Page 1

w o m e n CHRISSIE STEWART LUCJA GRODZICKA REBECCA FLYNN CATHERINE BIOCCA SUNARA BEGUM JOANNE DOROTHEA-SMITH ANAÏS PÉLAQUIER JOY MEYER EVA DEPOORTER GISELA WEIMANN

INDEPENDENT

WOMEN’S

CINEMA Ji Su Kang-Gatto


cINEMAKERS S������ E������

A�� R����� R�������

W O M E N

W����C��������� ������ ��� ���� 300’000 ������� ������� ���� ��� ���� �� �������� ��������� �� ��� ����� ���� ��� ������������ ������ ��������. W���� P��������, W������, ��� D�������� ���� ������ ��� ����� ���� ��� ����������� �� ������� ����� ����� �� ��� ���� ��������� �� ��� E������-������� ��������. S���� 2012 W����C��������� ��� ���� ��������� ��� ����������� �� �������� ��� ������� N��� N�� W���� F��������� ���� ������ ������ ��� ��� ���������� �����. W��� � ������� COVER : J� S� K���-G����

��������������������

© 2012 - 2018

�� ��������� ��� ����������� ���������, ��� ������ ��������� ��� �������� ���� ���� 100 �������, ���� ���� �� ���� ��������� �� ������������� ���� ��������� ��������� ��� C����� F�������, B����� I������������ F��� F�������, ��� ��� V����� B�������. F��� ��������� ���� �� ��������� ���� �� ����������� ��� �� ��� ��������� ��� ��� ����� ������ ��. G����� �� ��� ����������� �������. T�� ����� ����� ��� �������� ������ ��� ������ �� �����. J��� W����C���������.


Contents 04 Gisela Weimann

144 Sunara Begum

Pea(ce Soup

Project 21: A Meditation on Stillness

42

180

Eva Depoorter

Catherine Biocca

Belgiac

Gertie Reloaded

66

210

Joy Meyer

Rebecca Flynn

90

240

The Wilderness

404_Error_Not_Found

Anaïs Pélaquier

Lucja Grodzicka

vehemence

Between

118

258

Joanne Dorothea-Smith

Chrissie Stewart

Reality Thins

Shadows


Women Cinemakers meets

Gisela Weimann Lives and works in Berlin, Germany The Pea(ce Soup is the second dish from my "Kitchen Symphony in Five Courses with Service." The recipe of the American sound artist Pauline Oliveros uses peas and peace as ingredients for her electronic soup and combines them with a pun into a currently much-needed nourishment. The improvising soloists of the evening – Katia Guedes, Matthias Badczong, Johannes Bauer, Friedemann Graef and Ritsche Koch – come from Brazil, Germany and Austria and cross naturally the borders between countries, cultures and word meanings as well as between different artistic genres. Their actions enter into a playful dialogue with the composed music. The electronic sounds are complemented and enhanced by the echo of rolling and rattling noises of objects and sound hats. The singer is wearing a greenish, shimmering silk dress in the form of a pea pod with removable peas that invite the musicians to play. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Hello Gisela and welcome to : you are a versatile artist and your pratice is marked out with such stimulating multidisciplinary feature, that allows you to range from painting, printmaking, photography and film to performance art and art in public space: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what inspires you you to such a captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme of your artistic research? A friendly hello from me as well to the readers and editors of WomenCinemakers. At first, I wish to thank you for the interest in my work. The questions of the interview have triggered a reflection process about my past, presence and future. For decennies my work

has been accompanied by diary entries, letters that I write to myself, folded and inserted into envelopes. They are a private dialogue about the time in which I live. In relation to the questions I will consult my diary and include some clips from the collection Thoughts about Time in a themerelated context. berlin, 14 december 2014 ... in the morning, through the moments between day and night time is moving and does not allow to be stopped - all my decade long efforts to outsmart it have failed time has gone by with it’s own laws and i with mine, imposed on me by life - as far as possible, i have tried to take influence by attempts to escape to distant places, but it was always there before me ... The decision what to express or which medium to use is a complex process that is linked to my early experiences and my formation. I draw from my studies in the field of painting, printmaking, photography and film, from memories of my extensive travels and stays in special cultural environments and from the inspiration I receive from other artists. Last not least it is the working process itself that leads to new ideas and demands a suited formal


Women Cinemakers response. This sediment of memories and practical knowledge is a conscious as well as subconcious source. It is almost 55 years by now that I have worked as an artist in search of finding an adequate form for my feelings and thoughts. Since the 1980s a focal point of my work are sound installations, performances and experimental music-theatre-productions which involve artists and theorists from different fields and nationalities. Often my inventions have their origin in the sound of a poetic play on words or emerge from the collaboration with poets, composers, musicians and from current events, like my recent video A Sea of Troubles. Many ideas pop up continuously and seem at first exciting and easy to realize. However, especially with multimedia projects that involve other artists, specialists as well as expensive sound and light equipment the problems turn up in the technical realisation. Developing the final format for large projects like the Opera for 4 Buses or the so far as a whole unrealised Kitchen Symphony in Five Courses with Service demand self confidence, courage, and perseverence during months of research with the writing up of concepts and funding applications. berlin, 22 january 2000 … somewhere inside i am convinced that i will succeed in the realisation of the opera – a big conviction, when i consider the extent of the project's details – but the general form comes first and only then the details – in my internal dialogue, i answer a question about the aesthetic purpose of the opera – “it is about the disintegration of the context of reality, the irritations that everyone experiences when reflecting on the real world – i find this reality threatened and unreal, the well-functioning interplay of social reason and the onslaught of madness, which could cause this structure to break apart from one moment to the next”… If a request is turned down the question is either to think of alternatives and try to find support elsewhere or to give up. Failure is part of everybody’s life. The exhibition project Unrealized with concepts and sketches from my drawers is waiting to be exhibited and I collect all the “…we are sorry to inform you…” letters for a presentation at my 90th birthday. “Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.“ (Marshall McLuhan)


Women Cinemakers For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Pea(ce Soup, an extremely interesting 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/233838292: when walking our readers through the genesis of Pea(ce Soup, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Pea(ce Soup, a 15 minute electronic composition by Pauline Oliveros, is the second dish of my projected Küchensymphonie in fünf Gängen mit Verköstigung (Kitchen Symphony in Five Courses with Service) from 2005. After the successful performance of my Opera for 4 Buses in the frame of the Museum Island Festival Götterleuchten in 2001 I wanted to continue with a comprehensive audio-visual production. The bus opera had transformed four mirrored city buses into a public, mobile theater stage, which integrated both the audience in the buses as well as the passers-by and the city into the flood of reflected images and the music-theatrical plot, whereas the kitchen symphony withdraws inside to the rather private situation of a meal and extends the physical sensations of hearing and seeing by smelling and tasting. The original concept of the kitchen symphony was conceived for five women composers (chefs!), five female singers, various musicians, a performer/dancer, electronic tapes/live electronics, the “Pots and Pans Orchestra” and an active audience. Meanwhile the project underwent various conceptual changes and only Pea(ce Soup could be realized so far. Before I explore my cooperation with Pauline Oliveros I will share part of the recent concept text of the project with you: „The sensory symphonic art menu is planned as a spacious interactive installation combining action in a staged space, a dining audience as well as musicians wearing hats made of pots and pans which serve as atonal sound sources. Four women composers and a visual artist have selected recipes for a musical and culinary menu. They come not only from various walks of life and different cultural backgrounds, they also represent several generations: Gisela Weimann, aperitif “Cheers – Zum Wohle – Salud” (Germany, *1943); Annette Schluenz, hors d’oeuvre “Tricolore” (Germany / France, *1964); Pauline Oliveros, “Pea(ce Soup” (USA, 1932-2016); Karmella Tsepkolenko, main dish “Brtutschi” (Ukraine, *1955); Eva Donaire, dessert “Berliner” (Spain / lives in Germany, *1968).


Women Cinemakers This is reflected not only in the music but also in the design of the singers‘ costumes and the scenic set up. The introductory aperitif invites the guests to join in with an electronic tape of clanging glasses by toasting to each other, and the humorous concluding dessert of “Berliner” (a round pancake with icing) includes John F. Kennedy’s famous statement “Ich bin ein Berliner” (I am a Berliner). The recipes were selected by the composers and me. They also serve as inspiration for the libretti, which are projected or sung and whispered by the singers in the various languages. This international menu is like a mosaic reflecting personal tastes on the one hand and the cuisine of the countries on the other. Abstract pictures and sounds of a mixer, washing and cutting of vegetables, and coffee being ground are all part of the visual and tonal setting. Each dish – acted out by a singer, musicians, a percussionist and a performer – invites the audience to embark on an imaginary journey. Art is thus not only a shared act which everybody present takes part in but also an experience for all the senses. In addition, the symphony travels in stages through different cultures and epochs, covering about half a century and making stops in Germany, France, the United States, the Ukraine and Spain.“ In memoriam Pauline Oliveros Our artistic cooperation started in 2001 with her generous gift of the composition “Klangspiegel” (sound mirror) that she created and sent to me to accompany a symposium, exhibition and book presentation on my works with mirrors from 25 years. I used this meditative composition again in the video Emily’s Guests, https://vimeo.com/104799996, that was taken in June 2014 at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice outside and inside my guest apartment at Corte Ca’ Michiel and finished in Berlin in 2015, in memory of the 10th anniversary of Emily Harvey’s death. Emily’s Guests and the extended and re-edited video version of Pea(ce Soup of September 2017 are now a memorial for Pauline Oliveros as well . In 2005 I had received a development grant for the“Kitchen Symphonyin Five Courses with Service” by the Berlin Capital Culture Fund. I used it to produce the pots and pans orchestra and invited the selected composers to present their

sketches during a discussion meeting at the Podewil in Berlin (Pauline Oliveros joined via life stream). For the draft fee given to each composer I received a finished composition and supportive interest in the development of her piece from Pauline. This enabled me to present the premiere performance at the Teatro Fondamenta Nuove in Venice in 2010 with my former group ‚Weimann Sisters Limited‘. In 2012, Pea(ce Soup was performed again with different soloists in an extended version at the Labyrint Festival in Slubice, Poland. When I received the announcement about her concert in Berlin from her in February of 2016 I wrote back at once regretting that I could not get a ticket for the sold out performance. Her immediate answer and her effort to get a ticket for me convey again her generosity, concern and solidarity. I spent the day with her and her partner at her lecture, the rehearsal and the performance and captured some moments of it with a small pocket camera under impossible lighting conditions. Not knowing that it was the first and the last time that we met in person I cherish the 5 minute video clip Pauline Oliveros in Berlin, https://vimeo.com/288747646, that I assembled from the material as a precious memory of her. Pea(ce Soup involved Katia Guedes, Matthias Badczong, Johannes Bauer, Friedemann Graef and Ritsche Koch, how much importance does improvisation play in your artistic practice? For an independent artist the skill of improviation has to be learned at an early stage in her/his carreer. Accordingly, my improvisational practice is spontaneity, flexibility and openness to adopt my ideas to given situations and environments and to different composers and musicians - and last not least to the available funding. Many of my performance concepts like the acrobatic Four Winds Ballet, the Stair Case Theatre or Zellophonie demand improvisation skills from performers and musicians and the ability to react to and interact with the audience and ambience sounds and activities. Pauline Oliveros was a great improviser and Pea(ce Soup was composed as a frame and inspiration for improvising musicians who are wearing the sound hats and the


Women Cinemakers costume that I designed for it. My announcement for the Polish premiere in 2012, dedicated to Pauline Oliveros for her 80th birthday, referred to this: „The recipe that the American sound artist Pauline Oliveros invented for her electronic soup uses peas and peace as ingredients and combines them with a pun into a currently much-needed nourishment. The improvising soloists of the evening - Katia Guedes, Matthias Badczong, Johannes Bauer, Friedemann Graef and Ritsche Koch - come from Brazil, Germany and Austria and cross naturally the borders between countries, cultures and word meanings as well as between different artistic genres. Their actions enter into a playful dialogue with the composed music. The electronic sounds are complemented and enhanced by the echo of rolling and rattling noises of objects and sound hats. The singer is wearing a greenish shimmering silk dress in the form of a pea pod with removable ‚peas‘ that can be used for cheerful interventions. At the end of the performance the festival participants will be served the Pea(ce Soup - vegetarian, of course: peace also for the animals!“ Your artistic production is often pervaded with socio political criticism, and we have particularly appreciated the way A Sea of Troubles inquiries into the themes of war and violence that affect our globalised and unstable contemporary age. 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 in your opinion the role of artists be in our unstable, everchanging contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? When looking back different events appear more formative than others to us and can cause severe reactions and fears in certain contexts and situations. I was born in the war and have inherited a burden of unbearable horrors. At the age of four I lived through my first escape when the family fled from the East of Germany to the West. These experiences have shaped my attitude to life. berlin, 12 september 1993 … i had unsettling departure dreams last night – i wanted to take a ship to america or south america, and stood a few metres away from the quay with a huge amount of bags and cases, became nervous, because it was time to depart, went with two bags towards the ship and saw that it had already started to move – i screamed "help, help, i’m supposed to come with you", was seen and heard, and then the ship docked again at the quay – i left both bags


Women Cinemakers there, ran back to the other luggage, found someone to help me, and loaded down with unwieldy pieces of luggage and other bags, stumbled to the ship, which had drawn away again in the meantime – once more the big ship came back upon my desperate cries, and i embarked exhausted, and sought a place where i could rest… perhaps it is the experience of flight, buried deep in my memory since the frightening departure from my place of birth, bad blankenburg … I have unconscious memories of air raids and my way to school in Osnabrück led through ruins. Often I feel like I am still on the run and can not escape from the pictures and stories that haunt me. My first film about these memories, made in 1980 at the end of my film courses at the Art Institute in San Francisco, describes this futile escape of the protagonist - played by myself - from the unbearable documentaries, films and photo reports of the Second World War and the Vietnam War that are indelibly buried in her consciousness and subconscious. berlin, 8 november 1993 ... gray time with flickering candles - i feel tired and encircled by dark thoughts - november is here, the bright days are over - the trip to kraków and auschwitz has touched deep layers of memory and fear unknown images, empathetic and repressed shudder arise - how thin is the ice that our secure, normal live crosses, how deep the abyss below - meaning and legitimacy of my existence, of all human existence is questioned ... berlin, 9 november 1993 ... my thoughts of kraków always return to the brutal despotism of the national socialists ... – such a large apparatus was not planned and kept going by a small group, there were many professionals involved and many compliant collaborators in eastern and western europe as the map of the countries shows, from which people of jewish descent were dragged, betrayed and torn from the safety of their communities – what can art do here? A Sea of Troubles from 2016, https://vimeo.com/180650966, is a 3:34 mins long video sketch with the spoken text of the first section of Hamlet's monologue (William Shakespeare, 1603). It is the third film in a series, preceeded by Memories or the failed attempt to escape from 1980 and World in Flames from 2011. berlin, 30 april 2017 ... my childhood is dying – it is the dreams that are dying in the flowering high grassy summer meadows, and the frail blue butterflies - the ones are dying whom i had known for long, those, who had saved a little from that time - the memory dies and is replaced by facts - "wake up, not the dream,


Women Cinemakers this here is the reality that has shaped your life: war, violence, destruction, power struggles, hate, lies, and war again" - on the radio first a broadcast about the madres de plaza de mayo in buenos aires, then bach cantata and service from the friesen chapel in wennigstedt - "the lord is my shepherd, i will not lack anything ... he grazes me on a green meadow ... and prepares a table for me in the face of my enemies ..." - whoever believes this will be blessed ... For some years, it seemed like war, major social crises and aggressive confrontations in Europe had been overcome. This changed with the rebellions of the so-called Arab Spring that started in Tunesia in 2010, spread out to Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and other Islamic countries and brought the terror troop of the Islamic State in Iraq on the plan. Their attempt to install a fundamentalist Islamic regime in the greater region with brutal attacks - also in Europe - brought back the shocking awareness of the irrational and incredibly cruel actions people are capable of and caused hundreds of thousands to immigrate to Europe in escape of war and poverty. berlin, 17 september 2017 ... "god and the world", from 9:00 to 9:30 and then jubilating bach cantatas: culture radio - culture and church, what all this includes! - my head is flooded with feelings, memories, images, opinions, reactions, and denies me clear thoughts - and right after, 'worship', a heavily loaded word - as christians we should follow our lord unconditionally to the death, christ has gone ahead by good example, and jakob would have sacrificed his son for god without hesitation, if the angel had not intervened – for that we christians will come into the paradise and islamist suicide bombers to 49 virgins - for such hollow promises people expel, murder, rape and loot other people in the name of their respective 'lord' My hope that it could be generally accepted that we are all different, have dissimilar beliefs and concepts of life and could live peacefully in a multiethnic, culturally diverse world is dying as well. berlin, 5 september 2015 ... sunday morning with bach cantata – jubilant singers from the radio cannot see how terrible the weather is outside the windows, how lashing the wind, how gray the sky - they praise lightheartedly god in the highest - we down here are grieved, here, virtually, hell is loose and hundreds of thousands of refugees try to escape from it


