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w o m e n IVANA TKALCIC ALEXA WILSON HANNAH STAPLETON ANA BAER ROSELY CONZ TUMELO MAKHOABENYANE CLÉMENCE B.T. D. BARRET IRIS DONKER STEPHANIE SCHEUBECK DOREEN MALONEY LIVIA DAZA-PARIS

INDEPENDENT

WOMEN’S CINEMA


cINEMAKERS W O M E N

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Contents 04 Livia Daza-Paris

128 Tumelo Makhoabenyane

At the Wall

Who Do You Think I Am

24

152

Doreen Maloney

Rosely Conz & Ana Baer

Memory is like a Cloudy Day on a Wintry

Terrablue

50

172

Stephanie Scheubeck

Hannah Stapleton

76

196

spectra

Iris Donker

Conch Shell Becoming, Sand Becoming

Alexa Wilson

PARADISE US PARADISE

Extraordinary Aliens

104

220

Clémence B.T. D. Barret

Ivana Tkalčić

Ignis fatuus aka the fallacious promise

_new world 4_


Women Cinemakers meets

Livia Daza-Paris Lives and works both in Caracas, Venezuela and Montreal, Canada ‘At the Wall’ considers complicated grief, political displacement and it belongs to a series of investigative artworks that include the witness borne by the more-than-human. It proposes my concept of poetic forensics —especially in relation to the threshold of detectability (Weizman, 2017), a notion that concerns cases where state violence has occurred but has been made invisible. As geopolitical interventions and human rights abuses in Venezuela during Cold War era remain absent from public discourse, my work uses haptic spatiality and attunement processes to create documentary experiments aiming to capture evidence (albeit tenues) and suggest a poetic testimony.

process that is investigative, interdisciplinary and rigorous. I am thrilled about being

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

able to engage in such depth in terms of ideas and practice with the themes that

and Dora S. Tennant

interest me. But please bear with me, as I am still tentatively navigating how to

womencinemaker@berlin.com

articulate some of my theoretical framework, thought processes and artistic contributions.

Hello Livia and welcome to

: we would like to introduce you

to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a

In terms of how my artistic research has come to be, thank you for your incisive

solid formal training and you hold postgraduate degrees in Community Economic

observation about the role of the Skinner Releasing Technique (SRT) and the

Development and Digital Technologies in Design Arts both from Concordia

aesthetics of Grotowski's theatre as foundations for the deeper artistic motivations

University, Canada and an MFA in Creative Practice from Transart Institute

in my work. Your question is a provocation for me to think harder about the origins

accredited by Plymouth University, UK: how did these experiences influence your

of what I am doing now. In many ways, how I am working already involves such an

evolution as an artist? Moreover, how does your

embedded and highly personal practice that it is hard at first to pick the points of

due to Skinner Releasing Technique and the aesthetics of Grotowski’s

entry in terms of how these influences converged with the main question of my artistic research, which is: How to “evidence” something or someone that has been

theatre direct your artistic research?

made to disappear by political oppression when the traces of such evidence are Thank you for inviting me to be part of your biennial publication. I am excited about

almost nonexistent? Could we take a non-anthropocentric turn beyond our

your interest in this particular video work

human-centric culture and ask: Who else (or what else) can be a witness? These

:

, mostly because it

might lead our conversation through a web of diverse ideas and themes that make up

questions are central to my research, and both SRT and the Grotowski techniques

the various layers of my artistic work in general.

help me trace answers to them through artistic means. I hope to be able to devote

Yes, after my formal training and a career in movement and dance, I began academic studies, mostly because I was interested in giving a critical context to my ongoing

some time later in this interview to how the video “At the Wall” addresses and, somehow demonstrates, how these very questions are addressed in the practice.

practice but also because I wanted to expand my artistic work beyond the areas of my

I would like to briefly introduce SRT. I met Joan Skinner, its creator, when I lived in

original training in dance and movement. In fact, I am currently pursuing an arts-led

NYC back in the late eighties, when there was an amazing exploration and practice

research PhD, through which I can take my core interests and develop them, within a

of alternative movement techniques other than the ones known from the more


Women Cinemakers established contemporary dance world. Joan herself was quite a humble character and maintained a low profile throughout her brilliant contribution to the dance/movement world. She originally developed the technique to increase the notion of body awareness and in very practical ways to reduce the too-frequent ‘dancer injuries’. She suffered a severe one herself while touring with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, motivating her to closely study ways of moving the body with the least unnecessary compression, as this seemed to be the main reason for injuries. These studies led her to create her releasing technique. She used the term “releasing” to refer to a method of physically letting go not only of habitual holding patterns and tension but also of “perceptions, preconceived ideas, [and] psychophysical habits” (Skinner et. al., 1979). I would say that SRT has been the main “connector” between my artistic practice and my artistic research. Consider for instance the poetic interplay between the SRT notions of inner and outer landscapes. These can activate the mind/body connection to intuit kinaesthetic responses on anatomical alignment through an engagement in creative processes, furthering one’s understanding of what those landscapes mean to one’s own world. Then, there is this leap in imagination that is possible through this movement/dance technique that facilitates a process of attunement with “worlds” at large. This creative engagement with the poetic notions of landscapes and their worlds can become revelatory—at least, so it has been for me—in considering (and approximating) the inner and outer worlds of my own fragmented realities. Because for me, these creative explorations are deeply entangled with my own memories and experiences of state violence and geopolitical oppression. Joan Skinner also pioneered a releasing aesthetic, which can be extensively appreciated in the work of dance artists such as Trisha Brown. SRT aesthetic values an engagement with the everyday world using simple pedestrian movements as much as a physicality of kinesthetically complex and improvised movements. It is also non-presentational, exploring locations off the stage, for example, and counters the more established balletic movements and traditional theatrical conventions. I was introduced to Grotowski’s work quite early in my teenage years in my home city of Caracas, Venezuela. I auditioned for a youth theater group that was trained by Eduardo Gil, a pioneer theater director of the Venezuelan experimental scene, and an actor trained in the Grotowski Technique. Fortunately, they accepted me, and this formative experience—I see this only now through your prompting question—profoundly shaped me and continues to influence and inform my artistic work. I have adopted, quite naturally, not only the techniques of the training, but also its ethical values in relation to Grotowski’s Poor Theater (Teatro Povero) and to the movement of Arte Povera (Poor Art). Both of these were born in the sixties, and the body is their main expressive element; they emphasize “taking away, eliminating things that are unessential” such as makeup, costumes and the scenographic. They were a reaction to a perceived slick consumerism in American pop art on the one hand and the impersonal nature of minimalism on the other. “Poor” really equated to unconventional rather than impoverished, and “Arte Povera artists sought to close the gap between art and life” (The Economist, Oct. 3, 2017).


Women Cinemakers In this respect, Grotowski’s theatrical principles and SRT are closely related approaches that have an appreciation of more organic movement and body expressions. They go beyond dance or the theatrical and emphasize a relationship with space that is nonprescribed. They call upon the practitioner, dancer or actor to have a deeper presence or focus in order to be aware of complex relationalities through which one participates in the space with all else that is in it. Space is not just a background to support the actions; it is the world itself, if you like, a relational field of possible lively connections in meanings and perceptual experiences. The interaction that emerges is dynamic and can reveal layers that call for integration, where all elements and participants matter, not just the artist. These artistic approaches constitute the formative background of my work, and they still resonate with the ways in which I go about creating, not only in their form but perhaps most importantly in their practice. I perceive this creative process as decolonizing in principle, and it imagines an enigmatic, poetic participation that could be transformative and proactive, while addressing the difficult issues situated at the core of my artistic research. You are a versatile artist and your practice is marked out with such stimulating multidisciplinary feature, that allows you to range from performance and documentary evidence to video-art and poetic narratives: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit http://poeticforensics.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? Why do I work in a multidisciplinary way? I would rather say interdisciplinary, or even transdisciplinary. I have been pondering these terms, precisely because of my need to explain how I work. “Interdisciplinary” does not just mean working with several disciplines in order to create artworks, as a multidisciplinary approach would. Importantly, “interdisciplinary” is positioned between the artistic practices and the respective disciplines. Given the kind of questions I pose with my artistic research, it is also worth looking into transdisciplinarity, which goes beyond a given discipline and across to others in a more holistic approach. In a way, transdisciplinarity attends to all the pieces of knowledge and skill together, and it creates art that cannot be defined through the canons of specific genres as we know them. My intent in using transdisciplinary approaches is to comprehend my research questions by looking outside single disciplines’ boundaries, which will hopefully contribute to a deeper overall knowledge. So, when I say my practice comes from an integrative approach, I also mean that I do not conceive the artistic creation in segments or discrete mediums, but rather fluidly, continuously and immersively. The work does not aim to interpret or document. Instead, it hints at the potential of transferring affect and making evidence of the experience of an investigative and artistic process as a poetic testimony The word “testimony” is present in the group of pieces that I am creating now, as I continue with the research based on my notion of poetic forensics.


Women Cinemakers

Near the end of the video

, you can hear a boy ask:“So, is

there any dedication here to the other people, the people from the other side who died?� His words revealed a question that had been all the while on my mind: When is life grievable? The American feminist philosopher Judith Butler asks this question

video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at

and what has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry

to address our ethical commitment in relation to contemporary conversations on the

into this relationship is the way you have provided the results of your artistic . While walking our readers through

value of life, all of life These kinds of insights and exchanges from other domains are

research with such

critical to enriching my work, but this example also points at the nature of

the genesis of

attunement (as an artistic process) with all the different elements taking part.

for our readers?

For this special edition of

How can an investigative artistic framework contribute to forensic processes? My

we have selected

, an extremely interesting double screen one single channel

.

This captivating work questions

, would you explain the concept of

proposed notion of poetic forensics, which is still in development as I progress with


Women Cinemakers

my practice-led PhD, suggests an alternative and subtle articulation of public truth in

what has been disappeared, and undertaking meaning making through artistic

the context of state violence. Poetic forensics suggests parallels with material evidence

processes in tandem with relevant theoretical frameworks.

via artistic processes that have an open-ended, evocative or metaphorical quality to them. It is also a provocation to consider how conventional notions of forensics have come to limit a broader understanding of what evidence is , what it means to provide evidence, what counts as evidence and how that evidence can be presented in an open forum, in society at large. From the practice itself, I have come to recognize this notion that I call poetic

Poetic forensics draws on two ideas. First, “poetics,” from the ancient Greek

,

refers to the activity in which a person brings something into being that did not exist before. Second, the term “forensics,” from the Latin

, relates to a forum or

public place of free speech. Eyal Weizman has described how the contemporary understanding of forensics appears removed from the political and public potential of as it was in the Roman Forum, in which witnesses included what artist Simon

forensics as my investigative art practice, which includes attuning to the worlds of a

Pope calls the “more-than-human”. For Pope, posthumanist discourse about “[t]he

disappearance, gathering and examining evidence, devising means for understanding

more-than-human... encourages us to think of what exceeds and joins with the


Women Cinemakers human... [it is] an end to the presumption that the world is an entirely human cultural construction”. , the massive presence, texture

So, for instance, in this video

and dark color of the wall itself, along with the nightfall, the surrounding song of the cicadas and the spontaneous gathering in conversation of a random volunteer and visitors, become part of creating a poetic testimony focused on the question: do we grief for, within the frame of this war? There is a something, a someone who is not acknowledged in what this monument has come to represent and for whom we should also be encouraged to commemorate and grieve. Poetic forensics could be situated alongside the emerging field of forensic architecture, whose main goal has been the production and presentation of architectural evidence— from buildings to larger environments—in the context of conflict-driven human-rights abuses. Aesthetically, both poetics and forensics relate to the senses, and in my research, they are also a form of inquiry, an opening into meaningful imaginings of how these difficult and elusive issues can be dealt with through practice and scholarship. My work’s link to Weizman is one of uncanny synchronicity, as I have been suggesting a closely resonant kind of idea since as far back as my MFA in 2012. His newest book, , develops an eloquent theoretical framework that is very relevant to my own research process, which further expands those notions into subtle terrains of liminal evidence. Poetics might itself be a path to arriving at a forensic claim. That is, as useful as an analytical approach is for obtaining knowledge (for example, the hard material evidence of forensic science), poetic imagery might provide significant means to begin to understand what is elusive and nuanced. In my work, forensics admits the possibility of poetics as an investigative practice, one that suggests that poetics turns the attention of forensics to another kind of evidence—that which is elusive to language and its referents. Poetics opens a forensic space, in which another kind and perspective of truth and another kind of testimony could be expressed. To sum up, the term “forensics” in my work relates to the Latin

in the sense of presenting, and even performing, evidence and political

argument in an open forum, such as this conversation we are having here in your WomenCinemakers publication. has drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful

with the landscape: how did you select the locations, and how

did they influence your shooting process? The sites in my work essentially relate to exploring the entanglements of what has been left behind: what the signs that can lead to an understanding of what happened are and why it has been intentionally erased. Back in 2012, I was able to establish the site of the ambush by the Venezuelan military that led to my father’s disappearance. (I discovered later that the Venezuelan military was aided and supported by the US military.) My work also weaves in what has not been revealed or resolved from the past, and its possible


Women Cinemakers relations to the present. I went to Washington DC to carry out several activities, including research in the National Archives —you can see an example of that exploration in this video: https://vimeo.com/241437180—and to make a public claim as a daughter of a disappeared, in the legacy of the claims of the Mothers of La Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires. But as an artist I was inspired to do this in a contemplative, suggestive tone, rather than an obvious one, as in my video https://vimeo.com/249219537, where I stand with a couple of large images of my father in well-known US memorial locations. I am not sure how familiar the readers are with the Vietnam War memorial. It has been quite controversial, mainly because it is not a representational monument but a suggestive one, and I thought that this background added a complex dimension to my own artistic exploration. The original mandate of this monument stipulated that the memorial should contain the name of every American who died in Vietnam or remained missing in action, make no political statement about the war, be in harmony with its surroundings and be contemplative in character. Over 1,400 submissions came in and were judged by a blind panel of artists; Maya Lin, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, was granted the commission. Through my research, I have found that the Vietnam war has parallels with the situation in Venezuela in the 1960s in the sense of the unacknowledged US intervention there. The memorial not only represents a tribute to fallen US soldiers, but as Americans remain deeply divided on the legitimacy of the war, it is also a testament to what the Vietnamese refer to as the Resistance War Against America. One could say that this monument stands not only for the Americans who died in Vietnam, but also for the courage of people who stand for justice, in the USA and elsewhere. What was it like to work at the Vietnam War memorial? It afforded me the occasion to explore directly with the camera, in a process of attunement with the memorial as I experimented in lively ways with “nonrepresentational” theory, responding to events as happenings, as occurrences hinting at unfolding worlds. It is from such a sensibility that my own approach to my visual work has unfolded. I explore notions of presence in absence with my own physical body by processes of attunement to external landscapes and the poetic inner landscapes. These explorations include proprioceptive relationships of space, body and fragments of a made-disappeared story. These aesthetic considerations are cultivated through to the editing process. 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": as an artist particularly concerned with investigative approaches to the unofficial history of state political violence, what could be in your opinion the role of artists in our unstable, ever-changing contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? I would be wary of the preconception that “artists must be political actors”. The role of the


Women Cinemakers artist is to make art, but the artist does not live in a bubble. We tend to think they are somehow outside of society, but artists too are citizens and can question the various aspects of the societal homogeneity that exists regarding life in general and how we are to be in the world. The conditions of the political climate under which art is made most often influences the work of art. Artists can and do ask questions with their work about how to make a better society and how to change difficult or unjust conditions. In fact, artists are often among the “first responders” to oppressive conditions precisely because their artistic inquisitiveness can be engaged to produce through suggestive and powerful artworks. For example, the “resistant” art of Neruda and the Tropicalia movement under the brutal dictatorships of Brazil and Chile between the 1960s and the 1980s was, I would say, somewhat camouflaged by the artists’ poetics, yet still the artists suffered exile, persecution and, in some cases, death. So artists can contribute, and most often do, to their societal and cultural discourses. Because my research includes the nonhuman, I would also include society alongside culture to highlight the fact that we live in an interdependent world constituted not only of humans but also of nature. Admitting the other-than-human (e.g., plants, animals, earth, water) would be congruent with a notion of justice that takes a turn from an anthropocentric and cultural understanding of the world.In my case, I respond to what I see and feel as an ethical imperative. How can we create structures for care and repair? Considering the issues I attend to with my work, this becomes a call within my art creation. It is one that deeply concerns the relational socialities surrounding notions of the political disappeared. Questions such as what happened and what was been done with the disappeared body remain to be resolved. As much as the work lingers in a place of not-knowing, it struggles to make meaning out of what has been violated, dehumanized and not given justice. It seeks, albeit obliquely, to step through and away from a “collective complicity in injustice,” of the kind poignantly expressed by African-American journalist Isabel Wilkerson. We daresay that your practice reflects German photographer Andreas Gursky's statement, when he remarked that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind something. We appreciate the way you challenge the spectatorship's perceptual categories in order to create personal narratives: how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, were you interested in providing your work with an allegorical quality that reflect human condition? Oh! Gursky’s work is absolutely breathtaking! I am humbled by the comparative connections you make here. But yes, in relation to the quote you have selected, I do see a correlation in terms of artistic intent, because at the core of my approach there is this idea put forward by psychologists Stroebe and Schut (1999) that in a context


A still from


Women Cinemakers where language and its referents have been separated due to disruptive and violent interventions at a basic level of reality—such as war and state violence—an alternative cognitive experience aided by poetics and sensuous knowing might emerge. It is as if one has a primal relationship to place and space that is elusive to linguistic description and in which the senses and body become the main organizers of the multiplicity of sensorial data in a given experience, rather than through linear or organized standard modes of thinking that are mediated by what we have come to identify as consciousness. This may also explain my interest in attunement as a method in my artistic work. My work plays with the hypothesis that imprints of a felt sense of both historical trauma and utopian aspirations towards justice paradoxically exist within and alter not only the humans who experienced these events, but also the land and the environment. Thus, there is the intent to increase attention to the phenomena of the

particular to an

experience that exists as a hidden memory. My research proposes that this

may

be accessible through poetics and the sensorial relations between place, body and what is elusive. Yes, you are definitely onto something by pointing out that the work seems to invite the viewer's imagination to elaborate its own personal associations. Indeed, I think that this is when art gets really interesting: something is opened up by the artist that captures the curiosity of the audience, involving them in the process as well. The borders between audience and art get blurred, and mutual discovery happens because of the presence of both. An aspect of your artistic research that has particularly fascinated us is your inquiry into how personal stories extend into a collective story that becomes history: do you think that there's an elusive, still ubiquitous channel of communication between personal experience and universal imagery? In particular, how does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic research? At the center of this project lies an autobiographical narrative: in a nominally democratic Venezuela in the late 1960s, special military forces supported by the infamous School of the Americas (USA) disappeared my father, Iván Daza, a student movement leader and a revolutionary. In my family, consequences from this particular event exemplify the pervasive psychological state of unresolved grief in the loved ones left behind. This also has relevance to the tragedy of political disappearance in other countries of Latin America. In Venezuela, disappearances have been controversial and only perfunctorily addressed, demonstrating what Uruguayan author Galeano (1992) has called “historical amnesia”. This has contributed to a great silence around the experiences of loss and death caused by state organized violence. It is worth saying that Venezuela was the scene of one of the most significant Latin American leftist revolutionary movements that arose amidst the global Cold War climate; while nominally a democratic state, it suffered state human rights violations that later became widespread in Latin America through Operation Condor. In 2010, I began investigating the circumstances of my father’s disappearance, mostly through my own artistic practice. For instance, as a reverential activity, I performed a series of rituals on his last route through rural land in Venezuela before he was ambushed and subsequently disappeared. While experimenting with notions of performative register,


Women Cinemakers locality and time, they created an intersection between past and present, resisting chronological specificity that integrated memory as an active component of the present moment. I discovered while engaging in these activities that there is an interconnected thread between the people of the land and myself turning a seemingly personal story into a collective one. This was confirmed by the way in which they spontaneously approached me, shared with me their experiences and participated in my artistic interventions. I have come to understand that a great part of these people’s sense of history and identity is in reference to the revolutionary efforts of the 1960’s movement. How do everyday-life experiences fuel my artistic research? My creative process outside Venezuela in my adoptive homeland (considering myself in exile), tends to develop as public interventions, away from the studio, in familiar, yet elusive environments. This process begins with a body-movement practice aimed at inner kinaesthetics in constant relation to the external environment. The practice incorporates abstract interventions in noncontrolled spaces, far from where the fatal events of my father’s disappearance took place aiming to establish connections with the “worlds” of political disappearances of which these artistic interventions are part These connections are at political, social and historical levels, but when we are confronted by what is hardest and most broken in society [and history], it is in the vitality of ordinary things that we also reassert life, as Irish poet Michael Longley (2016) comments. Art making and the awakened impulse of the poetic imagery give meaning to my own sense of the world and to my own history. This process of meaning-making is not separate from that of art making; what seems to be something that I encounter in my daily life, in this way, could be fueled by the vitality (and wonder!) of ordinary things. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Livia. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I will continue to develop a body of poetic testimonials with moving image experiments that I will be able to show together in an upcoming exhibition in Montreal, Canada. Most exciting to me is my plan to return to Venezuela to continue the work that I began there in 2011, experimenting with some of the more recent ideas that I have been thinking about. For example, I have come to identify that attunement and haptic spatiality were already present in my work. I will go deeper and with intentionality into that approach now that I am aware that these are fundamental approaches of my work the artistic qualities in. Underlying this poetic investigative work is my intention is to continue the search for the remains of my father. More specifically, in Venezuela I will search through the mountain range in the particular area where the ambush attack occurred and my father was disappeared, and I will do this in collaboration with people who live in this area, as they have expressed their wish to take part with me in an artistic activity of in its nature and that echoes a deep care for all relations.

