińska became the director of Polish Dance Theatre, 7 premieres were held, among which she, in the cooperation with Polish Dance Theatre’s dancers, choreographed “The Harvest” (2017) and “Polka” (2018), both directed by Igor Gorzkowski. In 2017 Polish Dance Theatre went to China, to the longest in its history tourneé in Asia. With Pasińska’s initiative, Polish Dance Theatre raised EU funds and started the investment of building its headquartes.
An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
An interview with Iwona Pasińska, author of the concept and the director of experimental short movie “Initiation”, produced in 2017 by the Polish Dance Theatre Good morning Iwona and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to invite our readers to visit
http://www.taniecpolska.pl/ludzie/153 in order to get a wide idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your degree in Theatre Theory from the A. Mickiewicz University in Poznań, you nurtured your education with a PhD, focusing on the experience of the body in contemporary theatre from the perspective of dance theatre: how did these experiences influence your artistic evolution?
My classical education developed in me great respect for the craft that I want to cultivate without becoming a slave of it. On the other hand, my studies and scientific research enabled me to look from a distance on what I did as an artist. Not having the background of theory and history of theatre I would understand differently the genre of dance theatre. For a very long time, I didn’t notice some forms of expression. In a sense I was infected with the classical education. My vision of what was happening on stage was somehow limited by the imperative of performing perfectly the given formal pattern. I could not see the spectacle, I could only see the level of dancers’ technique. Also as a performer, for a long time I saw only the technical aspect of dance. Various meetings with drama theatre, especially stage directors Igor Gorzkowski and Marcin Liber showed me, that a dancer – for I took part in theatrical events as a performer as well – has access to many different means of expression, not only dance. Dancers have another kind of expression than an actor, but can build a lot with their bodies. I started to reserach this matter in depth and I was engulfed by intensive cooperation with drama theatre and opera. This grand and high form demanded different way of building movement material. Also in my theoretical research I was looking for various ways of deepening the knowledge about human body. In my PhD I wrote about the body experience in contemporary theatre. I focused on this moment in the history of theatre, when the consciousness of body became so significant that diverse techniques were drawn out of it, not only acting techniques, like Stanislawski’s system, psychophisical acting technique created by Jerzy Grotowski, Wsiewolod Meyerhold’s biomechanics which is valid up today as far as the work with one’s body is concerned, its warming up and reaching the moment when starting the process is possible. By the way, Meyerhold’s student conducted this year workshops in the Polish Dance Theatre, in the frame of Creative Labs 2018. I tried to explore two – way transfer between drama theatre and dance theatre as genres. My research resulted in conclusion that at the end of 20th century there was a very powerful tendency of infecting the drama theatre with dance theatre. This process has been continuing till present. I referred to Pina Bausch and the elements of her spectacles that inspired other works of art and permeated to space of drama theatre as quotations. And it was a lot! Her way of thinking, improvisation, shape of dramaturgy, formal, purely dance or movement solutions fertilized drama theatre, also Polish one. Some citations and borrowings were conscious, some were not. In my
Women Cinemakers research there was such a moment, when I concentrated very much on body and I began to examine its potential in the frame of theatre. I got interested in evolutionary psychology and viewer’s perspective. I reflected on the fact that some miraculous have their audience, and other, also outstanding, remain unnoticed. Neurolinguistics helped me understand that some things are not given to us. If we do not pave the way in childhood, it is possible that we stay proverbially blind and deaf for what surrounds us. Not everybody is meant to be seduced by theatre. It happens that a critic does not see the value of spectacle, while a choreographer – the quality of text. Let’s share with the world what we can do best and in the way we feel. For me, work with seniors was an important phase. I was fascinated by mature body, with billions of stories inscribed. I conducted research with people over the age of 65, who participated in my workshops. They confirmed what American section of evolutionary psychology says – that it is never too early and never too late for the experience with theatre. Meeting the seniors triggered in me a wish to create a spectacle with them. I started organizing groups consisting of seniors and juniors 4 to 5 years old, I led them together. I did not show them anything, I only said, what we could do and they did it themsleves. It is beautiful that in the theatre one has a possibilty to try everything without punishment. While in life there are consequences, in the theatre one can play any role and do it cost – free. This is one of the finest things in the theatre – tasting life without paying for it. We can do everything in the theatre, but if we have something to say, that is another matter. How did your interest in film making actually develop?
The art of cinema appeared in my artistic way when I worked with Krzysztof Zanussi on movie set “Chopin at the railway station”. This film was choreographed by Ewa Wycichowska. My interest for film was very much influenced by my fascination with photography. I spent hours on photo session plans, assisted in advertising and non – commercial sessions, I learnt the art of concept, photographic session set and lighting. Assisting in the photographic sessions has changed my way of seeing the image. I realized that cinematic medium was the world familiar to me which I understand to the large extent. And that it is a medium which enriches my way of seeing dance and, more broadly, movement. Robert Mapplethorpe, Sarah Boone, Helmut Newton – these names learnt me a lot about the function of photographic image. For a
Women Cinemakers long time I was fascinated by cultivated from the Middle Ages art of playing with perspective and deceiving the viewer’s eye. I devoted a lot of time to make observations, how brain yields to illusions. Theatre is a form of illusion. It is meaningful that I realize films in the theatre, with the team of the Polish Dance Theatre. I am certain that by producing films we will be able to reach the bigger audience than by throwing spectacles. As a theatre, once a year we have a competition “1 page – 1 view – 180 seconds”, in which we expect polemics with us in the form of film and movement. And how does your cultural substratum due to your Polish roots and Polish culture in general direct the trajectory of your artistic research?
Our roots build us. It is essential if we can perceive it or not on individual level. I am trying to explore this phenomenon all the time. I was born and educated in Poland, I have been working here for many years. Travelling around the world for over 20 years have only strenghtened in me the feeling of how important those roots are. I come from Łódź, town of four cultures, Polish, Jewish, German and Russian. I “sucked” those influences from my grandmother’s stories, from the closest surroundings. My family spent the period of Second World War in various parts of Europe. It had an impact on my perception of identity. Policy of my country influenced a lot the history of my family. Architecture of Łódź also shaped my imagination. It is wonderful to have roots and be able to talk about them to the others. And to talk about it, why we understand and perceive the world differently. Then a problem appeared – are there any common things at all? I was searching for what is beyond our roots. “Initiation” is a diagnosis of human condition in general. If I hadn’t given thought to my roots, I wouln’t have made the film. In 2016 we started our Polish and regional programme which will last for four years. We would like to inspire artists to share reflection on Polish topics. It seemed to me that it is my mission and should be the assigment of a theatre that have ‘Polish’ in its name. It is crucial that drawing from literature, architecture, painting, music and visual art, inspired by our roots, should enable us to show, where we are here and now, in twenty first century, without creating a museum. Spectacle “Polka” (“Polish Woman”) is a good point to initiate discussion abroad – is Swedish or German lady so different to Polish one? I want to talk to the world.
Women Cinemakers How would you describe the difference between the work on a film and on a theatrical performance?
Let’s start from a statement, that a body itself has a meaning, some things do not have to be carried out, the right choice of person to fulfill certain task is enough. Not to introduce tautology, the body does not have to dance at all. At this point I do not need mimetic dance. What matters to me, is an attempt to reach the essence, to reduce the visual content to one sign, that really works. Nothing more is needed. We have body, narration, dramaturgy, core, essence, story, and of course emotions. Certainly in film emotion is not created in the same way as in the theatre. My finding is that film is in this aspect much more demanding. What is meant to be transferred between the viewer and the performer, does not go through so easily in film as quite frequently does in the theatre. In film both action and image work. In theatre we have additional emotion. Fantastic performers are able to do that‘s ‘something’ what is not embraced with directorial hints, what comes into action in direct contact with the viewer. Theatre is mutual dealing of energy between performers and viewers, this energy triggers emotional flow. Lots of factors contributes to the fact that this proces actually happens. In fim there is no “alive” action, we have only this sign. We release energy in a different way, by means of form. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Initiation, an extremely interesting performance that our readers have already started tog et to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/246504787. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful exploration the tension between the body and its surroundings within the practice of social theatre is the way the results of your artists research provides the viewers with such an intense visual experience, enhanced by elegant mise-en-scéne. While walking our readers through the genesis of Initiation, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea?
I included choreographic film project in my programme, applying for the position of director of the Polish Dance Theatre. I planned to capture the course of life in a metaphor
Women Cinemakers of a run. I wanted to show an image of stagnation, to indicate how we are closed in a circle. And somehere subliminally there is a question hidden, if we didn’t loop ourselves, waiting for something that never comes. I am trying to find out, why evil exists in the world. Human kind is no good, I have no illusions. Everyday I got proofs that is actually true. I don’t even mean myself and institution I work for, I mean globally. We have twenty first century, and we are still killing each other, fighting, blowing up one another. And we let it happen. Where is the end of struggling for something which is not worth wasting our lives? The main topic of “Initiation” is human existence – a question, why we live, I ask myself everyday. Strong impact on creating “Initiation” had also my cooperation with seniors and juniors while we were working on spectacle “Cirkostrada”. I asked the participants, about what they would think 3 seconds before death. I also asked about the most beautiful, crucial and cruel moment in their lives. Everyone had those harsh moments. But there was a problem with beautiful ones – many times the seniors wrote that they lived their lives pointlessly and couldn’t recall the most beautiful moment. Since that time, from exploring the sense of human life, from fascination by mature body and focus on question “what is life for” I started developing the idea of “Initiation”. And also from the reflection on the experiences which repeat in the course of human life. “Initiation” consists of 12 images, 12 short stories – numer “12”, number of months in a year. It inputs human existence in the rhythm of nature and cosmic order. Repetition, cyclicality is clearly visible in camera’s rotation. “Initiation” is built on stereotypes of human behaviour, aggresion, addictions, betrayal, loneliness, bigotry. Each thing, which seemed nonunique in our society, found in a film its own representation. I still wonder, why human beings live their life in such a way that just before death they consider their lives truly hopeless. This really scares me. Initiation features stunning cinematography by Marek Grabowski that exhalts the sculptural qualities of the scenography: what were your aesthetic decisions when conceiving this captivating work of art?
Film plan was watched over by set designer Andrzej Grabowski who invented all the objects and, together with camera operator Marek Grabowski, lighting. Before we had started building a film set, we had rehersals how to illuminate the spaces to concentrate on the topic which was expressed by performers. It was common work, we
A still from
Women Cinemakers had absolute understanding. I have been working with Marek since many years, especially in projects of The Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw and Movements Factory in Poznań, and with Andrzej for over 30 years we have been exchanging our thoughts on what image is. Andrzej looked for and was always able to find in our country the right object to fit the set of “Initiation”. We did a lot to join elements of aesthetics of everyday life, typical of our country in the sixties and seventies years of last century, but those which seem to have the most universal character. On film set there are no accidental items. I am glad its sculptural quality is perceived, but we were first and foremost interested in ‘moving image’ and that we are peeping the reality. I think we managed to apply the cinematic medium in the way completely different than in the works of other choreographers. It is wonderful that we do not double each other. We do not want to register action, we want to create moving image. We aim at ‘movement in image’ and ‘moving image’. Initiation reflects a conscious shift regarding the composition of performative gestures: how would you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a performance and the need of spontaneity? How importance does improvisation play in your practice?
First we set constant, fixed elements. They have to appear in a scene because of the meaning of detail and also need for equivalent appointed in preliminary conversation in which we build character verbally. Sometimes this is gesture, arranged to appear in clearly specified time and space. Performers always contribute in creation, filling the performance with themselves. I cannot imagine my work without improvisation. We draw from common topic, but improvisation tells us which direction will lead us nowhere. Then we seek another one. Sometimes so many new threads arise that we have to shell one and we always do it for certain reasons. Sometimes we change something, what was considered to be at first our destination and it often happens when by chance we find better, more adequate solution. Pure improvisation woudn’t fill the whole scene, but it creates space for freshness and freedom.
Katarzyna Rzetelska, Polish Dance Theatre
Using a combination between verité style and well orchestrated camera work, Initiation has drawn heavily from the specifics of its ascetic scenography, brilliantly created by Andrzej Grabowski, and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the environment and performative gestures, to provide your film with captivating surreal quality: how did you select the location and how did it affect your shooting process?
We were seeking the right movie plan for a very long time, initially we thought about riding ring. We saw so many such objects, but they were all located miles away from Poznań. After three months it turned out that in the Old Zoo in Poznań, in which we made many performance actions, there is prewar building, so called “cave”, which dates back to the nineteenth century. Once visitors of zoo had an opportunity to go there by boat. Now it remains empty, but shortly will be transformed to face the needs of zoo. We felt at once, that this is the moment for making a movie in this particular place. The fact, that we finally stayed in Poznań, facilited our work, and also hepled us to place our production in the theatre programme, for we have to meet our stage productions commitments. The nearness of animals influenced atmosphere on movie plan in a very positive way. It did us the world of good. We have highly appreciated the way Initiation challenges the audience's perceptual parameters to explore the struggle between reality and dreamlike dimension: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your process?
Not everyone will be enchanted by theatre. Neurolinguistics helped me understand that despite many efforts I cannot build the bridge of understanding with everyone. Not everyone can see the aesthtic level, this condensation of actions. But there are some impulses that turn on specific reception in everyone and create definite reality which will be perceived in a certain way. The same with the actions and all of the elements. In “Initiation” I did not search for the counterpoint beetwen surrounding and imaginary, created reality. I was trying to find metaphor and impulses which will set into motion the level of personal and intimate reflection, a collection of appropriate elements. In this movie there are two props which were found in the area of zoo – stuffed ostrich and a monkey. I couldn’t invent some elements by myself. I didn’t know
Women Cinemakers what object could be the counterpart of a person who likes to be only with herself, subconsciously waits for someone and eventually contents herself with the company of stuffed animals, a substitute. Reality inspires me, everyday millions of ideas come to life, triggers me to creative process. I imagine this world and than I discover this place is really different. This conflict demands dealing with. I adore peeping life. I walk in the streets and make observations of what happens inside of private houses. Or I drive a car through Poland, after dark when in small villages the lights are already on. I cannot get rid of this peeping, because I am curious if the others are like the others. We are like anthills, we created certain family model which should function, with the role of mother, father, many children, common rituals, visits that build our everyday life, to which we attach importance. But this is stereotype, reality is different. Family violence, child abuse, falling into depression, undergoing emotions or not having emotions at all, escaping reality in various ways, phobias, fanaticism, alcohol, drugs. Those things are not discussed openly, they are hidden, to keep an illusion that the world of stereotypes is real. But truly this world is fictional and does not exist. Moreover, how important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations?