Women Cinemakers and get from bad to worse in front of barbed wire and beating policemen, who, on behalf of their states, are ordered to prevent that the strangers get a foot on the ground in their country ... A Sea of Troubles closes the cycle by exploring associative scenes to Hamlet's famous soliloquy that make us aware of the in vain personal escape from the events and horrors of the surrounding reality, as well as our helpless reactions to it. Hamlet's inner monologue on social ills, the fate of the individuals and their perplexity and indecision with regard to the necessary action in view of the situation, seem more topical than ever to me. berlin, 2 february, 2017 ... the uncertainty whether everything is real grows was i in rome? - imperium romanum and all before and after, each with a bloody will to power, were they there, and are they still living under and above soil, allowing their dreams of national greatness to resurrect? - i cannot locate myself, the compass spins wildly to all directions, confuses over-hasty thoughts until everything turns dizzy - thousands of years and the history of my own 73: born during the war and crosslinked to downfall all around – i am still on my way carrying heavy luggage ... Not to mention that almost everything, from Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen to Marta Minujín's 'Reading the News', could be considered political, do you think Pea(ce Soup could be considered a political work of art, in a certain sense? What is a political work of art in these days in which the concept of art is stretched beyond recognition!? I just received the announcement of volume 254 of Kunstforum. Under the topic „Nachkunst“ (literally Afterart) Wolfgang Ulrich notes a „metamorphoses of the concept of the work in curated and political art of the present“, demands more precision in the selection of symbols and poses the question: „Are there specific artistic possibilities to be political and to create works that emphasize both strict artistic demands and ambitious political-moral concerns?“ I am not going to order the volume and read his article before I go on with the completion of the interview but from the changes in the perception of art and the intentions of artists I have experienced throughout the years it would be much too difficult for me to find a universal reply to this. Time, context, and the art market transform politically intended artistic statements into their


opposite, e.g.: documents from DADA protests, which were a pacifist revolt by the artists themselves against the established art and the questinable cultural values of the bourgeois societies after the First World War, have since long conquered the arts pages, are worth a lot of money and part of private and museum collections. Answering your question, yes, I think that Pauline Oliveros' "Pea(ce Soup" can be understood as an appeal to the living to shape their time in such a way that everybody can eat their pea soup in peace. The electronic composition offers improvising musicians a free, harmonious coexistence, which is a political attitude. We have experienced in the recent past and experience every day how true Gabriel Orozco’s remark is, that a statement or an activity changes its meaning with the political and geographical context. And the more so, it is the consequences that change. I have just returned from Prague. The city occupies an important place in my artistic education and my political awareness. A study tour of the University of the Arts in which I participated in 1968, took place in the middle of the 'Prague Spring'. The wonderful atmosphere of a new beginning and the enthusiasm about a free future chosen by the people was transmitted to everybody and made the visit unforgettable. The ‘Socialism with a Human Face’, expressed in the art and films of that short period and the hope for freedom ended with the bloody invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops in August that year. Education is at the beginning of a tolerant, free world. I understand Pauline Oliveros’ Deep Listening practice as an important teaching to enhance respectful listening to and awareness of the world around and the person next to you. Leaders and supporters of totalitarian systems know that, use the denial of education and of free, independent thinking as a tool to oppress women and pursue their critics to the death. There are cross overs and examples in this chapter - historic and recent - linked to your questions 4 and 7, when one is pondering what could be considered a political work of art under given circumstances. I just want to mention a few names from the long list of impressive women in all fields of art and life who have acted truly political with the proposition to the readers to investigate about them: Olympe de Gouges, *7 May 1748, † 3 November 1793 on the guillotine for her fight for equal rights for women. She is the author of the

beautifully worded “Declaration of Rights of the Woman and Citizen of 1791”. Sophie Scholl, * 9 May 1921, † 22 February 1943, when she was sentenced to death for the distribution of dissident leaflets and her membership in the resistance group White Rose together with her brother Hans Scholl by Nazi judges and executed on the same day. Malala Yousafzai, who, from the age of 11 years on, spoke up in a blog against injustice and violence and for the education of girls. Taliban fighters in Afghanistan stopped a bus with school girls that she was in and shot her in the head on 14 October 2014. She survived, was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace and continues to speak up for school education for girls. In my project “Texts for the German Unity” I have overpainted one of the articles I used from the magazine ‘Die Zeit’ with the line: Today hero and tomorrow swine, why should it be different this time. (“Heute Held und morgen Schwein, warum soll es dies Mal anders sein”.) According to media theorist Marshall McLuhan, there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favouring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than the ear. How do you consider the role of sound in your performance practice? The world is visual, it sounds, it is smelling, it is moving, it is changing. I cannot underwrite McLuhan’s theory. We are equally overwhelmed by both, images and sounds in our modern cities. Music and sound have a strong influence on our feelings. A soundtrack in a movie can completely change the images and turn the view of a lake on a quiet evening into a dramatic scene, announcing an approaching danger. Contemporary music experiments raised the understanding that the conglomerate of ambient noises can become music. This has a parallel in the visual arts with the defamiliarization of banal, everyday scenes to create an artistic process. The extension of the visual into space with installations, sound and performances appeared in my work in the 1980s, and in 1989 I cooperated for the first time with composer Franz Martin Olbrisch in his multimedia outdoor piece “Im


Women Cinemakers Anfänglichen läuft keine Spur, wer könnte da suchen” (In the beginning there is no trace, who could search there) at the New National Gallery in Berlin with my installation and performance “Außen Vor” (Left Out). From then on sound became increasingly important to me as part of the whole picture. I invented sound installations and experimental music-theater pieces and worked with many composers on the staging of their and my own works, among them Pauline Oliveros, Eva Donaire, Karmella Tsepkolenko, Annette Schluenz, Ellen Hünigen, Natalia Pschenitschnikova, Mayako Kubo, Friedrich Schenker, Witold Szalonek and Georg Katzer. To illustrate this I will quote from an early concept for the sound installation “Chamber Storms”, elements of which were later used in the concept of “Winterreise”, described in detail in the interview “Symphony, Encounter, Memory” in ‘n.paradoxa’: http://www.giselaweimann.de/2016/vol37_nparadoxa_SarahFrost_Gisela-Weimann.pdf. The theme is about traveling, the movement in time and space, the mystery of foreign worlds, curiosity and the resulting dialogue. The factum of time and the attempt to overcome it in a given space-time relationship are important, connecting components in my as well as in Olbrisch’s work. Many of his compositions become a continuum through their expansion whereas my work cycles of the "Parts of the Whole" extend over years and in their respective execution are strongly dependent on the consciousness of the fragmentary within the complex simultaneity of different systems. The inherent symbolism of the installation stands for movement and change, for fresh wind as well as for the transitoriness of life. Chamber Storms (1999), installation and performance for ventilators, my old shoes, stools, light and shadows, electronics, live saxophone and audience Ventilators of various sizes and styles are placed onto stools whose front legs are sticking in a variety of my old shoes and seem to be marching through the space like strange characters. The movements of the visitors trigger sensors that set the ventilators in rotating motion with rustling, crackling, tearing, growling and roaring sounds and throw shadow images on the surrounding walls. For an extended performance version the noises of the ventilators are amplified, recorded and played back. The result is a dense, optical and acoustic fabric to which the improvisation of a saxophone player is added, creating the impression that wind, storm and a hurricane drone through the space.


Women Cinemakers We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and especially the way you recontextualized the body as a site of resistence that rejects 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 producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing: as an artist with a particular focus on feminist themes, what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? In particular, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? Inspite of all the discouragement it is a cheering fact that women have produced many ‘uncommon’ works in politics, art, research, science, as discoverers, and in private life by enabling the careers of men and managing a family and a home, and this way back in history till today. Gender research and the growing awareness that women are more than equal have made much of it – and by far not all - visible. That this is still not considered with regard to equal pay and opportunities is owned to the law of inertia that avoids uncomfortable situations like giving up dear and comfortable habits. The daily normality of these cherished habits is thoughtlessly taken for granted and often prevents the perception of simple, logical facts. When I lived in San Francisco and Mexico City I initiated exchange exhibitions between female artists from the two cities and Berlin. In Mexico I was asked at once: „Why only women“? I replied and had it printed in the invitation: „For decennies there have been large exhibitions only showing men and nobody asked: „Why only men“? This was in the 1980s and it had never occured to them. It is still fairly new that world-famous artists are changing their brand name by recognizing the part their creative wives had in their success, such as Christo and Jean-Claude, or mentioning them in their biographies, such as Bill Viola and Kira Perov. Another sensational sign of change: the young multimedia artist Anne Imhof was awarded with the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale 2017. I come from another time with less opportunities and encouragement but a growing awareness of the importance of feminist and solidary thinking. This inspired my research and curatorial activities in favour of female


Women Cinemakers colleagues in practice and theory. Besides the organisation of and participation in international exchanges between women artists I published critical articles and edited two extensive books: "Reflexionen-Reflections" deals with my works with mirrors from 25 years and "Geteilte Zeit, Fragen und Antworten" (Shared and Devided Times, questions and answers) is about situations and changes in society and the lifes of women over the past 40 years. All the personal descriptions and theoretical writings are by women artists and researchers, and both books were presented in the frame of international symposia. http://www.giselaweimann.de/pdf_exh09/GW_geteilteZeit_programm.pdf It were the American feminists Judy Chicago and Miriam Shapiro who turned the wheel with the large installation and performance project „Womanhouse“ in Los Angeles in 1972. It drew attention to the many unnoticed tasks and activities of women in everyday life and demanded recognition and respect for them. I studied in San Francisco during the spectacular staging of Judy Chicago’s „Diner Party“ at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1979 with the heritage floor of 999 names of women in art and history. It was accompanied by the internationally little noticed „Box Lunch“, an ironic comment by women artists in San Francisco. Once again, time for change had come and this impetus had an impact throughout the Western art scene with the foundation of many institutions, university courses, publications, galleries, museums and exhibition projects by and for ‚women only‘. All of these initiatives were underfunded and operated by unsalaried artists, theorists and dedicated volunteers. And this has not greatly changed. In the big art world and in public - including many women - the reactions were often condescending. Being an artist and feminist exhibiting in these places was negatively occupied and ensured that one was ignored outside of them. Once put in the so-called women’s corner, one was in it forever. Perseverance in pursuing ideas and principles with creativity and solidarity has been the road to success – not of all good start-ups like the „Support Association of the European Womens‘ Academy of the Arts and Sciences“ that was founded in my studio in 1995 – however, for a variety of exemplary projects. I have joined in with many of them and just want to pay tribute to a few. 1981 Marianne Pitzen and a group of artist and theorists of the association „Frauen formen ihre Stadt (Women shape their City), founded the then


Women Cinemakers worldwide first Women‘s Museum in Bonn, Germany. More than 500 exhibitions have since explored themes of female and social history and concern that stimulated nationwide and international interest. 1994 the first art prize for women from 40 onwards was launched in cooperation with the museum. The city of Bonn, instead of being proud of this stopped their subvention with the argument that female artists no longer needed special support. In their long praxis of fight women have learned to never give up: The team of the Frauenmuseum and hundreds of supporters will buy the house and continue. 1986 saw the foundation of ‘Das Verborgene Musem‘ (The Hidden Museum) in Berlin. One of the leading activists in this was the painter and writer Gisela Breitling. The registered association Das Verborgene Museum e. V. – presently with the chairwoman Elisabeth Moortgat, and Marion Beckers as artistic director - is the only institution in the world that programmatically deals with the public presentation and scholarly analysis of the lifeworks of women artists who have been forgotten for a variety of reasons. Since its founding, the Hidden Museum has already presented the lifeworks of around 100 female artists through exhibitions and publications. Scientific publications provide the basis for inclusion in academic discourse as well as for appreciation in the art market. The association has established a network through national and international links with museums, archives and colleges, gallery owners, estate administrators and the public, which in turn leads to bringing to light forgotten and scattered estates of female artists. 1998 Katy Deepwell launched „n.paradoxa“, an international feminist art journal. She is Professor of Contemporary Art, Theory and Criticism, in the Art and Design Faculty of Middlesex University. The journal published more than 500 articles in 40 thematic volumes on contemporary women artists, feminist readings of their work, feminist problematics in contemporary art and feminist aesthetics and politics, between 1998 and 2017, with a view to the local and global dynamics in contemporary art and feminism. In July 2017 I joined an international symposium with Katy Deepwell at Middlesex University that celebrated 20 years of n.paradoxa

under this topic. The 40 issues – starting with the title of volume 1 „Feminism/Postfeminism“ in 1998, on to „Desire and the Gaze“, in volume 6 in 2000, or „Dreams of the Future“, in volume 14 in 2004, and „Bio-politics“, in volume 28 in 2011 – had covered many issues of current importance in local and global societies and the feminist discussion. One of the last volumes, No 37 in 2016, "Sound?Noise!Voice!", dealt with yet another topical content about women in sound art and includes the 11 page long, illustrated interview about my work with music. It came as a surprise to the participants of the symposium that the latest volume No 40, „End and Beginnings“, should mark the end of the publication series, but it turned out that it was to be understood literally with the start of a new, international research and information platform that all artists and theorists can join: Fem-Art-LocalGlobalResearch@jiscmail.ac.uk One year later, in July 2018, I saw the impressive and encouraging exhibition „Women Who Dared” at the Bodleian Library in Oxford: Marianne Pitzen, Gisela Breitling and Kathy Deepwell belong to them. Another, more recent turning point with regard to the historical achievements by women came again from Los Angeles with the international exhibition „WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution“, which „…is the first institutional exhibition to examine comprehensively the international foundations and legacy of art made under the influence of feminism. This groundbreaking and long-awaited historical survey focuses on the crucial period of 1965 to 1980, when the majority of feminist activism and art making took place around the world. Featuring works in a broad range of media—including painting, sculpture, photography, film, video, and performance—by approximately 120 artists from 21 countries, the exhibition explores intercontinental connections and themes based on media, geography, formal concerns, and collective aesthetic and political impulses…“ (from the text on the web side). This led to many follow exhibitions about female artists from that period and the late acknowledgement of their work in many leading European museums. Professional art associations of women like the GEDOK (Association of Artists and Art Supporters e.V.,


Women Cinemakers founded by Ida Dehmel as a community of German and Austrian artistic associations of all artistic genres in Hamburg in 1926; from 1930 the GEDOK was also represented in Berlin) and the VdBK (founded in 1867 as an Association of Berlin Women Artists and female Art Friends with 29 artists, 62 friends of art, male supporters and honorary members - 1868 installation of a drawing and painting school - 1893 acquisition of a building for the drawing and painting school) attempt to use the new awareness to remind the public of their long tradition with initiatives like the installation of their own galleries, the presentation of large exhibitions and the preparation of extensive publications. Art historian Ernst Gombrich once underlined the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is it for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? My approach is determined by interdisciplinary dialogues – both on a practical and a theoretical level – with other artists and theorists. I often propose cooperative projects and topics and then investigate them for years or even decades in order to find lasting answers for my concerns and problems. To leave space for the viewers in a process orientated art has to include the generosity of accepting their additions, whether they meet with ones own intentions or not. To find a way of inclusion of people with little experience in contemporary art without being over explicit or too pedagogical is not easy. I worked several years in public art education as head of the department of Art and Creativity at the Adult University in Berlin-Wedding. One of the courses I organised was visits in artist studios. The artists we visited had often developed advanced contemporary forms of abstraction. Not everybody in the group of course participants was able to accept and understand unfamiliar art forms. Before the visits I therefore advised my colleagues to show their visitors some of their earlier, realistic work. To see a professionally done portrait or figure drawing created a basis of

respect and openness to the later work of the respective artist. A large group of my work deals with the theme of reflexion and reflecting by using mirrors in different ways. One symbol that became important in my work is the rear view mirror of the East German Trabant-car. Soon after the fall of the wall the production of the car ended and the mirrors were stored in large quantities in warehouses – especially the model ‘Luxury right’, because the car was only delivered with the left mirror. In 1993 I was invited to participate in a symposium in Chemnitz, where each artist was given a goods wagon to be changed artistically. I equipped mine with five hundred mirrors of the model ‘Luxury right’. The title of the project was: “Derailment, disaster or emancipation”. The workmen in the train repair workshop and the people in Chemnitz liked the mirror wagon, that brought back their recent past with a touch of humour and made them think and talk about the many problems that the changes had brought about. Later, the train travelled through the East of Germany to Görlitz at the Polish border, reflected the landscape and the viewers, contributed to the discovery of my German identity and became an element of the "Garden of Memories" in an outdoor installation in Zakopane, Poland in 1996, with the premiere of a composition by Witold Szalonek about childhood memories. Ever since the garden was installed in different arrangements as a look back and a joint symbol of the German reunification. Many artists express the idea that they explore through representations of the body by using their own bodies in their creative processes: German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how do you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of creating your artworks? Sitting still, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself. berlin, 25 january 2016 ... state of floating - the time - do not touch on it - consciousness refuses the acceptence of the late morning - i remember rare moments of the past, when the prison of thoughts


Women Cinemakers opened and a bright, pulsating path emerged above my head, through which energy streamed in and out – i am looking for the key to this passage, but deliberately it can not be found again … In several reviews about my work I am described as a conceptual artist. Creating for me is a process of inventing ideas, sometimes I just write them down, make a sketch or enjoy sharing them in an inspiring conversation - and body and soal are always involved in it. Many times the images take on such a detailed form in my imagination that I see them in front of me as if I had already executed them. For huge wallsize paintings realisation demands a physical act. For a large multimedia piece like the “Opera for 4 Buses” the process of creating is different and needs organisational and strategic talents and the consideration of rules and demands for a work in public space before the physical act of creating can start. I have described that with a touch of black humour in the already mentioned interview “Symphony, Encounter, Memory” in ‘n.paradoxa’: “As a freelance artist I run a one woman company without operating budget. To be able to start with my artistic work I need an operation office, a production space and a place of private retreat – which I have to rent! As secretary, manager, accountant, concept developer, proposer, artistic director, workshop director, press officer etc. I employ myself without a salary. Now I could start! Not yet, first I have to raise money because all the other participants have to be paid. Next obstacle, a hope for money is only possible after a detailed application has been submitted, conceptually and artistically convincing, of national importance, with the names of all participating artists, their concepts and CVs, with an exact cost plan, including production, travel and residence expenses, all professional fees and with the presentation of commitment by additional sponsors, because it is always only a matter of matching funds. How many unpaid weeks with research, exchange of letters, phone calls, soliciting of bids – and, and, and – precede, is something that every colleague knows who changes from the easel to the field of multimedia and multinational projects”.