, a term that is decolonizing


Women Cinemakers meets

Doreen Maloney Lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky, USA

German born (1964), American artist, Doreen Maloney is an Associate Professor of New Media and Video at the University of Kentucky. Her work has been shown at major venues such as Project Space 5533 in Istanbul, Turkey, the Moscow Contemporary Art Biennale, the Tribeca Film Festival, LaMama Theater in New York City, the Dallas Contemporary Art Museum, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana, Cuba, the Pompidou in Paris, France, and the Kentucky Craft Museum among many other University Galleries and locations. In addition to her degrees in Dance, Interarts and Technology and an MFA from the University of WisconsinMadison, she holds degrees from Indiana University in German and Russian languages and a Masters in Turkish History. She was the president and founding member of the New Media Caucus. She lives and works in Lexington, Kentucky.

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

Memory is like a Cloudy Day on a Wintry Beach is a stimulating experimental video by American artist Doreen Maloney. Addressing the viewers to inquire into the notion of human communication in our unstable political climate, she walks them through a limbo where perceptual reality and memory show

their elusive bond. Triggering the spectatorship's' perceptual categories, Maloney demonstrates the ability to capture elusive potential of moving images, inviting the viewers to unveil what goes beyond our ordinary perceptual experience: we are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her stimulating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Doreen 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 degrees from Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison in German, Russian, and Turkish History as well as a MFA in Fine Arts and in Dance, Interarts and Technology: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? My early academic degrees in language arts, literature and history gave me an appreciation for the nuances of language and notions of “other” or something outside of my immediate culture. I was drawn to studying languages because I was born in Germany, though I am not German and that simple fact caused my imagination to ponder this idea of “Germanness”, and Germany became a mythical place. I came to regard language as Germany’s code. My studies led to a great appreciation of the problematic nature of words, their poetic precision elusive to outsiders and at the same time imprecise even to insiders. Without really understanding what I was studying I became very interested in linguistics and semiotics, from both an academic perspective and also from a practical perspective: through the study of multiple languages (German, Russian, Turkish, Italian, Cebuano), seeing connections, realizing the hazards of mistranslation and how consensus develops the rules in current cultural meaning. Art is a communication through symbols, and a continuation of the unending puzzle of how to connect. My later degrees in Dance and Video became agents of my communication. In much of my artistic practice, I seek to describe a complex emotional

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers experience. In many cases, words are inadequate to describe an experience, but art, dance and movement can visually communicate very complex emotional narratives. Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Cultural substratum is an interesting phrase. The entire reason for my arts trajectory comes from a cultural experience and trauma and it is the foundation of all my art practice. When I was 24, after my degrees in German and Russian, and a brief summer working at the United Nations as a tour guide, I joined the United States Peace Corps. This was in part juvenile romanticism coupled with a desire to experience the world beyond my “place�. I was sent to a southern island in the Philippines at a time of unrest in that country. Marcos had just been deposed and Corazon Acquino had taken office. Bombs were going off in towns, regime change meant great upheaval at the local level. I was oblivious to most of it, until the politics started to impact the local family who hosted me. At first, there was little for me to do there, and I was melting in the cinderblock house of my host family. They owned a lot of land and their elder daughter lived down the road on a beach in a coconut grove. The romanticism took over and I convinced them to let me build a one room nipa/bamboo hut on the beach and live there. I designed it with the family patriarch and lived without electricity and running water for two years in a reed hut on the beach. This was 30 years ago: no phones, no tv, no mail, total isolation. That beach was also a beach for transient, poor fishermen. Life is a beach is the saying and I saw lots


of life: child deaths after appendicitis, ripped up houses after typhoons, robberies, pirates, accusations, failed attempts at murder, gunshot wounds, nighttime baby squid harvests, rum and guitars and singing in the moonlight, political protests for a new high school (my suggestion), and fresh tuna barbeques. As a result, I experienced unimaginable cultural isolation and misunderstanding and things that I cannot explain in language, but I could in dance. I could dance all the

contradictions, fears, joys, pains, confusion, and do it in a movement that somehow hid, and protected myself and my host family. In every piece of artwork that I have ever made, deep in the process is a coconut tree in my psyche, swaying its dark cellophane leaves at night, expressing some inexpressible mystery, hidden in plain sight. For this special edition of we have selected , a stimulating 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 in our unstable age is the way it provides the viewers with such an intense multilayered visual experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of

, would you tell us how did you developed the initial idea? This work was made as a direct response to the President of the United States’ language in January 2018 about people from “shithole countries” coming to the USA. I was beyond shocked that such language from a sitting President of the United States is somehow normalized, and also by the complete lack of meaningful response to his obscenities. I felt like I was a prisoner, helpless, and


that meaningful human communication was broken. I looked up how prisoners communicated and found that they use Morse code / tap code. I created the work around the Morse code for my line of poetry: memory is a like a cloudy day on a wintry beach. It did not matter to me that perhaps no human could read it. I decided I was done with humans, that this piece was for prisoners and for AIs (robots). This is my first piece of art made for a robot. 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": does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural momen ? Beyond the President of the United States’ words there was a particular cultural moment that prompted the work. Over the winter holidays, Amazon.com ran a special on all of their Alexa home devices and I purchased one. These devices are primitive home AIs (Artificial Intelligence). Amazon sold 20 million of them in 2017. I would talk to “her” and found that her mistaken use of words, her imperfect ability to understand my language made her charming. The poetics of imprecision makes the device seem innocent, but I am aware of how quickly these rudimentary AIs will soon control us and we will be imprisoned by our dependence on Google, GPS, and household AIs, and self-driving cars in the immediate future. In contrast to the President’s abuse of language, I found that I often say please and thank you to this robot. The comparison of the helpfulness and kindness of the robot vs. the ugliness and brutality of the human politicians made me want to make art for the robots in a

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers language that they could understand. In my despair there is the hope that maybe the robots will save us, save beauty, save the earth. It’s a post-oblivion romanticism, but humans are failing. Your video addresses the viewers to a wide number of narratives and we daresay that could be considered an effective allegory of human experience in our media driven societies: would you tell us how much important is for you that the spectatorship rethink the concepts you convey in your pieces, elaborating personal meanings? How open would you like your works to be understood? With Instagram and the Internet we are consumers of fractured narratives and you see this reflected in my approach. You see the beach, you see people, but only for a flash. It is familiar and marginalising at the same time. It flashes at you and keeps you hypnotised by the narrative quickly changing but showing you the same thing over and over for just a slightly new perspective. There is never a repeat of an image in the piece. The viewer sees a fragment of something new every 3 or 4 beats and in 2018, this produces pleasure. I like to deny the viewer a complete narrative in my artworks, often making the spectator move their body to see the work. I find that this denial of passivity makes the viewer aware of the act of viewing and breaks the lull in passive consumption and makes the art more of an embodied experience. For this particular piece the work is directed to artificial


intelligence or anyone aware of Morse code (prisoners, veterans of war). It is post-oblivion, post Anthropocene. I hope the spectator becomes curious about meaning, and what flashes of light means or even wonder why they actually like this piece. Featuring unconventional editing your video has drawn heavily from the specifics of its environment and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the environment and human perceptual process: how was your editing process in order to achieve such stimulating results? And how do you consider the theme of memory within your artistic research? In Memory is like a Cloudy Day on a Wintry Beach, you see a memory, but you can barely see it. It is there, fragmented, maybe it was a good memory, maybe a bad memory, it is empty but then is not. You have to struggle to see it, to remember what you have seen. There is a static (the sound) that gets in the way of the sound of the ocean, the static of the mind remembering. It creates a cognitive dissonance that I think is not that far from what memory is like. You become foreign to your own stories, especially as we age. You look at the pictures of yourself in your own archive and feel like a stranger. Morse code is bi-lingual. It uses either flashes of light and/or pulses of sound. I chose to use the flash of light as my edit instruction. For this work, beauty no longer resides in language, it resides in flashes of light and pulses of sound at the frequency of the 200 Hz, the brain’s state of ecstasy.

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

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Women Cinemakers The title is like a sliver of poetry. The flashes in the four quadrants like a flag, the flag of beauty. Both realistic and marked out with dreamlike quality, walks the viewers into a multilayered visual journey. We daresay that your video attempts to unveil the invisible that pervades our reality but that cannot be detected by our sensorial experience. Do you agree with this interpretation? Moreover, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your process? The interpretation that the video unveils the invisible is interesting. I think the video shows hundreds of multiple realities present at one moment but our one perspective (straight ahead) of reality is all we can comprehend, moment by moment. For example, as we watch the sea, a crab could be running behind us on the sand, invisible to us but just as real. Our mono perspective is always limited. In this way, the video does show a more complete reality, but it is still very limited. The relationship between the real and the imaginary is always a binary situation in my process. I almost always begin with a lived, real experience and then try to reimagine, remember, or comment upon it. In some way I try to capture its dissonance or its sublimity. In most of my work you can feel a real experience of estrangement, of peacefulness, of silence, of confusion, of longing, but the playful way that I work allows one to also be distracted from the overwhelming emotional experience of the piece. My


work is successful when the viewer feels the work in their body just enough to stay and watch it and if it is really successful, they might remember it. Marina Abramovic once remarked the importance of not just making work but ensuring that it’s seen in the right place by the right people at the right time: how is in your opinion online technopshere affecting the consumption of art by the audience? Do you think that today is easier to speak to a particular niche of viewers or that online technology will allow artist to extend to a broader number of viewers the interest towards a particular theme? I agree with Marina Abramovi , if the goal of the art it that it is well received by the “art world.” It isn’t enough to make interesting art, if the topic or the style is not appropriate to the cultural moment, it will go unseen and unheralded. There are so many artists whose work does not find an audience, yet their abilities are stunning. I think there is a huge amount of opportunity for artists and people in general to share their experiences through the online format. It opens up a degree of sharing of expertise that is unprecedented. For example, when I run into technical issues I post my questions to a video blogger who lives in Australia who I follow on Instagram. This incredible shrinking of distance and the ability to excavate a niche in the realm of the web is exhilarating and at the same time can separate artists from the limits of resources in their physical localities or in the art sensibilities of the spectators in that location. Over the years your artworks have been internationally

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers showcased in several occasions including Project Space 5533 in Istanbul, the Moscow Contemporary Art Biennale and the Tribeca Film Festival: we have particularly appreciated your ability to create works of art capable of establishing direct relations with the spectatorship, so we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decisionmaking process, in terms of what type of medium is used in a particular context? My best work is made when I give no thought to showing it. The best work comes from a visceral need to express myself, and usually when I am upset or angry (as I did with this piece). That is when I make something that communicates fiercely. The editing decisions are made to support the communication of the work, not the spectatorship and then there is this mysteriousness of making an artistic decision because it feels good, gets something “out of you” in a raw sense. Spectatorship comes second. I am always grateful when the work is well received, and is shown, but that is not the goal when I am making it. I find that when I am making work with the goal of it being well-received, it usually isn’t. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century, women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades women are finding their voices in art: as an


Women Cinemakers artist interests in the cinematic arts with feminist theory, how would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I do see an inspired, fresh approach to materials utilized by many contemporary women artists that I find transcendent. Chiharu Shiota is one such artist. Every encounter with her work with yarn and objects haunts my mind. I never forget them. My colleague, Ebony G. Patterson’s work with glitter and flowers is another example of women artists using “feminine” materials to create sublime, universal works of great meaning and power. Wangechi Mutu , Jenny Saville, and of course, Yayoi Kusama, Ann Hamilton, Eva Hesse, Louise Bourgeois. Today there is an authoritative legacy of female artists and their impact is everywhere. We are seeing that in cinematic arts as well: Sofia Coppola, Greta Gerwig, Ava DuVernay, Patty Jenkins and Kathryn Bigelow and the list goes on. For me the shift in cinema is coming with the shift in technology and the democracy of the digital film industry. The price points access cameras, drones, and lightweight gimbals are still high, but much more affordable. In my personal experience, I found that there was a tendency for the video world to be more masculine dominated and even today when I show up to a meeting with a male colleague, it is always assumed that I know less than he does, whether or not that is true. I see a


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers shift coming. I see some of my younger male students making work with yarn and some of my female students avidly invested in gear, lenses and directing. I am hopeful. I am also hopeful seeing acclaimed female actresses work to produce complex work about the female experience. More and more I see these women directors celebrated and accepted and I do believe that the future is bright and perhaps more unlimited than ever. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Doreen. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? More and more I am interested in VR video and the capturing of time in 360 degrees. True to my unconventional approach to art, I am still experimenting with the notion of capturing the life that we cannot see. In a sense there is a rudimentary approach to this in You see the sand, the sky, the clouds, the mist, the people, all at once. I am working on narrating a story, but in that story the viewer can listen to my voice but choose what to look at. Perhaps they will look at the sky, or at me, or a tree. They will choose to view the scenery in time, like in real life, seeing what interests them and missing out on the little crab walking behind them on the beach. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Stephanie Scheubeck Lives in Berlin and works internationally

Stephanie is a dance artist, filmmaker and researcher based in Berlin. Her artistic work ranges from dance and digital performances to screendance filmmaking and audio-visual installations with a focus on cross-disciplinary work and an emphasis on collaborative creation processes. In her works, she abstracts the ’natural’ world towards a moving imagery of shapes and colours, which stimulates kinaesthetic empathy and sensory experience. Her artistic process and aesthetic are inspired by her various types of synaesthesia: Continuously transforming waves of sound, movement, colour and light interweave into immersive layerings of sensory stimuli. Her works create a space where reality and abstraction meet and the tension in that space is explored. They have been presented in galleries, theatres, urban environments and at theatre & film festivals such as Light Moves Festival of Screendance/shortlisted for Student Work Award (IRL), POOL International Dance Film festival Berlin (GER), Bath Spa University (UK), Sinedans Ankara (TUR), Dwelling Project Sydney (AUS), ikono.tv, Kaltstart Festival Hamburg (GER) and at the symposiums ’Bodily Undoing’ (Bath Spa University), ’Narrating the Somatic’ (Middlesex University London) and ’AV- BODY’ (University of Huddersfield) a.m.o. She repeatedly received funding from Goethe Institute and is an associate lecturer at Bath Spa University for the BA and MA in Dance. Her area of research is the relationship between synaesthesia, embodiment and dance with the aim to promote synaesthesia as an example for diversity in society.

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

Hello Stephanie and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having worked internationally as

a freelance artist you nurtured your education with a MA in Dance with highest distinction, that you received from Bath Spa University: how do these experience influence your current practice? My interest in human perception drew me to a dance education with an embodied approach to dance and improvisation. Since starting my career as a freelance dance


artist in 2007, somatics have been at the core of my practice. In 2010, I started to work with Elias Cohen - Kosmos in Movement (physical theatre dance, martial arts, Qi Gong, body weather training, CHL/ GER), Minako Seki (Butoh Dance, GER/JAP) and with the international collective Flocks & Shoals. Working with these artists, I trained to attend inner sensations while connecting them with the outside world. We worked using our breathing and energetic exercises (like Qi Gong) to gain a high level of attention and physicality which supported the body to liquidly act and react upon external stimuli. The cultivation of these exercises influences my movement aesthetic up to this day. Over the years, I initiated several collectives and explored my interests in collaborative, cross-disciplinary and site specific work. During the MA in Dance at Bath Spa University, I started the research into the relationship between synaesthesia, embodiment and dance. Synaesthesia is a phenomenon where the trigger of one sense simultaneously and involuntarily triggers a second sense, for example seeing colours when hearing sounds, which is called sound-to-colour synaesthesia. My interest in this research derived from my earlier cross-disciplinary artistic projects and collaborations. In these previous projects, I was unaware of the fact that I was a synaesthete, nor had I heard of synaesthesia as a phenomenon. Since becoming aware of it approximately three years ago, I have gained a deeper understanding of the impact synaesthesia has upon my art making and of the creative potential it holds. In my practice-led research project during the MA, I examined how synaesthetic experience impacts upon my decisionmaking in dance improvisation and how these decisions are visible. I explored those characteristics in order to gain a better understanding of how my synaesthesia feeds into my practice and artistic projects. Another strong impact on my current practice are my studies in screendance filmmaking, a core content of the MA in Dance course. To acquire the skills of film production and to use video and live streaming in performance broadened my artistic field of work. During the course, I developed my first audio-visual installation, At the Vanishing Point, produced the screendance film spectra and initiated

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers my current production Sound & Colour, which feeds into and is nourished by three strands: research, artistic projects and workshops/discussions. It promotes diversity by the example of synaesthesia. My thesis performance Lucidity, a cross-disciplinary, digital performance, was the first artistic project of the production: dance, sound, video and live stream interwove into an immersive sensory experience. At this point in my career, all my acquired skills work together in an enriching exchange. Moreover, how does the relationship between your cultural substratum dued to your studies of Qi Gong and Yoga inform the way you relate yourself to art making? I was always searching for the core, the source, from where movement starts. What is this core? Now I would say, it comes down to the energy traveling through our body, which is fueled by our breath, which again is the basic movement of our body. Yoga and Qi Gong work with the connection between movement, sensing and breathing, which is why they are wonderful ways of cultivating my practice. Like in Qi Gong and Yoga, my practice is a full body practice which includes all layers of the body, the visible body as well as the layers underneath and beyond the skin. When performing, I generate energetic waves inside of my body and guide them towards the outside, where they interweave and blend with the waves in the surrounding space, such as light and sound. It is an immersive blending, like in my performance Lucidity, where movement moves sound waves and sound waves move the dancer. In the creation process of At the Vanishing Point, I was intrigued by the idea of producing an immersive installation featuring coloured light, projected film, sound and movement, because these media are based on waves and vibration: Sound is produced through vibrating particles in the air, light travels in form of electromagnetic waves and dance also creates waves in form of particle vibration in the air when the body is moving. Space is


regarded as the vessel through which these waves travel. In the way the moving images and the sound of the installation are projected and directed from their source, they create a palpable and audible pattern in space. I experimented with the way that sound, light and movement travel through the air and resonate within the audience, producing a ’space and sound kinaesthesia’ (as Reynolds and Reason called it, 2012). For example, how dark, deep colours fused with low frequency sounds can evoke a sense of scale in the audience, perhaps making them feel small. You are a versatile artist and your eclectic practice ranges from dance and digital performances to screendance film-making and audio- visual installations, revealing the ability of crossing from a media to another.

Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit https:// www.stephaniescheubeck.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: in the meanwhile, would you tell us what does address you to such captivating crossdisciplinary approach? I always felt the need to incorporate and to express things, that were outside of my body, but that were neither tangible nor visible. My pure physicality, seemed to not fulfill this need’s demands. It felt as if my body could not expand and spread out enough in order to fill the space as much as I envisioned it. It was something that could not be achieved with the tool of a performing body alone.