Vision of reality embodied in “Initiation” we would like to be the closest to life as possible, we wanted to touch the core of hopeless human existence, but not to slobber or become sour, only to make the viewers aware, on individual level, especially if one is at the moment of imprisonment in a loop, no matter if having the problem with alcohol or with oneself, it is possible to work this thing out and start living life to the fullest. We should move into space, to understand the nature of universe, not wage wars and prolong mutilating one another. This is an alarm of some sort, in order not to be as bad. I do not want to diagnose, I only want to direct attention to the fact that life shoudn’t be wasted on unimportant matters. What is important? Every day something else is important. One has to know, on what his energy should be concentrated. I make mistakes, too, but when it happens, I try to honour debts. Very similar situation concerns existance of our theatre – we have to pay the public debt to the society. To fulfill this obligation, once a year we organise a competition to realize
Women Cinemakers premiere spectacle in the Polish Dance Theatre. Everyone can try it, to experience work in the theatre. I will not abandon this project to make it possible for everyone to apply and to prove how wonderful is every meeting with the different way of thinking. We dare say that Initiation could be considered a powerful allegory of human condition: your powerful use of metaphors that speak of human habitats, toxic relationships and untamed fears reflects the variety of social issues that affect our unstable and ever changing contemporary age. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in. It depends on the political system you’re living under": as an artist particularly interested in developing a kind of narrative capable of going beyond the traditional dichotomy between the reality and imagination, how do you consider the role of artist in our unstable and globalised contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment?
In my view art does not have any obligations. It exists for itself, for those who cannot get along without it. It irritates me when I they say that art should have educational function. It does not play any role except that it should enchant or leave indifferent. There is no obligation whatsoever. In literature, sculpture, painting, music and also dance there are things which charm me with their eeriness. I am touched by beauty which does not arise from prettiness, but from coherent composition of elements consisting of content and form. The one that enable me to realize, why we are human beings. Assignining certain role would kill the art. What is important is touch of the viewer. From my perspective, artist’s role depends on the social and cultural moment, all factors play their part. But art does not have to be in opposition to something. Artist, like every human being, must do nothing. These are their choices. Artist’s mission is not to show how to live. Absolutely not. Art is meant to induce something, no matter laughter or tears, meeting in another dimension, which may influence our decisions. This can be a moment of initiating changes, that is the way it should be, but through the subliminal action. Beauty sets us free, it releases mechanisms about which we forget in everyday life.
Something may delight us, stir us up, bring about change of system, but this is not art’s end in itself. For everyone is different kind of art, anyway. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies, as you effectively did in The Red Line. 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?
Abstraction is this moment for me that allows me to create allegories or metaphors, or certain representation. The way leads from the idea to concrete thing. Physical act is unavoidable...We create for the viewer totally logical jigsaw, of no importance, if it is a sculpture, musical composition, or spectacle. The effect of transition from abstraction to concrete thing is so obvious and logical, but the viewer does not notice, that there is such a transition. Sound plays a crucial role in your work: the refined sound tapestry by Jacek Sienkiewicz provides the footage of Initiation with such an ethereal and a bit enigmatic atmosphere: how do you see the relationship between sound and movement?
Space of sound reelases energy in my body and my perception of energy in other people bodies. In “Initiation” there is extremely important that Jacek Sienkiewicz was present on the movie plan to fully integrate sound and image. We talked a lot about why on a movie plan I chose some particular soundtrack to complement our actions. There was this one looped motif, representation of cyclicity, reflected in a musical composition. When Jacek Sienkiewicz started his own work, at first I realized that there was a clash beetween my and his vision. Lightness of music and heaviness of images diverged. We do not have to bring hope. The link between sound and image is twofold. It triggers expression but also helps to keep certain rhythm, in which dancers moved. Thanks to it all the images coincide subconsciously.
Emily Wong, Polish Dance Theatre
Women Cinemakers It's important to remark that since 2016 you hold the position of Director of the Polish Dance Theatre. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art scene 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?
Theatre forces such interdyscyplinary meeting and this is wonderful. Movie also, but in a different way, there are stages of work, postproduction. This is great that in the theatre all the material elements meet in one moment and mature together. Work of directors, dramaturgist, composer meet, everyone has got different concept, come with something, the process starts and changes the initial idea, than new significant matter appear, some images are left behind, because they do not work. Almost at the same time costumes, set design, video and light design come along, and all those items coincide just before premiere. From theatre to film I brought the presence of music on the film set – sound creates a frame, that let us not relish with our own improvisation. Synergy depends on our awareness - we all know, what purpose we want to achieve. We come from various worlds, this crossing of ideas of the specialists from various backgrounds allows us to discover new spaces in us and in them, and learn from each other. Sometimes meetings with the artists representing other ideas may be fascinating, when we do not arrange anything before, we only exchange “blocks”. I work on something, pass it then to composer, with music and choreograpghy it goes to the director, then to the light designer, and so on. We mix orders, and this is also intriguing. Exchange is important, and flow. 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?
I experience criticism, even the need of destroying me personally for what I do, and for the way I do it, ugliness, darkness. I am not interested in truth in the theatre, truth is relative. I am interested in honesty. I tell dancers, actors, performers, who I work with, that it is what we are looking for. In our repertoire we have spectacle entitled “Polka” (“Polish Women”) that does not glorify the achievements of women, but reveals what we hide and displace. Similarly with “Initiation” – it is about waking up, before it is too late, and in what matter this awakening happens – on political, social, and cultural level – this is individual issue. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Iwona. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?
I would like to be true to myself, to where I come from, and I would like to share with world what I do in the Polish Dance Theatre in mamy diverse unfolds. We are in the middle of realization of programme, touching our Polish and regional identity. This is marvellous that as a director of the theatre I am able to form such a concept. Presently we are working on choreographic film project entitled “Burden”. I was inspired by danse macabre, Zofia Stryjeńska’s painting, to create a metaphor of procession through life. I wanted the orders of nature, culture and sacrum to overlap. Thematic division of The Year of Sorcerers 2017, The Year of Gods 2018, The Year of Cursed 2019 and The Year of Scoffers 2020 is pretext to rummage in our culture and to process its values, to discover new things thanks to the old ones and to provoke without scandal, to answering difficult questions sincerely. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant email@example.com
Women Cinemakers meets
Edya Stern Lives and works in Tel-Aviv, Israel
FREEDOM deals with the balance between the environment and the individual: Can an environment with guidelines and order create the feeling of freedom in the individual? Does the absence of order and guidelines create anarchy? A woman observes and studies the influence of the environment on the sense of personal freedom and development of an individual. She goes on daily journeys, cataloguing what she sees, hears and feels. She brings those to be researched in a lab, a controlled space where she thoroughly examines her experiences. In the space are three images that she manipulates, as an extension of her feelings and her emotional state. With the progression of the experiment that the main character conducts, in which she chooses people from the environment as her experimental subjects, comes the understanding that the more the environment she documents is orderly and limiting, the feeling of freedom and movement of the images she experiments with increases An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello Edya and welcome to : we would like to
introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as a choreographer? Moreover, how does your cultural
Edya Stern Photo by Haim Kimhi
substratum due to your life in Israel direct your interests as a creative? Hello, thank you for your questions and for expressing interest in "FREEDOM". My background includes working with various creators from the contemporary dance world, dancing hip hop, and working with street dance creators. Today my focus is tuned less on the street world, however my body and mind will forever be connected to this kind of movement and expression. So naturally my own language of movement is an evolution of me as a contemporary dancer, composed of these two fields. Israel is the place where I grew up most of my life, the place which enabled me to think in any way that I want, and to dream about whatever I want to dream, all in the context of Israel trying to be a democratic Jewish country, and in the context of the tumultuous history of the Jewish people. Before the production of FREEDOM I started to think about the concept of individual freedom. It started with a solo work I created called 'Paradox of Choice' which was the name of Professor Barry Schwart's lecture, which speaks about whether or not the endless possibilities we have in the modern world actually benefit us. After this work I tried to
Women Cinemakers understand what are the limits of an individual's sense of freedom, i.e. is there an extreme where freedom is too great, it becomes a burden and paradoxically makes one feel caged. This subject overlaps with the conception of freedom in the modern world, and specifically with the concept of freedom in the country and society of Israel, where everything receives new meaning since freedom depends on so many rules, on the army, on various organizations, and on security. These institutions / concepts often embody the opposite of freedom -the opposite of freedom of movement, free thinking and free decision making. Moreover, in Israel we live in an environment where our neighbours in the arab countries and palestinian territories, especially women, lack various forms of freedom, making the question of personal freedom all the more acute in my reality. we For this special edition of have selected , an extremely interesting video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into is the way your work provides the viewers with the elusive bond between the real
Women Cinemakers and the imagined, combined with such an intense visual experience, enhanced by a sapient cinematography. While walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell what did draw you to focus your artistic reasearch on this theme? Sure! this bond between the real and the imagined is the expression of the constant balancing between the environment and individual. How what is happening inside my head and my inner feelings of freedom compare with the rules around me in reality. These rules could be social-cultural, political, or legal rules, or even entirely personal `rulesâ€™ -such as the requirement to take care of my family (I am a mother of two young twins). Even a clear sense of what is the one thing a person wants to do in his life limits his freedom in some sense, since the pursuit of the goal often prohibit following other paths. On the other hand, if one does not have any limits, if he truly owns the privilege of making any decision to do whatever he wants, will he also feel free? Will he be at the top of his creativity? Is it best to live in a place where all is allowed? Can society progress in such a place? Sound plays a relevant role in your video and the minimal still effective sound tapestry composed with such by Nadav Dagon provides
a penetrating atmosphere marked out with such a dreamlike quality: How did you structured the relationship between sound and gestures? The director of FREEDOM Yoav Gertner was already acquainted with Nadav Dagon, an excellent musician which is touring all over the world. Yoav was the one who played for me several of Nadavâ€™s tracks. We felt that this
particular track creates an atmosphere of searching, a journey of personal investigation which is a bit abstract -- half dream, half reality. Nadav gladly agreed to collaborate and this is how this specific track was chosen. For me, physical movement speaks directly about an individual's inner feelings, while they are in dialogue and constantly being influenced by the
outside. The `outsideâ€™ in this context could be either voices in the individual's mind, or the environment in reality which is forced on the individual every day at work, on the road, at the entrance to public places and so on. The music also contributes to this vibe of an inner journey. In your movie the principle of limited freedom gets new meanings when relating to
the society in the state of Israel: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "
". How does living in Israel affect your artistic reasearch? And what could be in your opinion in our contemporary age?
I believe the artistâ€™s role is to make his audience feel. To move something in the audienceâ€™s heart and mind. Subjects differ of course from one artist to another and from place to place. Personally I think there should be space both for artists which deal with political/social subjects and for artists who deals with other, more personal subjects. I believe that art should move something inside the one who experiences it,
Women Cinemakers addressed and discussed in Israel and the Middle East. To emphasize the need of a bond between creative process and direct experience, British artist Chris Ofili once stated that " ". 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 in your creative process?
perhaps lead to new thoughts, or even to a new way of thinking. If this small change in feeling makes someone take an action, then that would be the ultimate success of the art. As I mentioned above, I think that the fact that I live in Israel attracts me to the addressing the concept of freedom, because this concept is so often
When it comes to movement, one of the biggest challenges on the stage, or while shooting a film (in this manner), is to preserve the magic which is happening spontaneously in the studio while rehearsing. In my work improvisation has a major role both during the creation and in the final product. The first scene in freedom, is pure improvisation. Generally speaking, when I create I usually define a specific concept or sense or feeling that I want for the scene, e.g. freedom / restrainment / rootedness / disconnection / balance. I then frame this concept with a certain physical direction. However, the expression of the feeling and its exact physical interpretation is subjective and unique to every one of the dancers.
FREEDOM was created first from a general idea that I wished to express, and then I continued to develop it into a script together with Yoav. During this process with Yoav the script kept giving us more and more ideas to talk about, branching out like a tree. With the dancers the idea was further developed scene by scene. Though the general idea of each scene was known beforehand, together with the dancers we gave it a physical interpretation which is composed also of the personal interpretations of each dancer. I wanted the framing of the scene to allow each of the dancers to spread her wings as much as she feels, which is the entire point 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 " ": how do you consider the relation between of the ideas you explore and of creating your artworks? Physicality is the language I speak in. In FREEDOM, the investigation is not only on me. Itâ€™s a kind of an experiment being conducted on the dancers as
individuals and as a group. The "abstract" is the idea of the inverse relationship between feelings and the state of mind, and between the outside environment -whether itâ€™s the ability/inability to grow and evolve as a person, or to move forward in a physical or intellectual way. The expression for all of these concepts is spoken in the language I relate to the most -- physical movement. It's no doubt that interdisciplinary collaborations as the one that you have established with Yoav Gertner 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. Can you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your artistic practice? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different disciplines? I completely agree with you that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields collaborate, and make a new kind of magic. Yoav and I are a good example for two very different creators. Yoav is a director of film and movies where the story leads to the main point. I, on the other hand,
think in a physical way, where my main point is to convey a concept. I think the collaboration between us created a very unique kind of film. The scripts we developed together reached new places which where very different from the original idea of the script that I came with. Yoav also added his uncompromising professionalism in directing, cinematography, and editing. The initiative for the film and its concept was mine; I wanted to use different images from our reality as examples for different limitations of the environment, and as a simile of our own personal limits. I wanted to film the dancers dancing in different locations and see how the actual place affects the body and movement. The only way to make it happen in one harmonic work was to use cinematic tools and to create a film. That was when I turned to Yoav. Yoav pushed the idea to a new place in terms of details and the full script, and a whole new way of execution. So it was not a situation where I use Yoav as professional cinematographer to simply execute my idea and concept. Rather, together we deepened the idea to a full script of a girl that goes out for a journey between the mind and reality, and creates to herself a kind of lab where she is investigating the influence of the environment on different individuals. In this way the project became a
Women Cinemakers cinema film where choreography and physicality are the main similes. In this way the film resembles more of a feature film then a pure dance film, since the latter are typically completely abstract, and focused entirely on movement and physicality. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Edya. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? FREEDOM was my last creation before my twins were born. We actually finished the shooting while I was already pregnant for about five-six months, and it was actually a challenge to disguise this fact in the film. The editing was done after my kids were born. Today they are 2.5 years old, and 2018 seems to be my "return to business year", creativity-wise. I am currently dancing for the Sally Ann Friedland Dance Company. Sally is a well-known and veteran choreographer who in my opinion is just amazing. Nowadays we are performing a dance named A-NENO -ME. Its languish is inspired by the world of the sea and a carnivorous plant named anemones. Body perception is changing. it creates a dialogue between the dances and between them and the light. The light is a main part in the piece, the dialogue is happening live on stage just as the movement.