berlin, 24 january 2016 ... blocked by an invisible wall that i can not penetrate - i make my thoughts small, they can not get through - i want to leave the night behind, i want to get to the day, search for a hole, but everything is impenetrably dense... Over the years your work has been exhibited internationally and includes exhibitions, sound installations and multimedia performances: one of the hallmarks of your practice is the ability to establish direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship into participants. As an artist particularly interested in the role of performance art as a tool to break the boundaries between artist and audience, how do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope to trigger in the spectatorship with your works? The boundaries between life and art are fluid, and it is hard to make out when I act self determined as an artist and when the social context determines me. Conscious of this tightrope walk, I have been trying to find a connecting form for both levels, everyday life and art, since the 1970s. As a result, contradictions and dependencies are not resolved, but they receive a structure which allows them to become comprehensible as social processes and part of the entire event. Within this conceptual context my already mentioned ‘Kitchen Symphony’ and the ‘Opera for 4 Buses’ follow the same principle. A familiar, every day situation - like the trip on a town bus or a meal - are transformed into a complex art event with the audience as an integral part of the work. The Bus Opera created a micro-cosmos in the public space of a city, whereas the Kitchen Symphony stages a meal as a visual and musical event in a space of a rather private character. In both projects the approach is cosmopolitan with the participation of composers, musicians and staff from various countries. These thoughts, intentions and concepts reach back to the 68s and our demand to leave our ivory towers and search for ways that add to a better world. Many artists began to study sociology and political sciences and found fulfillment in other functions than the work in the studio. Art is a controversal


Women Cinemakers

topic and if the boundaries between art and audience are removed the art work looses the respectful protection it enjoys in museums, and the derogatory accusation of popularity is not far. Successful artists and their works have more and more become something like preferred shares with absurdly rising profit margins on the battle field about market shares. It is traded with brand names, which, just like in the economy, are placed with comprehensive advertising measures on the market. The publicity texts of curators and cultural scientists have thereby a more sophisticated and philosophical style that shall give an artist and the work an aura of the unusual and mysterious. Unsolicited projects by the artists themselves have little chance in a seemingly open field of society as in most cases it is the curator and critic who are the link between the artist and the collector, the important art fairs and art prices. In this way they also influence the opinion of audiences about content and importance of an art work. What I offer with my projects is a staked playing field and whatever my hopes are, the minute I release a work into the public space it is at risk. It may be misunderstood, disliked, sprayed over with paroles or even destroyed. It now belongs to the spectators who react to it with their feelings that are derived from the state of their interest in and understanding of contemporary music and art. I vaguely remember a fluxus performance by Joseph Beuys in the Academy of the Arts in Berlin in the 1970s where he sat on the stage with some props like Sauerkraut and a record player which ommitted the continuous chant „ja, ja, ja, nein, nein,nein“. Some guests from the leftish scene regarded this as bourgois rubbish and felt provoked to get the fire hose out, turn the water on and spatter the artist, the elegantly dressed audience and the space - a real fluxus performance! For a while the chanting went on but when the scene turned aggressive and out of control, Beuys accused the invaders of having distroyed everything for him. Art and beauty are fragile goods and helpless in front of raw destructive mania, be they a western fluxus performance, unique ancient sculptures and documents in museums in Afghanistan or momuments of mankind like the Buddha statues of Bamiyan that were blown up by the Taliban in March of 2001. I love art and music in all their manifestations. What I


Women Cinemakers

intend to offer to the spectators is an extended understanding of it, a dialogue on diversity and mutual respect. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Gisela. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? berlin, 8 february 2018 ... the small steps are getting smaller and slower and the thoughts want to stop in order to undo the crash on the rialto bridge – it is the fourth month since it happened, and the memories avoid the moment of total loss of control about my body, the helplessness, the pain, being delivered to unfriendly or even malignant nursing staff at the clinic in mestre - instead they are reaching out far, travel to Mexico, to Romania, to Morocco, to all the places I was before, active and intact - every day i try to follow the impulse to be me again, but who was i? who am i now? - in the old fairway i accepted the offer of a solo show at alpha nova & galerie futura for my 75th birthday and extended it by submitting a proposal for the 30th anniversary of the city partnership berlinmadrid, linking it to a parallel exhibition in the showroom of brita prinz arte in madrid ... – i have also accepted a surprising invitation to an artist exchange in oxford in july and in the middle of september we will open our exhibition in brünn - i say yes to everything as if nothing had happened… I had arrived loaded with luggage to start a residency at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice on 19 October 2017. It was a familiar return. The apartment I knew from former visits lies around the corner from the Vaporetto station Rialto Mercato at the foot of the Rialto Bridge. But when I arrived this time the station Rialto Mercato was closed for repairs and the next stop on Canale Grande on the other side of the bridge was Rialto and I had to climb over the bridge to get to my side…

Part of your question is already answered by my diary note. With reduced physical power but mental energy my work is evolving with continuous activities in Berlin and Europe. The successful group show „North West South East“ with Cristina Ataíde from Lisbon, Angiola Bonanni from Madrid, Marie Filippovová from Brno, and me from Berlin, is presently showing at the Janacek Memorial of the Moravian Museum in Brno. On 4 October, a group show of photographs, titled „Himmel über Berlin“ (Sky above Berlin) with my participation opened at the GEDOK Gallery as part of the European Month of Photography. Between 5 and 9 November the media workshop of the Berlin Artists Association (bbk berlin) is showing an extensive programme of videos at the Cinema Central in Berlin under the heading of „Rückgabe“ (Return). I will be showing my video sketch „Pauline Oliveros in Berlin“ in memory of her. Cooperative exhibitions in France and Germany for 2019 are in the making and my main project in November-December of this year will be an individual multimedia exhibition, opening on 20 November at the Villa P561 in Prague, with a concert on 27 November, in cooperation with NEIRO, Association for Expanding Arts, the composer Martin Klusák and Czech musicians. The concert will include a new scenic interpretation of „Pea(ce Soup“ by Pauline Oliveros, „goethefaustzweischnittchen“ from the Opera for 4 Buses by Friedrich Schenker, „Izanagi or Orpheus“ by Mayako Kubo and „Z_E_N“ by Martin Klusák. The title of the show could be a motto for all my future projects: „Zurücksehen im Vorangehen“ (Looking back while going forward). berlin, 29.8. 2015 ... weakened by the darkness of the night i walk with fast steps and a beating heart towards the day, through the park, where the sun is already cold and yellow and brown leaves are falling on my shade - it is still too early for the autumn, i am not ready for the winter yet...


Women Cinemakers meets

Eva Depoorter Lives and works in New York City, USA

With just a few more boxes left to unpack, Charlie and Nicki are on the brink of something exciting: a fresh start in Manhattan... But as their new lives are about to unfold, Charlie lingers. Unwilling to let go of her past, she finds an unsound way to go back to what she knows best: home.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Belgiac is a captivating experimental film by New York City based Belgian multidisciplinary artist Eva Depoorter: initiates her audience into highteneed experience, her film featuring unconventional still elegant cinematography and sapient performance composition, capable of encouraging cross-pollination of the spectatorship. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production.

Hello Eva and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers inviting them to visit and with a couple of questions regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? In particular, how does the relationship between your cultural substratum due to your Belgian roots and your current life influence the direction of the trajectory of your artistic research ? As a kid, my parents used to take me to


Women Cinemakers museums all the time. I remember conscientiously absorbing art, being mesmerized by its power and wanting to create myself. I was especially drawn to surrealism, expressionism, and symbolism, three art movements that are engrained in Belgian art history. When I look at my work now, I can definitely tell I was influenced by the numerous museum visits. Very often, I set up a shot as if it were a painting, , hence my love for still frames. I have a constant urge to make the invisible tangible, to scratch the . What’s hiding surface and show the object underneath? If one cries, how do they ? As I am constantly tapping into my fantasy, . But I never shun what I shoot often looks what is out of the ordinary, even if it’s considered weird. Weird to me is often what it And weird is also relative. Everything becomes after spending enough time with it, staring at it. And I guess that’s how I challenge my audience: I like for them to look beyond the upper layer, as if they were observing a painting. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article, that can be viewed at .


Women Cinemakers What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry is the way the results of your artists research provides the viewers with such an intense visual experience, by a sapient composition. While walking our , would you readers through the genesis of tell us how did you develope the initial idea? Belgiac is autobiographic in the sense that nostalgia is a feeling I am often overwhelmed with. Although I’ve always been a melancholic person, I was particularly hit with homesickness, here in the States. Very often, people would ask me what I missed most, a question seemingly easy to answer. But instead of pinpointing what exactly it was I was longing for, I got sucked into hard to describe to an avalanche of emotions, an audience who hadn’t seen it. The frustration of not , being able to put into words my triggered me to make Belgiac, a film about the soothing pull of petrifying nostalgia. Elegantly shot, features stunning cinematography: what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? The first step in making Belgiac was creating several mood boards and asking myself: “ My aim was to depict my home in a manner that was


Women Cinemakers both aesthetically pleasing and to a broader non-Belgian audience. As for camera setup, my gear was simple but effective: a Canon 70D, two lenses and my cell phone. I feel like cinematography is just as much about framing, not just the tools. We have appreciated the way your work is capable of conveying such captivating storytelling, providing the result of your artistic research with consistent cinematographic quality. How did you develope your style in order to achieve such captivating results? I am very much influenced by surrealism, absurdism and symbolism. And when I make a film, I look to incorporate these art movements as much as possible, hence the sometimes very dramatic and captivating shots. When Charlie surrenders to Nostalgia, I could have created that particular scene by shooting an empty drawer, alluding to her traveling, or even moving back to Belgium. But I chose not to do that, first of all because it is almost too literal, and secondly, because nostalgia is a feeling that is not that easily resolved, on the contrary. It is a sentiment that tends to linger and seep into one’s soul. For that reason, I wanted to depict nostalgia as something bigger, a person even who patiently waits for Charlie to surrender,


Women Cinemakers powerless to the almighty power of . We have deeply appreciated your approach to narrative and the way you have balanced analytical research of the characters of Charlie and Nicki and the emotional aspect of the storytelling: what was your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? In particular, do you like spontaneity or do you prefer to meticolously schedule every details of your shooting process?

Crucial in my creative process is defining the mood. Hence, I do research on what it is I want to convey and create several mood boards per character. A second step is setting up a shot list in which I incorporate different angles and inserts that I will combine in the editing process. It is absolutely vital to have an idea of how I will or would like to edit a scene and try to be as detailed as possible. When the time has come to shoot, I make sure to be flexible enough and develop other ideas/ angles on the spot. As I very often work with natural light, it is sometimes hard to predict what something will look like on camera. Therefor, flexibility and the willingness to forego certain ideas, are key to developing a film, I think.

I don’t rehearse a lot, for most scenes have little or no dialogue. And I always love to see what the actors bring to the table, . In that sense, I’m very open to improvisation, especially during the first takes. If I notice the actor is lost, I step in and give meticulous directions. If there’s no dialogue at all, I usually know exactly how I want to convey what I have in mind. In that case, I will . literally tell the actor how to Sound plays a crucial role in your work and we have highly appreciated the way it provides the footage of with such a and a bit capable of evoking such in the viewers, challenging their perceptual categories: why did you decided to include such rhythmic commentary? And how would you consider the relationship between moving images and sound? I consider sound as a protagonist in my films. For Belgiac, I wanted to step away from sound design that is typically associated with nostalgia or melancholy. In order to have an audience that is just as much submerged by nostalgia as Charlie, I wanted to create something urgent, threatening and very much in contrast with the quieter scenes. The music had to represent confusion, disconnectedness and the hypnotizing force of


A still from


Women Cinemakers

longing for something that has long gone. It also had to sound outlandish enough so that it was clear that the trips happen to Charlie privately, in her fantasy. The cuts of the trip montages as I call them, were metric, i.e. cut to the rhythm of the music. 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 physical presence very much influences the actor’s performance. When I decided to have Charlie stand against a wall and move the camera only a few inches away from her, I knew the actor would tap into claustrophobic feelings more easily. My aim was not just for the audience to feel ‘entrapped’, I needed Leah (Charlie) to experience it in order to translate it to the big screen. Of course, when you direct, you want your actors to go to the place you want them to roam. Sometimes, this implies using words, but I easily slip into their shoes and ‘show’ them what I expect. My films are so


Women Cinemakers visceral and visual, I don’t shy away from having the actors literally depict my needs. Sometimes, I feel like a sculptor, molding their faces into the film. When I am in doubt about what I want from a scene or actor, I sometimes film it beforehand, in private, with me in front of the camera. That way, I sense what the actor is struggling with or what doesn’t feel right, and subsequently give better directions. We like the way your intimate created entire scenarious out of to between their epiphanic journey and the viewers' emotional sphere. What are you hoping will trigger in the spectatorship?

My main goal was to evoke the multitude of emotions, triggered by homesickness and nostalgia in a broader sense of the word. Although often romanticized and represented as a gentle and harmless state of mind, nostalgia can be destructive and blind its victims from future perspectives, until all they are left with is a past. Belgiac is also an answer to the question I often got when I had just moved to the States: “What do you miss most?” I remember choking up, and churn out a series of nouns, like ‘fries’, ‘beer’, ‘cosiness’, ‘the


people’,… And those words never made a lot of sense, not to me or the person I was talking to. I thought to myself. So I made Belgiac. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema and contemporary art scene, in general. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ' ', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? As a woman who makes films and is building up her career, I’m regularly exposed to sexism. And I often make videos about it, like How to become a successful cinematographer, or C’mon honey, give us a smile. But in a world that is still dominated by men, there are more and more initiatives that empower women. At some point, we will reach equality. And the best way for (female) filmmakers to make this happen, is to stay conscious about the problem yet at the same time roam freely and keep creating, regardless of the gender we identify

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers with. One way of doing that, is to work mainly with women on film projects, like I do. Femininity should be celebrated and used as a catalyst, not an inhibitor that ties us down to

And what I want most, is to be judged for my films, not my vagina. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Eva. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Currently, I’m wrapping up my second short film (working title). It’s a montage in which we observe a woman conversing with her deceased partner.

will be a visual feast of raw

emotions, too delicate to be revealed, too urgent to be hidden. If we could openly talk about grief and break the taboo, what would it sound and look like? An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Joy Meyer Lives and works in Hillsborough, North Carolina (United States)

The Wilderness is a meditation on the relationship of place to human emotion. As we revisit a site, our standing memory becomes scripted with new memory, in this view a site can become a depository of stray feelings that accumulate but simultaneously dissipate. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

is a mesmerizing film by multidisciplinary artist Joy Meyer: marked out with carefully orchestrated photography, this film is a stimulating meditation on the relationship of place to human emotion. This captivating film offers an emotionally charged visual experience, inviting the viewers to unveil the ubiquitous beauty hidden into the details of our everyday life experience. Meyer's artistic research creates connections between the history of art, epistemology, technology, and feminism to explore the metaphysics of love and longing, and we are particularly pleased to

introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Joy and welcome to : we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and after having graduated Phi Beta Kappa from University of Virginia, with Distinction completing a BA in Studio Art and Art History, you nurtured your education with an MFA in Studio Arts, that you received from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your


Joy Meyer Portrait by Lindsay Metivier


Women Cinemakers direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Hello and thank you for the invitation to talk about my work with you. I have to say that my first major introduction to Fine Art was in Houston. Before then I had had limited exposure to art and mainly grew up watching American movies on VHS tapes. I was in my early 20s and I was visiting a friend’s family for the holidays. I went to Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts and encountered the James Turrell piece called The Light Inside. I stood inside the installation for ages, watching the light ebb from magenta, to violet, to blue. It seemed to match my heartbeat and my breath. After that experience I became obsessed with art. It was like falling in love for the first time. I went on to study painting and drawing at University of Virginia. I majored in both Art History and Studio, which included a studio program but also a rigorous academic pathway. I had the experience of taking a graduate level art history seminar that met at The Phillips Collection in Washington DC every Friday. Once a week we students would all board the train and ride together to the Museum. Which houses Mark Rothko’s paintings in his own room which he helped to design and curate with Duncan Phillips. I spent many hours in that small room with Rothko’s giant paintings. To me they glowed like television sets or projected, emanating fields of color. At that time I also took this incredible Film Noir class which greatly influenced my framing, my camera work, and thinking about agency in film.


Installation view of Fictional Desires, 2018 one through seven of nine channel video installation + faux-fur rugs (front) and Five to Seven Years Depending on Use, 2018 custom-made, magenta, neon sign from artist’s original drawing, 24x18 inches Image courtesy of Lindsay Metivier.


Installation view of Fictional Desires, 2018 one through seven of nine channel video installation + faux-fur rugs (front) and Five to Seven Years Depending on Use, 2018 custom-made, magenta, neon sign from artist’s original drawing, 24x18 inches Image courtesy of Lindsay Metivier.


Women Cinemakers Both of these early experiences largely influence my work. I make paintings about things I cannot say outloud and I make video work which ruminates on these moments trapped in time. Painting is more related to the physical body and video is about the lived body in time. You are a versatile artist and your practice is marked out features, and with such stimulating includes painting and drawing, video, and performance: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? As a beginning artist I was first drawn to painting and drawing. Even though looking back at these early experiences I was exposed to cinema, light art, and finally painting. I think what I was truly obsessed with was color and light and how these properties act on our emotions. In graduate school I started to feel the limits of what painting can express, yes I enjoyed painting’s materiality but a few things were shifting for me artistically as I began to work with video. At the time I began to work with video I was reading a few very influential texts, Mira Schorr’s A Decade of Negative Thinking and Rosalind Krauss’s essays, particularly her essay on Sculpture in The Expanded Field. Schorr’s book had me


Courtesy of Lindsay Metivier


Story of An Hour, 2016, installation view. Two-channel video with one channel sound. Silent channel is 13:01 looped and channel with sound is 9:43. These play continuously and do not synch up once started.


Fictional Desires; Eight of Cups, film still, 2018 part of the multi-channelvideo installation, Fictional Desires, 1:44 looped/silent


Women Cinemakers questioning my place in the lineage of women making art, she highlights this very interesting break around the time of Woman House where some female artists were leaving painting behind to work with performance. This had me questioning the limits of painting for self expression but also thinking about what specifically can painting express. Which of course I still believe painting can express a great deal. At this time I was also pondering Krauss’s article too about Sculpture and its many nuanced expressions. This underscored my thinking about different mediums being more suited to say what we want to say. Now I feel very strongly that the content, the medium, the materials and the message all must align. I try to teach this to my students too the importance of the alignment of material to subject. For this special edition of we have selected , a captivating film 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 film is the way your sapient narrative structure provides the viewers with with such an intense visual experience. While walking our readers through of , would you tell how did you develop the structure of your film?