When I found out about my synaesthesia, the need to express these external elements became clear. In my soundto-colour synaesthesia, I see textured, coloured shapes hanging three dimensionally in a black space, like a box, in front of and slightly around me. When I start dancing to the sound, the shapes and the box grow. The landscape fills the space and I can move through the textured, coloured shapes. It is like in the story of ’Mary Poppins’, when the characters jump into the 2D image on the ground and all of a sudden, they are in a scenery. The 3D shapes, colours and textures cause kinaesthetic, sensory and emotional resonances within me. As many other synaesthete artists, I feel a strong need to express and share these sensations, their beauty and liveliness, in my art. Cross-disciplinary

projects provide a wide range of tools for me to create these immersive works. The synaesthetic experiences also contain strong spatial information. I sense the space between me and the individual shapes in the same way as I sense the space between me and other objects or bodies. I aim to translate these spatial resonances to the audience. Dance is often experienced rather visually, and less physically, with a focus on processing the visual expression of the dance. I aim to create a kinaesthetic and embodied experience for the audience, by producing performances with a multi-layering of sensory stimuli. Sound fills space in audible waves that are processed by the ears but that can be also perceived as vibrations, such as low bass frequencies, in other body parts. As a non-visual medium, it supports the embodied


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

experience I aim to create and, as a performative tool, it adds a layer onto my physicality. Sound and body complement each other in the translation of the synaesthetic experiences mentioned above. When sound and movement blend together, my body expands into the surrounding space. Filmmaking became an enriching medium in my artistic practice, due to its numerous possibilities of generating layers of abstraction and adding them onto reality. It complements my art making like a missing puzzle piece: I abstract the ’natural’ world towards a moving imagery of shapes and colours. A space where reality and abstraction meet is created and the tension in that space explored. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected spectra, a captivating art project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the notion of the synaesthesia is the way your artistic research provides the viewers with such multilayered experience. When walking our readers through the genesis of spectra, would you tell what did draw you to focus on the theme of human perception? My synaesthetic experiences are the main reason for focusing on human perception in my work. I have been living my live for 33 years, in which I thought that everyone would experience these synaesthetic layers of reality. Often, I was misunderstood and was amazed when things that were obvious to me were not obvious to those around me. After I became aware of my synaesthesia, my whole life shifted. I integrated many previous experiences and situations, where I felt somehow disconnected from my surroundings. The fact that I do not only perceive the world differently to a nonsynaesthete, but also that every synaesthete has unique synaesthetic experiences, has altered my understanding of diversity. My work


aims to consciously embrace diversity and the countless ways in which we all perceive the world, and to actively promote diversity as a beautiful, crucial and enriching factor in society. Human perception is such a personal and intimate theme, deriving from and rooted in the core of our beings. It shapes who we are and how we relate to the world. Up to this point, I have not tired of exchanging with other humans on the way they perceive their surroundings, other people, themselves. My film spectra was created at a time when I started to explore the impact of synaesthesia on my art making. I transformed my synaesthetic experiences from a subconscious creator of my art into an active tool for creation. I was curious to explore, how these experiences can be made tangible to an audience. spectra focuses on guiding the spectator’s attention inwards. We are invited to enter the mind of the protagonist, and for a brief moment we experience one human’s individual and unique inner reflection on the outside world. The coloured section in spectra refers to synaesthetic experiencing. The section does not portray these experiences, it is more of an analogy to them, since many of my synaesthetic experiences are abstract versions of appearances of the outer world. To emphasize the need of a bound between creative process and direct experience, British artist Chris Ofili once stated that "creativity's to do with what's happening around you". How does personal experience fuel your creative process? Most of what happens around me is simultaneously translated into synaesthetic experiences. They fuel my creative process and inspire me to create abstract sceneries that seem disconnected from reality, yet they have a bond to it, since they are always reflections of reality. For example, specific sound characteristics (instruments, pitches, timbre, volume, etc.) create specific shapes with individual colours

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

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Women Cinemakers and textures. The spatial location of these shapes depends on where I locate the acoustic elements in the spatial acoustic mix of the music. I use this information as a tool in my artistic work. When I attend kinaesthetic perceptions, I experience colours and textures inside and on the surface of my body in motion. These colours sometimes blend into the colours and shapes in the space. All of these experiences are highly vivid and have a strong impact on my creative process and artistic decisionmaking. In particular, do you think that a creative process could ever be disconnected from direct experience in order to investigate particular ideas that do not belong to the realm of perceptual reality? Creative processes take place in countless individual ways. In my point of view, we all are who we are because of our experiences. We shape them, we react upon them and we are influenced by them. In this sense, every decision I make is connected to my experience. If I decided to investigate ideas that do not belong to the realm of perceptual reality, I could do so. Yet I and hence the investigation would always be influenced by perceptual reality, since perception is what shapes our reality. There is no reality without perception. To quote some words from your artist's statement, you are fascinated by the things that are not graspable but that surround and inhabit us: we daresay that your work suggests the idea that most of the information is hidden, or even “encrypted” in the surroundings we inhabit, urging us to decipher it. Do you think that one of the role of artists could be to reveal unexpected aspects our relationship with the outside world? I think artists can provide reflection upon internal and external ongoings as well as upon our relationship to the outside world.

Whether aspects are unexpected differs individually. The surroundings I inhabit hold a lot of information for me, since my synaesthetic experiences mostly accompany me in form of colours and shapes. They create strong kinaesthetic resonances, sensations and feelings. It is like the space is filled with information that is only accessible to me. Often, I am very moved by these influences. I want to give the audience an experience that resonates and touches them. I am deciphering my experiences to the audience in a non-literal way, so that the artwork stimulates their own creativity. For example, the gestures in spectra are performed with a clear and calm focus. They establish a soft and surreal ambience within a hectic city life, yet they do not convey a literal message. Their meanings elude and withdraw from intellectual understanding. I used the dramatic means of gesture to pave the way into the world of sensory perception of the protagonist. The geometrically arranged composition in spectra serves as an anchor for the soft and surreal ambience of the gestures, from which the multisensory experience of the synaesthetic sequence unfolds. In my audio-visual installation murmurations, I explored the concept of ’flocking and swarming’ by the means of dance, camera and sound through a somatic approach. The physical movements of the dancers modulate light which is captured through the lens of the camera. Depending on its movement, its density or expansion in space, the flock of dancers provides an ever-changing rhythm and different frequencies for the light to enter the lens. The light is captured in abstract shapes, small particles might evoke associations to space, reflections turn into creatures and a pulsing flickering turns into a mesmerizing rhythm. The created footage stimulates imagination, inviting to reach beyond what is seen and provides space for contemplation by its meditative aesthetic.


Women Cinemakers Both spectra and murmurations provide reflection upon external and internal occurrences. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative process. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once remarked that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a movement artist, how would you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of producing your artworks? Physicality makes my ideas become tangible. An idea has to become physical, be filled into an earthly vessel, in order to take shape. Then, I can explore the idea and elaborate it. By exploring it physically, I may discover aspects that I did not think of previously. The physical process of elaborating the ideas often leads me to seemingly unexpected places. But when I withdraw from the process, I mostly realize that I ended up exactly where I initially aimed to go, even though the idea looked different in shape, size or form at the beginning of the process. When I trust the physical process, the ideas usually take on the ’right’ shape, as if the content finds its ’right’ form or vessel. We have highly appreciated the non-chronological nature of the flow of images of spectra and we daresay that your successful attempt to offer an alternative to the lineartemporal narrative challenges the viewers’ perceptual parameters regarding the notion of time, urging them to reconsider their own condition of constantly evolving beings. How did you structured spectra in order to pursue such stimulating outcome? The structure of spectra results from the different perspectives.The gestures serve as steps towards the threshold

of change of perspective (min. 2’14’’). With their fluid movement quality, calmly and intently performed, they prepare the way for the multisensory, synaesthetic section of the film (min. 2’42’’ - 3’36’’). Synaesthesia is a component of spectra in its dramaturgy, in the development of the movement material and in the visual aesthetic of the film. The synaesthetic section is a flow of imagery - a short time in which we change the point of view. In the beginning we look at the performer from the outside, look at her and observe her. In the synaesthetic section we get an idea of how she perceives the world. The fact that we do not see the world through her eyes, but that we still see her from the outside, is another level of abstraction that brings viewer closer to the perception of ’I perceive this - this could be my perception’ rather than ’I see what she sees’. Were you particularly interested in triggering the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? I see my work as an invitation to change perspective. We constantly interpret what we see and that shapes our reality. If we see an abstract work of art, it stimulates instant interpretation by the viewer. These interpretations are highly individual. I find it very enriching and insightful to hear how different people perceive an abstract artwork, what they see in it, how it makes them feel and what they relate with it. I see a great beauty in this variety. It is an activation of imagination, that of the beholder, who becomes the artist, the creator of her/his experience. For me, this way of stimulation holds a lot of freedom. It is an offer from the artist to the viewer to go on a journey of imagination. An offer to explore phantasy, to dream. Reality is fed by these dreams. In order to find creative solutions, even in everyday live, we need to be able to imagine what could be before we can make a plan and imply it.


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Women Cinemakers In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? My works can be understood very open. I am going to use a metaphor here: Imagine the artwork, what it contains and holds for the audience, as a path through a lush natural surrounding. As the artist, I provide the guiding path, but whether the audience follows it or how far they come along is up to them. Maybe they run off into the woods at a certain point or they may find a lake on the left side of the path and want to have a swim ... all of this is not in my hands. I would be happy if they found some of these things, because that would mean that the artwork contains enough freedom for them to go on their own journey, but at the same time is clear enough so that the path will take them on the journey towards their own experience, for example the swim in the lake. What is definitely in my hands, and what I see as my duty, is to define, design and pave the path, the artwork, as clear as possible according to my vision - so that the pull and the interest to go on the journey are strong enough and the starting point is clear enough for the audience to set off. The rest is up to them. I think that as artists we have the obligation to create those spaces for people to let their creativity play. This can be achieved in various artistic ways. As you have remarked once, spectra was conceived with the intention to promote diversity in society by the example of synaesthesia: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artist’s role differs depending on which part of the world you’re in." How much artists can contribute to shape the Zeitgeist? Zeitgeist shapes society and is mutually shaped by it. This applies to all sectors and layers of society, including artists. How actively an artist can and wants to contribute to the

Zeitgeist differs individually. Out of my personal interest, I feel a need to contribute to an integration of diversity in society with a focus on neurodiversity and synaesthesia. I think the part of the world you are in plays a crucial role in how and what you create and affects the impact your work can generate. Having studied and initiated my research into synaesthesia, embodiment and dance in the UK brought me to a pratice-led approach to my research. The English university system emphasises cross- disciplinary studies. My approach to embodied research into synaesthesia and the interest in combining it with psychology and neuroscience would have been less highlighted if I had not studied in a country with such an open study system. I see my role as an artistresearcher in the UK and Europe in expanding the knowledge and promoting an exchange on neurodiversity. Different structures in other parts of the world might demand alternative activities and roles from me as an artist. Moreover, do you think that your being a woman provides your artistic research with some special value? The fact that I identify myself as a woman informs and influences my art making since it has an impact on my living and on my perception of and my interaction with the world. At the same time I would say I strongly sense myself and others as human beings with an overwhelming amount of facets, with gender being merely one of them. Sound plays a crucial role in your artistic research about the concept of synaesthesia: we have appreciated the way the audio commentary of spectra provides the video with such an ethereal atmosphere and as well as you have sapiently structured the combination between the grammar of body and sound in LUCIDITY: how do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? !


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Sound and movement both have a voice of their own. At times they express the same, at other times they form completely different landscapes. In my works, sound and image evolve in a continuous friction. When they blend and interweave, another voice is emerging. It is as if they were producing common overtones which magically appear and which would not be there without the underlaying frequencies. Often they hold a certain fascination when they appear. I like to work both imagery and sound to a point where they form a landscape for the viewer/listener, that would not have been created by neither sound nor movement alone. In the creation process, sound and image often evolve simultaneously and inform one another mutually. While producing, I work in an intense exchange with my colleague musicians and often heavily scrutinize certain sounds until they take on the ’right shape’. I strongly relate what I see with certain sounds. Therefore, the physical state of the sound, its tonality and texture, has to evoke an overall imagery that complements the existing image I want to create with my movement. I also work with the physical aspects of sound. Sound has a mass. Sound has a direction. Sound has speed. These qualities allow me to choreograph the sound in my live performances and films like an extended, colourful body in space. In Lucidity, the sound waves fill the space like I do with my movements. Both movement and sound stimulate spatial perception. Over the years your works have been internationally showcased in several occasions, and your audio-visual installation At the Vanishing Point will be presented at the symposium ’AVBODY: Symposium on the Audiovisual Body’ at Huddersfield University. One of the hallmarks of your practice is the capability to establish direct involvement with the viewers, so before leaving this

conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? When making new work, I start with a vision, which needs to be elaborated to a certain point, before I take the audience in consideration. During this process, the core and essence of the artwork are identified. Once this process is completed, I have a raw product in my hands, comparable to clay. I know the material and can start to modulate it. From this point onwards, the audience factors into the making: Whom do I want to reach? In what kind of venues will I present the work? These questions and their answers define a lot of the final shape of the work. Especially concerning audio-visual installations. It is essential for me to consider how the audience will behave and feel in a spatially arranged installation. I ask myself: How do I design the installation so that they feel comfortable, welcome and safe? How can I create a place where they can let go, trust and relax? These questions are crucial to the development of the work, since I aim to create an atmosphere where the audience can let go and be immersed by the artwork, by the flow of imagery, movement and sound. - Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Stephanie. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? In May 2018, murmurations is installed in the exhibition Disrupted in Bath, running for three weeks, featuring artists from various disciplines who create works in response to the installation. murmurations is evolving with each screening and exhibition, which is a very exciting and rewarding process for me as the artist.


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Women Cinemakers I am invited to present my practice on embodiment and the audiovisual as well as my installation At the Vanishing Point at the symposium AVThe Audiovisual Body at Huddersfield University in June 2018. This is a wonderful opportunity to share the installation with a new audience. I am looking forward to vibrant discussions, talks, feedback and inspiration. From June until autumn, my production Sound & Colour will go into its first research and developing phase. I am excited to go into the studio with musician/composer KAVALL, dance artist Matt Cleary and sound artist Ciaran Markey to continue my practice-led research and to dive into the explorations on sound, embodiment, imagery and movement. We have two residencies coming up this summer, at Bath Spa University (UK) and in Limerick (IRL) (Percolate Residency). The residencies will be a vibrant time, featuring workshops for local dance professionals and for the community as well as showings and discussions. I am very much looking forward to seeing how the project will develop in that time and how the interaction with the local communities and artists will inform the production. How do you see your work evolving? I see the mutual influence of film and physical performance becoming richer as my work evolves and I also anticipate a mutual strengthening of my research and art making. My core project Sound & Colour is designed to develop and grow over the years to become a sustainable production for the people involved and for society. I will pursue the embodied research with the aim of contributing to an integral understanding of synaesthesia and neurodiversity, which are currently predominately quantitatively researched. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Iris Donker Lives and works in Eindhoven City

With wonder Iris Donker ('s Hertogenbosch, 1986), observes the collective agreement upon which our reality is based. The underlying dysfunctional layer, which is being perpetuated against all reasoning, gives her reason to seek seclusion and to re-shape, distort, digitalize and once again realize the world. Donker uses sunlight to illuminate the dark side of life and through her work she creates space for a fantastical reality full of contradictions. “Actually in my work I’m always seeking for what would be for me the ideal reality. An intuitive protest against daily life and against the rhythm and the rules of our existence. I am fascinated by moving images as well as the fact that you can endlessly repeat light and sound, both in film and in memories. During the filming process I create a space and a setting in which comfort and ease are playing together. In my work I let projections, sound, scent and texture communicate with each other. That’s how a hypnotic and infinite feast emerges, an unworldly landscape that multiplies like a virus.”

At its core, Donker’s work consists of a continuously growing organic collection of images – a swirling well from which elements find their way into various media such as video, installations, photo prints on various materials, sound and text. These images often emerge spontaneously and intuitively and are essentially absurd and without order. Donker writes texts, collects objects and other elements, which she combines with the locations where she works, in order to evoke the spontaneous images that make up her work. She executes the entire process by herself: production, sound, directing, camera operation, editing, performance, costumes and the décor. The archive of images, which consists primarily of material that has arisen from intuition and improvisation, is the source of Donker’s eventual work: carefully composed images and installations that are often composed of many layers. By cutting up, repeating and multiplying these film fragments Donker gives her work an absurd stratification, a weird journey into the subconscious. For this she combines analogue and digital images. The accumulation of material from her archive offers a softened, unreal version of reality, which protests against the harsh High Definition quality by which the world is currently being captured. After the editing and composing of the photo- and video material, a translation to the physical space is made. Both in her films as well as in her installations, light is one of the most important factors. The reflection of the projection makes the space come to life and turning off the light makes the boundaries of the space disappear.

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

Hello Iris and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of

questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and you studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, Amsterdam and the Royal Academy of Art, the Hague: how did these experiences influence your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how would you describe the influence of your cultural substratum and


your past two years you spent on the road in Europe and the States on your general vision on art? Honestly, I must say that I didn’t really attend class very much in those years and was always late for every deadline we were given. My main obsession in life is freedom, with a fire for every worldliness in its strange ways, because I was so focused on my own freedom going to school didn’t fit into that vision. The idea of school smothered me because I have a natural resistance for institutes. Obviously, I was well aware that there was a lot I could learn by listening to the feedback that my teachers gave me, but I also thought that learning could only take place if the teacher was a good match for the student as an artist, but also as a person. I did have a few great teachers, but I couldn’t see that because I just felt really confined. At the academy we were thought specific methodes in orde to “create art” but I feel that only after I left the academy I was able to really form my own view on what creating “art” means to me personally. I feel that my learning curve only started after I left school. I mean, it’s weird to think that I actually spent most of my life in school, from primary school to secondary school and then the academies. I’m still not really sure if that was the right path for me but I am very happy about all the people I met at the academy and the connections we had, but also that my time there gave me the opportunity and the space to do a lot of personal research and projects. But I’m not sure if the academy was specifically needed for me to be making what I make now as my works feel very personal to me, as it probably feels for most creators by the way. Only when I was “free” for the first time – which literally meant being free from an educational system for the first time – I felt like I was able to really start to explore myself and develop an own personal style. I started to sculpt by experimenting and researching within my own personal environment, with the world as my landscape or décor, so to say. Well, obviously not literally the whole world, but literally the places that I was physically in and the nomadic existence therefore

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Women Cinemakers contributes to a higher exposure to different settings for my art to take place in. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected PARADISE US PARADISE, a stimulating video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at http://www.irisdonker.com/Paradise-US-Paradise-video. What has at once captured our attention of your captivating journey is the way it walks the viewers through the liminal area where reality and surrealism find a point of convergence: would you tell us something about the genesis of this work? For my graduation show in 2012 I created a work based on fragments shot in a period of eight years, a selection of short films and loose sketches. The name for this video(-installation) was ‘the subliminal perception of the windowless television station’. PARADISE US PARADISE is an answer or extension of this work. All my works are connected to each other, one complements the other and so on. My films are always very photographic and are actually a collection of moving images. Photography has always fascinated me because there is always a very subtle movement in photos, even though they are still images. What I find very interesting is the repetition in the images, the “loop”, not only in images but also in sound. To me it feels like an endless visual trip in which you suddenly find yourself, it feels a bit confusing and sinister but also at the same time soothes you. My muze, which is also the love of my life and the one I got married to in PARADISE US PARADISE is a figure that can often be seen in my works. A few months before the road trip we were at a concert in a small village. It was very crowded and the sounds were louder than normal. Suddenly he came up to me and in his eyes I saw he tried to ask me something but I couldn’t understand. After a few attempts I figured out he made me a marriage proposal. He wanted


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to follow the route 66 starting from Oklahoma to Los Angeles. With that said and with the idea of collecting second hand ‘wedding attire’ on our way through the Little White Chapel in Las Vegas, I already created a visual trip in my head and was visualising my future work. I captured our love during this roadtrip in the States by shooting self-conceived rituals in different settings with a layer of romantic cliches. Throughout the trip I collected phrases, that in the end, I used as a mantra trickling through the image. Like the blue

windshield of our car that turned the sun into a blue haze, the beautiful black priest that married us or even scenes from things we saw on t.v. from the corning of our eyes, while sitting at a lost diner. I gathered these phrases as a means of creating poetical words to describe the trip which I then processed with the shots to make the film. Which to me was a way of ensuring that everything was connected to each other.