Moreover, I am dancing for two other projects. One of these projects deals with womanhood, both from a womanâ€™s perception, and from societyâ€™s perception. The second project is a duet, telling the (true) story of a child immigrant/refugee in the 60's from Morocco to Israel, talking about temporariness and the constant feeling of detachment, both physically and emotionally. This duet will be premier at "Festival Rutika" in Poland this September. My own next creation I am developing is inspired a lot by nature. I love watching natural phenomenon, analyzing it, imitating it, develop a physical languish, and use it as a simile for human behavior. I believe that by watching animals, plants, flowers, trees, the sky, we can see sides in our society that in our modern culture we prefer to ignore. Also, we can learn from nature and use it in an inspiring way. I also love collaborations between different types of artists. I have a project `cookingâ€™ that involves bodypainting and Acroyoga. I am very excited! An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant email@example.com
Women Cinemakers meets
Ilana Goldman Lives and works in _________________________________ features a mysterious and ambiguous masked figure—a soloist who embodies both animalistic and human characteristics as it travels across the country in search of home and self. This short dance film is an investigation of identity, migration, and displacement, set against the backdrop of America’s most dramatic and dynamic landscapes. From Seattle and St. Louis to Mt. Rushmore and variously magnificent national explores the connection (or lack thereof) between living organisms and habitat, at every turn questioning the idea of a “natural parks, environment.” What do we carry with us when we move—literally? Each new location, each new scene provides an opportunity for the soloist to unearth a symbiotic way of moving in relation to the environment while simultaneously maintaining a sense of self, physically holding onto idiosyncrasies regardless of place, space, or time. By the film’s end, the audience is caught up in the soloist’s journey, bound to the rhythmic sense of timing created as the singular body carved space—and identity—in each terrain it inhabited. During the summer of 2016, collaborative partner Gabriel Williams and I shot footage for in Seattle, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Sioux Falls, St. Louis, and St. George Island. The resultant film is deeply embedded in my ongoing research surrounding questions of how the location where a dance is created influences the development and process of the choreography itself and how performance site affects the final impact of the dance for the viewer. Site-specific, live performance is one way to explore this effect, moving dance beyond the proscenium stage into alternative spaces; dance film is another. Dance film is unique in that the audience, sitting in a movie theatre or at home at a computer, can witness dance unfolding in far-away locales. One of the main goals of my film work is to transport the audience to spectacular landscapes, to provide opportunities for viewers to consider their own relationship to the environment and how the world around us—and the intimate relationship we have with it—influences our identity, even the choices we make in everyday life. The body in motion can be a potent reminder of that connection and can awaken us to that deeply felt, but often ineffable, bond in immediate, complex, and empathetic ways. In addition to a fish mask, the soloist wears a tuxedo in the film, which accentuates the “out-of-place-ness” of the modern human body in nature. The awkward pairing of formal wear in a natural landscape and a fish on land conveys the feeling of being out of one’s element. As the central figure finds its way closer and closer to home, it sheds the tuxedo, a metaphor for the barriers we keep between our environment and ourselves and the layers we wear that conceal our authentic identity. As modern Westerners, we often separate our art from nature. The Western dance forms of ballet and modern dance, in which I trained and performed (and now teach as well as choreograph) are seen as rarefied and isolated, living only in concert theatres and studios. presents an alternative to this notion, continuing the themes and investigations of my first two short dance films, and which bring dance into the redwood forests of California and aspen trees and mountains of Colorado, respectively. Dance on film provides an opportunity to explore a different creative research methodology than the dances I create for the proscenium stage. The environment itself becomes the impetus for the development of movement vocabulary, with site-specific improvisation serving as the predominant means of generation. The final choreography reveals itself through the editing. The medium of film has pushed my creative work forward in new directions not only through this shift in process, but also by facilitating connections with more audiences and enabling my work to stay relevant in today’s society.
Ilana Goldman photo by Jay Mather
An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello Ilana and welcome to : we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a wider idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School, you nurtured your education with an MFA, that you received from the University of Washington. How did these experiences influence your evolution as a dancer and an artist, in general? Moreover, what did address you to focus a part of your artistic research on ? My experiences at The Juilliard School opened my eyes to modern dance, as I had focused primarily on classical ballet in my early training. At Juilliard we learned classical modern techniques like Graham and Limon, but I was exposed to a great deal of dance beyond those traditional forms through the wide array of dance performances presented in New York City. While I was at Juilliard I saw the choreography of Pina Bausch, Mats Ek, Christopher Bruce, and Angelin Preljoรงaj, among many others who inspired me. Their work
Women Cinemakers told stories the way that classical ballets do, but they felt more contemporary and relevant. I was excited by their movement vocabulary that to me seemed more suited to narrative than classical ballet vocabulary. I began choreographing while I was still dancing professionally and continued while I was in graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle, but I didnâ€™t explore the intersection of choreography and video during that time. Although I always had an interest in film and took a film appreciation course while I was at Juilliard and worked with a choreographer Trey McIntyre who made dance films, I wasnâ€™t interested in making films myself until about six years ago when my husband suggested that I consider it. I am not technologically gifted and have never had an interest in technology, so I was apprehensive. I decided to give it a try and discovered that I loved it! At first I didnâ€™t like sitting by myself in front of the computer during the editing process, because I wanted to be in the studio interacting with dancers. Now that I have more experience with editing, I really love the process. It is very methodical and focused and the time just flies by. One of the main reasons that I am drawn to screendance as a creative outlet is that I love nature and being outdoors. While I have dabbled in site-specific performance, making a dance film reaches a much wider audience than a site-
A still from InterState
specific work can. Also, editing film allows for a manipulation of space and time that is impossible in site-specific work. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting short dance film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at
once impressed us of your insightful inquiry into the relationship between living organisms and their habitat, is the way the allegorical qualities of your video provide the viewers with a multilayered visual experience, enhanced by sapient choreography: when walking our readers through the genesis of
, would you
tell us how did you develop the initial idea?
A still from InterState
My husband (cinematographer Gabriel Williams)
think about how we could create a loose narrative
and I decided that we would drive from the
that would connect all the disparate locations and a
southeast corner of the country where we live in
discussion about place, habitat, migration and
Tallahassee, Florida to Lasqueti Island on the west
displacement started to unfold. We brainstormed
coast of Canada to attend a contact improvisation
about how our environment can shape our identity
workshop at the Leviathan Studio. We agreed that
and also how aspects of our identity can remain
it would be an incredible opportunity to film at
constant despite shifting landscapes. We also
various locations along the way. We started to
discussed what it means to feel at home in an
environment and within one’s own body, which led to a discussion of the fluidity of gender and different animal species and evolution. We decided that we wanted the central figure (which I would perform) to be androgynous and not human. We thought that a fish traveling from place to place on land would work well to illustrate the idea of searching for home and for one’s natural habitat. The stripping of the clothing as the journey progressed represented the shedding of layers to find one’s true identity. We have appreciated the way your approach to dance conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to
: how do
you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and
? How importance does play in your process?
I choreographed a short phrase that I used as a foundation for improvisation that occurred spontaneously in each location. I allowed the unique environment of each location to influence and shape my movement choices in the moment. With its gorgeous mise en scène and sapient cinematography by Gabriel Williams,
drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way between you have created such insightful space and movement: how did you select the location and how did it affect your performative gestures? Most of the locations are in national parks and monuments: Yellowstone, Glacier, Badlands, and Mount Rushmore, and the others are prominent man-made structures in cities: Seattle’s Space Needle, St. Louis’ Arch, and Dinosaur Park in South Dakota. I hoped that the viewers would recognize at least some of the locations so that they could get a sense of the scope of the journey. The final destination is on St. George Island, close to where I live. I think it was appropriate to end in the water close to a place I now call home. All of the locations were planned in advance except for the burned down barn and trees, which we passed by while we were driving on the freeway. It was such a striking scene, we decided to turn around and get some footage there. Some of the locations were really difficult to dance in, so necessity shaped my movement generation. The amount of space and the terrain were the biggest factors. Besides those practical aspects, I allowed the visual stimulation and the “feel” of the space to affect my movement choices.
Featuring essential and well-orchestrated choreography, involves the audience into such an heightened visual experience, urging them to challenge their : perceptual categories to create what are you hoping will trigger in the spectatorship? In particular, how much important is for you to address the viewer's imagination in order to elaborate ? My hope was for the viewers to create their own stories based on the images they experienced and I wanted the film to be somewhat enigmatic. I did not want to spell out the narrative literally and specifically to the point that there wouldnâ€™t be room for individual interpretation. I aim for some ambiguity in all the dances and films I create. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": how do you consider the relation between of the ideas you aim to communicate and of creating your artworks? My dances and works for the screen donâ€™t really make sense to me in theory as ideas. I never really know what the dances
A still from
Women Cinemakers will be until I begin the embodied process of
planet in order for us to reflect upon it and see it
in a new way.
The dances only reveal their true meaning once they are finished because the physical act is where the ideas live and develop. Itâ€™s a place beyond the mind and in the body.
crucial in your practice and we have appreciated the way the music by Patrick McKinney provides the footage of with such an
As you have remarked in your director's statement,
The relationship between sound and visual are
and a bit
atmosphere: how would you consider the role
of sound within your practice and how do you see ?
. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "
The sound score has come at the end of the process in the three films that I have made. I find it
". What could be in your opinion
contemporary age? Does your artistic research respond to
I think the issues facing our country and world today as far as immigration, migration, and displacement definitely influenced the themes of
very hard to choreograph and improvise without music and to edit without music, so I might try a different method in the future. Despite this difficulty during the process, having the music come last has worked for the final product because the composers were able to create the music to complement each visual moment perfectly.
this work. I believe the role of the filmmaker is to
I have to admit that I wasnâ€™t sure the film was
illuminate some aspect of our existence on this
going to work until Patrick wrote the score. Once
Women Cinemakers the score was added, it all came together. I was thrilled with his choices and composition and it matched my vision perfectly. We spent a lot of time talking about our ideas together, so creating the sound score was a very collaborative process. 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 than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something '
', however in
the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this
I feel very privileged in that I have never felt discouraged from creating in any medium. I have felt supported by my peers and mentors in my choreography and filmmaking. I do feel that
hopeful that my own positive personal experiences are a sign that there is a shift happening and women will soon become more recognized in these areas. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Ilana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently in the process of editing a short dance film of a duet that I choreographed for Sona Kharatian, a dancer with The Washington Ballet, and myself. This project was filmed in a small theatre, so it is a departure from my previous work that has been primarily filmed outdoors. I wanted to be able to fully utilize Sonaâ€™s incredible technique and felt that filming in a traditional dance space would best capture her talents. It is very different for me to have to rely on the choreography and the camera work alone and not have the magnificence of the natural environment dazzle the viewer.
women in general have a much harder time
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
breaking into the fields of choreography,
and Dora S. Tennant
filmmaking, and directing dance companies. I am
Women Cinemakers meets
Christina Condak Lives and works in Vienna, Austria
POINT Zero is an oral history/documentary film done with a twist: architects reflect on their initial experiences in architecture education through a ritual performance. Asked to recall vivid memories from their education, they perform a few body movements and tell their stories. Filmed in front of a neutral background, specificities quickly emerge: wide ranges of responses are juxtaposed, revealing essential preoccupations within three generations of architects. This is not just text as information: you see the person and you hear the story. The film is a testimony to a certain time in teaching architecture: the recorded stories are personal reflections, establishing a dialogue over time. Christina Condak teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna in the Institute for Art and Architecture. She is also a partner of the Vienna based firm NURARCHITEKTUR. Learn more at
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
You have a solid formal training: you hold
and Dora S. Tennant
a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Hobart &
William Smith Colleges, and a Bachelor of Architecture from The Irwin S. Chanin
Hello Christina and welcome to
School of Architecture of the Cooper
WomenCinemakers: we would like to
Union. How did these experiences
introduce you to our readers with a couple
influence your evolution as an artist and
of questions regarding your background.
an architect? Moreover, how does your
Women Cinemakers cultural background direct the trajectory
never fit in a world that put things into
of your research?
separate drawers, and I searched for a new environment where I could thrive in with like-
In my 20’s in liberals arts college I tried to
minded people. Cooper Union became that
resist going into the visual arts, the field of
place. I think for all of us there, and at the
my New Yorker parents, by majoring in
time it was a free education, it was at once a
literature, but I always gravitated back to the
dream come true, and maybe a nightmare
art department. Living in Vienna now for over
because it was so tough. It was about
21 years, teaching and practicing
architecture as a discipline, also as an art,
architecture, I reflect on my education, on the
about your singularity as an architect, about
old world and new world differences, as I
having thoughts and making things, taught
move back and forth between Vienna and
by strong personalities in the field. All of this
New York, through teaching and work. I find
was in the heart of the east village, in the
those ‘liberal arts years’ to have been rather
fabric of manhattan, where small books
important, mostly because we had a lot of
stores were still thriving and lunch was
time to try things out and of course there
were some inspiring teachers who said things that really stick with you. Upon graduation
For this special edition of
from H&WS, I received two awards, one for
WomenCinemakers we have selected
painting and one for creative writing and the
POINT 0, architects in the making, an
dean of the school said to me that this was
extremely interesting experimental
unusual for someone to achieve. I didn’t
documentary film that our readers have
understand her comment at the time, but it
already started to get to know in the
became clear to me intuitively that I would
introductory pages of this article.
Women Cinemakers Centered on the issue of continuity in teaching - what we carry with us over the ages in our discipline - and pass on to the next generation, your film addresses the viewers to inquire into the relationship between memory and experience, providing them with a heightened multilayered experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of POINT 0, architects in the making, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? If there is such a thing as collective amnesia, then it also exists in the field of architecture. As things have changed so drastically in the field of education and architecture in the last 25 years, I wanted to capture some impression from architects about what they still hold as essential and important issues in architecture. What is passed on and what remains with us? How do we hand this down through the discipline at a time when there are so many divergent paths in the field, so many new concerns in architecture and the environment and of course there is the constant drive for newness pressuring the field.