In particular, do you like prefer of your shooting process?

or do you

I think in all of my work I use both spontaneity and meticulous scheduling I think it depends on where you are in the project. Let me describe a little bit about how I work to tell you what I mean. Before going to art school I had a pretty serious daily morning writing habit and I wrote the first draft of a novel and at once a week at night I had a radio show called “Starlight Motel.� At a certain point in graduate school I began to feel like I needed a different way to make a work a way that could tell a non-linear story. As part of my graduate duties I was in charge of videotaping school events, the visiting artist lectures at UNC, so I constantly had this big camera in my studio. Around that time I spontaneously made a video of myself in my studio painting stretcher bars in all blue light using glow-in-the-dark paint. This was my first intuitive reach towards video. Often I will make something spontaneously but then figure out if I can replicate it or make it again but make it better. This second part requires a lot of planning. When I became serious about film and video I had to develop more structured habits. Filming outdoors requires a lot of preparation and planning especially if the site is a two-hour drive from where you live.


Women Cinemakers The work for my video trilogy required a great deal of planning and careful decision making. This work became a thirteen-channel video, sound, and neon installation called that premiered all together at LUMP Projects in Raleigh, NC last June 2018. One part of this piece includes seven vintage television sets all playing a different channel of the work. I wanted to time them in a way that they would always be playing a different sequence. I am always sure of how I want the light to look in the space that I am filming. I become a little bit obsessed with the light and the color of a work. The filming and editing is meticulously scheduled but there is plenty of room for spontaneity in this process. For instance, while the work is being filmed, sometimes I slip, or make a mistake, or a bird’s shadow drags across the bedspread in a window scene in a bedroom. Then I have to decide if that accidental moment is necessary, like a drip in painting, some moments are perfect and some you have to make over again. features Elegantly composed, stunning landscape cinematography and each shot is carefully orchestrated to work within the overall when structure: what were your shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? I work with a Canon 80D Digital SLR and two lenses, an EFS 17-55mm and a Canon zoom 70-200mm. In a few of


Fictional Desires; Eight of Cups, 2018 part of the multi-channel video installation, Fictional Desires, 1:17 looped/silent


Story of An Hour, 2016, installation view. Two-channel video with one channel sound. Silent channel is 13:01 looped and channel with sound is 9:43. These play continuously and do not synch up once started. Courtesy of Lindsay Metivier


Women Cinemakers my recent videos I have been experimenting with using this zoom lens indoors and in tight corners using mirrors. This method is having this strange effect and I am still figuring it out. I have worked with other cameras but this one is light and captures brilliant amounts of color. I am experimenting with in-camera alterations too and playing with ways of manipulating the light entering the camera. I shoot with the camera on silent and for this film the sound is from a field recording made one year prior. For The Wilderness this creates a disconnect between actual time and perceived time. has Shot in a rural town in Virginia, drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful between the locations and the viewers' emotional sphere, brilliantly conveyed in your film: how did you select the locations and how did they affect your shooting process? This area of the country holds a lot of meaning for me. It’s like a time capsule. I moved to rural Virginia when I was a young girl to live with my grandparents. Before then I had only lived in cities. I remember my first impression of the region as being wild, lush, overgrown with trees and brush, and ferrell. Some places had old buildings overgrown with kudzu vines which appeared to pull apart old boards and return the buildings to the earth. The night sky was so bright with stars it would make me ache while I stared up at it. The noises of the region are loud with birds and


cicadas. The air in the summer smells of that metallic screen-door smell you sense right before a storm. This is the place, this county, is the location where I came of age, where I first found love and also lost love. When I returned to this region almost a decade later I found the memories there waiting for me like in the soil, in the trees, in the foliage and the rain. The Wilderness, for me contains all of these meditations. Site is a very important consideration for me for the meaning of the work. Currently all my footage is shot in Virginia. I don’t know how to describe the selection process some of it is logical and formal but the other part of the decision is more emotional. I like to film a scene that when I look at it makes me ache a little. I had a brilliant photography professor, elin o'Hara slavick, who would talk about Barthes concept of punctum something in the image that pricks you or jumps out at you. I have to believe that something also existed for the photographer not just the viewer. I think the site I am looking for has a certain amount of “punctum.� We dare say that also questions the unbalanced relationship between everyday life's experience and memory: how do you consider the role of for your artistic research? In particular, how do the details that you capture during daily life fuel your creative process? The Wilderness is a meditation on the relationship of place to human emotion. As we revisit a site, our standing

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Wilderness, Still


Women Cinemakers

Wilderness, Still, courtesy of the artist

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers memory becomes scripted with new memory, in this view a site can become a depository of stray feelings that accumulate but simultaneously dissipate. I am also now starting to think more about the differences between lived human time and geological time. How we come into being for this brief moment but the landscape has existed for generations. In art I make the distinction between site or place and landscape. This work is about my body as it has moved through time collecting, losing, and then finding love again. This body is moving at a quicker pace than the geological time of the location. One thing that I struggled with early on is how much to reveal about my own life. How much of my work will be autobiographical. For now, I have decided that much of my work begins with a specific origin point in my life but then the work fictionalized it. One way to anchor the work in my own experience is to be extremely selective about the site where I film Deviating from traditional cinema, we daresay that reflects German photographer Andreas Gursky's statement, when he remarked that

. We appreciate the way you challenge the spectatorship perceptual categories in order to create : as an artist particularly


interested in open narrative, how open would you like your works to be understood? This is a great question. In some of my other works I am using more than one channel of video and this allows me to open up the narrative to alternative constructions of narrative. I am interested in non linear time and telling stories that are snippets of stories which recur endlessly. I am interested in time’s relationship to the body and to memory. I am interested in the relationship between time and longing. I am interested in raising questions about knowledge and self knowledge. How we know what we know about ourselves or about the people we love. How is all of this complicated by technology. All of these considerations play out in my work in different ways. The narrative of my work is left open so the viewer feels as though they are a participant in this questioning. It's important to mention that you are also a founding member of the all-female, artist collective . Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our contemporary scene it has been a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists: we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ' ',

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Wilderness, Still, courtesy of the artist


Women Cinemakers

Wilderness, Still, courtesy of the artist


interview

Women Cinemakers however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on in in this field? I am excited for the future of women in this field! I came of age in the 1990s which was the time of DIY, Riot Grrrl, zines, and girl bands. Later we called this third-wave feminism but at the time I was just living it. You didn’t need anyone to tell you how to do something you could just try to do it. At the time, as a teenager, I remember specifically having the thought that you didn’t have to go to your boyfriend’s band’s practice you could start your own band. It sounds very simple but it was a liberating thought for me as a young woman. Subverbal Collective was a project I began with five other female artists while I was still in graduate school at UNC Chapel Hill. Sadly, this project has ended after two and a half years of collaboration. However, I appreciate the lessons I learned while working in this group and so this experience has left an indelible mark upon my artistic life and practice. I am already working on future collaborations and I am planning to found a new artist collective, perhaps one for lens-based, female and female-identifying photographers, filmmakers, or digital artists. I have also recently acquired a project space that I am renovating. So, my collaborative energy is definitely being used elsewhere. Stay tuned! Over the years your works have been an internationally exhibited in several venues, including


Women Cinemakers the Kamloops Art Gallery, in British Columbia and at Universitet i Oslo, Norway. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to establish with the viewers, who are urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of . Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? I am very inspired by the words of American film maker, Nathaniel Dorsky, he writes, “In film, there are two ways of including human beings. One is depicting human beings. Another is to create a film form which, in itself, has all the qualities of being human: tenderness, observation, fear, relaxation, the sense of stepping into the world and pulling back, expansion, contraction, changing, softening, tenderness of heart. The first is a form of theater and the latter is a form of poetry.� In many of my works, especially the larger full-sized projections, the viewer is the one who begins to feel present in the space I am depicting. There are no actors and no visible human bodies present in my works. My videos implicate the body without having an actor, because I am trying to recreate a simulation

of sensuality, the sense of being right there. I want the viewer to enter my feelings, or maybe even think that the work is about their own life. The imagery becomes like a dream or a memory for the viewer. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Joy. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Right now I am working on a solo show that opens in May 2019. It will be both a painting show and a video show. I am trying to figure out my experience of the relationship between the two. I am building some hybrid paintings that will also contain monitors. I am very excited about this work. I am also working on a new video that is going be slightly longer and with slightly more of a narrative. This new piece I am hoping to premiere at some festivals next year. Anyone interested can keep up with me at joy-meyer.com or jjmeyer.org. Thank you for your time and interest! An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Fictional Desires; Eight of Cups, film still, 2018 part of the multi-channelvideo installation, Fictional Desires, 1:44 looped/silent


Women Cinemakers meets

Anaïs Pélaquier Lives and works in Tresques (South of France)

I develop a work around my own childhood, family history and snatches from those of others. A certain attachment to the remains, places, objects or sentences found abandoned; to relics and religious iconography. The question of what we inherit, what we are made of. Revealing what disappeared, or what has been dispersed. Coming up against its material, its presence. Inventing "stories" in these empty spaces, opening dialogues, creating mappings. Interrogating what I'm stumbling upon, what arrests my gaze. I intermingle and mix multiple media. Videos, embroideries on old photos, installations, drawings, spontaneously combustible boxes...

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

Hello Anaïs and welcome to : we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your multifaceted artistic production, and we would start this

interview with a couple of questions regarding your background. Are there any experiences that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your direct the trajectory of your artistic research? My first experiences certainly come from my childhood, the multiple visits to museums,


churches, and contemporary art exhibitions with my parents during our holidays in Europe. I come from a family that is very attached to art, my mother is an artist, my father writes, my sister is a classical singer. I practiced opera since my childhood. I trained as an actress and I work in theater and opera. All these aspects have obviously been foundational for my work. Like my philosophy studies at university. I started off as an actress and a stage director, and gradually left the stage, eventually choosing to continue my personal research in a more solitary way, through video, drawing, working on old photos and other experiences. But things are all interwoven. My first video, How I lost my voice, came from my inability to read a book, The voice in the closet of Raymond Federman, a book written as a single flow, without punctuation, to convey his confinement in a closet, as a child, to escape a Nazi raid. And strangely I grabbed a camera and read the text, under that eye filming me, in tight close-up, until I lost my voice. I do not remember where this desire came from but it made sense, and it made reading this text possible. I think this

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers experience has been seminal. This is where I started my face to face with the camera. For this special edition of we have selected , 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 https://vimeo.com/140435200. What has at once impressed us of your insightful inquiry into the resonance between human body and domestic gestures 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? The idea came suddenly, during an event where I was confronted to the question of the right to speak, react, be heard, and was led to remember all those moments where one has the sensation of having to repress one's vehemence. The French word for this kind of repression is “ravaler” which literally means “to swallow back”,


Women Cinemakers so this image appeared to me: me swallowing my vehemence, swallowing the word itself, its letters cut from uncooked liver. The liver then became cookies. It may be because the innocence of the cookies recalls a domestic gesture: cooking, and childhood, as opposed to the more trashy side of the meat. There is often this question, this search in my work, of how to speak of a certain violence without being directly in it. With all the difficulty and the pitfalls that this point of view can bring... The relation to this violence clearly appears only in the quote that closes the video, a quote found in a dictionary at the word "vehemence". It also has to do with the strength of language, the materiality of words, which act almost as a real thing, as a fact. The importance I have always given to words. To return to the question of domestic gesture: making cookies, spreading the tablecloth, dusting crumbs, eating ... A series of gestures and simple elements. This minimalism is somewhat a base of my video work. Few elements. Often unmoving long shots or very little editing. Duration is therefore real time. It can be perceived as long, but it is what it is. Sometimes I even slow it down so that some things become noticeable. This is the case in the video


Women Cinemakers Childhood, which shows a cube of sugar which ignites and burns little by little. The duration is long, waiting is difficult, even for me. Chantal Akerman wrote: "Time is not in the shot, it is also in the viewer in front who looks at it. He feels that time in him. Yes. Even though he claims he is bored. And even if he is really bored and waiting for the next shot. To wait for the next shot is also to feel alive, to feel you exist. it hurts or makes feel good, it depends. " You are a versatile artist and your practice is marked out with a stimulating multidisciplinary feature that allows you to mix several media, including installations, performances, as well as videos, embroidery. German art critic and historian Michael Fried once stated that ' .' What are the properties that you search for in the materials that you include in your works? I do not see things that way. The material is in itself significant, even though I do not necessarily know it immediately (cf using biscuits instead of liver). It calls out an imaginaire, associations of ideas, plays on words... My video , shows the


Women Cinemakers

slow "explosion" of a pomegranate (https://vimeo.com/133266243). In French the word for pomegranate, « grenade », means both the fruit, and a hand-grenade, the weapon. The shape is also quite similar. And the inside of the fruit has something to do with flesh. But all that meaning came afterwards, after it was done, or in the making. Everything started from the desire to film a pomegranade. And the pomegranade brought me there. This is often what happens. The material leads to one place rather than the opposite: an idea leading to the search for the right material. A short while after I wash my hands of it was completed, my mother found this note, which now appear at the end of the video : "Summer 1985 in front of a painting of the Dutch school in Venice, with bodies, some standing, another dead. Reflection of Anaïs in front of the blood that escapes from the head of the one who died: "it looks like a pomegranade". It looked a lot like that. " responds to German We dare say that photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that

you hoping spectatorship?

. What are will trigger in the


A still from


Women Cinemakers

Stage director Claude RÊgy talks about "the desire for a theater that would no longer be theatrical, in that it would be the place of all presences, the place of things themselves�. In a general way, it's the real that interests me. Saying that means everything and nothing at the same time because the notion of real can be understood at different levels. But what interests me is what is, in the concrete sense of things, rather than other worlds or dimensions. And in the processes of creation, at least those of my personal work (since I also work a lot in theatre where the model is the one of repetition) I am interested in the first draft, the first time. Not so much because it comes first, but because the fact it is "what happens", what happened, what was there, in front of the camera, in the sense of that it is unique, and not the result of multiple trials. Accidents, clumsiness interests me, because gestures in general interest me, in themselves, in what they once were. But filming the real, a reality, it is always already a choice, a fabrication (since I'm not making documentary or capturing events that I come across). I film a reality that I have made. Moreover, by saying that the whole question of what reality is reappears... It reminds me of a dialogue in


Women Cinemakers Jean-Luc Godard's movie Alphaville "- And that, is it too transparent or not enough? It depends if you want to show the truth. How is the truth? It's between appearing and disappearing » The truth, the reality, the real... In the video véhemence , this relationship is specific since the inversion of time could be one of the means to look behind reality. Does this reversal of time reveal another side of things? The filmmaker Jean Epstein considered that this upside down, this reversal of temporality by means of the cinematograph, was a radical subversion. In the case of véhemence, there is a part of resistance. The reversal of time creates a strangeness of the gesture, a disturbing strangeness, because it is not immediately noticeable. It introduces a doubt. Finally I will not swallow back my vehemence, I will expose it. And it's not just a

matter of reversing the course of an action, but of bringing in a new one that would otherwise be impossible. The video is part of a series project, called Actions, that works on elements on which I stumble, on lacks of sense, inner impossibilities... A series that would use reversal as a principle. Marked out with subtle allegorical qualities, is rich of objects rich with evokative quality, belonging to domestic ambience: how important are symbols in your practice? More than to symbols, I am sensitive to the evocative power or simply to my attachment to certain objects or elements. I love objects. I love them in themselves for what they are, their use, but also for their history, known or unknown, and their aesthetic potential. The two videos La mémoire déplacée (Displaced Memory) and Inventaire alphabétique (Alphabetical Inventory) mirror a series of precise descriptions of objects and the "exposition" of these same objects, that I've kept from my grandfather, in a simple and


Women Cinemakers meticulous process of successive appearance on a white sheet (like a projection screen for the imagination), with only the passage of my shadow and the sound of my steps. In Supplément à la vie de Barbara Loden, Nathalie Léger quotes this article from the famous 18th century Encyclopédie: "The descriptions are mainly used to make singulars or individuals known. A description, then, is properly the union of accidents by which one thing is easily distinguished from another.” I like this idea of accidents. We have appreciated the way in you sapiently mixed realism of gestures with a subtle surreal quality of the ambience: as an artist particularly interested in developing works around your own childhood and family history, how does your everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? It's hard to say, things are mixed up all the time. The passage from one to the other

never stops. Objects of everyday life, events, difficulties are starting points or obstacles for the work. There are also kinds of appointments: waiting for the pomegranate season to rework with it, hoping for the snow and the ice over the pond to make an installation there with butter... Art historial Ernst Gombrich once underlined the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so in the that they can creation of the illusion: 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? I like when the meaning is open. I can tell how things happened, or how I can interpret them afterwards but it is not essential. My relationship to work is quite intuitive. There is often no predefined intention, at least not in the sense that : I mean something specific. I have made a series of drawings titled Soit que


Women Cinemakers

le puits fÝt très profond (Either the well was very deep , issued from the sentence of Lewis Caroll, "Either the well was very deep, or Alice fell slowly". This title came after few months. As for the drawings, I first wanted to make this primary experience of drawing lines and these lines have gradually created forms,

spaces, which for me echo my inner space, made of voids, strata and meanders. But I don't think about it when I draw. I draw lines, the pen and the space of the sheet lead me, I do not know the final form and my gesture does not try to translate my state of


Women Cinemakers

mind. It is only afterwards that I can say that it evokes me that, but it is not what I saught to represent. So it would not make much sense to impose on the viewer a way to read my work. That 's why I always find it difficult to write about my work because I always feel that it limits the

openendedness. I think that the duration of my videos, even if it is a risk, is also a space of thought available for the audience, of daydream, of abandonment. It also forces the spectator to be present. The images do not come looking