Women Cinemakers

While marked out with such a seductive beauty, your PARADISE US PARADISE features such an ambivalent visual quality that seems to reveal such a channel of communication between the conscious sphere and the unconscious dimension. Could you comment this peculiar aspect of your artistic research? I guess that the contrasting aspect of my work, or maybe my whole life is that concrete seductive beauty versus the

vagueness I experience my memories with. I feel as if I am in a constant battle between all types of contradictions that I see everywhere. Even in my own name there is a great contrast. My parents gave me the name Iris, and my last name is Donker, which is Dutch for dark. Iris means rainbow and rainbows can only exist when there is sunlight. Donker, that represents the darkness, the sinister side of the story. When it is dark outside, it means there is no sunlight, which to me visualises a constant battle as both cannot exist together, but


they do. That battle is represented in my name, but also in my personality and thus also in my work. When looking at my work you’ll notice that overall it is very colourful and that there is very much (sun)light. I need sunlight in order to expose the dark side of my reality. When the viewer takes the time to really pay attention to the other elements in my films, they will notice that there is an underlying tone which is actually very uncanny and dark, very ill-omened. This is portrayed in the sound, but when I present my work in a video installation I also work with smell. The viewer is not sure if they have just entered a very pleasant reality or a more direful reality. The film Paradise U.S. Paradise is based on the pure love that I experience together with my counterpart, my muze. We have been together for very long, 13 years now, and have also shared a lot of time and moments together. Most people may therefore think it would be the most logical thing to represent pure love as a constant positive visual trip, however if you really focus on the film, there are quite a lot of elements I use that do not logically represent that positive association. For example, at one point in the film I am standing next to a cadaver, the corpse of a dead cow, holding a balloon in my hand with an unhappy look on my face. When that shot was taken I was actually very content at that point in time. I guess what I’m trying to say is that things aren’t always peaceful and pristine in my reality – there is a constant uncanny feeling. I’m not sure if I can classify elements of my work as being either in the conscious sphere or in the unconscious dimension. It’s not that the sinister elements only exist in my unconsiciousness and that the beautiful dreamlike world only exists in my consicious reality. Even within myself these two are constantly existing together, I can’t really place them. It’s really always that battle, well at least for myself, because when I am making my work it’s always a surprise what the outcome will be, which makes the process a very surprising one for myself too. This is why I do not enjoy thinking too much about my work, I want to be guided by the situation I am in at that moment. We have highly appreciated the non-linear nature of your film and we daresay that your successful attempt to offer an alternative to

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Women Cinemakers the linear- temporal approach to the representation of memory: how did you structure PARADISE U.S. PARADISE in order to pursue such a stimulating outcome? Were you particularly interested in speaking to the spectators' imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? The way I approach the execution of my work is not necessarily done by reason. I make sure that I protect my creative expression against a pre-conceived plan, in order to keep as much space as possible for spontaneity and coincidence or even failures. I prefer to defy logic so that I can keep surprising both myself and my audience. In this manner, the basis from which I create is experienced as pure and at the same time it offers me a wide range of material to further develop. My work Paradise U.S. Paradise was not the first piece to which I applied this non-linear nature. I my graduation work “The subliminal perception of the windowless television station” – I used this form as well. I wasn’t really consciously applying this form when making the film Paradise U.S. Paradise, it just arose as it did. As I said, I sculpt my work using my environment and the attributes I take with me. I don’t always make this form of work, however, in my latest film, On Venus it rains Acid and snows Metal, I do use this form and I actually went a bit overboard with it. The layers in the film are a way of representing how I see things and how I see them in my memory. I think that everyones memory works in that way, all these vague layers covering each other. More recently, I’ve also been working with textiles by assimilating my film stills and photography into textiles. The first I did was for an exhibition at Walls Gallery (later Bright Side Gallery). I worked with two layers of silk, on which you could see an abstract hologram print on the one side, which was very abstract and on the other side you could see a face. That face was a face which came from a memory I had when I was a kid during a narcosis. The two layers were to submerge as soon as the textiles were exposed to sunlight – but this could also


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Women Cinemakers just be a light source shinging upon it. So at first glance the viewer sees an abstract hologram flow and as soon as the sunlight hits the textiles the face slowly flows through the hologram making the two images melt together, which is something I find very interesting. It is a way of applying my films into live art installations and playing with sunlight, which is something I very much enjoy and which you can also recognise as a recurring element in my films. I think that everything in myself and in my work is connected, therefore it is easy to see a certain style coming back in all my work, but I’m not sure if that was a conscious decision, that’s hard to say in retrospect. It is true, however, that I want the viewer space to create their own interpretation of the film Paradise U.S. Paradise. They may interpret the film in any way they want, positive and negative, or both, I don’t really mind. But it is not my aim to consciously create a non-linear film by working with the layers because it is not my intention to guide or manipulate the viewer in their interpretations of my work. I want them to look at it in their very own way. It's important to remark that your film is constructed out of fragments, words and sound collected during a love trip true the U.S. and it's amazing the way you have been capable of providing the footage with such a consistent visual unity: could you tell us something about your aesthetic decisions during the editing process? How did you achieve such unique kaleidoscopic effect? Using the atmosphere in every fragment, together with the colour, the light and the movements, I try to make these fragments flow together in a natural way. It’s actually quite a tedious job. I sit down and study every fragment down to the very last little detail. I then note down which seconds I find interesting and also why they interest me, and while doing

that I keep in mind all the fragments I have already watched. I literally note down which shorter fragments could flow together with the longer fragments. Then I analyse smaller fragments at a time, where I write down what I see and which elements recur in other fragments I have seen. It really is sculpting with seconds of images and sound. Marked out with unique sensibility and exquisite eye for detail On Venus it rains Acid and snows Metal is a stimulating work that can be viewed at http://www.irisdonker.com/OVRASM-video. It is an exploration of the unknown capable of triggering the viewers' perceptual parameters and we have particularly appreciated the way you created entire scenarios out of psychologically charged moments: what are you hoping the film will trigger in the audience? In all of my works I want and try to create an environment that does not exist in accordance with the rules of reality and in which the audience is challenged to become a part of the landscape. For myself and the viewer I try to evoke a variety of confrontations that produce un-ease, wonderment and confusion. Where the unquiet energy is sensible, an organic rhythmic atmosphere emerges, which attempts to intoxicate the mind of the spectator. The well-orchestrated tapestry of dreamlike images and minimal sound, makes On Venus it rains Acid and snows Metal a movie poetry: how did you develop the balance between sound and the flow of images? What I usually do first is shoot all my film fragments, so that I have created all the imagery. Thereafter, as soon as I have edited the imagery, but also during the editing process, I start creating the sound fragments. Especially when creating On Venus it rains Acid and snows Metal I did a lot of sound


Women Cinemakers recording during the editing of the film fragments. The movements in the film and ambiance of the scenes then trigger me to record certain sounds and then distort these sounds. In short, I first edit the film fragments, then halfway I start producing the sound fragments and then I re-edit the film, creating a natural flow in the interaction between images and sounds. When I was done creating the main sound fragments for On Venus it rains Acid and snows Metal and the film was almost fully edited, I also added and assimilated smaller, more detailed sounds through the film, especially in the intro and end scene. I was guided by the building structure of the film and the many small visual details. The breathing sound you hear and feel throughout almost the whole movie, was distorted a bit more when I felt that it belonged to certain touch movements, like in that shot with the young blonde boy. Both your videos feature stunning landscape cinematography: how much importance has landscape in your artistic research? And how do you usually select the locations? The landscapes are my work, they are my dÊcor, so naturally they are very important for my work. I don’t select these locations beforehand, I let myself be guided by the moment. There is no prior research. I just drive and as soon as I arrive somewhere that feels right, I start playing with the landscape. Sometimes this works super well, and at other times it doesn’t. I never use a GPS when driving either as I want nothing in my work to be a preconceived plan, this includes the settings and landscapes I use. Your art projects seem to draw from reality to speak about the inner sphere. To emphasize the need of a bound between creative process and direct experience, British artist Chris Ofili once stated that "creativity's to do with what's happening around you". How does personal experience fuel


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your creative process? In particular, do you think that a creative process could ever be disconnected from direct experience in order to investigate particular ideas that do not belong to the realm of perceptual reality? Obviously my work needs to arise from creativity, without creativity there is no art. Due to the fact that all my work consists of my own personal experiences, it means that I am constantly in a creative flow. It’s not like creativity is a switch I can turn on and off. And of course, I’m not going to lie, at times I am stuck and my creativity is not flowing and I need to make money, so I might make work that isn’t 100% purely creative, but at those times I actually feel like I am not inspired by the work I am making. What motivates me at those times is that I know that by making the money I can continue my nomad existence, this actually causes me to still operate from a state of experiencing my life as a reality which I am directly converting into memories but also into my dreams. Literally points out my dreams in my work always feels a bit cliché because it then feels as if I am making my art seem less authentic, but I think that the perception of our reality, the memories of our past and the dreams about our future are things that exist constantly in my inner world. A constant process throughout my life, which is always changing, moving and transforming. Although I keep mentioning that my work is a direct reproduction of my experience of reality, I do also give things an absurd twist, but this absurdity is something that also exists in my head, making it genuine. I do think that it may be possible for a creative process to be disconnected from direct experience in order to investigate particular ideas that do not belong to the realm of perceptual reality, and even that could be an investigation in the purest form. However, personally I don’t think I could do this, but maybe someone else can. It’s hard for me to decide things for other people, but I’m also not really sure if it’s relevant for me


Women Cinemakers to know these things. Personally I would always ask myself the question if I were then still creating something pure and genuine, which is the purpose of creating art. When excluding yourself as a subjective observer, it is necessary to create objective frameworks and I’m not sure if creativity can exist within boundaries. 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 artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? Firstly, when looking at art, I never think about the gender of the maker, it doesn’t really interest me and it never has. What I do noticed during my time at the academy in The Hague was that my graduation year consisted out of only female students, there was only one male in our year. After graduating from the academy I found it important to maintain a cooperation with other artists, but due to the fact that I had been surrounded by mostly women for many years during my studies, I naturally ended up in an all-female artists collective together with eight other women, called “THE HOLLS Collective”. Because, apparently, there was a high demand and interest for an all-female artists collective, this is how we were portrayed and seen. I found this a bit unfortunate because I didn’t want us to be seen in this manner, I just wanted to be an art collective, without a gender specification. What I missed was the balance between female and male energy. Either way, being in an all-female collective, with too many people, was too much for me and I decided to move on as an individual artist, which was actually the original goal of the collective. We were supposed to be an art collective that consists of only individual artists who organised exhibitions while doing research together.


Women Cinemakers I do still form an artist duo together with Katinka van Gorkum called “Live, from reality” and the work we make together is actually very feminine, but that didn’t result from a specific point of view on gender. But now I’m more talking about my experiences with other female artists and the work we make, but not really about women that have been discouraged from something ‘uncommon’ for more than half a century. And to be honest, at this moment of time I do not really have a specific view or ‘politically correct’ opinion about this matter. The only feeling I have about this right now is finding and creating a healthy balance between all this. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Iris. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? First of all thank you, it was an honour. We just moved to a new house in Eindhoven City, which we share with a fellow artist. From here I want to create a base where I can work on my future projects, save money and create a plan for an off-the-grid project we are planning to do with some friends across the border. Sometimes it’s good to stay in one place in order to create some piece of mind and give yourself some time to analyse the works you created. During this period I’m am converting many of my film and photography imagery to textile installations, a tangible experiment I would like to develop in the future. Next to that I’m working on a group exhibition called Fata Morgana that will take place in Amsterdam in June. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Clémence B.T. D. Barret Lives and works in Tangier, Morroco

Over the last eight years, my work has been mostly dedicated to exploring gender identity, transnationalism, displacement, migration, otherness and freedom, stemming for my personal experience and those of various people I’ve been in contact with. I create works that I regard as instruments of critique of social, political and cultural issues. I use my art practice as a tool to offer viewers an alternate way of approaching problems and to open up spaces to think. I use a variety of media: video, photography, sound, movement, objects, paintings, monotypes. It is the subject matter of each body of work that determines the materials and the forms of the work. Often, each project consists of multiple works, sometimes in a range of different media exploring various aspects of the same topic. Lately, I’ve been questionning the notions of submission, freedom and existence of the self with the project that I’ve entitled «A short account of non-existence». A video installation, a series of paintings, a series of watercolour monotypes, and four artist books are parts of it. This work is still in process.

womencinemaker@berlin.com

taught artist: are there any experiences that did particularly influence the evolution of your creative process?

Hello Clémence and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You started your artistic journey in Fine Art as a self-

Well, I was very fortunate to be born in one of the best cultural cities of the world, Paris. During my childhood, I’ve been constantly nourished by all kinds of artistic expressions: sculptures,

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


copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret


paintings, dance, cinema, literature, music, photography… Very young I felt in love with cinema. Apart from watching films in cinema theatres, I remember that at this time there was an excellent program on French TV called « Le cinéma de minuit » / the midnight cinema, I simply loved it. Thanks to it, I then discovered unmissable cinema classics. This period of my life in which I’ve been constantly exposed to various artistic expressions has been my «art school ». These were my formative years. It was enough for me because I didn’t want to be conditioned by art or cinema studies. Instead, I’ve tried my best to nurture my inner freedom and push further away its limits (if there is such a thing as freedom!). It was a choice to be a selftaught person. Moreover, you define yourself a transnational artist: how would you describe the influence that the relationship between your due to your French roots and your current life in Maroc has on your general vision on art?

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret A still from


Women Cinemakers

A still from ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret copyright


interview

Women Cinemakers Indeed, I live permanently connected with various realities, various cultures, various people, beyond frontiers. After 10 years living in Asia, it has been now a couple of months that I live again a nomadic life. These past 8 months, I’ve been very lucky to work and to live in many different places : in Cambodia, in Northern Thailand, in Venice, Italy, in Paris, in Greece and presently in Tangier. My actual Moroccan base is thus a temporary home. All these very diverse and enriching experiences are of course influencing my art practice. They have merged and blended within me. They have widened my horizon a bit more. My French roots and my Moroccan experience are some of the ingredients of this overall blending identity process. And this process is a constant component of my life. I observe all kinds of situations throughout the world. These are nurishing me and enriching my art practice. You are a versatile artist and your practice is marked out with such captivating interdisciplinary approach that allows you to range from Paintings, Installations & Videos to Performances. Before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: in


Women Cinemakers the meanwhile, would you tell us what does address you to such captivating interdisciplinary approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? This interdisciplinary approach is very natural, « organic ». It is the subject matter of each project that determines which media, which discipline I am going to use. In the past, whenever a discipline was new to me, I’ve learned the minimum of technique I needed to know in order to be able to do what I wanted; or I’ve found technicians who I have collaborated with. Although I enjoy working in team, I much prefer working on my own. I’ve tried not to be impressed by any disciplines that were new to me. I am also very curious and I love new explorations. Each time I work with a new discipline it is as if I am expanding my vocabulary. I must say, it is always very exciting to discover new terms. However, my favourite mediums remain video and sound. It sometimes feels like my camera has become one of my limbs. As well, video and sound editing are for me as natural as writing with words, and at times even more.

We have appreciated the way walks the viewers to the dreams and the expectation of the people you have featured. How much importance have metaphors in your practice as a collagist and in particular how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in


Women Cinemakers

copyright Clémence B.T. D. Barret

order to address them to elaborate personal

wizard of Oz » in my art practice. It is a

associations?

recurrent reference I find relevant to use when I am working on topics such as transnationalism,

Metaphors are very important in my art

migration.

practice and are certainly inevitable as I am thinking conceptually. There are often

Otherwise when I am creating artworks I am

metaphors inspired by the old 1939 film « The

never thinking about the viewers’ reactions. I


copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret

believe that each viewer will experience what I am sharing according to its own interpretation. Each person will have a different conversation with the same art work according to their own system of reference. Each person is free to be moved by my work in a direction or another. As I feel free, I want my audience to experiment the same way.

The editing was interesting and challenging as I was working on two screens and many sound tracks at the same time. I started with one then added the second. I edit in a very meticulous way. I generally spend a lot of time working on very tiny ÂŤdetailsÂť, every image, every sound is crucial for me and has a role, evident for me.

Ignis fatuus aka the fallacious promise deviates from traditional videomaking to enhance the expressive potential of people's direct experience. How was the editing process and what were your aesthetic decisions?

In the video is in black and white to evoke the death of dreams, the death of hopes, the broken life of those ex-migrants. Also, I feel it reinforces the feelings of sorrow, melancoly and despair that go with those.


Women Cinemakers

The yellow circles I’ve added on the heads of the

As you have remarked in your artist's

two characters are like targets and at the same

statement, you create

time like the halos of Catholic martyrs who are : from

represented in classical paintings. It is a way to convey the ideas that these people’s lifes have been sacrified in order to respond the inhuman demands of their cruel and abusive bosses, but not only; they have been as well sacrified by their families who selected them to become the

Caravaggio's epoch to our unstable contemporary age, art has always conveyed sociopolitical criticism. We would quote Orozco's words stating that " ". What could be in

ones whose lifes’ purposes should only be to

your opinion the role of artists in our

provide assistance and money for their siblings

everchanging contemporary societies?

and parents. I think we artists don’t have a role per se


Women Cinemakers

copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret


Women Cinemakers


because our role is simply inherent to our practice. Wether we have consciously decided or not, we are always commenting the world we are living into, Our art is a reflection of what we are experiencing in life and how. So watever is the art we are creating, our practice is by essence political because it is inevitably influenced by society and its environment. In particular, how does cultural issues influence your work as an artist? The cultural issues that I am experiencing directly or indirectly in life and that are touching me the most, usely appear in my art practice sooner or later. So each body of work emerges at first from personal problematics. And then I start an exploration of the issue in a wider context. Another interesting work that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled and as you have remarked once it inquiries into

: what could be in your opinion the role of Art in order to sensitize the viewers about this theme in our unstable contemporary age?

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret A still from


Women Cinemakers

copyright A still fromClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret


interview

Women Cinemakers As a woman, I am automatically interested by women’s status wherever I live and wherever I am travelling. Thus, if I’m witnessing violence, submission, inequality‌ it has an impact on myself. And afterward, this concern is naturally evolving, maturating and turning into an art work. I made as I was living in the subcontinent and I was observing the tough life conditions of my Indian sisters. The incessant audio commentary provides with such uncanny atmosphere and we have highly appreciated the way you have sapiently structured the combination between sound and moving images in order to communicate a feeling of unease and loss of naturalness. How did you structure the editing process in order to achieve such stimulating results? It is a long way. At first I edited the voice, then the second step was to add some fragments of music to it. After that I polished the soundtrack. Then I edited the video with this first version of the soundtrack: first of all, one side of the screen, and after the second one. Afterwards, I was able to put the final touches to the whole editing. The very final stage was to put this work on the side for a few days, then go back to it to check if the result was matching my expectations.


copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret


And how do you see ? I think they are like two instruments playing in an orchestra. They are complementary to each other. Their harmony, conflict, contrast, missing or existing presences will produce different results ; there are endless possibilities. I love working with both and I always spend an equal time editing my soundtracks and moving images. During my selftaught formative years one of my teachers has been Jacques Tati, a French filmmaker. His films are absolutely unic and their soundtracks are astonishing. One of the hallmarks of your practices is the ability to establish direct involvement with the viewers, that especially in the interesting are urged to from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about . Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope to trigger in the spectatorship? As I said earlier, when I am creating I am not thinking about the audience. I just do what I feel

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret


Women Cinemakers

copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers accurate. It is much later that I discover how others receive the work. It is always a formative experience ; always a surprise for me. If people hate, like, love, laugh, weep, are disturbed‌ whatever are the kinds of emotions they feel in contact with my work, as long as they truly feel something then I consider that my mission has been accomplished. I don't work primarly for the viewers, but I am deeply concerned by their feelings and their reception of the work I share with them. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on in experimental artistic productions. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in experimental cinema? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? Since the middle of the 20th century, the movement of women’s emancipation is transforming step by step the status of women in Europe and North America. Women are more and more part of the game in many fields. Of course it is far from being perfect, but it seems to evolve in the right direction.

In the art and cinema spheres we can hope that more equality will prevail. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, ClĂŠmence. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Thanks to you for initiating this conversation.


Women Cinemakers

copyright ClĂŠmence B.T. D. Barret

I am presently working on a few different

installation. My second project in process is another

projects at the same time, and I am exploring a bit

video installation about gender identity here in

more the notions of displacement, submission and

Morocco.

freedom. I am about to shoot ÂŤ Ignis fatuus aka

And the last project I am currently working on is a

the fallacious promiseÂť number 2 in Tangier,

series of watercolour monotypes, and artist books

Morocco with a Subsaharian migrant who is a

that are questionning the notions of conditionning

woman and a mother. It is going to be a video

and freedom.


Women Cinemakers meets

Tumelo Makhoabenyane Lives and works in London, United Kingdom

Identity, self-identity and human perception has been my main focus as a film maker. Growing up in South Africa during the nineties, I witnessed the country at a time when the image it wanted to portray to the outside world was not truly or completely reflective of how the people in the country had felt about themselves or how they were living at the time. I found that even though the country aimed to promote an image of peace, love and unity, the outside world continued to focus on narratives that showed the country's violence, shame and fragility. As a teenager I moved to England which forced a shift of perceptive of my own identity and how I believed the world viewed me. I became hyper aware of the human gaze and what elements I thought could influence it. Film making allows me to explore that gaze, to take a view that I may not have had before or would have never explored myself. With this documentary I wanted to explore the idea of human perceptions and what we use to judge people and their characters. The participants are given an insight of what someone thinks of them through their possessions and are then given the opportunity to address the assumptions at the end. The first I made called AUK Dream, https://vimeo.com/161287888, explores a similar theme of identity; three young participants from various countries each talk about how the move to the United Kingdom has affected their dreams of their future and the person that they wish to become.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier womencinemaker@berlin.com

everchanging socities, encouraging cross-pollination of the audience. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production.