Initially, I was very curious when I discovered that so many of us who had studied together at Cooper Union had ended up as architects and educators. Around 2008, I started to travel with the intention of visiting former colleagues in their teaching context. It often turned out that they were also teaching primarily first year design studios and still under the influence of our similar education. I wondered about the power of a particular institution and place, and the people who teach there. Sometimes these things only come together at a certain moment in time. In the 70’s and 80’s there were important educators some who are mentioned in the film and I wondered then about these second and third declinations of their education, how is it carried on, how has it changed. Have we lost anything along the way that we have forgotten about? And then how would I bring this into a film, that’s visual and communicates to people outside the field? POINT 0, architects in the making features essential and minimalistic structured
composition: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? This is my first film. I knew going into it that I had to keep it simple, collect and let it build up. I wanted to listen to the people and what they had to say and I wanted to create an environment that is focusing. One can work this way, you need to create a situation where you can read what you make as you go along. You don’t erase anything, let’s say as a way of working, but you clear little in order to analyse. Architecture is an intellectual discipline and I wanted to convey that in the film through the words, through the starkness, and through the form. I wanted a very beautiful black and white quality. I thought colour would distract from that was being said, and yet still, I wanted it to be sensuous viewing. I wanted the black to be a rich black. I don’t think I achieved that. The black and white also helps abstracts, helps to see things differently. White is something
Women Cinemakers else. White is very powerful too. White can be emptiness. You might think white to be the opposite of where memories might be. White space also belongs to modernism that we were so influenced by in our education, and the white is also a nod to the New York Five. At first it was just intuitive decision making and I found some arguments for myself. You have an idea, you start somewhere and then it leads to the next thought. Thought by thought things build up. Just like in designing a building, certain things start to fall in place and then at a certain point you know this is the way this project will go. The ‘empty’ space and the simple head-on camera position allowed us to collect material and trust that we could make cutting decisions later. The architects were ask to perform a little ritual, very simple moves, and the empty environment helps to reveal subtle differences and this was also important in the editing process. Rejecting conventional documentary film clichés in favor of a verité style, POINT 0, architects in the making demonstrating your
ability to capture the subtle depths of
friends Yosi Wanunu and Micheal Strohmann
emotion: what was the role of
from Toxic Dreams. Instead of trying to be in
improvisation in the making of your film?
control of everything I tried to flow with the
In particular, do you like spontaneity or do
whole process, keep certain things open to
you prefer to meticulously schedule every
chance.Yosi and I discussed the importance
details of your shooting process?
of this performative set up, where all the architects perform the same actions, as I
As just mentioned, the little ritual set up for
wrote in the statement: the collected film
the architects to perform provided structure,
material was more comparable, easier to find
but within that framework spontaneity could
linking topics, clearer to cut, and open to
emerge. The architects had short notice of
more playful possibilities through this process
what they should talk about. It was about
of the set up.
getting a fresh response of a memory that they could recall quickly. They were asked to
It's important to remark that the architects
tell a story, or describe an important event
were treated as performers; they
from their early education as an architect,
conducted a dialogue with the camera,
something that has really stayed with them
without interference or leading questions.
and influenced them. I tried to create an
In this sense, POINT 0, architects in the
atmosphere of trust. Architects are not actors
making seems to reflect German
and they were wary of what I was trying to do
photographer Andreas Gursky's quote "Art
with them. But the whole thing, even though
should not be delivering a report on
serious, was a playful experiment and I like
reality, but should be looking at what's
the idea of collaborating with my theatre
behind something": what are you hoping
your film will trigger in the audience?
but just reads a text for the first time as he performs.
Another important aspect brought to the project from the theatre milieu was the idea of
In this case no one was reading from a text, but
the ‘clean text’ where an actor doesn’t prepare
with little preparation they spoke to the camera
without any prompting. It was our hope that
that exists largely in written academic form
this un-rehearsed response would recreate
and never in film. It is my intention to reach a
the moment making it more vivid. And yes,
working in this way, it was an attempt to have
As I mentioned above, I would like to convey
an artistic approach to dealing with a topic
the essential issues that motivate architects,
Women Cinemakers how they share knowledge that is is unique from other fields, in terms of how the teach in studio environments, the language that they use and the work long hours of working together. My hope would be that a viewer might gain insight into the field of architecture and also be touched in someway by the sharing and layering of these rather serious memories. Your film accurately reflects the relationship between teachers and younger generations: how does your everyday life's experience as a teacher at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna fuel your creative process? And in particular, did you ever get inspired from your students? Yes, I am very inspired by my students. Teaching is a very rewarding process, because you have daily or weekly talks, and you see projects, ideas and a people develop out of that. Young people are open and trusting and that makes for a great and professional atmosphere, and the desire to want to be
good. The longer I teach the more I like to keep a certain looseness in teaching, leave things open to chance and I always say that teaching a semester studio design project is like navigating a sailing ship and you try to head in a certain direction but you might get blown off course, and that might be productive and worth it. The better your project brief the better the sailing goes of course! I enjoy the creative challenge of writing a new brief every semester and the freedom and responsibility that goes with it. 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": what could be in your opinion the role of filmmakers in our unstable, ever changing contemporary age? As I mentioned already I think we need to be very critical about where we are going in
Women Cinemakers architecture, in education, and as a society. In
focused. For example, I had a vision for this
the film I try to create a world to communicate
film, yet I did not really know what it would
subtle issues, things you can not directly say,
turn out to be and I worked on it only on
but you bring the viewer into the position of
Sundays for two years. You have to make
seeing things from many sides. I think what I
sacrifices to make art, whether you are a man
am really trying to do it to put us in a state of
or a woman. I spend a lot of time when I make
listening, something people have a very hard
something and I go through a lot of doubt,
time to do everywhere in the world.
but what has changed for me is getting use to
We have really appreciated the originality
the doubt and allowing it to help me tap into
of your artistic research and we want to
something â€˜uncommonâ€™, as you might say.
catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half
Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Christina. Finally, would you
a century women have been discouraged
like to tell us readers something about your
from producing something 'uncommon',
future projects? How do you see your work
however in the last decades women are
finding their voices in art: how would you describe your personal experience as filmmaker?
I want to make architecture and make films about architecture. I hope I can do both.
Isnâ€™t the future of women, the future with men
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
working equally together? I think if you want
and Dora S. Tennant
to be good at anything you have to be very
Women Cinemakers meets
Ivetta Sunyoung Kang Lives and works in Montreal, Canada, originally from Seoul, South Korea
Films are silent. Quiet, still, and immovable until they are finally asked to reveal their original purpose - to be projected. Composed of 24 frames for one second, each image in each frame aims to be combined together, having a shared purpose for a superstructural medium, cinema, in which a given time and space in a particular film are carried. Disciplined and produced films since 2005, I have been a filmmaker. For me, cinema exclusively was for cinemas, inherited to be completed when running through projections. I had never thought that cinema would be a physical substance that consecutive still images were imprinted on its surface perpetually.However, one day, I had an opportunity looking at each film strip of found footage of 35mm Hollywood motion picture, which were mostly produced in the 90s. It felt as if each single object shot on the film surface was individually exchanging glances with me. With this experience, I started thinking that I could foster a totally different state of being films if I highlight more the physicality of the chemically generated surface of found footage in lieu of relying on the given moving-image that found footage had been produced for. I was aware that those footage had been given a fate that it would once have been produced for particular -mostly commercial- purposes, but had ended up abandoned. After its industrial death caused by the huge shifting to the digital cinema-making, motion picture footage have encountered an urgency to be re-studied by the contemporary eyes and analyzed under the name of expanded cinema for survival. Each film shot possesses an evanescent moment that only lasts much less than a second. Each single frame is meant to be mighty motion pictures, which should not be expected to remain stationary existence. However, for me, there still are a figure, a glimpse of landscape and cityscape, a stroke of a body of texts, and a figment of its imaginatively-all-made worlds on each surface of each shot, waiting for someone to individuate them again. I look at them as they were once alive but are now dead in my time. Since I have been chasing potentiated moments of cinema where invisibility can mutate into visibility within durational art form, this latent breath of found footage has been resonating with death and life for the fact that such a life is still being carved as shot on the 35mm surface. I started to consider this found footage to be capable substances on the verge of its reincarnation. I want all dead memories of the found footage to ghostly raise its rejuvenated shapes and souls while erasing their very initial purpose to be consumed commercially.I have wanted to create an expanded bridge toward a new language of cinema. I believe, therefore, this project is a long term attempt discovering differentiated possibilities of cinema not only as moving-image that solely exists in the virtuality but also as physical objects that remain to be affecting viewersâ€™ nowness.
An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant email@example.com
Hello Ivetta 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 graduated with a BFA in Film Production, you moved from South Korea to Canada, in order to nurture your education with an MFA in Film Production Concentration, that you received from Concordia University: how did these experiences address your artistic research? Moreover, does your due to the relationship between your South Korean roots and your current life in Canada direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Hi, first of all, Iâ€™d like to thank you for having me and introducing my practice. When I was in South Korea, I used to hear my film scripts were so ambiguous and abstract that most people could not understand them easily. In South Korea, I felt that the society generally preferred everything to be clearer and easily understood especially when it came to cinema making. Frequent experiences caused by this general point of view toward my works made me feel stifled, so I decided to leave the country, looking for
Women Cinemakers more liberating ways of practice. When I came to Canada, it felt to me that I didnâ€™t have to feel afraid of making abstract arts. This challenge has led me to embark on a bold endeavor to creating video art. Although my cultural background can be said to be tied to a specific people group or a country, I actually do not feel that it influences my work in any meaningful way. Most of the subject matters that I am interested in is found within myself as a person, and not so much as a member of a specific culture. You are a versatile artist and your pratice is marked out with such stimulating feature, that allows you to range Expanded Cinema, video art, video sculpture and A/V performance: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our in order to readers to visit get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? Related to the above answer, I have tried to liberate myself as an artist from limiting myself in what medium I would have to use. Usually, I come across with some conceptual ideas at which my curiosity is clicked, then I gradually mull over the ideas and come
up with a proper medium that would deliver the concepts the best. Most of my works are imagebased works regardless of a final medium I end up with. A medium is a just platform, I believe, where I would transform intangible ideas into tangible receptacles, so Iâ€™d say I donâ€™t select a medium at first place but I do intuitively end up selecting a proper medium. I think when an idea meets surroundings and daily life of an artist, there always is some occurrence that a suitable medium pops out at. we For this special edition of have selected , an extremely interesting experimental film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . Deviating from traditional videomaking, your video has particularly impressed us for the way it challenges the spectatorship's parameters, involving them into a mesmerizing visual experience: when walking our readers through of , would you tell us what did attract you of this story? At the MFA program, I happened to read some chapters of by W.J.T Mitchell. In some part of the book, the author elaborates the correlation between environment and system, where
oneâ€™s perception can be subverted at. Inspired by the ides of W.J.T Mitchell, when I think of environment, I can visualize a void environment where my perpetual awareness can hardly reach out to yet that brings so many open possibilities that can be systemized by my perception if I try to notice and embrace it into my own world. In other words, when you put your perceptual process in the given environment, its void that does not directly respond to you can become totally yours based on how your perception sees and takes it. In this fascination, the subversion between one's environment and perception thus becomes my fundamental questioning of creating . In , all of the footage is manipulated differently from the same single footage as if the original footage stands for the void environment while the subjectively manipulated outcomes of the footage demonstrate the way we achieve individually different attachments and memories from the given time and space. Reminding us of
, we daresay that could be considered an effective allegory of , balancing realism to expressionism: what were your in order to achieve such brilliant results?
I tend to believe that an individual human perceptual process is very varied based on your momentary experience at specific time and space. In this sense, I’d say human perception is so susceptible that the boundary of perception can flexibly be broken and shattering. An individual perception thus has to be differentiated from others’ as a unique existence. However, when it comes to realism, I dare to say that realism might be the same to everyone as similar as we are given the same passage of time; however, what it makes unique is an individual’s perception that
respectively absorbs experiences to be different memories. By realizing my own realism is totally built upon my experiences gone through my unshareable perception, I would say that the walls of Plato’s Cave would be thin and subtle yet rigid if you do not distinguish realism and your realism. At cinematic experience, as cinema is a medium that can easily mediate viewers to certain emotions and consequences, I wanted to break down the rigid walls of Plato’s Cave of Cinema so would provoke the fact that that one’s realism is replacable to a pile of one’s
subjective experiences and notions and vice versaâ€”which is the essential reason why I produced it in three channels using the same original footage differently. seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that : are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate ? In particular, How
open would you like your works to be understood? Simply speaking, I want to evoke a fundamental doubt on what realism is. I do not want my artworks to depict what reality is out there, but rather how the reality impacts on my own reality inward. In this sense, Iâ€™d agree with the quote by Andreas Gursky although I also appreciate some artworks whose aim is to reveal the reality for specific reasons. I am sort of a reticent person, so I think I have tried to find my own emotions and myself by making works. Thus,
Women Cinemakers when they meet spectators, I wouldnâ€™t want them to be fully understood. I would most likely remain my initial purposes and emotions expressed through works within myself and let audiences see and find their own interactions with the works. If they can respond to me with comments Iâ€™d never intended, I would usually get excited about knowing more possibilities in understanding of my works. I deliver my own findings through my works not for audiences, but rather for me. Meaning that my works are not to portrait a reality but to pull out how I, as an artist, digest the reality into my own. Another interesting work of yours that has particularly impressed us and that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled an interesting interdisciplinary piece across sculpture and video installation, that can be viewed at . We have particularly appreciated the way you invite the viewers to reflect on the the solidity of movie footage, urging them to question the nature of perceptual processes: how did you come up to the idea of this stimulating work? And what do you hope it will trigger in the viewers? I For started mulling over any possibilities that mutated the conventional perception regarding cinema to be something that hasnâ€™t been expected yet. As mentioned,
Women Cinemakers my background is fiction cinema, which means cinema is always home for me; however, when I think of how cinema exists as a medium conventionally, it doesn’t obviously own a body. It always owns unfolding narratives, emotions, characters and whatnot, but not a single body. Responding to this thought, I was doubting myself that this would be why time and space in cinema felt like fleeing away after seen in a cinema, only leaving some memorable images in audience's’ mind. At this point, what I wanted was more to concentrate on the innate realm of cinema itself as a language and physical substance. By revealing cinema’s body—a film material—, they might be able to pull out imaginations out of recorded images rather than solely existing as a mere platform delivering images and narratives. I’d say this is an attempt to subvert the conventional perception toward and about cinema and how to see cinema. An interesting aspect of is the way explores the duality between the sculptural stillness of the footage and the idea of movement intrinsically associated to the nature of film: how do you consider the relationship between and of a sculpture?
Women Cinemakers It is interesting that the durationality and the stillness coexist in one same medium—film. When a film is run through a projector, it emphasizes its durationality more than the stillness although the stillness can possibly be revealed on its own silently when the film is not running. In this matter, I’d say the stillness is much closer to what cinema film inherits at its birth. However, on the contrary, the durationaility is what cinema is borned for. Thus, at , I’d attempted to erase its original as if it were a similar existence like a human born for no reasons through the emergence of its stillness and alternative durationality. At this piece, the stillness of this artform remains still, waiting to subvert audience's’ perception and speculation toward conventional way of watching cinema. We have highly appreciated the way your works challenges the audience's perceptual parameters to explore , your film provides the viewers them with a unique multilayered visual experience: how do you consider within your process? I have often questioned myself whether an imagination comes first to human mind or a
perception comes and settles first to trigger an imagination out of it. Yet regardless of which one would first comes, I think those two components of human mind live, counting on one another. Within my works, I have tried to depict a perception being ruptured by imagination to become another altered perception. If perception is gradually built by subjective realism or at least realistic experiences, then, I’d want my films to push the limit of perception forward to its edges in order to believe there is something beyond the realism. It is not against the belief in realism, but rather in favour of much further understandings of seeing realism. Imagination, I believe, should be a good way to expand your perception out of the closed realism you’ve only had surrounding yourself. Believing in the exterior possibilities out of the Plato’s Cave, I’d be able to see and feel more, and those experiences will expand my perception to be more flexible Over the years you have exhibited and screened your artworks in several occasions, and you recently had the solo , at Indie Art Hall Gong, in Seoul, South Korea: one of the hallmarks of your practice is the ability to establish with the viewers, who urged to from a condition of mere spectatorship.