Women Cinemakers for him or her. S/he must be there. And they give her time. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes, as you also did in , that can be the interesting viewed at https://vimeo.com/159673003: 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? I like to work alone, which explains, in a way, my presence. I am one of my materials. Creation for me is in doing this "physical act Âť and not making someone else do it. Basically it is more important to me than the idea itself and it often comes beforehand. I also have the feeling that introducing someone else's presence would bring a fictional dimension that makes no sense to me and would make me work differently. I will

quote Chantal Akerman again, who said that "Wandering is a lonely habit. When we are two we always go somewhere." I often do not know where I'm going. The link, the path, between the action and the idea, or vice versa, is often made of a series of chances, intuitions, back and forth, accidents and echoes. Things appear by doing, so the doing has all its importance. Pleureuse (Mourner) is not about me, nor about any living face, since I'm filming a photography, an old photography bought at a fleamarket, a particularly beautiful woman portrait. But this video is one of the bifurcations of a project where this relation between the idea and the act has taken on all the dimensions that I have just mentioned. This time, everything came from an idea: to find old family photos, abandoned pictures, forgotten - since the descendants of these people did not keep them - and to sew the faces to complete their disappearance ( ). Very quickly, the needle let the light appear through the paper, through the perforations. The covering had given way to clarity,


Women Cinemakers transparency. Revealing a landscape through a face, a perforated body. Creating bright ghostly presences. And the process of programmed disappearance has become one of apparition. Making new stories, anecdotes, appear in the photo. Tracing organs, signs of life. The initial idea was diverted by the gesture and the way the object, the material reacted to it. Photographing these photos has become a new declens, another dimension, with shaky and evanescent presences ). ( The video films that face with eternal tears accompanied by the sound of blond hair slipping through the little holes and the cicadas songs, because it was summer. And recently, looking at the back of the photos, I was struck by the volume created by the passage of the needle, leaving a set of small mounds of paper and revealing the posture of the bodies of seated women (tense, packed, truncated forms...) ( ). All of these tracks continue to deploy simultaneously. And from these remains of an inheritance that was not mine,

I continued these processes on postcards reproduccing works of art, postcards gleaned during my visits to museums, churches... since childhood, interfering with the works of others artists, enrolling me in a larger story ( ). 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 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 boundaries between artist and audience, how do you consider ? And what do you hope to in the spectatorship with your works? I come from the theatre and I keep working there. There are certainly signs in my work of this place of presence, of the "direct", of "being with", that one experiences as an actor. But I do not really think about the audience when I create. The question comes


after. How to show? And then I have a desire for proximity, intimacy. Maybe because I'm not someone who thinks big. Things are human-sized, or rather body-sized. When we look at a painting in a museum, we often prefer to be alone, regardless of the size of the painting. Whereas we can accept a great human density in movie theaters. I think this is how I work with the audience, in intimacy. That's why the space of the exhibition or the installation, which also lets the spectator free to stay or to go, better fits my work. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, AnaĂŻs. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I would like to film again, to find the availability. To start an installation about fear, a kind of dyptic: silent video / chorus of mechanical mouths shouting. To make a video project around the family meal, maybe with dancers, with their hands only. To continue the series of video actions with time reversed. And to find other directions for the drawings.

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Joanne Dorothea-Smith Lives and works in Plymouth, England

My work is a series of observances of the world around me, my opinions on it and my place in it, I hope that these observances are comments that may be relatable for others who have had or are having similar thoughts and notions about what surrounds them also. Even though each of us is individual and distinct we can at times struggle with what seems remote and our own intimate humanity. The world moves fast, we move within it creating our own meanings and understanding, making efforts to mediate and live a life we want to live. Photography and art are my tools for exploration and experiment— this is what my work is about, process based exploratory and flexible. It is often a responsive act to either make sense of a situation or fact or also a way through to gain illusory control of things that are out of my control. This can be past or present, musings on the future, time and space and personal existence. I can only respond. This blending of technology, idea, reality and fiction is something I have regularly used, as my work deals in my memory as well as intangible spaces it is useful to understand the place that fiction and fantasy have in creating our own versions of reality. Memory is unreliable and subjective, changes over time and is sometimes dramatic or romantic in its recall — much of what I recall and then create as a result is not fixed, the methods used are disruptive, adding opaque areas, printing, re-printing and filtering - colour changing and inserting into layouts, animating and intervening in surfaces of land and print. This short animated piece falls under the overarching title The Reality Project, this took me to places and ideas that cannot be seen, pushing against my reality as I understand it from my human perspective. Asking questions about what might be actually be real, what is true and how does photography represent this? Creating montages of fake Nebulae and space images alongside real images of space (captured by myself locally) and the Hubble space telescope, The ‘Reality Thins’ film is also a self portrait made using stop frame animation that seeks to further explore the magical insignificance of the individual in the universal space. The complex nature of life and humanity is immensely unlikely and beautiful, this concordance is always a temporary and elusive realisation that we are chasing as a horizon.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

readers to visit

and Dora S. Tennant

https://joannedorotheasmith.format.com in

womencinemaker@berlin.com

order to get a wide idea about your artistic

Hello Joanne and welcome to : we would like to invite our

production, and we would like to start this interview with a couple of questions regarding


Joanne Dorothea-Smith Photo by Sue Hall


your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a BA in Photography and you are currently pursuing your MA in Photography at Plymouth: how did these experiences address your evolution as an artist? Moreover, does your cultural background direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Yes and No… My background is working class, I did not take up Photography until I was in my early thirties as a result of illness removing me from work. I have always had an interest in the creative space and when leaving school I trained briefly to be an actor. My BA was a fantastic introduction to may different disciplines and in particular choosing filmmaking was a revelation, realising you can represent abstract forms and ideas alongside photographic installations with a ‘punk’ approach to production. I made a super8 short and was enthralled. My Masters has refined my ideas and writing, moved me forward as an artist and given me the confidence to present my ideas in new ways — one of the ideas I am currently working on an idea that uses script writing techniques but for a non-film setting. For this special edition of we have selected , 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 https://vimeo.com/93283870. What has at once captured our attention of this stimulating work is the

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers way it examines the relationship between experience and imagination, to blend the artificial boundary between humans and Nature: while walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Firstly that is a good point about experience and imagination, for me there is really no gap, we are subjective beings and the land and subsequently space are a series of surfaces with which are indexically linked to us and our internal perceptive space. Here is an excerpt from an accompanying bookwork which explains my impressions further; Dynamic duress creates flow, ebbing from the centre, pushing outwards composing our surface for touch. The slow motion of degeneration over ever lengthening spans of history, continuing existence decreasing, erosion determines weight and location is varied via force. Diminution is not the finality presence, falling off the edge of perception into dust. The relationship we have with land is complex, subjective and illusory there are many layers to the land/ spaces we occupy. I was at a presentation last week where the speaker commented ‘ Place is space occupied with intent’ this is true of not only the place we call earth but also the worlds we are now expanding into with space exploration. For example we now visit Mars ‘with intent’ we have made human marks on its surface,


expanding our own occupation to include a distant surface. Most of us currently looking on can imagine these places from the increasing number of photographic imagery emerging, from explanations of temperature, surface composition, weather and so on and they seem tempting — Like the explorers of past times we are drawn toward the sublimity and promise.

particular issue was concerned with current (at the

Reality Thins, and the wider project it is a part of began whilst reading a copy of New Scientist, the

these things as a means to aid my understanding.

time) concepts/ theories regarding what constitutes the fabric of reality. This was something I was already engaged with in a different way, the nature of subjectivity was part of my education in photography, but this really opened things up. Reality for a scientist, engaging in theoretical physics is very different from mine, I started to visualise We are as dust, insignificant in comparison to wider


space and yet complex and miraculous these thoughts and questions are contained in this short. The theme of memory plays a crucial role in your creative process and as you have remarked in the introductory lines of your artist's statement, your work is a series of observances of the world around yourself: how does every life experience fuel your creative process? My latest work is called Event Horizon, Britannica online explains it thus;

“Event horizon, boundary marking the limits of a black hole. At the event horizon, the escape velocity is equal to the speed of light. Since general relativity states that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, nothing inside the event horizon can ever cross the boundary and escape beyond it, including light…” Once a memory or experience enters us it cannot escape, but, we cannot seem to re- access this as a true event again, our memories are altered upon


each visit coloured by our contexts and opinions, every experience I have may or may not lead to work but it is still there. Our memories are visible to us, excepting certain circumstances, but not tangible — a melancholic glimpse of disappearing time. I feel my work expresses these experiences as duality, the sadness is enmeshed with excitement and fascination with the world around me. I have had some challenging life experiences but my enthusiasm for creativity and thirst for exploration makes just a part of the work, I suppose I am lucky to be able to have these outlets and time for discovery. We have highly appreciated the way your film challenges the audience's perceptual parameters to explore the struggle between reality and dreamlike dimension, your film provides the viewers them with a unique multilayered visual experience: how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your process? I wanted the viewer to be immersed in an abstract place, along with me. I am the subject and I have deliberately used the speed of the montage sequences so they cannot be fixed upon. The film was made using stop frame animation and then reprojected twice. In the frame I am inside a fluid, struggling to not only remember but to perceive the wider universe and life I live inside. Wanting this to be about surface and form I used black and white for the figural elements and

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers

colour for the ‘thoughts’, vivid moments that are sometimes real and sometimes fictional. The relationship between actual reality and dream is also a fluid space, using process to effectively communicate this for me requires abstraction, my neurones physically enable what I create but the experience of this is dreamlike, I cannot knowingly fire certain parts of my brain, I cannot control completely what I remember and when it occurs, I can only respond. The soundtrack of is based on recording from NASA of storms from space and white noise from night time silence, and provides the footage of your film with such an ethereal and a bit enigmatic atmosphere: how do you consider the relationship between sound and moving images? In this case I consider it as an extension to the fluid I am immersed within, sensorially the experience for the viewer should be in a small enclosed space enabling a certain level of claustrophobia. I am no sound artist but as I use the nebulae and disparate images of surfaces that surround us, the sounds represent the same in the aural space. I would like to work towards immersive presentations in several of my projects. There is also another reason for using actual NASA sounds, how many people know you can even do this? It would be interesting if anyone who views this then


goes on to investigate explore space resources online as a result‌ seems to reflect German photographer Andreas Gursky's words, when he stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something: are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations? In particular, How open would you like your works to be understood? Thinking what I would like people to take away is sometimes a difficult task but overall I would like to ask more question than I answer, to start discussion but not to tell. This work is particular is quite open whilst others are more forceful, this depends on what the subject matter requires for me. Some works unfold and are mysterious until complete others start with a definite idea for production. I think when your work is out in the world people take from it what they will and this is good, viewers can really only have their own personal associations. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, is also a self portrait made using stop frame animation that seeks to further explore the magical insignificance of the individual in the universal space. We have appreciated the way

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers Reality Thins brings the nature of relationship between the body and its surroundings to a new level of significance, unveiling the ubiquitous bond between the individual and outside reality: how do you consider the relationship between outside reality and our inner landscape? I think I may have answered this above? However, blurred lines‌.Often the inner reflects the outer and what we choose to image or create in relation reflects the inner, it seems a circular mode of creative process is happening. Reflect/ create/ reflect. My journeys into these places, alone or accompanied, are not just reclamation, they are attempts at reconnection with the self and a way of breaking away from the dulling affect I find contemporary culture and lived experience offers up. The offer of digital connectedness and access to the whole world, and a good portion of the wider universe as visual feast, moves me away from the real. Connections that disconnect. Discourse, place, biology and geology - a mediated space of contextual historical cynicism. Traverse through these places allows negotiation, both physical, metaphysical and political. Falling through the cracks, grasping for purchase. This reclamation concerns the physicality of the surface that both extends from and includes my body.


Women Cinemakers Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies, 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 feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? I agree that the physical act is unavoidable, creation of any sort requires physicality. For women especially the act of using ones body is political, not conforming to ideas of beauty does not always require revulsion although it is useful as in the case of some of Helen Chadwick’s works, however I wanted to stress the human, dreamlike state and in the film I am becoming invisible, intangible a memory of the physical. I wrote about this recently — A piece of writing I came to make after being influenced by this included the line ‘I do not have the eye of a goddess’ as I do not. It talks about exploring on foot and moving through, which is how I negotiate my work physically and metaphorically, I purposefully include places where I come against some barrier or thick vegetation and where my path is blocked, these things then demonstrate my human journey. This was in the Book

‘Shifting Horizons’ which is exclusively about female photographers who engage with the land. It rebukes the ideas of the 18th Century explorers and settlers to the Americas and the sublime representations of the romantic era, I do not view from on high or hold a controlling gaze, I am


within. I realise this is all a little academic but thinking about my position of repose is an ever changing problem to negotiate. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this

conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there


are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I think things are moving forward and the female

artists I am inspired by show this, they are all eclectic and interdisciplinary and non-conventional, if there is such a thing? Women like, Sophie Calle, Tacita Dean, Annette Messager and Helen Sear, all successful. Helen Chadwick is still a good example of a woman who


Women Cinemakers

ideas that connect it, the fact that you need not be one thing or create one type of thing can be difficult to justify but I am pretty well versed in explaining my work and hope that the abstract nature of it will be compelling to some. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Joanne. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Thank you! This is a fantastic opportunity to discuss my work and I am glad you selected it. I have just last week finished my Masters degree so am discussing upcoming ideas for showing work and have been developing an idea with a local organisation that uses microscopy and landscape, watch this space.

challenges, but I don’t know how things will go, I only hope that this continues, I am still early

However, I have several projects which need to be resolved and am hoping to find places that will accept the uncommon nature of what I make. Phd could be next‌..

career so I will let you know. My experience through arts education has borne this out in a

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

way, I have on occasion had a hard time

and Dora S. Tennant

explaining the varied nature of my work and the

womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Sunara Begum Lives and works between London and Jaipur

Art for me is the thread with which we sew together our collective memories. In all my work I try to tell the story of our forever evolving identities. How we came from the root and branched out is always different....Our connection is how we go back.� I am a seeker of truth, a dweller in the unknown and a dreamer of the impossible. A visual- anthro-mythologist. My art expresses a universal spirit encompassing my sense of ancestral memory and ethnic identity in which the essence, form and textures of the past shape my interpretations of the present and sense of the future. In building bridges spanning the past, present and future, local knowledge is transcended to exemplify a world communality. My own identity is defined through a personal voice and view enlarged by a critical awareness of contemporary aesthetics and events. On exploring the sculptural potential of composition, form and dimension interrelated with natural materials such as bamboo, earth and twine in creating works that are concerned with issues of the encroachment on nature and inroads into the external and internal human condition, the selected materials used become an affecting metaphor reflecting upon our fragile environment and our human vulnerability. In making cross-cultural references and synthesising Asian and Western elements through metaphors and symbols to create works that reflect both the fragility of the environment and the vulnerability of humankind, I call to mind the now threatened symbiosis of nature and humankind. Through the appropriation of native and folkloric materials and motifs, I speak also for the continuity of cultural heritage and for spiritual survival in the context of the contemporary world.

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

Hello Sunara and welcome to

: we

would like to invite our readers to visit http://www.sunarabegum.com in order to get a wider 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 you graduated from the prestigious Central St Martins


College of Art and Design where you completed your BA in Fine Art and a MFA in Fine Art: how did your studies inform your current practice? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your Bengali roots direct the trajectory of your artistic research? As a visual artist and filmmaker based in liminal spaces my practice is simply guided through the embrace of the unknown. It takes a while to get there, to let go and to completely submerge myself within the elements of chaos and questions, but when I am in that place I believe all is possible and one could really see the function of art ‘for’ oneself and ‘beyond’ oneself. This feeling in itself is gratifying and puts me in a position of true inner selfempowerment. Attending Central Saint Martins in London gave me the licence to dwell in this very space. They provided me with a blank canvas and to just let go with no ropes attached. I was completely free! The critical assessments were invaluable and some of the tutors were incredibly helpful in pointing me in new and unusual directions, to challenge my practice and to remain open to explore different processes. I remember relishing this freedom at the time as it gave me a sense of autonomy in terms of honing my voice as a visual artist. As a young person growing up in London with Bengali roots there were still cultural voids that I felt the college was unable to fill. Growing up in a Sufi household I was surrounded by my mother’s chants, stories of homeland, folk songs and alternative world views, none of which could really be addressed fully in art school as they had very different reference points. In my third year of university, I found myself looking for places to intern to give me that grounding I felt I was missing. I started working at Halaqah Media, a London based South African media company. There, I was immediately thrown into the deep end. We were working on feature documentaries from conception to production and post-