Captivating and refined in its balanced and effective storytelling, is a stimulating participatory documentary by South African London based filmmaker Tumelo Makhoabenyane. With its characteristic vĂŠritĂŠ style, this captivating video offers an multilayered visual experience, inviting the viewers to highteened visual experience to inquire into the notion of identity in our

Hello Tumelo and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions about your background. You have a solid formal training and you hold a Bachelor's Degree of Film and Video Production, that you received from the Derby University: how did this experience influence your artistic evolution? Moreover, how does the relationship between

and Dora S. Tennant


Women Cinemakers your cultural background dued to your South African roots and your current life in the United Kingdom inform the way you relate yourself in conceiving your creative projects? Initially I wanted to study script writing for film and television at university but I eventually decided to choose a course that would provide me with a more overall view of filmmaking. I wanted to learn what is involved in the process of making professional films from developing a script, to production, all the way through to the editing stage. The course at Derby university allowed me to explore those areas within an academic capacity and I have greater appreciation for the process of bringing an idea to life from paper to screen. Having this academic background in film especiallly helped emphasise the subjects that I wanted to tackle and address through my own work, particularly writing for and telling the stories of people of colour, steering away from stereotypical images and providing them more positions at centre stage. Having moved from South Africa to the UK at the age of fourteen impacted me in a way that made me more self aware and self reflective. I gained a heightened awareness of self and the gaze of others that has enabled me to have the various points of view during the creative process; it gives me the ability to recognise my participants/characters and their personal qualities and to look into their states or emotions and would drive them. This is always a huge focus in my creative projects.

we have For this special edition of selected , a captivating participatory documentary 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 idea of human perceptions is the way it provides the viewers with with such a multilayered visual experience. While walking our readers through the genesis of

, would you tell us what did address you to explore this theme? The concept for came about while viewing other documentaries exploring the human connection and relationships. I was inspired by project, an interactive documentary created by The Skin Deep studio. I was impressed with how they delved into such personal and greatly mutlilayered relationships of their participants with such simple a concept. I quickly became immersed in the participants various emotions, their lived experiences, and their perception of their relationship with the other. I wanted to achieve something similar, realising that even portraying the smallest portion of the subject's inner self would reflect something signficant for audience. Working with MADE in Hayes on this project, I focused on developing a concept that would allow strangers to connect in a similar way, for one participant to be seen by another with little to no interaction between them. I asked the participants to share their personal belongings that held signficance to them which offered a really simple yet revealing insight into who they are. Making the participants then interpret the belongings of someone else opened the door to the assumptions we make on age, status, class, gender, personality and background from the possessions that we hold. Letting the participants then explain the significance of their personal belongings compelled the other to analyse where their assumptions may have stemmed from. It also allowed the space for the participants to evaluate where their own perceptions and where they may stem from.

The participant of are from the MADE in Hayes project. A two year project where local people collaborate to make programmes. Could you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your approach to filmmaking? What encouraged me to be a part of the MADE in Hayes project was its focus on telling the stories of its community and embrace


Women Cinemakers its local diversity. Each participant was given the opportunity to present their own ideas and showcase their skills in their respective fields. My focus was to create something that would embrace the diversity of that community, to engage all the members of the project, no matter their background or skills in filmmaking. The idea of doing a participatory documentary was inspired by the content I had been viewing online at the time, and I've witnessed this style of documentary continue to engage audiences online. I asked participants to choose what belongings they wanted to share themselves and only to reveal them once we started shooting. This method felt safe in terms that the participant could those what areas they wanted to share about themselves but effective in that it could produce that element of enigma to their character before they revealed the true meaning behind each belonging. I find this style of documentary quite liberating; although you essentially come up with the concept and know what direction you want the idea to go, ultimately the participants hold the ability to bring those beautiful moments of human connection, to allure the audience with their personalities and captivate purely by sharing their insights with us

We have highly appreciated the way accomplishes the difficult task of acting as a vehicle for dialogue, in order to break through the scepticism following the political decline of ‘ ': how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's cultural parameters? What do you hope your spectatorship will take away from your work? I see this is an important period in the age of of film and media, particularly for people of colour living in western societies. Filmmakers and content creators have more access to various forms of media and they are able to reach much wider audiences or target their work to a specific audience. By hearing the stories of migrants and immigrants in other western countries such as the US and other European countries, I noticed that we experienced more or less the same issues of racism,

prejudice and discrimation but displayed in varying forms. Whilst the current US government has been very blunt and direct with its stance on immigration and how it views its minority groups, the UK has been more strategic and surreptitious in its approach to immigration and refugees. In the news over recent years, we've witnessed signficant instances of viserscal reactions to distinct groups of people in society. Particularly immigrants, refugees and people of colour have been targeted due to the changes in the political climate in the UK. It's been disheartening to watch the recent resurfacing of discrimination especially within one of the largest and most influencial nation in the world. This very national and public act of purging the country of other cultures only demonstrates the fear and misunderstandings people can have against others, the fear that their own identity will be threathened by the other. We know that great nations have been built and developed through introducing multiculturalism; we use terms such as 'cosmopolitan', 'cultured', 'worldy', 'global' as descriptives because we acknowledge that there is a benefit and desire to embrace multiculturalism to be progressive and relevant in an ever evolving world. The beauty of creating videos is that I am able to explore race and culture in a manner that provokes thought and discussion with specific audiences. It's important for me to do this not only because of the the current climate that we're experiencing, but to also explore my own experiences as a South African immigrant in England. The political fearmongering has led to very rigid and singular views of multiculturalism, I hope to challenge audiences to develop their own interpretations of how other cultures can influence their own lives and truly embrace what multiculturalism has brought to the nation. Your first video was entitled AUK Dream and can be viewed . This project involved at

three young participants from various countries each talk about how the move to the United Kingdom has affected their dreams of their future and the person


that they wish to become. How did your personal experience as a migrant fuel your creative process? How would you consider the relationship between with other people and your creative process? Do you think that a creative process could be from perceptual reality? Having moved countries during my adolescence significantly shaped how I began to view the world, other people an myself. I noticed both the obvious and subtle differences in the way people interacted with each other. I experienced a mutlitude of differences including the landscape, the people, the culture, class, politics how relationships are formed and I have become more aware and sensitive to each new aspect of change. This

sensitivity and awareness to change has assisted my passion to create and explore filmmaking. Filmmaking has allowed me to visually translate the different perspectives that I've gained. I've found that due to my experience as an immigrant, I often take a spectator's view in most of my projects; I'm able to step back and view situations from multiple angles which assists my writing and filming projects. After witnessing the manner in which immigrants are being protrayed in the western countries, I push to create more postive and varied images of immigrants and to examine their perspective of living in a foreign country. I try to have as little direct interaction as possible with participants that I film, this allows for a more authentic participation from the participants. With the video , I wanted to gauge how the participants perspective


of their future has been influenced from their move to the UK. Especially with being my first video production that I created, I used the more traditional documentary style to have more structure and direction. I involved the participants during the development stage, agreeing on locations, choosing what scenes to shoot and rehearsing the interviews with the participants to ensure that they would be comfortable and confident with me filming them. I wanted them to be aware of how they may be portrayed and give them a sense of control over their image on screen. By the , I had stepped time I worked on away from the traditional style of interviewing and found a way to allow participants to be more free and in the moment in filming, yet still having an authentic performance portrayed

on screen. It's unlikely to disconnect the creative process from how we perceive reality; most often creatives go in with an intent to tell a story from a certain perspective, to show a unique or unusual point of view by using particular angles, setting a tone, following a structure or utilising certain colours and lighting. As the creative has to make a concious choice of how they want to deliver their work, it comes as a consequence that their own point of view would influence the work that they produce. As you have remarked once, growing up in South Africa during the nineties, you witnessed the country at a time when the image it wanted to portray to the outside world was not truly or completely reflective of how the people


Women Cinemakers in the country had felt about themselves or how they were living at the time: 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". What could be in your opinion the role of a filmmaker in our contemporary age? Does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In this age of new media and new global communications artists have more means to create and avenues to have their work seen by various audiences. Especially living in a more so liberal country, artists have the freedom of choice to what themes or issues that they want to address in their work, if to address any issue at all. During apartheid in South Africa, black people were living under great restraint, mistreatment and oppression from the government. This naturally was conveyed in the work of artists at the time who either created work that sided with a certain political party, using their work to immobilise groups of people, and others who didn't take a political stand but still produced work showing their concerns and making strong statements reflecting the injustices put upon people by the ruling government. When the racially fueled regime finally ended, a lot of the art put forward was to acknowledge the individuals who were active in the movement and work that painted the country as a 'rainbow nation', conveying it's new image of change and acceptance. I don't believe it be the responsbility of filmmakers today to give a voice to the silenced or to challenge the oppressive systems in place, filmmakers should always create work that is true and authentic to them. What I am finding is that those who do feel that their voice is being threatened or silenced in any manner, are finding a platform to speak through filmmaking and other forms of new media. My role in filmmaking has always been to produce work that reflects the immigrant and black cultural experience. There has always been an awareness of the lack of diversity, stereotyping and misrepresentation of people of colour in mainstream media. I do not want to limit the work that I create, but I feel it is essential for me to


Women Cinemakers produce projects that tackle these issues. Through the rise of new media, we're seeing more and more work from a diversity of artists and audiences are able to access work that they can directly relate to. Especially in the black community, more creatives are coming to the forefront and gaining recognition in the industry. Hopefully the mainstream media will see the value of telling authentic stories created by people of colour. An interesting aspect of your practice is the fact that you are concerned in making the viewers aware of your process: we find this decision particularly interesting since it seems to reveal that you do not want to limit yourself to trigger the audience perceptual parameters, but that you aim to address the viewers . Are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate ? In particular, How open would you like your works to be understood? I try to involve the audience in the process particularly when creating participatory documentaries; I I want the audience to emphathise with the participants and put themselves in their position as much as possible. A big drive in my work is to connect people, especially when I have participants with unique stories. Most mainstream media take a spectative view with people of colour thus reinforcing the image of them being different or 'other', that their experiences are somehow unique from a typical person's life experience. I want to remove the audiences 'outsider's gaze' where possible and allow the viewer to immerse themselves in the experiences of the participants. 'With Who Do You Think I Am', it challenges the audience to think about their own perceptions of people and also how they may be perceived by others and it's that multilayered experience that I believe makes the video engaging and enjoyable to audiences.

Serbian performance artist Marina Abramovi once remarked the importance of not just making work but ensuring that it’s seen in the right place by the right people at the right time: how is in your opinion online technopshere affecting by the audience? Do you think that today is easier to a particular niche of viewers or that online technology will allow artist to extend to a broader number of viewers the interest towards a particular theme?


Women Cinemakers The increasing use of new technologies and new media platforms has brought an influx of information to audiences; most artforms are readily available from anywhere around the world. Creatives that I follow have benefitted from using different media platforms to broaden their audiences and gain more recognition internationally. It can be an advantage for audiences to have such access, they may come across that they wouldn't necessarily have seen before, which can give them some knowledge, entertain or inspire them in some way. At the same time, these new platforms also allows audiences to share the artist's work with a wider audience, broadening their popularity over time. It is possible to be overloaded by all the technology around us and having all that access might not have any positive effect, it is really up to the audience to regulate what they consume to truly benefit from and enjoy the work that they come across. I think artist's who create work addressing particular issues can benefit from using new various platforms to target specific audiences that will react more or benefit directly from their work. 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? When I studied filmmaking, only a fifth of my class were female. I noticed that the women were less likely to put their ideas forward or had to speak up more to have their ideas be considered. The males always preferred to work with other males and was less likely to choose a female classmate to direct or write their ideas. Seeing the lack of females in the coveted roles of director or telling their stories as the writers, I got a sense of the difficulty I would have as a female filmmaker to gain support and encouragement in an industry where men have continued to dominate. During my final year I heard of an Italian visual artist, Marinella Senatore, who was working on a


A still from


Women Cinemakers community project called in the same town. Her project involved filming multiple projects with various community groups whilst guiding them through the process. Although I hadn't heard of her before, watching her lead such a large project was encouraging and I eventually leaned towards community filmmaking after finishing my studies. I enjoyed the inclusiveness and freedom of exploration to produce work that may be labelled as 'uncoventional'. I would hope that I would not be limited by the title of being an 'unconventional artisit' as I am still open to working on films in the traditional sense and still addressing the unconventional stories with people of colour at the forefront. More and more women over the last few years are being acknowledged in the film and television industry in roles such as writers, directors and producers. It's reassuring to see women taking ownership in the field and not seemingly being hindered by the fact that it is such a male dominated industry. Female creatives are also supporting each other and choosing employ other women to work with, challenging the notion that women need to compete with each other to progress in their careers. I believe that more female creatives will continue to make strides in the film industry that inspires other women into the field. I feel women are really finding their voice in films and embracing the ability to tell their own stories, taking control of their own narratives and broadening the images of women on screen.

Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Tumelo. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I've recently met up with an indie filmmakers group based in Bradford and I am looking forward to working with a diverse group of creatives again. I have an idea for a short fictional film to be filmed with the group by this summer. I am trying my hand at writing a fictional piece which I've always wanted to do; I want to open myself up to writing for different genres and develop my abilities as a writer. I hope to continue producing work that tells authentic stories and embraces a diversity of people.


Women Cinemakers meets

Rosely Conz & Ana Baer Inspired by the poem “O azul� written by Brazilian poet Clarice Lispector, TerraBlue plays with the Portuguese word Terra, meaning Earth and soil. Earth, ironically mostly covered by water, blue as seen from space. Or blue as the sky when we look up from Earth. Is blue a matter of perspective? Is it possible to have mobile and yet nourished roots? These are questions permeating TerraBlue. TerraBlue is a collaboration between choreographers Rosely Conz and Ana Baer, and composer Alexis Bacon. From their experiences as foreigners and/or immigrants, this work deals with issues of identity, belongingness and distance.

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

is the result of the collaboration between choreographers Rosely Conz and Ana Baer, and composer Alexis Bacon: they have accomplished such insightful inquiry into the notions of issues of identity, belongingness and distance, to initiate their audience into highteneed experience capable of encouraging a cross-pollination of the spectatorship. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to Baer and Conz's captivating and multifaceted artistic production. Hello Rosely and Ana and welcome to : before starting to elaborate about your artistic production we would invite our readers to visit and in order to get a wide idea about your artistic productions. You have both particularly solid backgrounds: Ana holds a M.F.A in Choreography & Videography plus a Licentiate of Choreography and Rosely has a MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder, plus a MA in Performing Arts and a BFA in Dance. How did these experiences of training influence your evolution as artists and creatives? Ana: I hold in great esteem the interdisciplinary approach that

both, my undergraduate and graduate programs took. During my schooling, I was introduced to interdisciplinary arts productions as part of the curricula. Centro Nacional de las Artes, is a public institution located in the south of Mexico City, dedicated to the dissemination, research, training, promotion, debate and teaching of art, culture and interdisciplinarity. This institution, hosts 5 independent building dedicated to dance, theatre, film, fine arts, and music, as well as several theatres which often produce interdisciplinary performances. It was during my junior year that I was introduced to the hybrid form of screendance, which couples dance and video/film. Since then, I have been exploring ways to merge dance and film in different ways. While studying my graduate degree at the University Colorado at Boulder, I was also exposed to a class dedicated to interdisciplinary arts performances, and various film classes. The film department is recognized for its experimental film lectures, taught by Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon. With assistance from my mentors, I was able to craft a degree that included film, dance and interdisciplinary arts classes. The interdisciplinary approach to art creation and production marked my artistic evolution. Rosely: Academia shed new light upon dance and its possibilities, for me. The university I attended in Brazil, UNICAMP, is one of the top research universities in the country and I credit a lot of my work


Dancers: Rocio Luna, Djahel Vinaver


as an artist, even today, to my BFA in Dance. The beauty of universities, as Ana said, is that they can provide you with an interdisciplinary approach to dance, one that includes classes ranging from traditional ballet and contemporary dance to anatomy and kinesiology, dance history, music, and, in my case, Brazilian dances. My MA in Performing Arts was heavily theoretical, with classes that included philosophy, art history, research methodology, amongst others, which gave me what I call my “scholarly side�. I am constantly questioning and looking for new possibilities for my art, at the same time that I try to incorporate issues of gender, race, and identity to my work. In regards to my MFA, Ana and I share the fact that we both attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, in different times, but this is where we met in 2014 during a screening of the Sans Souci Dance for Camera Festival. During my MFA, I had the opportunity to work with incredible mentors, such as Nada Diachenko, Erika Randall, and Michelle Ellsworth, who introduced me to the genre of dance for camera, and were always supportive of interdisciplinarity and collaboration across different areas in academia. Therefore, I took classes in film, choreography, and, moreover, I reached out to people, such as Adam Sekuler and later Ana Baer, who had expertise in dance for camera. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting a 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 : what has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the elusive notion of Earth is the way you have provided the visual results of your analysis with such visual consistency. While walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell what did draw you to focus on the theme of Earth? Rosely: Earth came with the questioning about roots. Ana and I were interested in this idea of being foreigners and where our metaphorical roots are. I started playing with actual roots - beets, potatoes, onions - during my MFA and it was a research that I wanted to continue. From the movement explorations with roots, soil and water, and from our reflexions on distance and mobility, we

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Dancer: Rocio Luna

A still from


Women Cinemakers

Dancer: Yunuén Mejia Almonte Camera: Ana Baer, Stephanie Yáñez Esquivel


interview

Women Cinemakers came up with the title of the movie. In Portuguese, the words Earth and soil are the same (Terra and terra), and that was also a source of inspiration. Having English as a second language, I am constantly translating words, and I usually notice some things that native speakers don’t, for example homophones such as Flower and Flour in English. From these experiences, I am interested in how artists can communicate across differences, without flattening the experience of cultural exchange, a desire that was embedded in my movement and in the film. Dance can be a powerful and visceral way to communicate experiences and spoken language is not a barrier in this case. Last, there is this Brazilian writer, Clarice Lispector, that I read since I was 15 and when I saw some of the images that Ana put together for the project, I immediately remember her poem “O azul” (The Blue), which we will talk more about in the next questions. and Digital techniques played a crucial role in the editing of we have appreciated the way it walks the spectators through to question the dichotomy between the real and the abstract. How do you consider ? Moreover, how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal interpretations? Rosely: Ana has a special talent to work with superimposition. She can find the perfect images and techniques to work with several images in tandem. And when I was exposed to those in her previous films I was fascinated by them. We both share an interested in magic realism, which is a literary genre in Latin America, represented by authors such as Jorge Luis Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The choice for this surreal or magic aesthetic also holds some political implications. According to Slemon (1988), magic realism “provide a positive and liberating response to the codes of imperial history and its legacy of fragmentation and discontinuity.” (21) Within the post-colonial cultures themselves, the magic realism can operate in such a way that it privileges pluralism of content, images and also in how these images are presented to the viewer, in a non-narrative or non-linear way. Dance is, in general, a highly abstract form of art, allowing for personal interpretations and for different modes of


communication that not only through spoken words, which disrupts somehow the Western standards of discourse. By creating a surreal world in a film called Terra (Earth), we wanted to unsettle our notions of placement and displacement, reality and fiction, as you said. People that saw the film before reported that they were very interested in the uniqueness and beauty of the images, and by the transformations in the dancer’s body through techniques applied in post-production. Ana: When I was first introduced to experimental film during my graduate studies, I was intrigued and inspired by the films of Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon. Through their lectures as well as their body of work, I was presented to the non-narrative filmmaking process. Coming from a dance background, this resonated intensely with me. Additionally, the democratization of the medium in the 80-90 made it possible for people like me to acquire a digital camera and a laptop. Since the early 2000’s I have been experimenting with digital editing techniques like superimposition of images in my work, providing a richer meaning and allowing for a multiplicity of readings. I strive to complicate the audience’s perception while delivering visual metaphors. Inspired by the poem “O azul” by Brazilian poet Clarice Lispector, the title rounds to a question that has come at the top in our unstable societies: " " How does the relationship between your cultural substratums and your current life in the United States fuel your creative process, addressing your exploration to the themes of and ? In particular, do you think that your experiences as foreigners may sharpen your sensibility, to provide your artistic research with some special value? Rosely: As a foreigner living in the United states for the past 4 years, I am very sensitive to our current political scenario and the discourse about immigration. However, even though issues about immigration and Otherness recently reached the mass media, for me this is something I have been questioning since I first arrived in the U.S. Displacement, citizenship, and community are huge themes for my work and Ana also empathizes with them. My research has shown that the postmodern discourse on citizenship has to consider more than nationality and passports. It is paramount that the idea of belongingness is tied to identity: who you are, what do you do, your participation in your community, etc. Citizenship has