Women Cinemakers So we would like to ask you a question about the nature . Do you consider ? And what do you hope to in the spectatorship? My goal, so to speak, would be to trigger audience's’ imagination and liberate their perception that might have been rigid from a living. Then it would require an active spectatorship, which would hardly be found in the traditional way of watching a movie. My works therefore inquire bi-directional interactions with spectators, which is the initial reason I have embraced physical materials within the cinematic realm. My works aren’t kinetic works that literally activate audiences’ physical movements and activeness in experiencing; yet, they are kinetic in a sense, only alive and movable in spectators’ empirical imagination. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Ivetta. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I have recently been working with 35mm found footage to expand what I did at . I have found it fascinating for its innate materiality and
cinematic experience, so I have tried to combine films with natural objects such as water and stone for film is one of the most human inventions which was able to be produced from its highly developed technology. By juxtaposing this invention with natural sources that own bodies, I have been expecting to evoke possible imagery and perpetual fractions on spectators’ mind. One of my projects called is a body of small sculptures where film footage whose images are water-related like shots of rivers and seas are punctuated inside to be ice. When an ice starts to melt, its dripping water magnifies the image of the film inside, which is a different way of perceiving filmic images. And, when the ice is all melted, only water remains to interact with the film and the film must go through all the process from the frozen to the melted as if the ice gives a birth to the film and the film is reincarnated through the process. I am hoping to finalize these by next summer. films including Thank you again for the interview and hope this would bring a better understanding of my works to future viewers of my works and my own making practice too. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Women Cinemakers meets
Tinu Verghis Lives and works in Goa/and Singapore
As a third-world woman from India, I am interested in disrupting the art of looking by using the role of performance art to break down barriers. I stayed in the box for over five hours, eating through it. The visuality of the image challenges the gaze and unmasks the power relations that keep women subjected to intense policing under patriarchy. The box is a metaphor for the womb and I remained inside the box in the foetal position for five hours. By biting/sucking/chewing/eating/spitting the box, without the use of my hands, the film is meant to reveal multiple hegemonies that intersect discourses of gender, race and class from a third-world perspective. By rejecting the traditional representation of the female body, as a postcolonial Indian female, I have tried to establish and subvert the link between visual pleasure and the objectification of women. By denying the viewer of immediate visual gratification, the body becomes a site of resistance and not as an idealized object of male desire. This idea draws on the transformation in social and subjective aspect by exploring the internal dynamism of subjects and their relation to society.
An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant email@example.com Hello Tinu and welcome to
: we would like
to start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honors), you
nurtured your education with a Master of Arts, that you received from the College of the Arts, Singapore/Goldsmiths University of London: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, does your previous 15 years long career as a fashion model direct the trajectory of your artistic research? I was a Business management student when I started modeling at the age of 19. I was 34 years old when I retired as a model. I acquired my life experiences on this trajectory. I left modeling because I wanted to address the issues I faced as a woman, as
Women Cinemakers an Indian and as a model. Meeting artists and learning from artists was an important step for me to position myself as an artist. I didnâ€™t have any formal training with mediums and I didnâ€™t learn any techniques with materials while at school, but the school offered all the resources needed for me to experiment as per my research. It was a self-driven course. I am conceptual artist. Medium and materiality comes after my research. Everything I do as an artist is a leaf out of my experiences as a model. Modeling and acting are the only fields I had experimented in before diving into art practice. You are a versatile artist and your practice is marked out with feature, that allows you to such stimulating range from printmaking, photography and painting, to video and sculpture: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite 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 approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? I try to bring the elements of culture and domesticity into my performances. The concept and research behind a project guides me to the medium. For example, there are multiple layers to my video work- Under My Skin. The rice I use on my body is the rice I cultivate in my farm in Goa, India. We are constantly under threat from the government to lose our land to urbanization. In our village, we have to constantly fend off government official who come to survey our lands in order for them to usurp our land under different guises. It is a constant threat. Cultivating the land is a difficult matter, due to lack of labor effective methods and a sheer lack of government interests in supporting the local farmers and the lack of interest by the younger generation, who chose to move out of Goa for the better pastures of Europe. My physical labor on the agricultural field, against all odds, makes my body as the site of resistance. As a model, people see my body as an objectified/sexualized body. In the performance titled â€œUnder My
Still from Padatha Painkili
Still from Padatha Painkili
Women Cinemakers Skinâ€?, I stand naked in front of the audience with the paste of rice on my body and ask them to peel it off me. I collect the peeled skin, I fry it, and I serve it back to them to eat, thereby inviting the viewer into the abject. An objectified body in the visual media, as in advertisements, magazines and movies, offer a voyeuristic experience to the viewer. As a passive consumer the viewer is not held accountable for the consumption of the objectified image. Through performance art, I offer my body to a group of people and each of them have a choice to partake in the performance or otherwise. By consuming my body hair, dirt and dry skin stuck on the rice paste, I let the viewer ingest, digest and defecate me. They have willingly participated in a metaphorical cannibalism. Every research project calls for a different material. While working with kids on community projects, I look for locally sourced material and materials that would excite children. For the research on the third generation of children born with deformities after the Bhopal Gas tragedy 1984, I used circular Indian embroidery mirrors to create a mural at the childrenâ€™s playground. Children love to see themselves in the mirrors. They can play hours with the sunlight reflecting off the mirrors. Mirrors are, metaphorically, a reflection of society. 34 years after the Cyanide gas leak, people are living on the boundary of the Solar Evaporation Pond, where the Union Carbide factory dumped toxic chemical waste. The Pond lies as is, since 1984. The groundwater is heavily contaminated and there is no respite to this continuing catastrophe. The squalid conditions of the people living there are deplorable. It is never too late to hold people responsible for the environmental degradation caused by multinational corporations in hand with the state government. we have selected For this special edition of , an extremely interesting experimental video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once impressed us of your insightful inquiry into is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with such captivating aesthetics: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea?
Women Cinemakers In the history of Indian models, there are very few women who have ventured into something new after their stint as a model. Most have idealized motherhood because that is what girls are taught is their future. Girls are taught to play safe, get married, make children, look after them and forget the self. Forgetting the self is taught as a virtue in the process of fulfilling the nationalistic notion of womanhood, ex: Mother-India. Even as models, women fit the expected part of being a clotheshorse. In Indian terms it translates to fair, long hair and submissive. Women are expected to fit in boxes, and they don’t question the box that is meant for them to fit in. The box offers a false sense of security. Fortunately for me, I didn’t grow up with the limitation these women faced at home. I grew up in a boarding school and I was a sports person. Rules of the game were different from life rules girls living at home had to abide by. I trained in all weather and I fought to win. In order for me to challenge systems of oppression, I started a Models Union to protect the rights of the models. I was demanding for higher pay, collective strike against individuals/agencies refusing to pay the fees on time, reparation for last minute cancellation of models etc. The idea had to be shelved because we didn’t think as a collective. I cut off my hair, pierced my chin and conducted myself in all possible ways that was un-Indian. I walked away from the essentialised Indianess. Cutting off my long tresses was the most sacrilegious as an Indian woman, and as an object of desire. The concept of the feminine is an ingrained systemic value. I couldn’t at any point break the façade of traditional values among my colleagues. Through all this, I was voted as the most influential model by Vogue India. I have realized that women are not a unitary category, all working towards the same cause of equality. Intersectionality plays an important part in differentiating our causes and our fights. As women we don’t face the same oppression or subjugation as the person next to us. Women are not a singular group on the basis of a shared oppression. We face multiple, overlapping and discrete oppressions. We have to treat all oppressions individually. Many
Still from Padatha Painkili
Still from Padatha Painkili
Women Cinemakers women don’t understand nor have the power to grasp the concept of individual agency. I moved away from modeling when one of the shoots I did for vogue became the cover with the title, ‘The dawn of the dusk’. In a country where the average Indian is dark by genes or by sunburn, Vogue titled the cover as ‘The dawn….’ I had been the most successful model for 14 years at that point. They were introducing the dark skin to the colored Indians now as an exoticisation of the primitive. I grew tired of being an object with a tagline-of-the-moment. I walked away and went back to school to figure out a way to deal with systems of oppression. To transform the once objectified body into a subject with a tag line of my own. I use art to create metaphors so women can find their own meanings through my work. It allows them, the viewers, to find answers within the work on their own terms. I have seen women cry while watching ‘Padatha Painkili’. The box metaphor is universal. For ‘Padatha Painkili’, eating out of the cardboard box using just my mouth was a slow and painful experience. I was subjecting my body through extreme physical states and thereby testing the body’s limit. It took me over 5 hours to eat out of it. I had used a double-layered shipping box for the performance. Every performance I push myself a little harder and a little further. My focus is sports related. If I start, I will finish it. That makes my performances dangerous. I once got into a tub full of molten wax to question colonialism as a postcolonial Indian female. The initial burn when the leg was engulfed in the molten wax blew me away. In the video recording, I see myself standing up and shaking my head and saying no don’t do it. Then just like that I sat back down in the molten wax. Once my body is covered in wax, I come out of the tub to peel away the white wax from my dark brown body. I have tried to explore the political effectivity of female masochism and if the body’s authentic presence is assured by the experience of pain. As a third world/colored woman artist, and a retired fashion model, I am interested in using the body as an enactment of the self. I am questioning if using my explicitly sexualized and embodied subjectivity will break down the distinction between subject and object. I am also questioning if my masochistic naked corporeal displays can be seen as an
Women Cinemakers intersubjective contingency and thereby claim immanence of the self and my subjectivity in the patriarchal discourse. As you have remarked once, the box is a metaphor for the womb could be considered an and in this sense report of the objectification of women: how much importance do play in your artistic practice? It is the metaphors that allow the viewers to enter my work, through their own lived experiences. Rather than constructing a theory of hegemonic oppression under women as a unitary category, I am interested in highlighting multiple, overlapping and discrete oppressions. By biting/sucking/chewing/eating/spitting the cardboard box, without the use of my hands, I am reminded of Melanie Klein’s psychoanalytical theories of emotional development. She argues that in the first six months of the child’s life, referred as the ‘paranoid/schizoid’ phase, the infant understands the external world of experiences only through the actual mother. The infant who need the mother to satisfy all the basic needs, experiences pleasure when held at the breast or experiences pain when hungry. Prior to the development of language, the child who cannot yet differentiate the ‘good breast’ and ‘bad breast’ comes to hate the breast and wishes to destroy it by biting, and chewing the ‘bad breast’. A terrified infant trying to preserve itself against a persecutor who is none other than an internal representation of its mother. I have used Performance art to break categories and offer new directions. Performance art to me is anarchic. This art form unlike the established forms, is permissive, and is an open-ended medium with endless variables. conveys stimulating criticism about androcentrism that affects our globalized still patriarchal contemporary age. Not to mention that almost everything, from Martha Rosler's to Marta Minujín's ' ', could be considered , do you think could be considered a , in a
Still from Padatha Painkili
Under My Skin, Performance stills 2: 21secs, Singapore, 2015
Women Cinemakers certain sense? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some
My art practice has evolved on self-representation and the politics of nakedness. As an artist resisting societal notions on the objectification of the body, I am interested in stories that empower women. I am empowered by the story ‘Draupadi’ written by Mahasveta Devi translated by Gayatri Spivak. I take strength from the ultimate defiance with which the protagonist Dopdi pushes Senanayak with her two mangled breasts
As an Indian woman performance artist resisting stereotypes based on gender/class/race, I use the theoretical perspective of the subaltern woman who can not speak, because she is relegated to the object position, as Spivak points out; ‘ . By revealing the real body/ a mothers’ body, a body covered in blemishes, stretch marks, birthmarks and scars, I attempted to deconstruct the visual analogy of the once idealized female body. In order to unmask the stereotypes of being a woman who was an object, I shed the taboo/and shame attached to nakedness. To be naked is to be without clothes, to be without disguise. Thereby taking up the position of being a subject and an object. I believe that such a process of dialogue and representation is necessary for the formation of new subjects. This sort of a personal restructuring is an essential commitment required for political change. All of my performances are political. I live in a time of uncertainty and extreme nationalism. My agency doesn’t equate to my freedom. We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and especially the way you recontextualized the body as a site of resistence that reject the idealized role of a mere object of desire. Many artists, ranging from Italian Baroque painter Artemisia Gentileschi to French painter Victorine
Meurent did not fall to prey to the emotional prettification and gave crucial contribution to the development of art: from immemorial ages women have been discouraged from ', however in the last producing something ' decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experiences as an artists? in this And what's your view on interdisciplinaryfield? The future is bleak. In this bleakness I find strength to continue. If there are no disparities and adversities, I will be just a farmer and will be happy staring into the infinite landscape I call my home. There is always future for women; it’s our individual situation that allows us to accomplish what we venture out to do. No two women have the same qualities or capabilities. Let’s not measure one woman against the other. Lets look at the significance of lived experiences to address the complexities of representing the self in a patriarchal world. Societal violence and oppression are not obvious and are not perpetrated by specific individuals. It exists both overt and covert. Women face institutionalized oppression in many forms, like male entitlement, unsolicited sexual advances, harassment on the streets etc. There are no easy ways to dismantle the institutions of oppression but the alliances we make among and between struggles, because of the way we think about race, class and gender, suggest a political alliance rather than a biological or cultural one. Personally, every step of my artistic practice is a struggle. There is no fight without suffering. Trying to do naked performances in an educational institution in Singapore, was a mammoth task. I had a woman lecturer who was assisting in the MFA programme that was against the idea of my naked performances. I got threatened of being arrested if I performed naked even within the confines of the art school. I knew my rights as a student. Finally, I performed naked at the Earl Lu gallery in the school. The performance was titled, ‘Balance’. I went against the proposal I had submitted on the original performance. Naked, I stood still as a sign of
Women Cinemakers defiance, with my back to the viewers, for half an hour. I am glad, the artists after me wouldn’t have to go through the experiences I had to encounter to perform naked in an art school in Singapore. As Audrey Lorde has said “the masters tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” For those women who benefit from the privileges that the system offers, forgets the multitude of oppression the rest of the ‘others’ struggle against. In the quest for gender equality, every battle is specific to the lived experience of the one who stands up, because the ideologies of womanhood had as much to do with race, class and sexuality, as they had to do with sex. By calling out on specific oppressions, women can make known the systemic nature of oppression to allow for social change. Art historial Ernst Gombrich once underlined the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that in the creation of the illusion: they can how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate ? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? Personal associations are of paramount importance to me. I don’t explain my works because all have multiple layers to them. I leave it to the viewers to find their own meaning. Once I put my work out in the public, it is not just mine anymore. 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 of the ideas you explore and between of creating your artworks? The Patriarchal regime has fundamentally objectified and alienated the woman’s body from self. The Woman’s space, within that regime, is an enclosure in which she feels herself positioned and
by which she is confined, it is not a field in which her bodily intentionality can be freely realized. Historical/canonical ideas around the representations have centred around women as objects. One of the critical attempts to articulate a contemporary visual theory based on psychoanalysis is the influential article “Visual Pleasure and narrative Cinema” by Laura Mulvey’s in 1975. She argues that the female body is trapped within the purview of the male gaze, turning them into objects for male spectatorship and heterosexual desire. In order for me to bridge the gap between the subjective and the objective, women’s body is used as an instrument of fierce condemnation of patriarchy and hegemony, which are ironical, counter-canonical, and contradictory. Linking the public and private domain and by baring the ways they are ideologically bound; becomes the centrality of feminist politics. The second wave of feminism attempted to break down the gendered division between the public sphere of men and private sphere of women. By giving women voice in the gendered arena of the public sphere, it disrupts the male/female dichotomy within the mainstream politics. The strength of the female body is to be able to form a language that can express directly against the system that is dominated by men. Women have the potential to create subversion of the patriarchal language from within, but in revolt against the psychoanalytical model of subject contrsuction in which desire is articulated as exclusively male, it is the female desire that is most disruptive. I use my body as a primary material foregrounding the conventional uses and abuses of the female body. I am positioning my body as a subject in direct opposition to the patriarchal texts. Thereby challenging the very fabric of representation by refusing that text and positing new, multiple texts grounded in real experiences and sexuality. Over the years your works have been internationally showcased in a wide number of occasions: one of the hallmarks of your practice is the ability to establish with the viewers, who is urged to from a condition of mere spectatorship. As an artist particularly interested in the role of performance art as a tool to break the
Under My Skin, Performance stills 2: 21secs, Singapore, 2015
Communtiy project, Mirror mural work(behind) with the kids born with deformities 33 years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Women Cinemakers boundaries between artist and audience, how do you consider ? And what do you hope to in the spectatorship with your works? In the work, Padatha Painkili, I have presented a 5 hr durational performance as a 77 min film. In film theory, the cinematic image provides a clear paradigm for the working of fetishism in the patriarchal culture. The mechanisms of fetishism are rooted in Freudian models, hinging on the fear of castration in males. In cinema, the woman is turned into a fetish, so that she becomes reassuring rather than dangerous. My performances are meant to intervene into the process of constructing the viewing subject through the disruption of the male gaze. The context of performance art, denies the accepted path of voyeurism, which subverts the male gaze and the fetishism of the female body. But for a live performance, the performer and the spectator occupy the same physical/temporal space. Making it more difficult the distancing needed for safe fantasizing. On the conventions of narrative form, successful voyeurism depends on predictable outcomes, which presumably guarantees safety in looking. By totally abandoning and disrupting conventional narrative, my performance thwarts the illusion of distance and exposes the male spectator. In images/and cinema, the male look operates as the controlling factor, but as a female performance artist, I hold the element of surprise, where I have the unprecedented control of my own image. The works are meant to re-examine cultural standards and viewerâ€™s own sexuality. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Tinu. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am making a film on the art of crying- the universal image of suffering. Critiquing the image of women as the bearers of suffering and grief, through a research on the women professional mourners and Pablo Picassoâ€™s work The Weeping Woman, 1937.