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers production. I was attending film festivals, organising screenings around the world and adopting an entirely new process of working. It was in my final year that I found balance and both Central Saint Martins and Halaqah media fed aspects of my hunger as a young creative wanting to find fulfilment in the arts. They were both two opposite extremes! One day I had complete structure, order, technical grounding and the next day I was completely free, abstracted from the concrete and given immense scope to find my voice. Though they were so contrastingly different they were in some ways very similar and weaving between the two in my final year gave me a place I could call my own. On the MFA at Central Saint Martins I really honed in on forging a path that I could continue on as an explorer, an enquirer with the myriad of rich cultural reference points I could draw on from my own background to inform my journey. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected Project 21 - A Meditation on Stillness, 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 https://vimeo.com/188095952. When inquiring into the shifting gender roles between East and West, your captivating work invites viewers to explore the themes of spirituality, femininity and identity: when walking our readers through the genesis of Project 21 - A Meditation on Stillness, would you tell us how you develop the initial idea? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of the video and the need for spontaneity? What importance does improvisation play in your process? After university I spent several years travelling between UK, Europe, South Asia and West Africa and spent several months


working on very specific projects from documentary features to multimedia theatre productions and photography exhibitions. Out of these collaborations, exchanges and encounters, with artists from very distinct traditions and cultural practices, I began to reflect on my own place in the world as a somewhat nomad travelling between spaces but ultimately belonging nowhere. I was inspired to question myself and challenge some of the very rigid borders I was surrounded by. Out of this process was born, ‘Project 21: Who Am I?’ which is a performance installation project filmed in 21 sacred sites around the

world, exploring our innate dialogue between our own body and the landscape, various movement styles and the interconnectedness between ourselves and the environment. I’m interested in the relationship between body art, land art and sacred art. The project changes drastically from location to location, time plays a very significant part as it’s an ongoing long-term project which for me has no beginning and no definite end point. Whichever space I am in I try to respond in that given moment without pre-meditated ideas. I enter with an idea of the overall feeling, colour, sentiment or question and take


it from there. To be fully present is the hardest thing, and though I do not claim this in my work I try to bring all of the layers that I carry to mark the given space at that precise moment. I am interested in the imprint of my own body into natural landscapes combining it with organic materials such as leaves, branches, stone, fabric, rope etc. In a way reclaiming, reconnecting and re-triggering my roots and becoming one with nature. The genesis of the project evolved, changed and metamorphosed from the initial conception and this for me allowed room to manoeuvre, to enter and exit when needed and most importantly to create

space. Improvisation and an intuitive approach was critical in this, particularly when engaging with evocative locations and environments to allow space for things to happen. Space for the unknown and room for viewers to enter. A Meditation on Stillness is a successful attempt to blur the geographic lines that continue to divide us but to rather focus on the binding creative and cultural forces that unify and help bring us together. 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 the theme of cultural identity, what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our contemporary age? Does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? Art can transform lives, heal pain and act as a cohesive force within a society or community broken by conflict, dislocation or poverty. Art can act as an agency of empowerment, upliftment and hope in the darkest hour. I believe expression is an imprint of our inner world. It is a basic human right that belongs to us all, regardless of race, class, gender or personal circumstance. As an artists it is my mission to change the way people think, relate to one another and communicate. When we feel, we heal. When we teach others we reach out to a greater sense of collective humanity. Creativity is a process born of humility. It does not judge but gives birth to new ideas, new perspectives. It is a product of our imagination and a reflection of our deeper consciousness. Art serves as a reminder of our ancestral memory. For me the fundamental role of the artist is to bring enlightenment, awareness and understanding in one’s given society. I am influenced by the role of the artist as healer in traditional society and embodying aspects of this multi-faced role not only inspires me but also challenges me. Often in societies where art is more than entertainment, a business initiative and a mere commodity, artists are accountable to people and hold immense social and spiritual responsibility. My mentor, photo-journalist and cultural activist, Shahidul Alam, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh taught me the significance and power of an artist in contemporary society. Unfortunately he paid the price for his commitment as a conscientious artist in our times. He was recently imprisoned and held without trial for

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers

100 days. For me, he embodies the true artist’s role as a critical voice, independent thinker and social commentator. In UK the form of censorship is quite different and the lines are not always visible. When the artist’s voice becomes divorced from the core values of its society there is danger in their voice becoming irrelevant and this could in turn hinder their purpose. So, I agree that as artists we carry a huge responsibility to reflect on who we are, where we come from and why we are here. The conscientious artist has a responsibility and is accountable to wider society for transformation and upliftment. Art, music and movement have formed an axis for my work, a mirror through which I am able to see the world. Society often forms the backdrop to our work as artists but we too can rise to the challenge, become a critical voice of truth that ultimately transcends the modern geographic borders. We have appreciated the way you have provided your short film with such a poetic quality, capable of establishing emotional involvement in the viewers: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting and what did you aim at triggering in the spectatorship? I like to place my body and the camera in the environment and allow a sense of elongated delay and a lapse in time and space for things to unfold. There is no set way of working for me but rather a response that shifts with each concept and each new work. In ‘A Meditation on Stillness’ I was interested in creative editing, distinct camera angles, slow motion and the interplay between myself and the environment. The raw movement created a new geography that never was and each gesture navigated through a map of memory to neighbours of distant places. With most projects I see the end at the beginning and have a strong sense and feeling of the final work, but it’s just a case of getting there through the jounrey. Freedom for me, therefore lies in allowing the journey to dictate, in a way to enter


into a state of timelessness. Every piece of work is a rigorous act of ritual and this reveals to me the outcome, the duration, the aesthetics, the movement and the overall voice of the work. Ultimately I am always seeking to create a shared space in which I, the performer and spectator could connect bodily, psychically or spiritually through a shared sense of presence and energy. When the final video is on, we collectively enter a new timezone with new marcations of time, and spectatorship is intertwined with the video performance installation. I like to think of the spectator as an active performer who becomes inseparable from the work and who is willingly partaking in the physical and mental journey. With any work in it’s conceptual or creative stages I try to explore the fullness of the natural history of the body which is triggered by improvisation and seeking to create connections between societal binaries, breaking through oppositional forces, and being. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, you act as a conduit and the questions that emerge bring an awareness and particular understanding to both fellow practitioners, as well as people who are experiencing it for the first time. Art historian, Ernst Gombrich once underlined the importance of providing a space for the viewer to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is for you the chance to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? It is very important for me that there is space for viewers to enter into the work and bring their own trajectory and interpretation to the experience. It is therefore critical that space is created for this plurality of voices to emerge and recede, to appear and to disappear, to come to the fore and to also

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers withdraw. The Guyanese artist, Aubrey Williams once said, “Indifference is the biggest insult, someone who can walk past a piece of work and feel absolutely nothing�. To love is to feel, to hate is also to feel but to be indifferent is to feel nothing. Unfortunately with the constant overload of visual stimuli we are becoming numb to our immediate physical surroundings and this could have a knock on effect on how we relate to and connect with one another. Even though I have a very strong idea and vision of my pieces I understand the need to be open to the diverse potential readings of the work. I try not to set pieces with a forced opinion or outcome for viewers but rather to get them to ask questions of themselves and seek new possibilities in their own thinking. I see my work as an offering, a moment for viewers to travel and to journey, always with the choice that they can leave, come off the path but also with the choice to create their own. My work is open to new and multiple realities, but the viewer must enter first with an openness and move first with a willingness. With video and time-based work there is an advantage in that viewers give the work a chance, be it a few seconds or minutes and in that time they journey with me and take what they feel they need at that given moment. There is no rule. Just the rule of free-will I guess. To quote contemporary Indian dancer and choreographer Ananya Chatterjea's words, "creativity is a feminine modality". Over the recent years many artists, from Martha Wilson to Carolee Schneemann have explored culture’s expectations about what women are supposed to be: as an artist interested in questioning the themes of femininity and cultural identity, do you think that contemporary art could be a conduit for a kind of social criticism capable of making aware a large part of the population of the condition of women in our globalised, still patriarchal societies? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value?


Women Cinemakers

As a visual-anthro-mythologist I am a seeker of truth, a dweller in the unknown and my art expresses a universal spirit encompassing my sense of ancestral memory and ethnic identity. The essence, form and textures of the past shape my interpretations of the present and sense of the future. In building bridges spanning time, it enables us to transcend the local and realise our vision within a world communality. I agree with Ananya’s quote very much in terms of the artist and their inner process of creativity that takes on the form of imbuing the feminine within oneself. This equally applies to men as it does women. Firstly, I would like to differentiate between gender and the fundamental attributes of femininity and masculinity in its plurality. I feel the artist’s voice in it’s truest sense emerges when they choose to embrace their higher voice which often does not belong to any specific school of thought or social group. Our spirituality, in a way, is our femininity and this connects us to our eternal self, and through this we tap into our creativity. It is a genderless pursuit and is the same for women as it is for men. I am inspired by women in history who have fought against particular ideals and used them as a guiding force to transcend their place in society. Rani of Jhansi of India, Onna-bugeisha of Japan, Queen Himiko of Ancient China were all pioneers, rulers and warriors who existed long before our current parameters on feminism and social/political equality. Sometimes I feel we have to be careful with our cultural reference points in the current quest for feminism in the West. What has at once impressed us of Project 21 - A Meditation on Stillness is the way it brings the nature of relationship between the body and the surroundings to a new level of significance, unveiling the ubiquitous bond between the individual and outside reality: we have really appreciated your successful attempt to capture the resonance between


Women Cinemakers gestures and environment. How do you consider the relationship between the body and its surrounding playing with your artistic research? Placing the human body in motion at the centre of an aesthetic exploration is a means of understanding our deeper pulsating concerns. These hidden complexities contribute to our everyday life and are brought forward within the overall reading of the work. Bringing together a spontaneous/choreographic sensibility with cinematic production inform the articulations of the performing body with the use of movements and gestures outside the familiar. By creating this imaginative, often mythological experience which has no reference to any specific time or place, makes it therefore valid for all time and place. Above all, the ritualistic form treats the human being not as the source of the dramatic action, but as a somewhat depersonalised element of the dramatic whole. Embracing the spaces between lines reveals the true potential and power of the imagination unveiled through a continual journey of listening, seeking and sharing. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in dance, how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the concepts you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your practice? Flesh is communication and the use of the body in my work allows me to seamlessly go from subject of, or object within


Women Cinemakers thereby creating a literal embodiment of the artwork. I often say that art for me is the thread with which we sew together our collective memories. In all of my work I try to tell the story of our forever evolving identities. How we came from the root and branched out is always different….our connection is how we go back. This continuous process of questioning one’s self, one’s surroundings and all the societal layers placed around us helps one to forge a stronger sense of inner personal inquiry and resolve. The relationship between the abstract concept and the physical practice is one that requires a journey into the unknown. When a moment of inspiration is experienced, I don’t always react to it immediately, often I sit with it, read books, poetry, watch films, go to exhibitions, concerts, explore materiality, elements, sounds and sonics around it, journal, write, draw, scribble, brainstorm and collect visual motifs. Sleeping is also essential as it’s also the place where a lot of ideas come to the fore and inform the abstract concept in some way. From here on the journey begins and the idea begins to evolve from an abstracted concept to a more fitting concrete physical reality. This for me is the beginning and this process carries the pulse of our existence like an untapped language. I am a mere conduit and the physicalisation that emerges brings an awareness and particular understanding to the complex layers we carry through time. It's important to remark that you are the co-founder of several international arts initiatives including Chand Aftara, an artist’s collective dedicated to the exhibition and production of experimental cinema. It's no doubt that artistic collaborations are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields meet


Women Cinemakers and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your work? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between two or more artists? At Chand Aftara we are all about bringing together like minded artists to connect, create and collaborate. A creation centre where art is made and consumed in innovative and exhilarating ways. We regularly co-curate a series of performances, screenings and exhibitions, involving contemporary experimental film/video and other art forms in collaboration with artists. We have worked on various projects from mobile music tents in remote villages in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Gambia, to dance, theatre and performance installations in Europe and America. Communication is at the very core of Chand Aftara and we believe plurality creates possibility. We are a small team of contributing artists with an inter-disciplinary approach to our work. We like to push the boundaries of our practice and challenge our existing modes of working, placing ourselves out of our comfort zones with new projects is crucial for us and adds new dimensions to our evolving voice as cultural practitioners. I have worked on several musical theatre projects as a live multimedia artist where I conceive, create and communicate with a fellow artist, create entirely new video material and project this as a backdrop for two hour long performances. Projects such as this gives me huge scope and freedom to step out of my own conceptual world and enter into another. I find this extremely freeing as a visual artist and often thrive on creating in the moment. This way of working and the immediacy no doubt informs my own overall approach as an artist. Over the years your works have been showcased in several occasions and Meditation on Stillness was selected as the


Women Cinemakers Best Experimental Short at the Art Africa Film Festival and the Jury Grand Prize at the 21st Media City Film Festival. Before leaving this conversation we want to take this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? France, after the war when they had nothing, no infrastructure or social/political order was referred to as a ‘she’. I find it interesting that nations in their moment of demise whether from war or natural disasters are referred to with this gender. In order for France to rebuild itself, create a new voice and identity as a nation had to call upon and rely on its artists, philosophers, thinkers and writers who had the ability to reimagine, and rebuild. When a nation is torn, broken, dislocated and fragmented this is when the role of the artist comes to use. For me, the power of the artist is similar to the power of a woman who embraces her femininity in its truest sense. Many women artists, writers, activists and leaders of the past fought for principles, followed ideals and manifested them. Their purpose was not driven by their gender but by the principles they stood for. If we associate an agenda to gender then we can never really free ourselves from cause and effect, we will always be a response to something, somewhere. By this I am not saying that we completely cut ourselves from what is around us, but we must carry a sense of objectivity and separation from our

innate being and the societal constraints that are placed upon us. It’s not a question of the male gaze or even the female gaze in response to it. We have to understand the cosmology of our being and the complexity that lies within. The society we live in, the political doctrine that governs us are mere layers and added dimensions to our complex realities. We need to lose our grasp of binaries and enter into the sphere of plurality and multiplicity. For example, a woman who is naked is not a symbol of freedom, in the same way a woman fully clothed is not a symbol of suppression. There are many contributing factors and association to the actions we see around us. Intention plays a vital and key role in our reading of these complex layers. Femininity is not exclusive to women, just as masculinity is not exclusive to men, as the fundamental principles of femininity and masculinity are within us all. For me the future of women in the contemporary art scene has immense creative and cultural scope. There is so much that went before, we must know this, understand it and create from a place of knowledge. The bricks have been laid. What is our contribution? As soon as we know and recognise this, we can partake in the performance. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sunara. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently working on a performance installation project inspired by Marc Chagall’s glass windows. The piece is about migration in the modern world and being lost in the oceans,


Women Cinemakers the impact of water as a fundamental element but also as a moving/dividing force between continents. It’s an exciting project for me as I am collaborating with several artists that I really admire and have not worked with before. I have just completed a feature documentary entitled, Memories of My Mentor, which is a seminal documentary on the life and work of Dunstan Perera, an extraordinary visual artist and filmmaker who has dedicated his career to expressing truth through the poetic image. The film chronicles eight decades of image making as Perera traverses the worlds of Asia, UK and America in his timely pursuit for ultimate artistic freedom. I also have several screenings of my work including ‘Truth & Art’ and ‘Living Legacies’ showing at the Kathmandu International Music Film Festival in Kathmandu, Nepal. Truth & Art is an intimate portrait on the life and work of three global artists from distinct musical, cultural and creative backgrounds. It features global renaissance man, Tunde Jegede, guitarist and folklorist Derek Johnson and flautist and singer, Diana Baroni. The series explores the distinct musical, creative and cultural worlds of Africa, the Caribbean, South America and the Diaspora and looks at the complexities of being steeped within plural identities and yet finding one’s essential voice and unique path. Living Legacies is the first traditional music archive in the Gambia and was set up to document the traditional music of the Gambia and West Africa through field recordings, archival footage, photographs and audio recordings and make these available as a cultural resource to a new generation. The film festival will be screening several films from the archive. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Catherine Biocca Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Gertie Reloaded shows an animated charachter, somewhat referring to a scientist or professor, explaining the German term "Schadenfreude", which means malicious joy, referring to a multiplicity of definitions, reaching from pop culture to hstorical explainations, from queer thoughts to kids vocabulary. It was embedded in a bigger video and audio installation shown at Le Foyer in Zurich, 2016.

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

Hello Catherine and welcome to : before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production. We would like to introduce you to

our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. After your studies in Political Sciences in Rome, you moved to Germany, to nurture your education at the DĂźsseldorf Academy and later in the Nederlands, at Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten, in Amsterdam: how do these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does the relationship your cultural substratum due to your Italian roots and your current


Women Cinemakers life direct the trajectory of your artistic research? As I grew up with something like an European identity, I am not sure about the influence of national roots such as the Italian or German heritage. Rather I feel and see the direct influences of local (historical as well as environmental and social) roots. Growing up in Rome, with its multiple artistic substrats of classical, ancient, baroque etc. heritage and studying in Düsseldorf, which is a rather small city (translating the ending word “Dorf” literally means village, to give you an idea, while the “Düssel” is famous for being the shortest river in Germany..), but has a multitude of cultural venues as well as a vivid art scene while I studied there at the academy. After my BA in political science in Rome I looked for interesting options to explore the arts and came across the academy in Düsseldorf, as mentioned. I would say that the cultural, social and overall visual experiences in Rome and in Düsseldorf influenced me and my work the most. Generally it seems like legitimate that whatever we see around us and whatever physically surrounds us can have the biggest influence in building our aesthetic vocabulary. But surely the interpersonal and individual experiences make the most of our thinking vocabulary and that is how my work content and research practice was basically formed.