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


to consider intersectionality and that is where I find my mobile roots, in the fact that I don’t have to be rooted in one single aspect of my identity, even though they are always connected and influencing each other. I would not say that being a foreigner gives my work special value, but I would say it gives different perspectives on society, human relations, and politics. As a foreigner, I am constantly, as I mentioned, facing the concept of Otherness and how do people are usually put in that box just based on their nationality. There is a Bulgarian-French philosopher that I like called Julia Kristeva, who wrote the book “Strangers to Ourselves”, in where she says “Foreigner: a choked-up rage deep down in my throat, a black angel clouding transparency, opaque, unfathomable spur. The image of hatred and of the other, a foreigner is neither the romantic victim of our clannish indolence nor the intruder responsible for all the ills of the polis. Neither the apocalypse on the move nor the instant adversary to be eliminated for the sake of appeasing the group. Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden face of our identity, the space that wrecks our abode, the time in which understanding and affinity founder. By recognizing him within ourselves, we are spared detesting him in himself.” (page 1). That may be what has been shaping and shaped our sensibilities in : the desire to re-signify what being a foreigner means, the possibility of “eating” our own roots and, therefore, carrying them wherever we go. Ana: On the same note, I feel we have a different POV as “others”, therefore, we are inclined to draw comparisons with different ways of living. It seems like questioning the status quo is a common practice. I moved to the USA almost 20 years ago. When asked my nationality, I always say I am both, agreeing with journalist Jorge Ramos, I Mexican and American, as they are not mutually exclusive but complimentary. Professor Gianpiero Petriglieria addresses people that constantly move for professional reasons in his article Moving Around without losing your roots. I include the movie artists as part as this tribe. He states: “in a way our bond is made of blood and history, even if no longer of shared habits, context or enterprise. We must embrace the struggle to make a home that feels our own. The unease that goes with it is a reminder of how important that work is, and what is at stake. Without a

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


Women Cinemakers local home we lose our roots, without a global home we lose our reach.” To emphasize the need of a bound between creative process and direct experience, British artist Chris Ofili once stated that " ". How would you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a body of work and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does play in your process? Ana: is a site-specific screendance project that couples two contemporary art disciplines from the late twentieth century: sitespecific dance which is the practice of creating dance in response to site, and screendance which is the merge of film/video and dance. As Victoria Hunter states in her article The location, environmental or architectural is the stimulus for performance. Initial questions of how we experience, perceive and interact with space are explored” Screendance is a relatively new discipline that merges arts and technology. Since its inception in the 1950s, screen dance has been a powerful tool of development for the dance artist; as screen dance scholar Judy Kitoma explains, “Creating dance for the camera is a natural extension of the dance artist’s skills – sensitivity to visual form, motion, space, time and light, as well as a passion to communicate” (Kitoma, 2013:31). , we had some specific Rosely In our creative process for ideas that we wanted to include, props like - beets, onions, and other roots. Additionally, we wanted to use the San Marcos river, in San Marcos TX, USA. It was important for us to show the relationship between water and nutrition of roots, as well as the fact that the Earth is mainly covered by water. Our process started with some movement improvisations at the San Marcos river in response to that site. My movement was the result of the investigation of the stimuli I was receiving from that specific site; the air blowing, the feeling of the water in my skin, the feeling of the plants against my legs, all played a part in this movement exploration. Meanwhile, Ana followed my movement with her camera. She was responding to the same stimuli from the site in addition to the stimuli from my movement. This method of creating a site-specific screen dance is based on a

phenomenological approach by both, dancer and cinematographer, furthermore, the stimuli of the site informs the editing process. Subsequently, I created a movement phrase in response to the site and the props and re-created it in the studio. This phase is known as site adaptive. Ana directed me in the studio, where we shot against the black drapes. Ana: TerraBlue is a direct product of intuitive thinking, agreeing with Guy Claxton’s line of thought where intuition encompasses expertise, creativity, judgement, implicit learning, sensitivity, and rumination (Pearlston, 2009:6). Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative process. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once remarked that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how would you consider the relation between the abstract nature of the ideas you explore and the physical act of producing your artworks? can be considered what scholars call Rosely: Our work in Embodied Research. According to Spatz: “The question asked by embodied research is: What can bodies do? Asking that question doesn’t mean that technology has to be excluded altogether, but it does mean that the primary objects of investigation are the possibilities and potentials of bodies, individually or together.” (2017, vol.13, No. 2, page 5). Therefore, our departure question is always what can bodies do? It means that the interrogation, the research starts from the body and the movement. And the responses and discoveries also come from the body and the movement. In a way, ideas become concrete entities because they are born from the interaction between body, props, and environment and are expressed in images. The acts of seeing, feeling, and physicalizing are deeply connected and each one of them feeds the other, in a cycle that culminates in the artwork. Norman says that “It is through the sensuous world of the body, through our eyes, ears, skin, muscles and organs, that we see, feel, and respond to all that happens, the body is the ground from which all our knowing of the world begins.” (Norman, 2010:19)


Women Cinemakers The beauty of dance for camera is that it adds another layer to this interdisciplinary creative process: the act of filming. Then, we are also asking what can cameras do? What cameras focusing on bodies can do? Ana is also embodying these questions. She And moreover, in becomes a dancer and a creator, moving the camera as an extension of her body. I remember one day we were shooting close to the San Marcos river, I was in the bucket and Ana was filming around me. She was so connected with me that she literally ignored a bunch of mosquitos biting her hand so she could get the best out of that moment. Her whole body was engaged in the filming as mine was engaged in researching the possibilities of movement inside the metal bucket. In we had some ideas we wanted to work with - belongingness, immigration, displacement, roots. But we did not start from concepts during the filming sessions. Improvisation, site-specific strategies, and the interaction with the roots, the water, the bucket, and the camera led the process. The concepts were embodied and expressed through movement and props. The scene where I catch the roots with my mouth and put them inside the bucket is an example of this creative strategy. I did not plan ahead to do that, but the embodiment of the concept of strangereity and the relationship with the props and the site led my choices in that direction. Ana: Editing also played a crucial role in this project. During some of our preliminary discussion, it became evident to us that a variety of locations needed to be featured. Keying, and blending modes became the unifying editing techniques. Keying is the process of matting out specific colors, therefore, I filmed Rosely against black, subsequently I deleted the color black and then replaced it with images from diverse locations. During the editing process, the choreography suffers a huge transformation, the rechoreographing of the dance in film is an intuitive process that opens itself to experimentation. I usually play with the images until I find what resonates with me, and then I keep tweaking and manipulating these images until it feels right. This process is far from being cerebral, calculated or imposed, it is more of a discovery or an instinctual decision. As I see the images, the work reveals itself, even though, the piece started with an investigation of identity and belongingness. As I saw some of the superimpositions of different locations in Rosely’s silhouette, I started thinking about the image of carrying our experiences


Photographer: Stephanie YaĂąez Esquivel Residency at Rancho 2y2, Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico


Photographer: Stephanie YaĂąez Esquivel A still from

Residency at Rancho 2y2, Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico


Women Cinemakers with us, the way an empty vase would fill in with different materials, depending where it’s been. In that sense, I propose we are the result of the experiences we’ve lived, and we inherently carry these experiences with us. Some of these experiences might be evident from the outside, but some are more intimate and harder to spot.

together with once stated that " another to create something as a synthesis of different practices, that alone one could not": what's your point about this? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different disciplines?

The soundtrack and composed Alexis Bacon provides the film with such : according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic, a shift that occurred with the advent of the alphabet as the eye became more essential than ear. How do you see ?

Rosely: Collaboration is something I have been doing for as long as I can remember. Especially when I started doing dance for camera, I needed someone with the expertise both in dance and film to work with. I absolutely agree with your quote from Peter Tabor in regards to collaboration and was definitely the synthesis of different practices that culminate in something that otherwise would not be possible to accomplish. With Ana, I feel we understand each other’s aesthetic and, even when we don’t agree, we are able to find an option that pleases both of us. Because I was most of the time in front of the camera and Ana in the back, we needed to talk and communicate effectively about the editing process and how to make choices about content, form, music, atmosphere, etc.

Ana: It is common practice to finish a rough edit and then add sound to it. After the sound is laid down, there is a second or third revision of the fine editing in order to capitalize on the rhythm of the music. The rhythm of the final visual edits is complemented by the rhythm of the sound either by accentuation or by counterpoint. Alexis composition enhanced tone. I concur with Karen Pearlman’s statement from her book that “Music, which is perceived as a flow rather than a series of individual notes, enhances the flow of images and ameliorates much of the disruptive potential of cutting, thereby making the cuts and the compositions of the cuts’ rhythms much harder to see.” was a gift for us. She was able Rosely: Alexis participation in to create a soundtrack that added a layer to the film, without imposing emotions or de-characterizing what was already there. I had several meetings with Alexis during the creative process and she was always responsive to the ideas embedded in the work - foreignness, immigration, roots. I believe she did a great job finding her own space as an artist and composer in this project, contributing to the film as a whole. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established together and with and composer Alexis Bacon are today evergrowing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project... could you tell us something about this effective synergy? By the way, Peter Tabor

Charles Green, in Third Hand, proposes that “collaboration was a crucial element in the transition from modernist to postmodern art and that a trajectory consisting of a series of artistic collaborations emerges clearly from late 1960s conceptualism onward. The proliferation of teamwork in post-1960s art challenged not only the terms by which artistic identity was conventionally conceived but also the "frame''—the discursive boundary between the "inside" and the "outside" of a work of art.” In , the authorship is shared between Ana and I, with Alexis coming a little late in the process but contributing nevertheless. Postmodernism brought the possibility of “letting go” of ego and different possibilities of reframing the idea of a “creative genius” of a single author. For me, the work we do should be towards the piece itself, towards finding solutions that benefit the art work and not the individual’s opinions or tastes. Ana’s flexibility and competence were/are key in collaborative processes. Fayga Ostrower, Poland painter, theorist and educator, in her book “ (in Portuguese, because I could not find a translation to English) cites Max Wertheimer, one


Women Cinemakers of the authors of the theory: “The whole is more than the sum of its parts”. In this sense, the artwork should be more than parts together. The work of artists involved should relate qualitatively to create a cohesive final product in a way that different elements are, now, structural to the work and not just associative. I believe achieved this through our collaboration. Over the years you have been performing and choreographing professionally in several occasions and one of the hallmarks of your practices is the ability to establish direct involvement with the viewers, who urged to evolve from a condition of mere spectatorship. So before leaving this conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope to trigger in the spectatorship? Rosely: This is an interesting question, especially in the realm of dance for camera. There is a difference between a live dance and a dance for camera in the way audiences relate to them. Live performances have the element of ephemerality, meaning they leave no trace behind but the memory of the spectator that saw the dance. As I have been involved in both live performances, dance for camera, and works that mixed both, I think each one can offer different possibilities of interaction with audiences. So that is something that I consider when thinking about audience reception: what is the medium I am using and with what intention? Am I using the appropriate medium to accomplish my intention? In terms of audience appreciation, I try not to think too much about it, at least in the early stages of the process, because it can be paralyzing to create thinking about external expectations. I trust the process, the choices Ana and I make collectively, and I try to listen to the piece, as one of my mentors, Michelle Ellsworth would say. What does the piece need? What would be beneficial for the work to be what it needs to be? Moreover, I think about a quote from Jonathan Burrows in his book that says “The audience like to have a job to do”, which means that audiences do not necessarily have to be exposed to “easy” works. In that sense, Ana and I looked for an abstract yet clear aesthetic, something that is non-linear but that presents evocative images and movements.

Ana: In addition, I propose that the audience who watches dance doesn’t only capture the movement though their sight, but with his/her whole body, inciting for the audience’s active participant in our work. This phenomenon is studied by neuroscientists, dancers, filmmakers, musicians, and contemporary embodied practitioners as part of the concept of kinesthetic empathy. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Rosely and Ana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Ana: Earlier this year I was invited by one of my mentors, Mexican composer Joaquin Lopez Chapman, to create a collaborative work at the Centro de Produccion y Experimentacion Artistica, Rancho 2&2, in Jalapa, Mexico. I invited Rosely and three other choreographers/dancers to spend a week in residency at this place. I am looking forward to spending time exploring the possibilities of collaborative arts production within the disciplines of dance, music, and video. The product will be a site-specific screendance filmed in two sites near the Ranch. The starting point for our project is based on female characters created by Garcia Marquez in his novel a f The overriding theme falls under gender and identity studies, explored through the lens of post-colonial theories. Rosely: I am so excited to work with Ana again, this time in foreign territory for me. Additionally, I am developing a new dance for camera, called in collaboration with Anthony Colamatti and Stephanie Slaughter, both professors at Alma College. This is a continuation of the research on displacement and uprooting, focusing on the recent threat to the DACA recipients.

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


Photographer: Djahel Vinaver Residency at Rancho 2y2, Jalapa, Veracruz, Mexico


Women Cinemakers meets

Hannah Stapleton This film is an attempt by the artist to bridge the perceived gap between WoMan-Nature. Attempting to transcend the boundaries of the physical body to merge with the natural form, or perhaps to change form altogether. How far can we go in our search for synthesis? Moving beyond imitation and dominion to discover a mutually understood language of meaning between ourselves and Nature. ‘Becoming' in order to realise oneself, if only momentarily, as a part of an ecosystem and unified whole. How can we harmonise our inner Ecology with the outer Ecology to achieve a state of resonance between our inner and outer worlds? How can we partner co-creatively with Nature?

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Hannah and welcome to : we would like to start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any experience that did influence the evolution of your work as an artist? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct your creative decisions? I spent the first eight years of my life moving around a great deal and living in various countries in Latin America and South East Asia with my mother before eventually arriving in London, UK where we settled. This exposure to different cultures and peoples during my most formative years served as a unique education that certainly fostered a sense of openness and receptivity that has shaped my ways of seeing, and thinking about, my environment. It has also left me with the sense of never having known what it means to wholly belong to one place, land or culture but rather what

it means to belong, in part, to several different ones. In this way I consider myself to be one of many of my generation who are grappling with the politics of identity in our increasingly globalised world. My creative decisions centre around ways in which to make sense of my own lived experiences which take place in the geographical location I am in, in this time in history and in inhabiting this gendered body. The perpetual movement during much of my childhood, as well as my mother´s ongoing health problems resulted in a feeling of rootlessness and of a fragmented self that instilled early on in me an understanding of the inevitability of change as being at the heart of all things. It also taught me about the precariousness and instability of existence, and of life as an ephemeral experience. Nowhere did I experience this to be more true than when interacting with and communicating with nature in its various forms. I have always felt a deep affinity with nature, and have


Women Cinemakers always considered our treatment of it as something inanimate and separate to ourselves as mistaken. Nature became to me a theatre, an epic stage, if you will, upon which all of these great and magical cycles of death and renewal were played out. There I was able to understand and sync with my own rhythms and cycles. I was able to play and lay myself open and offer up some of my most difficult emotions and memories to the earth so I would not have to hold them all by myself. In this arena I knew my place in the order of things, a quality of the eternal and universal of which we are all a part pervaded it, and enabled me to recognise something of that quality within my own being. I both longed for it and feared it, and it challenged me, but the wisdom of the land was always there as a refuge. These meaningul relationships continue to grow and are a source of great energy which fuel my artistic practice. I would say then that at its essence my art making has always centred around a search for wholeness and for freedom from fragmentation, for dissolution of individual self into that greater totality, the struggle between the one and the many, and the search for meaning in the complex multidimensionality of the modern world. In this way my work is highly personal of course but I am inevitably interested in what I consider to be overarching universal struggles and realities of our time. Principally these include, current responses to the age of ecocide in which we are living and existing patriarchal paradigms of manipulation and 'power over' women's bodies and the body of the earth. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected , an extremely interesting project 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 successful attempt by the artist to bridge is the way you have provided your artistic research with such a consistent aesthetics: while walking our readers through the genesis of , what did address you to focus on this theme? Last year my partner Xavier Hamon and I were fortunate enough to have hitched a ride on a sailing boat that was travelling from Colombia to Panama. We had no previous sailing experience but found ourselves on board for 10 days at sea. It was my first experience like this, really being at


Women Cinemakers the mercy of the weather and learning how to utterly submit to its wills. Having to be sturdy and patient, learning how to read the wind and currents. Humbled and frightened during a storm, giving thanks once it was over, praying for wind after two days of dead calm. Something that is pervasive in that part of the Carribbean Sea is the enormous amount of rubbish and plastic that is now a feature of that previously pristine environment. This is not limited to the rubbish found in the sea and that which embraces the island´s shorelines but also includes the abandoned sailing boats anchored in the shallows, their carcasses left to rust and rot. Recently some videos have come out out in the media showing the extent of the presence of plastics in various oceans around the world, but to see it for yourself is truly shocking and very painful. It is one thing to think abstractly about it but to see the damaging consequences of our human actions upon our environment in this magnitude was heartbreaking. I felt like we were betraying our kin, our other-than-human family. During this trip I was thinking deeply about the role of the artist in this age of ecocide in which we are now living, and of how we can create work that is affecting the viewer to re think and reposition themselves in terms of their relation to nature. When we put our feet onto land for the first time in several days we were in an incredible archipelago called San Blas, 365 islands of which more than 300 are uninhabited. We were elated to be off the boat and in beginning to discover our environment we almost immediately came upon an enormous number of these conch shells, their grey-white skeletons scattered all over the beach. I was drawn to them, appreciating their similarities in form and shape to that of my own body, and this became the starting point for the Becoming videos. Conch Shell Becoming, Sand Becoming feature a mise-en-scène that sapiently shows the harmonisation our inner Ecology with the outer Ecology: we daresay that this video attempts to unveil the invisible that pervades our reality but that cannot be detected by our sensorial experience. Do you agree with this interpretation? Moreover, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination within your process? Yes I do agree with your interpretation and feel that it does illuminate much of what the video is attempting to do. I am very interested in the invisible and


Women Cinemakers

much of my work seeks to interpret and give form to those communications and exchanges that take place between people and their environments that are both seen and unseen. These exchanges are inextricably interwoven in that they shape and inform both the story of the environment and our own internal story- that invisible, yet meaning-filled narrative, which is one of the most influential aspects upon our inner psyche. In this way my work seeks to reclaim the invisible to remind us that it is ever present in the interactions of the living systems of the Earth and that it is of great importance in healing, in living and in

dying. Of course the relationship between reality and imagination is a highly subjective one and each of us experiences this differently. However I would say that most of us would be open to me saying that our ordinary vision is limited and our conventional consensus version of reality. of reality is not the I am aware of course that the extent to which we can claim to know what lies in these invisible realms is also questionable and even in using language to describe it to both ourselves and others we can feel a sense of apprehension or a need for caution. How do


Women Cinemakers

we name and give form to that which resides in those liminal spaces between? It is really that overlap that fascinates me.

not only feeds my artistic practice but enhances the quality and enjoyment of my lived experience in manifold ways.

The relationship between reality and imagination in my personal experience is one of closeness and intimacy. It is also one that is constantly shifting and the veils between the two are oftentimes thing and hazy, at other times well defined and separate. I can judge the state of my general wellbeing as being synonymous to the state of health of my imagination. In fact as I am moving through adulthood I have taken on as a personal quest that my imagination must continue to thrive, be alive and well, because it

This is something that sadly gets squashed down and discouraged in us by others when we leave childhood, and as a result our sense of wonder and grasp of the magical, which when you are child encompasses everything around you, often becomes subsumed, if not dies altogether. Our ability to reconstruct reality leaves us and then we have to rely on external stimulus to reignite it for us. Because of this I feel that as adults it is essential that we work to undo this socialisation and conditioning that has moulded our


Women Cinemakers

perceptual conformity and re-learn how to be in a state of wonder and awe again, how to really celebrate the mystery and beauty of the world we live in and the body we inhabit, and centrally within this for me exists communion with nature. Without recovering this power for ourselves our perception remains limited merely to the world of the senses and our sense of separation from ourselves, nature and one another will continue to be felt strongly. William Blake wrote that “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite.� In this way we must remain open and alert to what is happening, to all that we can and cannot yet see.