The Chingari Trust, Bhopal, India 2017.
Women Cinemakers meets
Stella KruusamĂ¤gi Lives and works in Viljandi, Estonia
How do you explain the filth that you can't chew out? White, unfinished, redemption, prayer, hope, ambition, god, here, goodness, pain, going, mercy, darkness, fading away, definitive, death, the devil, black, black, black, white, white, white. Where neutrality plays an important role, often extremes exist.
An interview by Francis Quettier and Dora Tennant
substratum direct your artistic research as a dancer and a choreographer?
Hello Stella and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and you graduated in Performing art and Dance art from the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy. How did this experiences influence your evolution as a creative? Moreover, how does your cultural
Studies in the University of Tartu Viljandi Culture Academy have influenced me to dive deeper, keep my eyes open, experiment unknown and do reasearch about the things that interest me as an artist. It was a great experience to study over there. I can say that it really opened my eyes. Not only did I learn about performing art, but I also learned how to work with different people and how to improvise in life.
My cultural substratum directs me to do research of socialcritical problems that are taking place all around the world. As I like to travel and see how things are working in abroad, I can say that the experiences that I have got from traveling are key to driving me to do more research as a choreographer. As a dancer I am interested in Animalistic Movement. I do not think it is only my cultural background, I think it is because of my evolution. For me it is interesting that we are already dancing in our motherâ€™s belly and when we get out we start to crawl around and explore the world. We particularly appreciated the way your unconventional approach walks the viewers through a surrealistic journey through the relationship between installation and performance, addressing them to develop alternative perspectives. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit https://stellakruusamagi.portfoliobox.net in order to get a wider idea about your artistic production: in the meanhile, we would ask you to talk about on the importance of addressing the spectatoship to elaborate personal associations. How open would you like your works to be understood? I personally think that there is no way that people understand all the things in the same way. I think that every
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Women Cinemakers people sees things differently because they see what they want to see. At the same time people see similarities. So for me it is important that I can offer something to everyone. For this special edition of we have selected , a captovating work that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. The of this stimulating work is: where neutrality plays an important role, often extremes exist: would explain this aspect of your work for our readers? Moreover, could you tell us something abut the genesis of this stimulating work? Last spring I had this idea that I want to work with faces and different emotions. Then I talked to performing artist Katrin Kubber and multimedia designer KĂ¤rt Petser. I explained my idea and we gathered some ideas together and started to experiment and record. Finally when Christmas came, I had an opportunity to take time off and edit the video. I did not have some kind of story in my head but I had some kind of vision that kept me going. Little by little, the idea
began to manifest itself but I still did not want to explain to myself what it was. After I edited the video, I showed it to Katrin and then it hit us. We both understood it in the same way: How to deal with the **** that you cannot chew out? In neautrality there is always something that is not neautrality because you never see inside someoneâ€™s head. You think you do but you actually do not. Even if you think you know the person. You do not. People have different masks that they use while they are doing different things. Think about situations... When you are alone in a home, what are you like? Or when you are with your friends, what are you like? Or when you are with your loved one? What are you like? I do not want to say that people are not honest, but I think they are honest in different ways. Their honesty varies according to situations. And when it comes to neautrality, people tend to run themselves over by wanting to be likable to everyone. All the lemons that life gives you; we all have bad situations but we experience it differently. We all have been born into this world and we all are going to die someday. But between birth and death, what is there? What is true? What is not? We have appreciated the way your approach to dance conveys sense of freedom and reflects
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Women Cinemakers rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and ? How much importance does play in your process? I love spontaneity! It is like you never know what happens next. It is like life. You never know what comes next. And I think how people deal with situations is the most interesting part. Improvisation plays an important role in my process. I have some rules but I can always break them if I want to. I always tell my students: Feel free to break the rules. I think it helps them to get out of their comfort zone. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you are also interested in : what could be in your opinion in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age? Does your artistic research cultural moment? respond to I think that the role of artists in our unstable contemporary age is to make people think through
a different perspective. To show the audience that everything is not black and white. If you look deeper, you will start to see the layers beneath the surface. At the moment my new performance â€œ(S)HE IS WATERâ€? responds to a particular cultural moment. In my performance, I am dealing with the subject of androgyny. The performance deals with how society acts towards androgynous people and how it affects that person. Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled and as you have remarked once, : what did address you to explore the concept of stress of human body and how did you research for this interesting project? While I was studing in England, as an exchange student, I was overtraining. I trained every single day. In university, in Capoeira, after uni classes and even in my dorm room in the middle of the night. I was totally crazy... When I came back to Estonia, I continued this routine until I once walked home from rehearsal and felt like a knife hitting my heart. I remember stopping for 10 minutes because I was shocked. Two weeks later, I started
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Women Cinemakers hearing my heart beating loudly and it hurt. I went to the doctor and was told that one of my heart sides needs more air to breath. So finally it hit me.. What have I done to myself? So I took time off. I did not train like like this anymore. And I can honestly say that I now know how to train and when to train as well as understand the benefits that come with proper training and taking care of your body. I find it interesting how much people do not actually know about their body until something happens. In addition, people tend to do fitness with the wrong goals in mind. People want to have the body that you can see in fashion magazines or idols. But they do not seem to understand how to train, when to train and why to train. I researched this project by reading a lot, asked information from my mother who is a nurse and I also watched loads of documentaries. One time I even wrote a letter to hospital but unfortunately they never responded... Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist
Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": how do you consider the relation between of the ideas you aim to communicate and of creating your artworks? I am the kind of artist who first likes to do research and then start creating. This is how it works for me when I am creating a performance. Therefore, I do not usually start from the body. I start by reading, making taking tests or doing antropological research. It is after all these things that I start to research through my body. One of the hallmarks of your art is the ability to address the viewers to question their own cultural and perceptual parameters. So before leaving this interesting conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience: what do you hope your spectators will take away from your artworks?
I hope they take away something new. Something that makes them think about it for a while. Something that makes them think life through. Something that makes them want to explore and play with new boundaries. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Stella. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? At the moment my performance “(S)HE IS WATER” just had a premiere and now we perform it in different cities in Estonia. Also, in 1st of june “N U T U S E D” will have a premiere in Viljandi in Estonia. In August, I have a chance to be in Anni Zupping’s PREMIERE residency in Riga. Futhermore, I would like to do residency on my own. I would like to start working with myself to research material for a solo performance. Also, I would like to edit more videos because it somehow drives me and excites me. An interview by Francis Quettier
Women Cinemakers meets
Claire Doyle Lives and works in Manchester, UK
Claire Doyle is a Manchester UK based performance and interdisciplinary artist conceptualising works to trigger dialogue and awareness. She has exhibited internationally since 2014, including solo works in New York City and Venice Biennale Claire is known for reclaiming what it means to be woman through research and exploration of gender and participatory performance. Claire is also a scenographer and costumier qualified to make and perform mask, puppetry, video and light installation, live art, costume and sceneography for theatre, site specific performance and exhibition.
An interview by Francis L. Quettier
take a critical and at the same time personal view
and Dora S. Tennant
of social, political and cultural issues that affect our
unstable contemporary age. Featuring both elegance and insightful criticism, Doyle challenges
Marked out with such a captivating cross-disciplinary approach, artist Claire Doyle's work deviates from traditional trajectory to operate in the field of visual arts with a particular focus on video performance to
the social norms from a female point of view, as well as of the themes of female purity and abjection in our contemporary age. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating
and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Claire and welcome to
would like to invite our readers to visit www.clairedoyleart.com in order to get a idea about your artistic production and we will start this interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a BA (hons) in Design for Performance and you are currently nurturing your education with an MA in Making Performance, that you are pursuing at the Edge Hill University. How do these experiences influence your evolution as an interdisciplinary artist? In particular, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Education and research have been fundamental to my development as an artist. Before university I knew I would be an artist but my niche and intentions were vague. The professors and practitioners at the university have been essential stimuli for my own research and creative process. I have been honored to be supervised by clowns, scenographers and circus performers, all of whom offer insight into contemporary ways of existing, devising and discovering the self. I have recently completed my Masters thesis which
Women Cinemakers was a reflection on my practice based research installation . This work consisted of a hyper feminine, pink space, imitating a Catholic chapel for participants to enter and explore. Itâ€™s entrance hosted an abject latex and human hair curtain and itâ€™s interior hosted photography film (35mm) marinated in female urine and excrement. This auto-ethnographic work interrogated ways the Catholic faith has represented the feminine and ways it has denied the non-virgin in all her horrific abjection. My time in performance research has offered a supportive space to inquire and dissect all I wish to pursue and I would suggest it to anyone looking to engage with philosophies or get creating. For this special edition of
extremely interesting video performance 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/169991789. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the organic level of direct experience, is the way your video escapes from traditional narrative form to pursue a sensorial richness rare in contemporary filmmaking. When walking our readers through the genesis of
, tell us
how you usually select the themes that you explore in your artworks?
I am drawn to the ephemerality of emotion. I am a
importance of the work often dies for me as soon as it
passionate and empathetic being. It is in my nature to
is released to an audience. I believe this is because the
create interventions for self, site, mind and politics.
work no longer belongs to me, but it belongs to the
Thus, I make work to soothe myself, to release
audience to create their own themes, stories and
frustration, and most importantly, to inform the
attachments to the art.
audience. All of my work is created because it is important to me and I believe it should matter or does matter to others too. Much of the work intends to be
We have appreciated the way conveys both sense of
a catalyst for micro political change. I always hope it
freedom and reflects rigorous approach to the
will create conversation in this sense. Although, the
grammar of body language: How do you consider
the relationship between the necessity of
matter. Due to this, I often begin a project with a
scheduling the details of your performative
definite visual in mind. My process rarely involves
gestures and the need of spontaneity? How
devising in the traditional sense - I do not make
important is improvisation in your process?
sketches or plans. I simply begin to make. Due to this spontaneity, trial and error is inevitable. The only
Months can pass without a creative idea that feels
scheduled elements of my work are its exhibit plans
important and wholesome enough to pursue, until
for an audience. I do not plan specific dates to make
suddenly I find myself drowning in a sea of new
the art and I often work alone â€“ this way I can feel my
artistic intentions. These intentions usually come in
way through the heuristic process without diversion
the form of aesthetics fueled by passion/hatred for a
from its initial intentions.