Women Cinemakers I guess everyone is influenced by their surroundings and these are mostly strictly local in a way of direct experience. Of course we can extend things to a national level considering language, internet, Tv etc, but that is something that never interested me that much, since I grew up in a linguistically speaking “shattered” home with my German mum and my Italian dad. The BA in political science is something that still accompany me today, since most of my work main focus comes from a mere sociological and historical path. For this special edition of we have selected , a captivating animation film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can ben viewed at . When walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? The Work Gertie Reloaded is pretty much the animation of a criss cross wikipedia, internet, youtube, user platforms and various chat rooms definition-hunting of the German word “Schadenfreude”. Visually speaking there is a white middle aged guy, resembling a bit a nice professor or a traditional retired news anchorman, that explains in various forms the terminus


Women Cinemakers which is roughy the translation of “Schadenfreude”. Since it is a specifically German word, which doesn’t directly translate into an equivalent term in most other languages, it was interesting to look for ways that different categories of people would explain or translate it. Of course, based on the nature of the online platform, there were many different approaches to define and describe the German “Schadenfreude” and that triggered me to put them together creating a sort of compilation of approximative definitions, explanatory examples, translation attempts. Some of them are also quiet offensive and verbally agressive, which creates an intrinsic second connection to the meaning itself and generates an ulterior layer of tension between the work and the viewer. is centered on the German term "Schadenfreude", that means malicious joy, referring to a multiplicity of definitions, reaching from pop culture to historical explanations, from queer thoughts to kids vocabulary. We daresay that your film responds to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that

: in particular, you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their perceptual : categories to create how important is for you to trigger the viewers' perceptual categories in order to address them to elaborate ? The multilayered nature of my works is surely thought to enlarge the perspective for the viewers to be involved at least partially in what they see. To me planning and consciously structuring the moment of encounter between my project and the public has a central position in my studio practice, since this is the only opportunity for me trying to engage actively with this unknown future situation. The moment in which viewers meet the work is important, since it could determine to include or rather exclude peoples´ interest. That is why thinking and rethinking of all the worst case scenarios within this “moment of collision” is a central part while preparing a work. Definitely perception is the most interesting moment for the viewer looking at a movie, an installation, a commercial, etc. That is when you


Women Cinemakers as a viewer are triggered to reschedule your position and refocus on your statements as well. Also the recognition that your thoughts and believes can be temporarily shifted, adjusted or changed completely is refreshing to me, for someone behind the scenes as well as for someone on stage. I recently saw the piece “Suicide Sisters� of Susanne Kennedy here in Berlin and that is a great example of a multilayered all-round experience for your perception, starting from the textual mix of different works written in different times and spaces, as well as the visual overload of input elements, from video to animation and of course from the acting itself to choreography and moving images. I guess the more options the viewer has to jump into whatever is in front of them, the more flourishing the ultimate experience can be. Another interesting work of yours that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled which is an interesting multimedia installations where the viewers are immersed in you video animations, distorted voices and a wide variety of objects belonging to ordinary life's imagery. German art critic and historian Michael Fried once stated that ' .' What were the properties


Women Cinemakers

that you are searching for in the materials that you include in your works? Generally I am attracted by artificial objects that represent real objects and materials. In a way I am interested in stuff that emulates and pretends to be something else. Even if it is easily recognizable that those “wannabe� objects and materials are not what they claim to be, it is fascinating why those things come to life in first place and are produced by human beings, and which place they are supposed to take in our lives. I guess all of you are familiar with fake orchids or plants in restaurants and hotels for instance? Or what about the printed pvc covering and coating of buildings while they are being renovated showing blue sky and beautiful architecture? Or shop windows being decorated with fake marble pedestals, fake wood panels and golden foils etc. Why is it that cheap visuals are able to suggest something highly haptic and material like sones, rocks, water, clouds, plants etc? The reality shift that those materials and surfaces create within our perception is very interesting. Moreover its structure resembles the shift of reality and dimension provoked by the digital moving image of an animation on a screen. That is why I usually use both these aspect to trigger the sensation of being


Women Cinemakers

immersed in some kind of different dimensional place, where 2D 3D and 4D are merged and eventually inverted to simulate a new form of reality that ultimately is as real as what we call reality, since it is hosted by a real space and composed by real objects and materials that we can touch and physically experience. We daresay that address the viewers to question the dichotomy between content and form, providing them with an immersive and multilayered visual experience. Moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way you seem to convey a surrealistic quality in objects from everyday life's experience: how would you describe the relationship between ordinary surroundings and your creative process? How does everyday life's experience fuel your creative process? As said earlier, the attitude of creating something that is supposed to resemble something else is very interesting to me, especially when this emulative process is clearly low fi and not really supposed to fool any viewer. It has a bit of a schizophrenic way of perceiving things, because we look at something, let´s say a vinyl floor which resembles parquet or


A still from


Women Cinemakers marble tiles, and we know its materiality is not corresponding to its visual claims. But we like it anyways somehow. I am trying to figure out if this attraction is due to the intrinsic artificial character of the object or if it is rather the ideal image of what it is supposed to suggest that makes us go for it. And in this sense everyday life and everyday online life is a perfect source of input. Also this dichotomy within simulated materiality is similar to the dichotomy of miscommunication, where something is supposed to sound and be understood as X, but sounds and is perceived as Y. Miscommunication is a central part of my research and work and I see the parallels of the fake marble and a misinterpreted sentence: in my works the visual mechanism embraces the more content related mechanism and so they support and enhance each others´ problematic existence. Your approach deviates from traditional installation technique to provide the viewers with such a heightened visual experience, to subvert the clichÊd techniques, developing that you included in your work: how importance do images play in your work?


Women Cinemakers The life of a symbol can be than the life of a regular object, so in this sense it adds some extra intensity to the viewers´ experience. In a situation where everything is kind of displaced, where objects shapes and lines are not in the order that we are used to, symbolism gets its special place on a rather natural way. That happens when we enter places that we are not used to see or experience in our everyday life, for example when we enter a church or when we enter someone else’s home for the first time. It is a sort of visual understanding mechanism, some kind of explicative interpretation of an environment, where all sorts of objects are empathized by our interpretation and our knowledge to understand at best the unknown surrounding. So who enters an airplane for the first time will be looking more carefully to images and objects, trying to give them a specific meaning. For people who are used to travel by plane, this is not a big deal anymore of course. But I would say that the first encounter with a specific place or situation triggers us naturally to get the most key reference points we can to help us to adjust in a similar environment in the future. Following this thoughts I am aware that objects and images used in my installations can have a rather symbolic or enigmatic function within the general set up. And choosing


Women Cinemakers those elements carefully is a big part of the production process indeed. Multidisciplinary artist Angela Bulloch onced remarked

". Technology can be used to create innovative works, but innovation means not only to create works of art that haven't been before, what but especially to already exists: do you think that one of the roles of artists has changed these days with the new global communications and the new sensibility created by new media? I guess the role of artists changed several time in history and is still changing today. Just as everything around us, just as society evolves and changes over the years, the artist role also adjusts. It is of course the interaction of many individual artist´s behaviors and choices to make this change. But I am not really sure if the new media technology was the reason for a further change of the artists position to be honest. I see

these new technologies more like a new media to be used and explored, just like when the photography came into scene in the beginning of the 19th century. Its one more tool to be used and I am sure there is still much good stuff coming up especially around the notion of mixed media in the contemporary art world. Í more see the individual actors generating slow changes in our social conglomerate, no matter if we intend the artists world or the general society. Actually the globalization and the internet are helpful to push through some other “innovations”, not just in the art world, such as the coming together of women artists and the general attention to the female role as well as the LGBT identity within society. In this sense I guess the artists of today can contribute in a more “global” way to what our society’s shifts are. 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 urged to from a condition of mere spectatorship. As an artist particularly


Women Cinemakers interested in the role of performance art as a tool to break the boundaries between artist and audience, how do you consider ? And what do you hope your artworks will in the spectatorship? Often I feel like the audience is the most important and interesting element of an art project or show and this ping-pong play of addressing and hopefully receiving feedback or input is the most fun part in the preparatory production phase. Mostly my works are about miscommunication in its various forms and of course the interaction of an animated character talking to the viewer has a massive potential for miscommunication, since there is no real option of exchanging with a digitally generated voice or a moving character on a screen. But at the same time it essentially incorporates exactly what the specific work is about: the fact that being able to communicate and exchange thoughts with someone else is extremely hard work for us. And I can imagine at some point the viewer can feel frustrated, because there is just a one way communication, a sort of monologue they are exposed to. So the thought is that this frustration can push the viewer to acknowledge or even


Women Cinemakers overthink certain mechanisms or topics presented in my works while the spectator is immersed in it and experiences it. But ultimately I am not hoping to trigger nothing specific, since the moment after the encounter with an art work is individually shaped and impossible to foresee or shape in any way. We have appreciated the originality of your artistic production and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ', however in the last decades ' women are finding their voices in art: how would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? Oh, I feel we are ages behind of how we should be living today and especially how we should be treating each other. Starting from our way to handle plastic trash, animals, nature, and of course other human beings, women are only one

of many so called “minorities” (wtf does this mean anyways?) that have to struggle with their position given by the patriarchal and obsolete categorization of society. What to say about this? No good words cross my mind. But what I can see and what I have witnessed during my life and career is that more and more women choose freely what to do in their lives and how to do it. Of course we are still talking about a small part of all women, those who are born in a more or less peaceful and liberal environment or who had a chance to study and to economically be independent from men etc. There is a long way to go, even though as said in our heads we are already there. But then I often encounter people like the songwriter and Union activist Joe Hill, who wrote a very nice song about a Rebel Girl back in 1914, which ends in saying “We’ve had girls before, but we need some more, In the Industrial Workers of the World, For it’s great to fight for freedom, With a Rebel Girl.” Or if you read “The Conquest of Bread" by Peter Kropotkin that was written already in 1982, you have the feeling that it has just been published, since it describes and deals exactly with what we are dealing with today!


Women Cinemakers So I guess back then some people where already ahead of the status quo that is still on in our time and it is now over 100 years ago that this song was written and still little change is happening. Does it really take so long? I am thinking about Timothy Leary talking to UCLA students in 1967 claiming that there are always old white man deciding what is going on in the world and that this dichotomy should be reversed, since the young people should decide about their political economical and social life and specifically about the direction the general society is heading to. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Catherine. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Right now I am working at some projects for the upcoming shows, there is a lot of research about the first labor unions as well as how materials affected our human history, to keep it broad. Not sure where it will be going to in visual and formal terms, but I guess it will develop somehow into a refined and more punctual way of translating whatever is on my

mind into a spacial something that you could walk through and which ideally talks directly to you while experiencing it.. My upcoming projects for the spring 2019 are a solo show at Greengrassi Gallery in London, a


Women Cinemakers

solo show at Polansky gallery in Prague, a group show in the Kunstmuseum St Gallen (LOK) in

MAMBO Museum of contemporary art in Bologna.

Switzerland and finally my first institutional solo

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

show in Italy at the Museum Villa delle Rose in

and Dora S. Tennant

collaboration with a residency offered by the

womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Rebecca Flynn Lives and works in South East London, United Kingdom 404_Error_Not_Found is a representation of the primal frustration one feels when technology doesn't do as it should. It’s set in sort of a dystopian future where all beings are genderless and look the same. The stunted, glitchy movement of the characters evokes a feeling of frustration and unease. The blue characters symbolise us all going about our daily lives. Phones and computers were created to help us and to make life easier however in present times we are now required to have these things and are slaves to them. When the wifi on the bus doesn’t work or when an app won’t load or even just when your phone dies and you can’t charge it people feel so distraught and lost when these things happen. This is represented with the glitching effect. We reply on these devices for so much, they are our computers, our cameras, our maps, our source of entertainment. The little animations between scenes are to create the feeling of switching channels or apps on your phone and simulate the feeling of ads flashing up on our screens.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

your artistic research?

and Dora S. Tennant

College was tough for me. While I made amazing friends, I

womencinemaker@berlin.com

found my course very challenging. I had come from a Fine Art Portfolio course into this and I expected something more free

Hello Rebecca and welcome to WomenCinemakers: before

and expressive. The reality was that the course was very industry

starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would

driven, which is fine but it wasn’t what I expected. I remember

invite to our readers to visit

coming in on one of the first days we were meant to bring in a

in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production.

clip of an animation scene we loved. I brought in a clip from

You have a solid background and you graduated in Amination

Waltz With Bashir, an animated war documentary. It was more

from IADT, the National Film School in Dublin: how does this

of an experimental piece. The method used to make the film

experience influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover,

was rotoscoping which means the animator drew over footage

how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of

to create the animation instead of working from scratch. Most


Rebecca Flynn Photo by Aoife Moiselle


other clips brought in were from classic animations with a traditional style. I remember being told something like “Well this clip doesn’t really contain many of the 12 Principles of Animation”. These 12 principles are what makes Disney animation so appealing to your eye, however this wasn’t something that interested me at all. Art and creativity has always flowed from me easily and it is something I love and can get lost in but animation felt like doing a math equation to me. I saw others flourish and show their personality through animation and I struggled at working in the medium. This really set the tone for my four years there I think. I felt I was in the wrong place. (Except for the few glimmers of hope like Life Drawing class with the wonderful artist Laura Venables.) For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected a captivating 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 . What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the duality between reality and imagination is the way the results of your artistic research provides the viewers with such an intense visual experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of 404_Error_Not_Found, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? Well leading on from the previous question I chose to reject the rules I had been struggling to follow throughout college. This is why I chose to do such an absurd film. A film should have a good story, an arc, 404_Error_Not_Found does not have that. The animation is stunted looking. The timing is weird. I had seen work from David O’Reilly an Irish 3D animator who had gone to my college briefly but left and was inspired by him. During the summer before my last year in college I

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers started attempting glitch art. I took raw data from images, brought them into the sound editing software Audacity and broke them by putting audio effects on the raw data and exporting them as images once again. It created amazing colours and shapes. I decided to embrace what I felt was right for me instead of trying to fit into a mould I wasn’t cut out for. I teamed up with the very talented Ciaran Talbot and he built the glitching blue character rigs in Maya that appear in my film. Caoimhe Hogan also helped with the initial character design. 404_Error_Not_Found is set in sort of a dystopian future where all beings are genderless and look the same. This piece was done in tandem with my thesis “Examining the Internet music genre Vaporwave as a postmodern art movement and subculture, comparing it to Dada, Pop Art and Punk.” My thesis looked at Vaporwave as an art movement and a comment on consumerism and capitalism similar to Dadaism and Pop Art and Punk. Vaporwave encompasses music, fashion and art. I wanted to incorporate the vaporwave aesthetic into my film. Vaporwave uses a lot of collage in the art side and plunderphonics in the music side of things. It’s both futuristic and nostalgic at the same time. It incorporates 80s/90s computer graphics with Roman busts and glitch art. My study of vaporwave and postmodern art helped me find inspiration for the aesthetic of my film, not just visually but the music and sound which I was closely involved in choosing. My colour palette also took inspiration from vaporwave art. Dada, Punk and vaporwave all have a quite nihilistic viewpoint and I felt that too at the time and I wanted my film to express this. I didn’t want to leave the viewer with a moral of the story, I didn’t even necessarily want to convey a message that “Technology is bad” because I don’t think that. Here I am doing an interview for an online magazine!


Technology is great! The film was simply meant to be a funny,

viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to

nihilistic look at ourselves as a society.

elaborate personal associations?

feature such an ambitious fusion

When researching for my thesis I became really interested in the

between reminders to everyday life's experience and digital

idea of hyper reality and non places. I worked as a manager in a

world, addressing the viewers to question the nature of their

big international chain store in a shopping centre while attending

perceptual categories: how do you consider the relationship

college. There was something about the shopping centre that

between perceptual reality and the realm of imagination?

fascinated me. A shopping centre is a non place. It’s a nothing

Moreover, how much important is for you to trigger the

space built just for consuming. Shopping malls are a big feature


of vaporwave so sometimes I would come up with ideas in work

information. There’s a sense of emptiness but because they are

for my film. Vaporwave music often pulls from Muzak. A few

very everyday situations we all identify with them.

examples of Muzak would be elevator music and shopping mall background music. Marc Auge, a French writer who coined the

I wanted the imagery and sound to evoke that feeling that

term “nonplace” also wrote about hyper-reality. Hyper-reality is

vaporwave does. Futuristic and nostalgic at the same time in the

an inability to distinguish a simulation from reality especially in a

hopes of triggering some feeling in the viewers. I purposefully

postmodern, technologically advanced society. I wanted to

didn’t have a story arc or a real ending to give a weird, offbeat

channel this feeling in my film. I went for very minimal

and jarring feeling.

backgrounds so you get where the character is with little


We have highly appreciated the way

accomplishes

the difficult task of establishing direct relations with the viewers: to emphasize the need of establishing a total involvement between the work of art and the spectatorship, Swiss visual artist Pipilotti Rist once remarked that "we are trying to build visions that people can experience with their whole bodies, because virtual worlds cannot replace the need for sensual perceptions." Do you aim to provide your spectatorship with an enhanced visual experience capable of working as an extension of ordinary perceptual parameters? 404_Error_Not_Found is a representation of the primal frustration one feels when technology doesn't do as it should. I think we all know this feeling. I catch myself sometimes when I am struggling with simple things like maybe the wifi is playing up. We’ve become so complacent with technology that we forget how amazing it is and how privileged we are to access it. When you get mad a web page is taking too long to load or your Chromecast isn’t connecting take a moment to think about the process behind making these devices work. To simply make a phone call the phone converts our voice into an electronic signal which is sent as a radio wave with the help of cell phone towers and satellites. It’s pretty amazing! I want people to watch my film and then take a moment to check themselves before losing it when they are in a similarly frustrating situation. With the stunted, glitchy movement of the characters I wanted to evoke a feeling of frustration and unease. The blue characters symbolise us all going about our daily lives. Phones and computers were created to help us and to make life easier however in present times we are now required to have these things and are slaves to them. When the wifi on the bus doesn’t work or when an app won’t load or even just when your phone dies and you can’t charge it we feel so distraught/furious/lost. This is represented with the glitching effect. We rely on these devices for so much, they are our computers, our cameras, our maps, our source of entertainment. The little animations between scenes are to

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers

create the feeling of switching channels or apps on your phone and simulate the feeling of ads flashing up on our screens. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the soundtrack provides with such an ethereal and a bit enigmatic atmosphere: how do you see ? The sound was very important for me, yes. To decide who produced the sound for our films our class met with the Creative Music course and we had mini meetings almost like speed dating with the different students to see who was best suited to what we were going for. My sound was done by Dean MacManus with the help of Geoffrey Perrin and Sam Saunders. Dean and I worked together to source suitable sounds. Because the inspiration behind the aesthetic of the film was vaporwave it was important to incorporate that into the sound. Vaporwave fuses nostalgia with futuristic. It relies on plunderphonics, like a sound collage. I love working with collage in my personal artwork so bringing that to the sound was fun. The aesthetic of the film is very collage-like and I wanted the sound to reflect this. I didn’t want a score or any foley. Some students were recording real sounds to put in their films, footsteps, voice overs all of that. I knew I wanted us to gather digital sounds and piece them together to suit as this was authentic to the vibe of 404_Error_Not_Found. I wanted to pull from my childhood so people my age might hear something familiar even if they didn’t know quite what it was. One of the glitch sounds is a Venasaur cry from the old Pokemon Gameboy games. In the GPS scene when my character is bumping into the wall the sound is from when the character from the Pokemon Gameboy games bumps into walls. I think there’s an


old school Mario sound in there somewhere too. Of course the dial up internet sound had to make an appearance. Dean also included some of his own music for example in the cut away with the Air Force 1 sneaker rotating. While doing my thesis I made posts on vaporwave subreddits for research and here I found Melonade (a Scottish producer) who gave me permission to use his song for the end credits of my film. At the time the Shooting Stars meme was at its prime so I wanted to use the little dog rig Ciaran had made with some funky upbeat music to evoke the same vibe of that meme without being too direct. Another interesting project that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled

and can be viewed at and that you recently

completed with Berlin based photographer Hue Hale. It's no doubt that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different disciplines? This was such a fun photography project. Hue’s concept was about objectification and fetishization. It was inspired by sexually aggressive messages received online that made him feel personally violated and question the content of his photography he was uploading on social media. I loved this idea of expressing this feeling of violation in a visual way through the 3D tentacles wrapped around the model’s body. It was different for me as the concept was totally his and I was just helping his vision come to fruition. Collaborating is so important. Often creatives can feel competitive especially with social media. Sometimes you think everyone else is more successful than you or they are working