Marked out with a seductive beauty on its surface, your work addresses the viewers to a wide number of narratives to urge them to elaborate personal associations: would you tell us how much important is for you that the spectatorship rethink the concepts you convey in your pieces, elaborating personal meanings? How open would you like your works to be understood? We live in a vast interconnected web of existence where all things operate in meaningful relationship to each other and in simultaneous dimensions, one being the reflection of the other. I


Women Cinemakers

am interested in the concept of a non-hierarchical ontology in which all subjects, whether living and non-living, for example animals, plants, rocks, objects etc, which are coexisting in a certain area are regarded on the same level. I am interested in how thinking about reality in this way could help us to arrive at a place where we think of and feel ourselves to be not separate from, or as having power over nature, but as an equal part of this greater whole. I want my work to somehow offer a glimpse, however brief, into this perspective and I encourage the viewer to consider this when viewing it and to investigate their own feelings and responses to this. And if

possible to go further in their explorations, whatever expression that may take. I hope that the viewer will come to the work from whichever place they find themselves, but come with a certain level of openness and receptivity, with which all artworks deserve to be approached. How it affects the individual and what they take away from it is for themselves to discover. In this way, elaborating personal meanings is essential. We view the world through our own lenses coloured by various factors such as culture, historical time and place, belief, religion and gender. Furthermore the context in which we view an artwork hugely affects


Women Cinemakers us. This determines what we see and how we assign meaning to it and these factors are impossible to fully put aside. The artist is only ever interpreting nature and constructing their own version of reality, indeed their transformed representation of reality, and this is all that the artist can do. All these choices that the artist makes along the way contribute to the final meaning of the image or work. The image is then again reconstructed by the viewer and exposed to their subjective interpretation. The work shows the art of the artist and not the art of nature. So in this way, yes, it is important that the viewer has an awareness of my intention when I created the work but simultaneously that their interpretation and understanding of the works can be very open because it is essential that the viewer constructs their own understanding. We must create personal meanings in order for anything to move and affect us, in order to feel connected and also to be able to question the status quo or current paradigms of power in our consensual reality. We like the way Conch Shell Becoming, Sand Becoming inquiries into the boundaries of the physical body to merge with the natural form: many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the ideas you aim to communicate and the physical act of creating your artworks? I am constantly aware of the tension that exists between art´s unlimited imaginative scope and its physical limitations and this pull between possibility and reality. I feel this challenge keenly in my own art making processes and when it comes to translating the ideas I want to always strive to try to touch into a place of potentiality within each of us that exists, that place which is infinite and mystical, where the spirit and body meets. Perhaps the best we can do to try to achieve this is to be true to this way of working and trust that when I am in those private spaces during which I am making the work that I am embodying this intention as fully as I possibly can and that this will ultimately communicate itself through the work. Recently I have taken the physical act of creating the artwork further by placing my body at the centre of some of the work and with the Becoming


A still from


Women Cinemakers films this has been the first time that I have featured my own body in my work. It has so far felt to be a different and exciting way of working. Making this transition was not an easy one for me and actually it felt like a difficult step to take. It felt too confronting and my fear was that I would expose myself somehow to a different type of judgement or criticism that would be targeted at my person as separate from the work. But ultimately it became apparent to me that the way in which I would be able to most clearly express the feeling and intention of the piece was to physically embody the experience and to document that. So overcoming this self consciousness has been a necessary step in the evolution of my practice. This flesh body is after all my vehicle for experiencing this life and is the source from which the art springs forth. I was lucky enough to recently see the retrospective of Carolee Schneemann at PS1 in New York and her work took a hold of me, shook me and wouldn´t let go. By placing herself at the centre of her work she occupied a position that she described as both “image and image-maker.� I feel that in striving to push and redefine boundaries and the place of the female body in visual culture, it is women artists like Schneemann that have paved the way for many of us working now to feel able to do so. She explored pathways of art making in such a free, fearless and uncompromising way and witnessing this has encouraged me to keep moving in this direction and not limit the possibilities of my work. It has only been in the last year that I have begun to work with the medium of video and with regards to the particular subject matter I am dealing with in these Becoming videos, it has both felt very freeing as a medium but also has presented certain challenges that relate to my own feelings around the relationship between technology and nature. For a long time I have felt the two to be in opposition, and I made a direct link between the destruction of nature and the growth of technology. Therefore to me it seemed that the medium of video as a piece of technology was at odds with, or was working in opposition to, nature. So with the intention of these films as centreing around explorations of deeper intimacy and relationship with nature I wondered if it was the most effective or coherent medium to use to represent these ideas. Certainly land art and nature-based rituals and actions have their place and I draw upon these in my work too, but the medium of video offered me something unique and versatile in this case that I felt was better suited.


Women Cinemakers I am undoubtedly also a technological consumer and part of this growing movement which I do not reject by any means. Yet it feels to be a continuing struggle for me, a simultaneous acceptance and rejection. I do feel that our increasingly normalised use of, and reliance upon, technology is somehow threatening or placing a great strain upon our relationship with nature. That it is a barrier that is impeding our possibility for direct experience with nature and affecting our abilities for observing, listening to, and conversing with not just nature but with each other as human beings. However I am currently reviewing this standpoint and approaching it more as a dynamic relationship and looking at ways of how the two could possibly become more integrated. This issue is something that continues to challenge, concern and fascinate me and that will no doubt continue to find influence and expression in my work and beyond. We like the way Conch Shell Becoming, Sand Becoming draws from 1 everyday life's experience to trigger the viewers perceptual parameters: to emphasize the relationship between direct experience and creative process, British artist Chris Ofili once remarked that "creativity's to do with improvisation, what's happening around you". How would you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of a performance and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does play improvisation in your process? Improvisation is hugely important in my process. It is very rarely whilst I am working that an idea will be fully formed by the time I begin. And more often than not I just begin by observing, listening, touching, moving around and responding to the environment around me and the materials available to me, with a trust that something will emerge in time, that I will sniff at something and follow the scent. These interactions and the ways in which I choose to describe them are rarely predetermined or set and I tend to just follow my instinct. Often I don´t know where it is going to go but I feel into it moment by moment, hopefully in the process experiencing some moments of total absorbtion, and then when I feel that the time is right I step out of it as if exiting a dream space. I think as soon as you have an idea that becomes fixed in your head and you follow it in a regimented way with no room for flexibility then you have already lost something. You have closed yourself to the wonders of exploration and to the possibility of making the work better by remaining


Women Cinemakers open and receptive and in this way you risk that the work becomes rigid and stuck. With regards to the medium of video it is in the editing process when I look at all of the material that I have and think, okay, here is the beginning of the thread, and I pick it up and follow it and it begins to take shape as a narrative. In this way, yes, “what´s happening around you,� as Chris Ofili says, what you are experiencing as a state within yourself, and in the wider world, and the ways in which you react to this is crucial to shaping the art. Obviously this is all very easy to do if you are mostly working alone or if you are lucky with a kindred someone else who just gets your way of working. But I would be very interested in creating something more scheduled, a performance piece involving several actors, a cast to have to direct in moving across a space with more variables at play to have to control and I have great admiration for people working in this way. Your approach moves beyond imitation and dominion to discover a mutually understood language of meaning between ourselves and Nature: do you think that Art could provide the viewers with the ability of discovering elusive still ubiquitous relationship between outside reality and our inner landscape? Yes I feel that art can most definitely provide opportunities for this and that this may be one of its central purposes. I think this can begin with the experience of witnessing an artwork. There is an exchange that takes place between the viewer and the artwork. For me, this feeds into this communication with the invisible that I mentioned earlier. The art critic and painter John Berger in Ways of Seeing describes it as the artwork becoming a 'corridor' which connects the moment it represents with the moment at which the viewer is looking at it in the present. The artwork has a presence and exists in both realms of outside reality and thus leaves an imprint on our inner landscape. It changes you, alters you, however subtly. I think that exchange that happens also does something to our experience and perception of time and this is really important to consider if we are talking about enabling more profound possibilities for change and evolution within ourselves in relation to outside reality. For example the different temporalities characterising the time of machines, of human beings, of natural systems and cycles and the Deep Time or geologic time. I feel it is a challenging concept to grasp because we are so tightly bound to our lived perception of time through


Women Cinemakers our own human life spans. It is difficult to think before or beyond that in anything else but abstract terms. How would it be to experience time from the perspective of a rock, a butterfly, or a Redwood tree? Perhaps such inquiries would lead us to foster deeper connections. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established with Xavier Hamon are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something about this effective synergy? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different disciplines? Xavier Hamon is a French film maker and trained agroecologist who has worked in conservation, agro-forestry and permaculture. He is deeply interested in communicating social and environmental issues through visual mediums and direct outreach and engagement work with farming and rural communities around the world. We have been living away from Europe together since the beginning of 2017 and it has been during this period that we have begun to collaborate artistically together. I think that going somewhere new can often provide a wealth of new possibilities that encourages and creates a space where one feels one can redefine themselves. Breaking away from our lives and routines in London has allowed an exhilirating surge of fresh energy to come in with regards to our artistic visions and life directions and has fostered opportunities for experimentation with different mediums. Xavier has returned to film and photography after a hiatus of several years and I began working with film for the first time. The Becoming videos were our first collaboration and on this project I took the lead as director and editor, but I think the subject matter well communicates our shared values and deep respect for nature. Certainly since working together my awareness around my own sense of responsibility for the state of health of the earth has been greatly enhanced, and this is coming through in the content of my work. Our ongoing collaboration and partnership is offering us both new ways of seeing and reflecting upon our work, together and separately, and the ways in which our work can comment upon and

add meaning to the wider social and cultural contexts in which we live. This has led me to questioning more and more the worth and purpose of art in my own social context and also at this time in history. Is pure aesthetic value enough as a pursuit anymore? I am feeling a mounting urgency and necessity to make work that is socially engaged, that reflects our lived reality, that can act as a vehicle for changes in perception and thought and that is not merely an attempt at describing or representing beauty. Our more recent collaborations this year have been the video, If You Sing To The Water. It is a piece that is continuing to explore the potential of experiencing intimacy with nature; in this case one man's experience of intimacy with water, the dynamics of nonhuman desire and the power relations present in this. Both Xavier and I feature in this film and it was made as a result of our ongoing readings and investigations into the work of the Austrian naturalist and inventor Viktor Schauberger, regarding his views on the intelligence and existences of water. He proposes that water is more than just merely an element but is a living body with a certain health, character and personality, if you will. The film can be seen on my website, www.hannahstapleton.com Most recently we have just finished our first feature length documentary, Gender in Coffee – A Documentary. This was a completely new way of working for me in that we needed to weave together a visual narrative and structure in a much more traditionally coherent form than I was used to. The documentary took us from Mexico to the United States and it was a huge challenge and undertaking for both of us, a six month project that we gestated and birthed and which we have just premiered at the World Coffee Expo in Seattle, USA. www.genderincoffeedoc.com We have appreciated the originality of your works and we have found particularly encouraging your unconventional approach. 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


Women Cinemakers artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? Well I have never considered myself to be an unconventional artist before but that is probably because of the time in which I am living and making art. But yes I imagine that as a woman making this art work even half a century ago it would have been read in a completely different way by the very fact of it being produced by a woman presenting her body in this visual context. Saying that, I am an early career artist and still have yet to have my work critiqued by anyone in a way that may be influenced by their perception of me as a woman and by their general pre conceptions of the type of art women make! Certainly we are in a better situation than we have been before with regards to the visibility of women artists, and when it comes to the spectrum of experimental video art I am seeing a rise of women artists being acknowledged for producing some fantastic work which is greatly encouraging and something to be celebrated by everybody. It is also encouraging to see that the work of women artists working currently is being given space to be read on multiple levels of meaning. This used to be a privelige reserved for the male artists only, while the work of women artists would be reduced into something onedimensional and only read in one particular way as if women´s work could not possibly be as revelatory, as insightful or as intellectual as that of their male counterparts. But it is still not enough. Greater visibility for women artists still has a long way to go, and not just for women but for minority groups as well who are continuously under represented because their work is not deemed to fit into the dominant, one-size-fits-all conversation. Certainly the predominance of voices of women film makers in the mainstream is still hugely lacking and this has to change because if we keep with this outdated paradigm where the primary voices making and directing this art form are male, and white male at that, then it means that women will continue to be under represented in this field. This absolute patriarchal domination of the field ends up reproducing and rehashing stereotypical, unimaginative and even damaging parts for women, and for men, which very neatly keep them caged in outdated heteronormative gender roles. It is deeply frustrating to me because it continues to serve the mainstream dominant agenda. We need more diverse voices to represent our diverse societies and our lived realities.


Women Cinemakers Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Hannah. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I have recently started to work through exploring experiences of living with chronic pain, both of other people´s and of my own. Looking at ways of relating to and responding to pain and of attempting to give this extremely complex, private and often invisible experience form and shape. With regards to medium I want to continue exploring video as it is still such a new relationship for me and I have a lot to learn. After many years of using painting as my primary medium I feel a sense of there being infinite possibilities with this form as it feels to be in some ways freed from the boundaries of time and space. Most paintings conserve an essential stillness and silence and now with video I am able to explore movement and sound in a different way. It has the ability to be not just in one place and to have a sense of unfolding time and narrative. Furthermore I want to integrate different mediums together and bring these into the video work itself. For example working with a dynamic mise-en-scène that includes elements of the theatrical, a set and props that I have created and placed within the scene which will then be documented. I also want to continue working with documenting the whole process of the art making, all of the steps along the way leading to this point of completion, if there even is one, and not just the final pieces. This approach of emphasising the processes equally with the finished product could be transformative as a way of working. Finally, Xavier Hamon and I have devised an installation project based around the themes of Viktor Schauberger´s work with water, for which we are still looking for funding and support. It would involve an intensive process-driven practice of us travelling the length of the Rhine river watershed collecting over 1,500 unique samples of water from different points along the watershed which we would then set into a large-scale installation. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Alexa Wilson Lives and works in Berlin, Germany

I am an experimental choreographer, performance artist, video artist and writer from New Zealand/Aotearoa based in Berlin 7 years. My works range from solo performance art projects, which are are often relational (interactive) to commissioned group choreographies and video projects either directed or collaborative, which are political, interdisciplinary and layered. My work while inherently feminist in its underpinnings, relates to intersectional politics inclusive of different themes. I am interested in activation as a form of socio-political healing, embodying difficult and contemporary themes from subjective and multi-dimensional perspectives. I work with paradox as a generative space for activating hidden "truths" within our societies, with the aim to make space for new understandings. Humour is also present in this respect.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com Hello Alexa and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training and after having earned your BA in Film, TV and Media Studies and a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts, you nurtured your education with an MA in Film Production majoring in Screenwriting, that you received from The University ofAuckland: how did these experiences address your artistic research? direct the trajectory of your artistic Moreover, how does your research? My BA in Film, TV and Media Studies and Women's Studies were both super postmodern departments, which required often going in an out of a variety of departments like sociology, politics, philosophy and particular language departments. I was already as my foundational BA influenced by feminist philosophy and politics as well as a huge range of modes and perspectives within particularly film analysis as a sociological approach. I was very often as a young person drawn to more experimental styles of film or writing, and still am, at times with a pop cultural influence, which is very postmodern. My feminism was influenced by the experimental psychoanalytical writing of Luce Irigaray and film work/theory of Trinh-Minh-Ha, claiming their own female language, which was more multiplicitous than linear and the philosophical analysis of Judith Butler, Derrida and Foucault, which were also very much ambiguous or complex, aiming for something other to binary language and meaning.

I always loved film most as a poetic language, having been a photographer at high school, and having an eye for framing and mind for writing, I thought I would end up more in a film direction. However, I was very seduced by this stand out “Body Politics” paper in Women's Studies and saw how directly engaged with the politics of the body and identity performance and dance was, so I opted for dance school with it's “embodiment” rather than cerebral approach, instead of a MA in Film at that time. In my BPSA in Contemporary Dance, where I then became a successful dance artist, I got to explore how concept meets form as well as holistic embodiment and I was aware throughout my early days as a choreographer how much theoretical influences stayed with me, particularly in complexity, as I explored a range of themes. Though my creative style has remained “anarchistic” as a label, the work has a pretty sophisticated foundation. I like this performance quote about a solo I made in New Zealand over 10 years ago in this regard; ”This reviewer thinks there is a roughness here that belies a deep intelligence involved in an agonizing and important dismantling of performance constructs to find a freedom of expression.” Lyne Pringle, Theatreview/Proximity, February 2007

My MA in Film was more a practical degree, as I again thought I perhaps wanted to explore film more, having done 7 years in performance/dance, but actually it was a Narrative Film course and I am an experimental artist, which suits a choreographic brain. Majoring in Scriptwriting, while I could write narrative scripts and dialogue which came naturally, the process I found as a whole non-organic and I returned to performance and started to make experimental films, but with the rigorous “tagline” mentality of film, which meant my proposals became sharper as did my work,


conceptually. I do believe performance/dance has become more interesting in recent years' they say that performance comes to the fore at times of crisis as existential “identity making”, but I will always love film's poetry. In terms of my cultural background, I will always be very influenced by whatever culture I am inand am keenly aware of socio-political contexts. Being from New Zealand/Aotearoa we have quite a nuanced dialogue with cultural politics in the sense that issues to do with biculturalism and multiculturalism are actually considered and very sensitive. I realise this now from being in Europe for 8 years, where this “outsider” mentality is still quite predominant. This, and an increased awareness of globalisation and migration also moving in different parts of the world, gave me the understanding that Europe and North America still dominate the global stage, and everyone else is pretty much “other” in cultural terms. However, I've also come to see and appreciate the nuances in different cultures, and how humanity has always been this nomadic culture moving around, with power between cultures/now nations an age old but more global scale phenomenon, especially considering how to redress the impacts of colonisation. The politics of these tensions areever more present and I am interested to confront inter-sectionally some of these in my work. You are a versatile artist and your practice is marked out with such stimulating multidisciplinary feature, that include experimental choreography, performance and video art, as well as writing: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select a medium in order to explore a particular theme? Dance and writing I did as a child while film touched me as a struggling teen, which for me felt like a very emotional time, and Film Festivals were like my portal to the world as we had no internet at the time being early 90s. Some very experimental film was being explored for the past 30 or so years, and things were at this point political. Dance and performance for me are holistic, they are embodied, which is why I see the other art forms as part of this holistic interdisciplinary topography when together. They are continuously in conversation in this globalising, digital world of wide- ranging identities and bodies also always crossing borders. Not many in my country were really putting text together with dance the way I was when I graduated, nor really performance art images, which could also almost be considered filmic, in dance. I often also had video projection in my early works with images, which did disappear after my MA and my shift to Europe as I embodied more somatic and relational approaches and themes, which felt more embodied. I wanted to explore ecological themes and their impacts upon psychology and bodies in my first film works in the late 2000s (Megaphone/Our Passion) as I see film as potentially a direct medium. This also lead me into creating my first fully funded dance performance (Toxic White Elephant Shock) also about the ecology/body connection when I graduated from my MA in Film, which means there was a conceptual cross-over between the mediums. Although I would probably say that these themes were best explored through the directness of the film medium possibly, other themes such as power dynamics, self-implied exploitation/empowerment, identity, gender and race issues, memory and collective experience, intimacy/vulnerability, disrupted foundations and social healing, are general themes best explored through performance and the live body within my work. I am fascinated with how writing, photography and also video become not archives but “translations” of the medium of performance, and collaborate to interpret a different and

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers subjective experience of the performance. Performance is very existential and new, so ephemeral that using other art forms to decode it or remember it is endlessly interesting. I still agree with Susan Sontag amomg others that “we need to recover our senses, learn to see, to hear, to feel more” when experiencing art/performance, rather than project ideas cerebrally onto work (Against Interpretation, 1964). I can explain in the next question how came to being, but it was existentially in this “space between” artistic languages, which felt akin to “translations” between languages, cultures, and nations. In this elective in Transart Institute in Berlin with Wolfgang Sützl in 2012, on “Cultural Translation” I was influenced by this notion that no language can ever be translated, but in the translation attempt does become something else, a creative space between languages. It felt like a metaphor to use different art forms in conversation and also having done a workshop with Stanya Kahn at Transart Institute on Video Art, I felt inspired to work with video/film on this theme. Writing and text has always been natural for me, but it is very solitary and my work is social so I incorporate it into my work in a number of ways until now. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting experimental documentary that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and whose trailer can be viewed at . What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with such captivating aesthetics. While walkingour readers through the genesis of , would you tell us what did address you to explore these themes? Does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? The work came out of these conceptual questions from this “Cultural Translation” paper, and as mentioned in New Zealand we are curious about nuanced cultural topics, but what activated my interest in those questions was essentially trying to migrate from New Zealand to Berlin and finding out how difficult that process really is, particularly during the economic crash of 08. The humility of finding oneself hierarchically “other” in a continent your ancestors came from (Europe- broadly speaking), gave context for why they migrated in the first place (hierarchy), thus disrupting and colonising the people's in Nz (Maori). It got me thinking about why people choose to migrate, or are forced, and for all the large range of reasons they do, and have also throughout history, as well as the difficulties and strategies they encounter as the displaced, and the impacts that migration has on the cultures encountered as well, and I became interested in the migrant stories. Going through my own migration process, I was drawn to the things which make people both feel “at home” and “not at home” within this process as very real. I was also at this time having a very chaotic time in my life on almost all fronts – family death/health/love/visa problems – were all present, when this project emerged. This is where I start to tell my own story isn't it? I found myself drawn to images which I just started to film in all of the different places I found myself in at the time. The project began as very organic, I bought a camera in NYC out of Transart and just started filming myself and my friends wherever I was in these urban and nature landscapes, but then the project started to take form as I grasped onto this notion of images of “cultural outsiderness” and “belonging”. I then realised how powerful it would be to interview people about their experiences and layer these with the images I have, in a displacing but connecting way. This is actually probably one of the most organic artistic processes I have done, and from filming, to interviewing, to performing, to editing, to going to China to complete the project on


Women Cinemakers

the Red Gate Residency it completely flowed, there were never any hiccups. Everything made sense somehow. It was very much a life process, flowing into an artistic process, while reflecting politics of the time and having a solid theoretical foundation. It is thoroughly on the fly and diy. In retrospect, I have this quote from one of my most inspiring female filmmakers – a Maori filmmaker from NZ – Merata Mita, whom I did a talk about in a paper during my BA, where she said that so much Nz (white Nz people) film in Nz is unconsciously and never directly addressing the of it's origin (ancestors). Reading this in print during my BA had a profound effect on me. Somehow that statement I see also frames this project. How we find “home” becomes an ideological and a political conversation, process and experience within colonised lands, very much a creative process always in 'cultural translation'.