Women Cinemakers is a great example of my improvised art. The work was made during a depressive episode that I experienced after a loved and toxic partnership came to an end. The video was a means to heal and document my own rawity. I could not bottle my own organic emotions in any other way. I wanted to be rid of the feelings but I also wanted to remember how terrifically I could grieve because I knew in time this feeling would become a memory and in time that memory may fade. Thus, I visited my local swimming pool and immersed myself under water with my camera. It was a form of therapy - the video making gave me purpose and the water cancelled out any overwhelming noise I didn't want engage with. I continue to recount my final conversation with that loved one as a form of clearance and a form of language documentation, although those words are intended to be muffled under the water, lost, buried and hopefully forgotten in time. In many ways, this work was not performative in the sense that I â€˜performedâ€™ with intention, but rather that the video is a real documentation of a moment captured in spontaneity for reflection and/or for others to recognise their own heartbreak on screen. represents a final conversation with a loved one while immersed under water, and we can recognize a stimulating allegorical value in the relationship between the attempt to communicate and the suffocating nature of water. In this sense,
reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that â€œArt should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something!â€?: Are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how would you like your works to be understood? I am trying to be less precious about my work. It has been a struggle to respect my art as a subjective object for spectators because I often witness my works intentions becoming lost. However, as I develop as an artist I recognise my work, like everything else in life as a phenomenon to be experienced. I am learning to engage with and enjoy the stories projected into my work. I believe this was once so difficult because my work all transpires from a very vulnerable place. I do not always articulate my emotions and my ideologies well, thus, my art accommodates for that. Although, this becomes problematic because my art is inherently me! Thus, when a spectator projects their own phantasies onto my art, they are unintentionally projecting onto me. Audiences of often say they feel induced experiences of anxiety, struggle and grief while
watching the footage. I only hope the work urges real curiosities and emotions inherent for its audience. My works regarding feminism and activism are less self immersed as I invite and encourage engagement within happenings for micro political change. I have often hosted workshops and gatherings for discussion and discourse regarding FGM, breastfeeding and gender perfromativity. I once created a film in response to body language and sex where I interviewed strangers in public about their sexual experiences. This provocative film intended to encourage safe sex. I particularly wanted this film to be explicit and speak truths so its audiences could witness real discussions about real sex, alternative to the expectations depicted in pornography. We have deeply appreciated your powerful use of body and gestures to create a kind of involvement with the viewers that touches not only the emotional sphere, but also and especially the intellectual one. Many artists express ideas that they explore through representations of the body, as you did in . German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "It is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": How do you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the themes that you explore and the physical act of
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Women Cinemakers creating your artworks? The bizarre and uncertain aesthetics of my work are a translation of the noise and visuals that appear in my mind. Perhaps they are not so absurd to me because they feel normal to experience and be inspired by. But I understand their relationship to come hand in hand. It makes sense for me to create something like in order for me to homage artists that inspire me such as Lee Bowery. It also created an experimental space for subject and abject focuses to be highlighted with editing techniques that I later applied. The absurd and even uncomfortable quality of my work comes hand in hand with the ephemerality of its performers that create the happenings in the work too. was specifically Gertrude, who performed in chosen by me because of her aesthetic, ambiguity and her sensational energy. As a being, she is incredibly raw and unapologetically authentic. Her performance came naturally during the shoot and we captured the footage in one single shot. A â€œf*ck itâ€? mentality is vital to my process so I only tend to involve creatives that bring positive, involved and constructive energy to the process of making. This informs the physical act of creating because I believe people, art and the devising processes all absorb the energy they receive. When I can involve and incorporate people with sparkle into my work I think the work sparkles too.
Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that
": as an artist particularly interested in bringing attention to the exploration of gender in our globalised still patriarchal societies, 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? All of my art either focuses entirely on gendered issues or it unintentionally reflects on the self /the feminine. I struggle to make work that doesn't somehow reflect my understanding of the world as patriarchal because I struggle to make work that isn't from a passionate and frustrated place. I believe that art is fundamental to change. I believe art is powerful and underestimated. I do not expect my work to renovate the current oppressive systems in place but I do intend it to be stimuli for discourse. Discourse is stimuli for thought. Thought is stimuli for change. Change is stumilu for a better system. I am a feminist with a mission to support and advocate for female representation, safety and a culture that listens and acts for the voices of the misrepresented. I hope my art offers a space for those seeking support. Even better, I hope my work educates and normalise other ways gender can exist. I try to contribute to movements regarding self-love and body positivity outside my work too. I am to be featured on
hosting the TV series a breast printing workshop for charity. Although this feature is comical, its an example of my contribution to publicly normalise the female body and reclaim it from cultural sexual shame and control. We have been particularly intrigued by the multifaceted nature of your artworks. The visual engagement with your pieces automatically implies a shift in the viewers' perspective since you often combine materials that are ambiguously associated to daily life, and that in your works are disarmed from their social weight. How important is it for you to create artworks capable of awakening the subconscious sphere of the spectatorship? And how does everyday life experiences fuel your artistic research? I often make my work with very few resources, little budget and in short time frames. This contributes to the limited and ordinary appearance of the mise en scĂ¨ne. I find making work impromptu or this instinctively also performs as intervention for relatable and detectable lives of the audience. My work appears alien, when infact its process and outcomes are all accessible and recognisable for its spectators. In this way I hope the work becomes intervention for mutual understanding and empathy for the content expressed. utilises kids craft supplies as costume and utilised a local swimming pool as scene. I believe these seemingly
random and ordinary elements also bring a sense of the uncanny to the work. Thus, their appearance may be unsettling in films such as where I wear a wet suit and invite an audience to expose my body hair through its crafted flaps and pockets. I hope my art can inspire uprising artists to employ obtainable resources as stimuli for new work, for experimental play or for those with little artistic budget. Over the years you have exhibited internationally on several occasions, including solo works in New York City and at the prestigious Venice Biennale. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the ability to establish direct involvement with the viewers who urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So we would like to ask a question about the nature of the relationship with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope your work will trigger in the spectatorship? My work has always maintained immersive or interactive. I consider most of my art (particularly my interdisciplinary and scenographic works) as socially engaging. Usually, the more I invite an audience into the work, the more passionate i am about the works themes. I like the idea of participants entering the works so that they consider themselves an active part of the art, the art could not be progressive without their presence after all. I also intend for these
interactive spaces to enhance the encounter between a participant and the work because I believe art should feel important and sensational to behold. I have always admired the works of Alan Kaprow and You Me Bum Bum Train who's performative works are always audience focused. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Claire. 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 several ensemble and collaborative works, including a sound based performance that responds to incredible bass frequencies. I hope to undertake a series of international residencies in the next year to challenge my practice further and to dabble with new materials and new-found spaces for site specific invention. I am particularly interested in cyber art and meme culture as ways of modifying cultural language and reinventing oppressive systems so i would like to explore this via research in the future too - Lots of ideas! Watch this space at www.clairedoyleart.com to keep updated. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Women Cinemakers meets
Zixuan Zhang Lives and works in Beijing, China
Zhang Zixuan (b.1983) is a Chinese visual artist based in Beijing, China. She works mainly in painting, drawing and video. After a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Remin University of China, Zhang received Master of Studio Art in Painting in 2009 from The University of Sydney, Australia, where she also studied film editing and special effects. In 2008 Zhang won the “Life after Five” Art Competition in Australia with awarded scholarship. After graduation Zhang worked as an art writer for China’s national English-language newspaper China Daily and published more than 300 culturethemed articles during her five-year journalism. In 2014 Zhang turned into a professional artist. Her works have been featured both in China and abroad. In 2017 Zhang held her first solo exhibition at Shandong Art Museum in Jinan, China. In 2018 Zhang won the scholarship granted by the Art Foundation of Schloss Plüschow for a three-month residence fellowship in Germany. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant email@example.com
Hello Zhang and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to
introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist?
Women Cinemakers In particular, do you think that there is a central idea that connects all of your work as an artist? I was born in a musical family and both my parents are musicians. I guess all forms of art are connected so that although I was nurtured by music and have great music sensibility, I have shown an even greater passion toward visual art spontaneously since a very early age. I started doodling and drawing from probably two or three. I remember when the cement floor of my home back then was fully covered with my chalk drawings, I would ask my mom to wipe them away with a wet mop so that I can start drawing again. If you ask any of my classmates back in kindergarten, primary school or secondary school, the first thing that they recall about me would be how much the girl loved to paint. To me
doing art comes as natural as breathing. It’s not a decision; it’s an instinct. I just can’t help indulging myself in the pleasure and satisfaction of making art. I have tried other things to explore the world and myself later when I grew up – I have a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and I worked as a journalist for a few years. But deep in my heart they are all just warm-ups before the real game. No matter what I do, art is never absent. So it is a matter of course when I decided to become a professional artist at the age of 30. I always feel the urge to express myself and to speak out my opinions toward the world. I believe there are a lot of people who feel the same and there are a lot of ways of doing that. My way is through the art. “Human” has been my constant art focus. Most of my works are human
themed or at least contain some human interest. I seldom paint natural landscapes because I think the wonder of nature has already been so astonishing, and there is no point of copying it. But human nature, on the other hand, still has so much to explore. Iâ€™m
obsessed with the caprice and delicacy of human nature, in which there is beauty, there is ugliness, and there are numerous more in between. If there is a central idea of all my works, that would be, to reveal the realness of being.
For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Imitation, an extremely interesting experimental video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at http://www.metacafe.com/watch/11
639015/imitation2/. We have particularly appreciated the way your insightful inquiry into the intersection between reality and imagination walks the viewers through such a captivating multilayered experience: when walking our readers through the
genesis of Imitation, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Imitation was originally a performance art that I did in an artistic occasion. At the beginning it was just for fun. Using my belly to imitate an apple, which appears at the last part in the video, is actually the very first idea that suddenly popped up in my head. I then extended my thinking to see if I could imitate something else by other parts of my body. It eventually grew into 13 imitation ideas - my belly as apple, my left forearm as corn, and the rest 11 are imitated by my hands and fingers with white gloves. I painted 13 colored cardboards with holes as props, making which gave me lots of joy. I also wrote a monologue in order to join all the 13 imitations into a coherent storyline. The performance achieved warm applause. I decided to adapt it into a video work since I was seeking a proper art form
Women Cinemakers to combine painting, video and human body movements. I thought this experiment would be a beautiful trinity. To make the video straightforward and powerful, I chose the simplest way of documentation, featuring only my gestures along with the cardboard props. I also abandoned the monologue, letting the images speak for themselves. Imitation reflects a conscious shift regarding the composition of 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 improvisation play in your practice? In this case the spontaneity comes before the gesture designs. The spontaneity, or in another word, inspiration, happens during the generation process of ideas. Then it leads to everything else. Itâ€™s similar as I create a painting: I would have a clear goal first, and
then I develop the details such as the composition, the colors and the textures, which are all the means to help achieve the goal. Meanwhile, I give room for improvisation as well, embracing some pleasant surprises. But I donâ€™t rely on it.
gestures were designed for the
In fact Imitation is an accidental piece that full of improvisation. As I said the
facing me, and I had to try out several
performance, and there wasnâ€™t a plan for video at the beginning. The shooting process was also quite improvisational. I didnâ€™t even have a camera man. Instead I used a tripod times just to get the composition right
since I couldnâ€™t see through the camera while performing. Imitation seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something, and we can recognize this
aspect also in your paintings: are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations? How open would you like your works to be understood? First of all, I make art to express myself and for myself. Itâ€™s very personal and
subjective. When a work is done, my duty as an artist has finished. I prefer not to share too much of my thoughts when presenting the work. I hope my works could resonate the viewers with their own experience so that the viewers would have different interpretations. But of course there always would be some common grounds between the audience and me, and my personality dictates that the intentions of most of my works are pretty straightforward, so the gap of understanding would not be huge. We have really appreciated the way you involve the viewers into a psychologically charged visual experience, challenging their perceptual parameters: how do you consider the role of memory in your work? In particular, how do you consider the role
Women Cinemakers of direct experience as starting point for your artistic research? In particular, how do the details that you capture during daily life fuel your creative process? Imitation is for sure a work of memory. Several ideas in the video come from my childhood â€“ I reared silkworms as the homework for my Natural Science class; and I yearned for street snacks such as fairy floss, and popsicles kept in a wood box with a cotton stopple on top (the cardboard props for Fairy Floss and Popsicle Box are adapted from two of my paintings). The perceptual cognitions from trivial moments in daily life usually become the source of my creation. When I paint, I paint by memorized impression. Your paintings, as Sisterhood and You Are Such a Stranger walk the viewers through imaginative narratives. How do
you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your creative process?
an unfamiliar and even a surrealistic aura toward the mortal world, bringing up new quests.
My inspirations come from ordinary life scenes, but I donâ€™t copy reality. By selecting and re-composing elements that resonate with me, I intend to create
You probably have noticed that most of my paintings indicate a sort of absurdity and humor. Some of the scenes I depict could never possibly exist in reality.
They are the works of imagination to allude to some undesirable phenomena in society. My Bubble series, for example, draws support from the image of bubble gum as a metaphor to insinuate the loss of
sincerity. Sisterhood and You Are Such a Stranger are both from this series. The effective combination between delicate nuances of tones sums up the mixture of struggle and emotions. How much does your own psychological make-up determine the
nuances of tones you decide to use in
colors. For example, I don’t think the
a piece and in particular, how do you
grey tone means depression; quite the
develop a painting’s texture?
contrary, it can be very joyful.
Moreover, how did you think about your style—your choices of
The mood of a painting depends on the
composition and palette?
contrast and correlation among colors,
I don’t have any stereotype toward
not the colors’ individual value. My
choice of color is subject to change based on varied circumstances.
example, I deliberately strip off emotions
My way of painting concentrates on the objective attribute of subjects. I use a summarized style to highlight the sense of volume and weight, indicating eternity. When depicting people, for
faceless and materialized human figures,
and portray only physical gestures by
to manifest peopleâ€™s true intensions.
I also like to depict certain subjects in a
duplicated way to achieve the power of repetition and the beauty of scale. Are your works painted gesturally, instinctively? Or do you methodically transpose geometric schemes from paper to canvas? Once the idea has been decided, my way of painting is quite instinctive. I might
draw some small sketches to help find the right composition, while more often I paint directly on canvas. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Zhang. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?
I will be attending a three-month residence fellowship in Germany starting from October. This is my third artist residency, through which I hope to diversify my experience and broaden my vision so that I get to know myself and the world better. My future projects will continue to explore human nature and the mortal world. In
the mean time I will try to expand my means of presentation to make the art statement through a most powerful way. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant firstname.lastname@example.org
Women Cinemakers meets
Isabell Bullerschen & Felicia Eisenring Live and work in Zurich, Switzerland
We have been working together since 2015 and this work is based on three basicassumptions.+ The system of language is a calming one: the illusion ofa shared reality by means of an implicit code is keeping hu-mans alive. Yet unconsciously they are suffering by the rea-lisation of separation and longing for unity. And even thisassumption stays hypothetical. ++ The construction of reality is based on a mathematicaland scientific paradigm that leads to the image of one cal-culable and rational definable world. Science and humanitiesare describing a truth that is based on empirical evidences(observation / measurement) and theory (argumentation / ra-tionality). +++ This rational knowledge system has an antagonist: asensuous form of knowledge. (But as the notion of sensuousknowledge implies, this way of thinking is based on percep-tion and experience through your senses. And as the rationalknowledge system insists on the possibility that senses canfool you, the sensuous cognition still owns the character ofa lower form of knowledge.) What connects us is the way of seeing everyday life not as everyday life andthe shock of realising the isolation of the human consciousness. At the sametime we donâ€™t want to accept neither this realisation nor the isolation as defini-te. We are interested in the emergence (origin, development), transmission andexchange of knowledge and information. Everybody is just interested aboutwhat comes out. We wanna know whatâ€™s inside and how it entered. The obser-vation of the affiliation of different forms of subjectivization such as animals,objects, humans and ipse together with the fascination for the system of sensu-ous knowledge lets us produce work with an theoretical yet intuitive approachto the material.Working on the obscure, transition and hybrid we are focusing on video worksand installations with several layers dealing with the possibilities and archeolo-gy of the medium. Not asking for a definite identity but generate something thathappens in between. No clear answers but clearly taking a position, confusingyet providing clear structures and hints, is part of the work. Our way of workinginherent is an examination of the effect of surface, montage and narration of thematerial.As a form of knowledge art was visual perception, we see it as form of slicingand dissecting like human reason in philosophy does. Generating and media-ting sensuous knowledge that leads to a sensuous cognition is our contribution to conquer the stupidity of a programmed world.