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers harder than you when in reality you are seeing the highlight reel of everyone’s lives. I was so happy to do this project with Hue as he is so talented and produces beautiful work. Working with friends can sometimes be tough, creative differences can arise, work schedules differ but we worked so well together. Touch With Your Eyes really helped me realise that pooling your skills with other artists can produce some professional quality work. After college I felt quite deflated and lacking in confidence in regards to my art and skill set but this project really showed me to work with what I have and to reach out. Send your work to open calls, collaborate with friends, create opportunities for yourself! As a result of this our project did really well! We exhibited this in London with the F-Off Collective and it was also featured in District Magazine’s Guide To Dublin, Totally Dublin magazine and Subvrt online magazine. As an artist particularly involved in digital techniques, we would like to ask you a question about the relationship between the influence of digital technologies, the online technosphere and creative process. Do you think that digital technologies could fuel artists' processes, by providing them with a new kind of sensitiveness? And how do you consider the relationship between technology and your art making? I grew up painting and drawing and sticking things together, collaging, very hands on. Recently I have been working almost totally digitally. It took time to get used to drawing on a tablet and to wrap my head around photoshop and after effects. At first I was so against it and couldn’t get used to not drawing with a real pencil and paper. Now with practice I feel I am getting better and better and a lot more comfortable with the programs. Of course the glitch work I do in solely digital. I did the 3D modelling of the objects and backgrounds in my film which was a learning curve too. It’s good to challenge yourself with new programs like that. Of course I still draw in my sketchbook very often and nothing replaces that. It’s a tactile experience and very soothing to feel a pen or pencil on paper or working on something with your hands. There’s something special when you go to an exhibition and you can see the textures on a painting or an illustration and you know that is a one off piece


that cannot be truly replicated. I remember a tutor in my portfolio course said the beauty of screen printing and work of that nature is often the mistakes. You can’t really get that with digital. Working digitally is amazing though because the reality is materials are expensive, they are messy. I like having everything laid out in front of me and getting a little nest together and working for hours which isn’t possible sometimes in a small apartment or when you are sharing a space. If you don’t have access to a studio and have limited money to work with digital is great. You can get drawing tablets so cheap these days. I like to combine traditional with digital. Every artist now has a social media page, an instagram, a facebook page, artstation is another one. It can be damaging to people’s creative process but for me I don’t stress about it and I don’t stress about what other people are doing. I find it pushes me to work more often. I used to be shy about sharing work. Even when I was a little kid and my mom would show off my drawings to my aunties or something I would cringe so hard because it felt so personal to me. A lot of artists have that. Instagram has helped me develop as an artist. You see artists posting their work in progress online or tips on how they work. It’s very helpful and inspiring for me. We daresay that your practice highlights how the impetuous way modern technology has came out on the top has dramatically revolutionized our lives as well as the idea of Art itself: we daresay that new media will soon fill the apparent dichotomy between art and technology, to assimilate one to each other: as an artist particularly interested in contemporary culture’s obsession with internet culture, what's your opinion about the relationship between artistic production and the online technosphere? In particular, does in your opinion online technopshere affect the consumption of art by the audience?

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers For sure I think there’s a lot of conversation among the art community at the moment about what social media and the internet in general is doing for art. Is it cheapening art? Is it democratising it? Is it negative or positive? I remember hearing a fine artist say they hated the idea of someone scrolling past their art on an instagram feed. I think that’s a relevant point and there will always be a place for museums and galleries. For someone like me who works mainly digitally I embrace it. There’s a pool of inspiration out there. With tutorials you can teach yourself anything. It’s much more accessible. It dispels some of the elitism that art is only for the wealthy and educated. For my thesis I studied online curation and the democratisation of art. Even live gigs are now streamed across the internet with the likes of Boiler Room. Madonna is quoted to have said of Jean-Michel Basquiat “He loathed the idea that art was appreciated by an elite group. He used to say he was jealous of me because music is more accessible and it reached more people.” There are now even online art shows. The Internet Moon Gallery is an online gallery worth checking out. It was founded by Manuel Minch and hosts some really unique and strange exhibitions. UCLA Design Media Arts students created a similar online gallery space. They recreated the New Wight gallery into an online gallery space called the “New New Wight Gallery” where “The physics are broken” and free from the limitations of the real world. I love ideas like this. I was also involved in something like that myself with fellow artist Aoife Moiselle. We have collaborated in the past and have an ongoing video art project called Uisce Bitchez and with this project we were chosen to take part in an online residency for The Wrong Water online exhibition with the Peripheral Forms collective. Uisce Bitchez is inspired by the consumerist nature of the current craze of artesian bottled water. We do parody “reviews” of fancy bottled water. You can check this out on our instagram @uisce_bitchez, uisce (pronounced: ish-ka) is Irish for water.


We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades women are finding their voices in art: how would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I totally felt this in college. I definitely felt there was a double standard. I had a hard time in college; I was working while doing an intensive course, far from my family and I remember being brought into a feedback session. I was taken aside by two male lecturers and one said something along the lines of “Look we can see you’re struggling, why don’t you go and do something in makeup or fashion instead, maybe this isn’t for you” and before I left the room we shook hands and I was told by him “there is so shame in a minimum wage job”. It was so bizarre, I was so shocked in the moment I didn’t reply and I never reported it because I already felt things were against me and going up against the lecturers more so wasn’t going to work in my favour. I was so shocked and deflated and I really thought I was going to quit at that point but it actually spurred me on to keep going. I graduated college with such a lack of confidence in my work, I felt I had no skill set. I refused to believe it when someone complimented my film. Then I got the news that out of the whole class 404_Error_Not_Found was picked with only two or three other films by Melbourne International Animation Festival for a screening of best new films coming out of IADT. More recently I had it exhibited with The Ugly Duck Collective in London and received an award from London City Film Festival for Best Animation with it too. Seeing people watch my film and laugh and react is so rewarding and humbling. I’m finally starting to accept my work as valid because it definitely wasn’t seen that way in college. I have been illustrating my whole life and my

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers passion was completely tainted for me after college I felt I couldn’t draw something if it wasn’t perfect which lead to not drawing/creating at all. I’m not bashing my college though I am so thankful to have attended IADT. I think it was a very unique college experience. It was so special to have a whole community of like minded individuals and I met so many wonderful people there. I would encourage any woman in art or in any field to try something outside the box. I felt like I was looked on as a slacker in my class because I was struggling. It’s easy to say but have confidence in yourself and your ability and your voice. Don’t be afraid of being imperfect or making mistakes. Support your artist friends too! The art community can be competitive because you think there are only a certain number of opportunities out there but lift each other up. If I see someone I know starting to sell prints or t-shirts or start up something I love to try and support if I can. I would recommend listening to The Steebie Weebie podcast episode 82. The guest is graphic designer and illustrator Sophia Chang. I found her super inspiring because she is so successful doing something she loves and she talks all about reaching out to brands, let people know you exist, research the brands you want to work with and contact the correct people. If you send out 100 emails maybe you will get that one response from the right person. Everybody wants this insta fame. It reminds me of the quote “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”. I think people have a hope that if they post the right things with the right hashtags at the right time of day that they’ll wake up one morning and their post from the night before will have gone viral but the reality is that doesn’t happen for most people and you just have to get your name out there because success/happiness/fulfillment won’t fall into your lap.


Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Rebecca. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

I’ve been doing a lot of illustration lately. I do really want to get back into animation and plan on setting myself a few personal projects to get the ball rolling once again. I’m open for commissions and always open to collaborate with other artists. Since moving to London I’m trying to widen my circle and get to know other artists.

At the moment I am working with Cailín a non-profit collective in London connecting female and non binary identifying individuals from all backgrounds socially, creatively and intellectually. I’m really excited about this and we are going to be organising an official launch party soon. We hope to showcase artists and influential, inspiring characters. People can check that out on our instagram@cailinldn.

Thanks so much for this wonderful opportunity and thoughtful questions!

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Lucja Grodzicka Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Between is inspired by female body. The way it is shown by media, the stereotypes we as a society cultivate, the myths about female sexuality, the moral standards we are living in.

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

Moreover, how does your due to your Polish roots and your current life in the United Kingdom direct the trajectory of your artistic research?

Hello Łucja and welcome to : we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a MA of Arts, that you received from Akademia Sztuk Pięknych we Wrocławiu: how did this experience influenced your evolution as an artist?

Hello and thank you for inviting me to WomenCinemamakers. Studying at Art University definitely gave me quite traditional training and that led to confidence and freedom to use different techniques. I mainly studied painting, but also learnt a lot of fine art disciplines, which is why I guess I like to experiment. I feel my emotional


states cannot be expressed in only one technique. My art work is strictly linked with the female body and freedom. This is probably from growing up in Poland, which was (and still is) quite a conservative, Catholic country, where female expression, in the mainstream, is subdued. In the UK, on the other hand, there is a greater sense of freedom with what a woman does with her body. This has only made my opinions on the female body stronger. I find it ridiculous that people linked to the church and the governing party in Poland openly suppress art and movies which apparently offend religious feelings. That would never happen in UK. On top of that it is very important for me to travel and meet other people with different opinions. For this special edition of we have selected , a stimulating 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 . What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into is the way it provides the viewers with such a multi-layered visual

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers experience: when walking our readers through of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? During a lone residency in Greenland, I spent time reading up on Inuit society. Inuit society traditionally places greater value on males over females. Chores these days are shared in their subsistence-oriented lifestyles, although responsibilities related to hunting and fishing still tend to be divided by gender - men typically do the hunting, while women attend to drying the meat, harvesting of the skins, etc. The split in responsibilities is reflected in the black-andwhiteness of the video. I spent a month in Greenland and experience complete lack of day light, which is quite hard to deal with. That influenced the visual part of my production the most. The feeling of the sun being close, hidden behind the horizon, not close enough to give you full day light, gives you the feeling of being behind a closed curtain. could be considered We dare say that an effective allegory of in our media driven societies: would you tell us how important is for you that the spectatorship


the concepts you convey in your pieces, elaborating personal meanings? And how do you consider the relation between the real and the imagined?

different to the business of London, which gave me a unique opportunity to reconsider my values in life. There was a freedom of time that most people can relate with.

I make my art to make people think. This project was created in a period of time where I had almost no contact with the outside world, very

I think quite a lot about whether there is any difference between the real and the imagined. They have an intertwined relationship,


dependant on the individual’s perception. Everyone creates their own reality, alongside the reality shown by the media, politicians etc. Freedom can be measured as the level of opportunity to turn what you imagine into reality. We have deeply appreciated the way

explores the theme of the representation of female body by media and the stereotypes we as a society cultivate: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "

": does your artistic research


respond to

?

I don’t have a specific moment in which I decided to create art against the male-driven beauty stereotypes. It has always been in me – my parents raised me to believe knowledge was more important than looks, as well as being tolerant to different opinions and respecting freedom. I’ve never wanted to be a “trophy wife”, and as I get older, the feminist feeling becomes more radical. I think it’s an ongoing process – when a government somewhere in the world tries to ban abortion, to the clothes and make-up people expect you to wear, the sex you choose to be, or if the “head of the family” will allow you to go out alone or drive a car. I could never understand how someone can feel like it is their right to tell another person what to do. We like that way invites the viewers to question the way women’s identity is constructed through the perception of others, in our globalized still patriarchal and maleoriented age: what do you hope will trigger in the viewers? Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with ?

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers

My work in general tries to express my belief that the whole body is the most valuable thing a human has. But I find it mind blowing how stereotypes created by media affect women. Some women are chasing an unachievable, unrealistic “perfect” goal, created by strangers. I wonder how many viewers think “I should be slimmer, taller, prettier, more naked,” etc. while viewing the work, but I never really have these thoughts myself. There is always something we want to change, but maybe we should just deal with what we have. I don’t think the fact I am a women has special value, I think the fact that I am trying to understand other women, and put myself in their shoes has special value. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative . processes, as you did in the interesting German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": how do you consider the relation between of the ideas you aim to


communicate and your artworks?

of creating

My artworks are part of me and they are my way of expressing the feelings and thoughts I have in my head. I always believed that different states of mind require different way of expression - that’s why I keep myself open to all creative media. When there is a need, I automatically know how I will make it. Whether I’m painting, creating a photo installation or video I always use my own body as a medium. I feel very tuned with my body, so my art is me and my body. To emphasize the ubiquitous bond between everyday life's experience and creative process British visual artist Chris Ofili once remarked that " ". How does every day life's experience fuel your creative process? Watching people in everyday situations gives me the biggest kick. Very often I’m amazed how people react, what they demand and how ridiculous they are. Obviously as mentioned

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers before the current political and social affairs also paly big part of my art. We have appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ' ', however in the last decades women are finding their voices in art: as an artist interests in the cinematic arts with feminist theory, how would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? Well, it’s not easy. I will never forget when I was told that “female students never become artists, as they only study to be nice additions to male artists. And once they have kids, they’re done”. It’s so ridiculous that it’s hard to comment. I try not to think about my art being not as popular as some male artists, just because they are men, but if you look at any statistic, its men being the majority. I don’t think female artists are in any way worse or


better, but its “man’s world” so it’s easier to make a career for a man. Also I don’t think that unconventional art is the most popular, but that will never drive me to paint landscapes. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Łucja. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? It was my pleasure. There is few personal changes in my life, but it just gives me more energy to create. I’m working at the moment on new video project and few paintings. I am thinking about a bigger video project, but at the moment it’s just an evolving idea. I don’t think I am able to have everything planned as my art is linked to my emotions, which are always changing. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Chrissie Stewart Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Shadows explores the paradox of 'spotlight' and 'shadows' in relation to gender and 'being'.

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

Hello Chrissie and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your cultural background. Are there any experience that did particularly influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your due to your travels throughout four

continents direct the trajectory of your artistic research? My cultural background in British white working class. I was brought up in a large extended family situation, living with my grandparents as well as a parents and siblings. In relation to this particular piece of work, the retro nostalgic feel comes from TV watching on Sundays and my first encounter with the idea of ‘woman’. There were a lot of 40s\50s movies on at that time. I can remember being fascinated with


the shape and glamour of the women portrayed. Throughout my practice and certainly since my first degree at Goldsmiths College, where I was part of a study group led by Mary Kelly, the intellectual side of my creativity has gender construction at its heart. My films in particular concern themselves with revisiting tropes that describe ‘woman’ in a reductive way. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting experimental short film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . When walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? ‘Shadows’ evolved whilst I was researching women singers on youtube. I found a film of

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers Dionne Warwick singing, I think it was ‘Walk on By” and became interested in the shadows that her in the spotlight created. I cropped the image down to this piece and started to ‘play’ with it. I then searched for other women singing in the spotlight. The film of Judy Garland attracted me, with its wonderful red and Lynchlike feel to it. I played with this too. About this time, I heard something on the radio about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave which is about perception and illusions of ‘life’. This underpinned the paradox of the film, women in spotlight but shadows of an authentic self. We have appreciated the way you have provided with such a poetic quality, capable of establishing emotional involvement in the viewers: what were your when editing your video in order to achiece such brilliant results?


A still from Shadows

I have to admit, the poetic and aesthetic part of the film is the most intuitive bit. I get lost in the construction of the samples of film, the timings, sound etc. I let go of what I call my ‘front lobal

thinking’. This is where my history as an abstract painter comes to the fore. I do feel the way I feel as I paint. As you have remarked in your artist's statement,


A still from Shadows

: how do you consider the relationship between experience and imagination? In

particular, how do you consider the role of direct experience as starting point for your artistic research? I very much rate direct experience as being the heart of work. I genuinely


Women Cinemakers

have always struggled with concepts of femininity and gender perfomativity in relation to who I actual am. It was always like someone forcing me to wear clothes that I didn’t relate to or like. I was and still am a feminist and still search for a way of being that does not categorise or pigeonhole me.This makes the revisiting of those ‘alien’ tropes and the reworking of them almost an act of revenge. deviates from traditional filmmaking technique seems to aim at developing that you included in your work: how importance do images play in your work? I do feel like I am retelling a old narrative through symbolic means,

despite the fact that I use experimental non narrative means.I am not always sure that it will resonate or translates. In a previous film, I used film of elephant painting to express my feelings about a male dominated painting world but some people thought I was an animal activist!! We have particularly appreciated the way highlights the ubiquitous instertitial points between the real and the imagined and in this sense we daresay that you film responds to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that

: in particular, you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their perceptual categories to create


Women Cinemakers

: how important is for you to trigger the viewers' perceptual categories in order to address them to elaborate ? Very important and I appreciate your understanding of this part of how I work. I mean what is ‘reality’. I think of my films more like music in that it should evoke a understanding, feeling or experience.I work in an open ended, intuative but purposeful way. Experimental film can bridge that gap between response, thought and constructed language. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the minimalistic and refined soundtrack provides the footage


A still from


Women Cinemakers of with such an and a bit as well as the way you have sapiently structured the combination between and : how do you see ? That was so happenstance, all the sound is the actual sound used from the film but just takes on a different quality when slowed or quickened. When I was making it, I was thrilled to discover it did actual ‘work’ with the images. I particularly like, in the Judy Garland piece when she is speeded up, she seems angry and frustrated. It does seem to bring emotionality to the piece. 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


Women Cinemakers 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 field? It has been hard in the past, I am now 66 and women artists when I first went to art school were either marginalised or mimicked ‘male art’.We have lots to discover, thats whats so exiting about being a women artist now. We have lots of ‘stories’ to tell and for me (my generation in particular) revisit and retell.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Chrissie. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? My next film piece was inspired by a lovely, small painting in the Marlene Dumas exhibition of a mermaid. I found some interesting film on the internet about ‘fake’ mermaid sitings and want to use this as a basis. I am not sure where it will go at present, it may even be an installation but your interest has inspired me, so many thanks. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Profile for WomenCinemakers

WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  

WomenCinemakers // Special Edition  

Advertisement