Photo by Philip Frowein
Hello Isabell and Felicia, and welcome to : we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you both hold a Master of Arts in Fine Arts, that you received from the Zurich University of the Arts: how did this experience influence your evolution as artists? In particular, did direct the trajectory of your your artistic research? Isabell: Nobody can absolve themselves of the influence of their own cultural background and education, especially when it comes to education in art schools. Of course in science and humanities one can also follow the doctrine of a certain person but the main aim is to achieve objectivity, whereas in art everything stays subjective (as long as it evades a market or a system). Yet I experienced that every art school follows a certain canon. There are always hip topics, theorists and philosophical views and if you want to remain interesting in the eyes of certain people you had better be working on these topics. I found most of the topics that Iâ€™m working on before studying at Zurich University of the Arts. I always loved to soak up all the knowledge on offer but I was never interested in working on these trending topics. My influences come from the 15-year-old teenager-me, WestBerlin in the 80s and the Institute of Time-Based Media of the Berlin University of Arts. But still I have to admit that both schools have influenced both my theoretical background and my practice; theoretically by Berlin and practically by Zurich, respectively. I actually have a greater
Women Cinemakers admiration for people that never had an artistic education. My favourite director (JĂśrg Buttgereit), who created a bunch of mind-blowing and highly absorbing movies, was rejected by a film school. FĂŠlicia: Of course the art school influenced me, but I tried from a very early stage to differentiate myself, choosing exactly what I consumed and with which teachers I spoke with about my/our work. I think it is very important to be critical of the institution, but it was still a good experience using this platform. Most significant for me was the semester abroad in Berlin, where I could experience a different art school and its processes. I cannot deny that I am female, a European, etc. and therefore the cultural background is never unimportant. But what I can try is to be aware of it and to work constructively, critically and awake. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established since 2015 are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us of your something about creative process? Can you explain how your works demonstrates communication between two artists? FĂŠlicia: We have different backgrounds. Isabell has a lot of theory, I`ve always been a more practical human being. We complement each other in many ways and it often seems like we are performing music together. Our talks and starting points for a new artwork flow at high speed, very
naturally and freely. Every new work builds on a previous one, thus old thoughts are brought up again, sometimes more precisely or sometimes from a different perspective, but always in a playful way. Isabell: I think you can compare it to one of these commitment-phobia relationships that often arise today. We knew from the beginning that we function quite well together but it remained a loose liaison with no pressure. It’s only since last year that we’ve been working almost exclusively with each other. One
reason we are so well suited is probably because we don’t need a lot of dialogue to understand each other, which suits me as I’m very impatient and I get nervous when people don’t understand what I’m trying to say. At the moment for example we are working on a VR project for an installation. When Félicia and I started to formulate the concept, everything was pretty clear pretty quickly, but when I began talking to a 3D-Artist about what we wanted, I realised again how hard it can be to transmit your ideas verbally. I think apart from the deep understanding, our creative processes
are pretty normal: it is essentially a ping-pong game in which we provide each other with information and then get it inspired by it. What makes it fruitful are probably our different temperaments. While Félicia is pretty fast forward, I’m more phlegmatic. When we are editing for example — something we mostly do together — Félicia would throw away a lot of material that I would keep. Therefore I would need much longer to edit a video alone but she could miss some details. This is why we do it together.
Félicia: What I like about working with Isabell is the lightness that we achieve only when making art. We often have the same communication difficulties as all humans, but when we work together many differences are non-existent and an unbelievable energy is released. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting 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 relationship of humans with the dog as part of the history of civilization is the way you have provided the viewers with a multilayered visual experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us what did you attract of this subject? Félicia: We were interested in the relationship of man, nature, and animal, but also the disunity that this Wolfdog carries within itself. Playing with different film genres seemed to us very exciting. The film oscillates in every way. What we wanted to work out was this uncertainty. As a viewer, what kind of relationship the animal has to humans remains a mystery until the very end. Is it wild? Does it know Man? Does it feel threatened or disturbed by humans or does the animal already accompany them? Isabell: Potomok vlkov is the product of a process that took almost a year. We were observing the dog in a garden within a building — you know these office blocks with open-air gardens that are surrounded by walls of concrete. Dogs are not actually allowed inside this building with this artificial wilderness. We realised how the animal was changing the scene through its own artificiality. It added a whole new story to the lost plants. When we started exploring this animal further through film, we didn’t actually know where this would lead. It was more or less like a research study; an experiment, an observation with an open end. The observation through
Women Cinemakers the eye of the cameras (which were only smartphone cameras by the way) was accompanied by a lot of discussions about what it actually means to be the “owner” of a dog, to breed animals, especially in this special case of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog. This breed is a very young breed from 1950s Czechoslovakia, bred to create an optimised breed of dog for border protection purposes. They interbred a Carpate Wolf and a German Shepherd. What they wanted was a guardian that is as aggressive and harsh as a wolf but still controllable like a domesticated dog. It didn’t work — the new breed was so hard to tame that it took decades until people were able to use this animal as an “instrument”. As you said, this is basically what the video deals with: the relation of dogbreeding humans and the product of their experiments. This was not only from a historical perspective — we also took a look at people who own these Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs today. On another note, if I was referring to the use of the dog as an empowerment of the human now, in the video the role of the animal is left open. We wanted to question which species empowers or adapts, as well as to fuel the imagination of the recipient. I think what was really important was that we kept the explorative method throughout the process. After we collected tons of filmed material we started editing with no script, treatment or any other plan. In the end we used maybe 5 % of what we had shot. The whole storyline was built intuitively; the montage was like composing music. I think that is what makes it so associatively narrative.
Deviating from traditional videomaking, rejects any conventional classifications, oscillating from documentary and fiction and we dare say that it could be considered an report of the need of providing the complexity of our society with a human aspect. French anthropologist and sociologist Marc Augè once suggested the idea that modern age creates two separate poles: nature science and culture society: as artists particularly interested in the emergence, transmission and exchange of knowledge and information, how does Art could work as a bridge between such aspects of humanistic research? Isabell: I don’t know if I would agree with Augé — I would need a bit more information about this idea. But what I can say in general about the advantage of art as research is that you are actually free to use all known forms of gathering and mediating knowledge and that you can generate new forms through combining rational and sensuous knowledge — an Ars Combinatoria. Not only the brain, but also other senses are activated. But this is basically nothing new. The idea of combining theoretica and practica is reasonably old. The exact scientists are limited due to their partial education. Ironically, sensuous knowledge has remained a lower form of knowledge since the modern age. The problem is that the capitalist and neoliberal system that we are living in is connected to the rational knowledge system. Society and the media are occupied by exact sciences: economics, biology, physics, mathematics and so on. One is allowed to believe in empirical evidences (that
A still from
Women Cinemakers which was measured) and in rationally based arguments, whereas objectivity is the highest achievement. Art itself can actually be a part of this system. Therefore I want to use it more as a tool and see it more as a process than a product. We see it as form of slicing and dissecting like human reason in philosophy does, similar to uncovering something layer by layer. Generating and mediating sensuous knowledge that leads to a sensuous cognition is our contribution to conquer the stupidity of a programmed world. Like Foucault said: Generate something that happens between the ideas and that you canâ€™t name. Try to give it a form, colour, intensity that never says what it is. This is the art of living. The art of living is to create with other humans and entities relations and qualities with no name. Artists should have the ambition that their outcome or findings should not only be relevant within the context of art, but also in society. FĂŠlicia: I find it very absurd that we humans have such immovable faith in numbers, such as old stories that our grandparents told us. Faith in science is very strong and it is very important to us to focus on knowledge outside science, because it is an incredibly huge flow of knowledge. Art is a way to generate new knowledge and to question existing knowledge in a very differentiated way. Art not only builds a bridge between concepts, but generates new knowledge. Austrian-British historian E. Gombrich, writing in , talked about the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can participate in the illusion. Your artistic practice is
centered on video works and installations and we really appreciate the way it reveals a masterful , capable of walking the spectatorship : what are you hoping your film will trigger in the spectatorship? In particular, how important is it for you to address the viewer's imagination in order to elaborate ? Isabell: We wanted to mediate something factual in a sensuous way. Therefore we used documented material and it seems like the manipulation is marginal. In actual fact, this is what leads to a highly artificial and constructed impression and a latently felt fiction. Brecht and Godard also used this method â€” reality creates fiction. The disclosure of how the video was made does not interfere with the aesthetic pleasure. Of course the use of smartphone cameras and the noisy original sound recording also creates a subjectivity and an artificial closeness. But we also used an almost classical three-act dramaturgy and added some small Hollywood moments to further blur the distinction between documentary and fiction. The space for imagination and an associative narration lies somewhere between this oscillation of the genres, the surface of the images and the sound. We give a hint to the breeding story of the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog within the title of the piece. FĂŠlicia: Good art does not answer questions but asks questions. The viewer is the one who finally ends the work. It is important for us to show an attractive design language, but
Women Cinemakers at the same time we do not want to make it too easy for the viewer. We want them to stumble, to reconsider the solid and insecure and to take pleasure in this open space. I certainly consider the viewer and that I want to communicate very precisely and Radically when I work. But for me, making art is also a personal way to understand my environment, to deal with it and to ask my questions. This is a purely selfish act. For me, art is very existential on the one hand, but also a great luxury on the other. As you have remarked once,
: how important is for your direct experience as starting point of your creative process? In particular, how does fuel your artistic research? Isabell: When our school moved to a new building something interesting happened. The steps of a particular staircase up to the main entrance were built in a way that you could not walk up in a natural way. They were too long to do one step and too short to do two steps. Walking up there in an elegant way became a challenge and everybody was suddenly talking about this staircase. Something that usually is not worth talking about because it is “working” became relevant. Almost everything in our life remains invisible as long as it works. We are trying to see these invisible things and not take everything as given, especially the isolation of the human consciousness. The fact that you cannot slip into someone else’s consciousness, that you cannot see the world through someone else’s eyes, seems
Women Cinemakers like an unsolvable problem. But it is working on these seemingly unsolvable problems that motivates us.
, how do you consider the role of artist in our unstable and globalised contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to ?
Isabell: As I mentioned before, the advantage of an artist as a researcher is that they are not limited to a certain way of carrying out research. You can use all possible methods to observe, discover and reveal particular circumstances. This also means that where rational ways fail you can use irrational and unconventional principles. I think this becomes even more significant when referring to limitations due to the political system that youâ€™re living under. These borders should always fuel artistic work and collaborations. An interesting fact to take note of is that artistic research (or the institutionalisation of Artistic Research) is fueling art and science, becoming a more equal form of knowledge, but also fueling the tendency that art remains in an ivory tower like philosophy does. There is a controversial discussion going on, that also leads me to rethink the notion of artistic research (what I see as the mentioned process or tool to work with) that became (institutionalised) Artistic Research.
FĂŠlicia: Of course, I would very much like to see the artist as a major critical entity. I believe in the influence of artists on society. At the moment, however, art is very elitist and does not reach large sections of the population. Our art does not react to a particular moment. We are part of society and our work addresses issues that occupy us and that we regard as extremely urgent for us and in the best case also for many viewers.
We have deeply appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women from getting behind the have been camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema?
FĂŠlicia: If you are an artist, you are an artist 24/7. I would argue that any experience in life flows into it, if it seems interesting. The art comes from life and our everyday life is certainly extremely influenced by art and vice versa. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once remarked that " ": as an artist particularly interested in
Women Cinemakers FĂŠlicia: The art world is still a macho art system. You just have to do a lot more as a woman to be heard. Channels such as WomenCinemakers who exclusively promote women are very important. Finally, we must not move into an extra zone and try to work on an equal footing with our male counterparts. The quality should always be decisive. Change takes time, but we will not tire and will try to support the next generation of women. As I already mentioned, I cannot deny that I am a woman. Feminism is also very often included in our work. This is a difficult, important and sensitive issue. Never stop talking about discrimination, no matter what form it takes. Isabell: The process of change is a long and exhausting one. And yes, there are signs. But it is just as in the art world: when you see a gallery with ten male artists and two female artists, that still appears â€˜normalâ€™. Not even women in the art business are realising it or even arguing against it perhaps, even though the art world in particular should play the role of a pioneer when it comes to gender questions. And the reason is without doubt not due to a lack of interesting female artists. The same can be said in filmmaking, especially given that there are no physical or biological reasons (one of the silly arguments against women working in fields that don't "fit" to them) for women not to work in film. For me it actually seems more natural that women work with cameras and machines. But to make this visible, to change current conditions and to reach a gender-neutral
climate in art and film producing (and everywhere else), we probably need a counterbalance first. This is why we need art prizes just for women, the WomenCinemakers magazine and so on. Just putting women in positions that were male-dominated before cannot be a solution. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Isabell and Felicia. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Isabell: We just started working on a VR Video that will be part of an installation. For the installation we developed a way to measure the mood of a room and we created a second test to measure the temperament of the visitors of the exhibition. The VR installation will double the exhibition space and create a second reality where the spectator will be exposed to certain changes of reality but also will get more information about specific elements of the installation. Finally we will provide a buffet with balancing food for unbalanced temperaments und humors. The work is based on the ancient medical concept of humoralism and the theory of the four types of temperaments: the choleric, sanguine, melancholic and phlegmatic. The work deals with the different ways in how knowledge emerges and can be transmitted. It criticizes the rational knowledge centrism and the belief of humans to be at the peak
of creation. We are also working on our first movie! By that I mean in terms of production; for the first time we are working with a script and a whole production team. The experimental short film IPSE is based on "The History of the Eye" by Georges Bataille — a French philosopher and author. Inspired by Roland Barthes’ linguistic analysis of the narration, IPSE shows the potential of transgression: the brief overcoming of human isolation, the escape from weak, verbal communication. A strong and clear communication between individuals and slipping into the consciousness of other beings becomes possible. We follow Georges and her boyfriend Simone through an episodic narrative of their escapades in which they end up experiencing the climax of their questionable amalgamation. Reduced but detailed shots will create a circulation movement like Roland Barthes found in the story of Bataille. The transgression is supposed to become perceptible through the form of the movie. We are going to use filmed shots but also animations and mixed forms of both types. Bataille is one of our recurring influences — in almost all our work you can find traces of his ideas. Félicia: What is also a central theme in our work is the great interest in a dilettantism that we see as a great but also fleeting quality. For new artwork we often use techniques or media that we have never used before and whose characteristics are completely new to us. Thank you for the opportunity to talk to you and be part of this issue of WomenCinemakers!