The trajectory of your artistic research reveals your interest in , in order to create such a proficient synergy between the liveness of performance art and the chance of condensing and enhancing such expressive potential, through the medium of video: the relationship between performance practice and video as a medium?

I think performance and video art are both such new mediums and they actually have had a strong relationship for the last 100 years. The early Dadaists and surrealists were using performative images in video and also dance artists were using film as a medium to document in the early 20th Century. Later in the 60s, 70s and really all the way until now, performance artists have also made video works and had their works documented by video or film. I have never been that into “video dance” as a genre, although I know it's produced some nice work. It's very hard to capture dance on film well as such a visceral medium. Wim Wenders doing Pina is probably the most successful. Other than this it's music videos, which is a performance genre also relating to performance/video. I wanted to be doing a very diy style of really EPIC film images as a contrast. I am aware of the power of film images, and film. I would say that Matthew Barney is probably a huge influence here for me as an artist working directly with performative or ritualistic images in video, and I am a little embarrassed to admit that for some reason, probably because his projects are such obscene scales which embarrasses me in the same respect as mainstream film does. But I really think some of his images are stunning. It is interesting to get into public as a performer, to get into social spaces, and to work improvisationally with what is there, which is for me very much a dance process. So I was doing an anarchist feminist version of cinematic film images.


Women Cinemakers

But as I frame this project as an “experimental documentary”, I see this improvisation style as also documentary. I have strong images and ideas for my live performance work, which is usually staged in a theatre or gallery space, but I had symbolic ideas for “rituals” in many of these places. Such as “burning health insurance for a visa in front of the Reichstag” or “burning Student loans in Aotea Square” in Auckland or “Doing yoga or meditation” in front of memorial sites or tourist sites. “Cleansing myself in a wedding dress in a waterfall”, “Covering my face at Tiannenmen Square” and then this started to extend to other performers, “walking covered in wires along the Berlin Wall”, “Dancing with roses at the Treptower Park Memorial”, “Putting symbolic animals and figurines on the body at the beach”, and so on. These mini-ritual performances were performances for those present around us. They're very photographic in some way, which is also my creative roots. We live in a time saturated with photographic imagery which is spectacular, absurd, demeaning, provocative, journalistic. But is it ritualistic or experiential? Possibly, as it documents life. The power of performance is that it is embodied and it is meaningful, there is a ritualistic element, being re- explored in recent years. These intentions can be ritualistic and they can also be protest. This is something I have been exploring in my performance work, the combination of ritual and protest, and when actions or gestures take meaning, especially in public, they become both. They also become spectacle in

this age, which is why I felt to counter these images with people's personal experiences of not/belonging, both political and subtle would balance out the intensity and provocation of the images. could be considered an allegory of our unstable and ever changing contemporary age and we have highly appreciated the way it mixes the ordinary to the surreal: are you particularly interested in structuring your work in order to urge the viewers to elaborate personal associations? How much importance do metaphors play in your artistic research and how open would you like your works to be understood?

These metaphors are certainly designed to create associations which are both personal and political. I was influenced by psychoanalysis combined with creative / symbolic strategies, speaking directly to the subconscious mind, bypassing the rational mind which tends to try and control to heal associated psychological issues deep in the unconscious, even collectively. It feels like an appropriate way to describe performative actions in general somehow, in this deeply psychoanalytical way. People often associate performance with 'shamanism,' but it is also deeply psychological. Because performance art is so often associated with bodily taboos and identity politics or trauma it is a powerful way to allow metaphoric images and associations


to surface, both within collective and personal issues and images. So absolutely, yes, they appeal to the individual's associative mind. I was interested to allow these contrived and imaginative images or metaphors to be infiltrated by the everyday, even within their own frames, so that these performative actions are interacting with the street and people's responses or their own lives to break down this notion of purity, or rituals / images in a vacuum. None of these migration stories exist within a vacuum, and the isolation of each experience can still be situated within a context that is busy, heightening an experience of aloneness or outsiderness. So to allow these political actions like burning health insurance in front of the Reichstag or doing yoga poses before the Brandenburg Gate/Times Square, or walking in the desert in a wedding dress or doing a duet with barbed wire amidst workers walking past staring, naked in the street with an older woman watching walking by in Poland, and have these images infiltrated by outsiders, places them in a very real world context which is at once disinterested in outsiders and or wanting to interfere somehow. Images then of people living in the street or protesting in the street (e.g Refugee Hunger Strike Berlin) then become framed in a different way in which we see them also as a spectacle, which is either ignored or moved on. I was very struck by the refugee who offered his story at the Oranianplatz Refugee Occupation in Berlin who was adamant that it was safer in Berlin and that he didn't like the protesters on his behalf causing trouble, that they never had problems with the police, only to have the camp completely bulldozed the very next day after the interview. I also wanted to give a sense of urgency and movement by intercutting protests with images of someone reading out Zizek on a mountain top overlooking Auckland, or Tai chi meditators in China with someone walking along the Berlin wall covered in wires, as a couple takes their photograph. Everything in these times is moving very quickly as we globalise and mobilise on a number of fronts, continuously intercepted and in conversation with something else. Many of the images were ones I thought of in response to my own personal experiences of moving around the globe, feeling an outsider and caught in systems which were sexist, and xenophobic during the economic crisis from 2008 onward as a foreigner. This talk of “getting married for a visa” was circulating and inspired images of walking in the desert or water in a wedding dress, a man in a suit dancing with a wedding dress ready for his “mail order bride” and so on. Burning student loans preventing travel from New Zealand and health insurance in prominent political sites felt like appropriate images of resistances against oppression. Burning my health insurance before the Reichstag, which as a woman I am required to pay twice as much for as a woman in Germany for a visa. Dancing with barbed wire as a white man/non-white woman in a tunnel in Berlin, inspired by stories of the inability to cross borders except in marriage. The violence of bureaucracy, and the border control are within many metaphorical images, alongside people just living their lives, praying, begging, protesting, living in the filth or other culturally propagated images. Images of walls are direct images of barbarism and war, building walls between civilisations and cultures is clearly violent and became metaphors for implicit border control. The faces are covered in many places and many images to associate with both the facelessness of migration and how one becomes a “nobody”, faceless outsider and the connotations with

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Women Cinemakers both protest and terrorism. These are obviously provocative gestures, but the images of my face covered by a pollution mask reflected in the silver heart balloon in China are clearly activating images of oppression, protection, hiding and displacement within processes of trying to love your or another culture. has drawn Featuring well orchestrated camera work, heavily from the specifics of its environment and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between the environment and performative gestures: how did you select the location and how it affected your shooting process? The Environment is a vital aspect of this work, it is one of the most “in the public� works I have made yet and it was one of the most exciting parts of creating this project. I work a lot with improvisation as a strategy for dealing with precarity within my performance work in theatres and galleries and to extend this to the street, particularly in countries like China, Poland and the USA, or even NZ felt like engaging with or activating the local collective bodies, also the authorities. You discover a lot about a place when you do acts of protest in certain environments and by far the most liberal place I filmed was Berlin, where I could not only work with some really rich historical sites and current protest movements infiltrating these sites but I could literally film the police and protests without any problems at all. Not once did I get into trouble filming in Berlin, although some protestors pushed my camera away at the 20,000 person May 1st protest in 2013 I was lucky enough to capture. I was very interested in how the actions became performances in the outside environments and how a camera could legitimise almost any action done. In some ways a camera became a protection because if I were to do these things without one it would draw a lot more attention. However, many of the street actions still drew attention, but the camera definitely often took the guise of a tourist or a selfie, particularly in China. I played the role of the tourist holding a helium balloon very carefully there, complete with tourist visa despite being on an artist residency, because tourists and journalists are not popular. I realised quickly that within the eye of the surveillance and authorities was actually the safest place to perform and film myself, rather than trying to hide or be in other places. I could have also just been very lucky. I wanted to have a range of images which were both urban sites and seeming natural paradise from my home country as well as in between spaces which could be somewhere in the middle, and to work with tourist sites, as well as protest and mundane street sites, to blur countries and situations so that it could be read that they are all connected to one another within this globalised migration hierarchy. In Times Square in NYC, Poznan in Poland in the public square, Tiannanmen Square in Beijing China and New Zealand Aotea Square I was approached by authorities asking what I was doing. Times Square had the traces of Occupy and sitting meditating in a Tiger mask invited police interrogation, ironically amidst people dressed as Mickey Mouse or the Statue of Liberty who were clearly symbols for American Capitalist consumerism. Covering my face in Tiannenmen Square and filming, which I knew was a risk given how many people are arrested for journalistic activity there, resulted in my passport being taken and investigated for awhile.


Performing naked in Poznan in Poland on an anti-fascist flag, as part of this Oracle performance I was doing in response to people's questions for a festival, resulted in the police showing up for interrogation to which they shrugged and went away when the festival assistant said it was “art”. In New Zealand I was the most surprised to find that organising a public “burning Student Loans” ritual performance for the project, which 200 people on Facebook said they would attend, but in reality less than 50 came, resulted in a paddy wagon of police showing up and standing at all corners of the square, and asking participants who I was. We have deeply appreciated the way you inquire into socio political issues that affect our unstable contemporary age, as the theme of globalised migration. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, " ". As an artist particularly interested in activation as a form of socio-political healing, how does external reality and culture affect your artistic research? Moreover, how much artists can contribute ? One of the interesting things which happened for me in the interviewing of people from around the world was how their stories began to mirror my own and how a sort of “general migrant story” emerged as a result despite so many different stories and voices in the project. This has also been reflected to me by people who have seen the full project, who have said that they found it moving and they related to many of the stories and images, particularly as migrants themselves. We often glorify the moving of countries as this triumphant and liberated step, which indeed it is privileged to do so in a climate of national borders, also for refugees, but the difficulty of actually migrating is governed largely by your socio-political position and the usual suspects of class, race and gender, also sexuality. So the most difficult stories emerged as ones involving these politics. I saw that my own struggles or “story of my own battles” as Guatamalan artist Regina Jose says was reflected in the feelings of displacement, frustration, humiliation, oppression, dismissiveness, exploitation and rage of some of the stories. I saw equally that my own desires for change and freedom were reflected as well as stories of love and longing, belonging and commitment to change. The subtle stories of what makes someone feel they belong, such as friendships, love, family, excitement, change, finding themselves as a new them, and so on were for me as affecting as the more intense stories of displacement through war, climate change, despotism, terrorism, or police harassment. Our desire to connect, to find meaning and to be happy are so inherent and find voice in so many different approaches, some of which are mundane and some of which are fraught with violence and oppression. I enjoyed blurring the intense with the subtle stories in this respect. I do believe artists are part of and shaping the Zeitgeist. Contemporary artists are often sensitive and intelligent people researching current milieus and contextualising these historically and philosophically. Artists often recognise, sense and provide sight toward strategies for change. Relational performance is an example of mirroring or shaping the Zeitgeist toward connection out of a huge sense of disconnection and collective disempowerment. , the soundtrack provides the footage Marked with captivating of with such enigmatic and a bit unsettling atmosphere: how do

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Women Cinemakers you consider the role of sound within your practice and how did you structure ? I created strong images with supporting noise music mostly, as a choreographic decision, to help things absorb without feeling so jarring. Noise music in itself is often eery or melancholic, which gives a tone of unease. It's meant to have an emotionally supportive affect, giving consistency to the fragments, also enriching certain images with charged emotional content, and the topics also being discussed within specific stories, to aid the storytelling. I very much see the structure of the project linking to the sound as a choreographic strategy, which is non-linear and multi-faceted. Live performance and choreography is non-sensical for the rational brain, like other visual art forms and much more visceral, so in this sense the structuring of the live influenced the work and was supported in being more experimental through minimal music. I worked with sound artists and musicians whose work I admire either from Berlin or from New Zealand and approached each of them to ask for their track/s. I didn't want the music to overwhelm the images, though in some moments it peaks more strongly. It has this dreamy almost vj-esque quality of allowing images and sound to wash over you except that the stories are very personal and sometimes very political so it accesses also associations which are emotional and personal. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and especially by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the issues that you explore and the physical act of creating your artworks? The project's issues only become abstract because they are meta-themes regarding humanity's socio-political interaction, but essentially these are very personal themes for everyone. Hegemony works to make people feel as if they are part of this greater system in which they are separated via divide and conquer, but actually the personal elements which make up the ideologies engineered or not of the time, relate to and impact every individual who also has agency. People think they are outside these systems, but they never are, as Foucault says - we are never outside power. To work with broader political themes through ones own body is not an original stance, with roots within feminism, to claim these issues from a subjective rather than objective perspective. To position myself within the work, mostly as a tool, and largely for pragmatic reasons on a limited budget and in an improvised way, and links itself to the discourse of performance art and video art in this way. I was fortunate to have friends interested to frame a camera so well, in the times that they did. I worked a lot with either the concealing or the revealing of the body on a personal level, as the body holds the fullness of subjective identity. I was channelling my own experiences of difficulty with being an outsider, displaced or with migration and borders. The way one is seen or unseen as a migrant or outsider shifts, according to the convenience of the system and climate of the particular culture. Obviously at the moment we seeArab, Muslim and generally Middle Eastern and also African people being targeted in the US and Europe also other parts of the Western World as being highly visible, whereas before they may have been relatively invisible because they were not of interest to the system (which is equally racist). Visibility can be as dangerous as invisibility inthis respect and I was playing with images in which one can also essentially just be both invisible even when visible – not really seen for who we/they are – and also very vulnerable and stripped bare within some of these processes.


Women Cinemakers I have had many conversations with fellow artists about these discourses around the naked body in particular, which is actually a lot more complex in this digital age and still so much more full of projections, repressions and oppressions than perceived. I could talk for a long time about this topic. My own body/identity was also always passing through borders, experiencing checks and visa rejections and outsiderness during the making of this project, and the filming process especially as a female artist felt very much like an assertion into public space of a feminist discourse particularly around seeing and being seen. I was both always being seen – performing and also seeing – filming, so taking different subject positions also within a variety of cultures within the project. I recognise this as a privilege, one afforded often to men or to white women from demographics. I was very aware of my privilege and choice to pass through borders, that I was not driven by war, poverty or climate change but the desire for personal expansion, which is very much a luxury. It still does not mean that being displaced is easy, and my privilege has afforded me the opportunity to see things from different perspectives, from “the other side” if you will, culturally, and generate more empathy for migrants and displaced also colonised peoples. I feel many of these questions are also addressed in the project through my own body and the stories of others reflects a both individual / personal position and also the universal desires we have as social beings to belong and have agency (freedom). Over the years your work has been showcased in several countries, including New Zealand, China, India, Australia, as well as in Europe and in NYC: 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. So we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception? And what do you hope to trigger in the spectatorship?

I have been part of a wave of artists in the recent 5 or so years that have had a resurgence of interactive / immersive, audience participatory performance practices in response to a climate of disempowerment, disconnection, overwhelm and individualisation that neo-liberalism has cultivated in the past 35 or more years. Beginning with the small and the live has been a strategy to enable people to feel firstly complicit within project's themes and the responsibility we have to our world, and it's ideological make up, and secondly to feel connected to re- establish agency as collectives or communities. This has been a very clear tactic which I and others have worked with over this time of economic and social / ecological crisis, where the rupturing of the 4th wall and spectatorship means that people are treated as a community rather than as consumers, which are highly individualised and exploited. This feeling has definitely fostered and questioned a sense of responsibility, empowerment and agency which we have both as individuals and as a collective/s. I certainly consider the issue of audience reception and in this time have softened my approach to difficult topics considerably as a result of both living in a foreign country where I had to learn the social codes and experienced challenges, and in response to this time, where people are overwhelmed by crisis and also turn to distraction as a reprieve. We have these incredible tools to connect through the internet and this certainly has been happening, but because of the superficial nature

of the digital connections can be tenuous and ephemeral. I am very aware that the desire for live work is in response to the oversaturation of the digital, but also that this does sit uncomfortably with it. Both humour and vulnerability are strategies I work with to connect to audiences and enable them to access the themes. I see performance fast changing in response to both capitalism and to global themes. What I hope to trigger in the spectatorship is a sense of agency, both within the work and also as a broader theme, to connect to the topics and the world or even themselves around these themes more deeply. I generally aim to create both a visceral/emotional atmosphere, which dives into feeling and a conceptual one which poses paradoxical questions in order to illicit genuine feelings and responses within people that go beyond the surface into deeper understanding. I aim to “move” people, to transform them. In doing so I need to also be brave and quite transparent, even about the fact that I am doing this at times (otherwise it seems as engineered as what I am critiquing). On one level it's therapy, as there is a lot of writing on the link between healing and socio-political art (as social healing). Whoever said healing was comfortable? So this kind of work is certainly not often comfortable and not everyone wants to engage with it, so that is definitely a choice of free will and consent for any audience. I also don't believe artists need to make work which panders to audiences, but rather reflect genuine interests and research for the time, which has nothing to do with healing. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Alexa. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Having done a lot of group projects, and collaborative projects the last year or more working with dance companies and as a curator for a performance residency in India, also a collaboration in NY a project I am currently developing now is a solo piece, which I received funding from NZ for. It has been inspired out of the curation project in India in the Himalayas and as a cultural exchange activated for me a lot around questioning foundations of belief systems in and across cultures, some of which clash, and from a subjective perspective how to reconcile this chaotic time. It embraces its 'formlessness' somehow (which I gained from India's chaos) and through this an 'everythingness', which enables what is real to emerge organically. It is a very fragile project, because intersectional politics are volatile at the moment, but so far having performed it 5 times in Berlin there is something which is transformative or moving somehow about it. I will present it as a longer version in the second half of this year in Berlin, London, India and New Zealand and it is accompanied with a reflective text, which my funding included. I will also be facilitating a group project in New Zealand early next year which has funding support, which is a week long festival of experimental dance/performance with also a book to be launched about this work, artists and discourse alongside. In order to celebrate a movement of performance and dance in New Zealand, which I see relates to international political discourses. via PostNext year I am embarking on a group project called grad toward PhD – mapping our literal and collective dreams at this hugely important global turning point, which will be informed by current discourse and theory interconnecting our ecological crisis with capitalism and intersectional politics. This will be done in Berlin and New Zealand, my two homes.


Women Cinemakers meets

Ivana Tkalčić Lives and works in Zagreb, Croatia

new world _ is a captivating video by Croatian multidisciplinary artist Ivana Tkalčić: inquiring into the notion of hyperreality, it challenges the viewers' perceptual parameters to addresses them to question our relationship with technology, initiating her audience into highteneed experience capable of encouraging a cross-pollination. One of the most interesting aspects of Tkalčić's work is the way her perceptive approach urges the spectatorship to question the notion of Utopia in our media driven contemporary age. We are particularly pleased to introduce our readers to her captivating and multifaceted artistic production.

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

Hello Ivana and welcome to WomenCinemakers: we would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of questions regarding your background. You have a solid formal training: you hold a MA, that you received from the Academy of

Fine Arts, Zagreb and you also spent a year at the Academy of Fine Arts, in Munich. How did these experiences inform your current practice? Moreover, how would you describe the influence that your mentors have had on your vision about Art in general? Studying at Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb gave me the basics in understanding art and


foundational techniques which I have then further developed in Munich, and after through different art residencies and workshop in Greece, Austria, Norway, Belgium, and Poland. With the change of each location, a layer of understanding was added. As I was changing the locations so I was changing my mentors, trying to learn as much as possible from them. This process has for sure widen my perception of the art world and directed my focus to other perspectives of the researched subject. We have really appreciated the captivating multidisciplinary feature that marks out your approach and before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit https://ivanatkalcic.com in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: in the meanwhile, would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select a media in order to convey the ideas you explore?

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Women Cinemakers From my point of view, in contemporary art's research, it is not possible to remain only within one discipline. For me, it's important in the field of artistic research to connect many different theories, practices, different concepts and media, to exchange gained knowledge with others in the community involving them in the process. I don't see the media as some fixed and insurmountable element in approaching the artistic practice. I see it as fluid and changeable, therefore when starting my creating process I can imagine some results that would be better realized as a short movie, some as a photography and some as installation. First, the start is with the idea/concept and then building it up through a medium that is the most suitable for realizing the visual and mental stimulation that I want to achieve. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected new world _, an extremely interesting project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful


inquiry into the notion of hyperreality is the way your work addresses the viewer to the thin line between reality and illusion. When walking our readers through the genesis of new world_, would you tell what did draw you to focus on our relationship with technology? We are spending more and more time surrounded by the screens (smartphones, laptops, computers, TVs). It is almost impossible to resist the lure of our digital gadgets. They have basically become a part of us with almost the same or even bigger importance (to us) than our biological body parts. The technology is becoming inseparable from us. In the past 5 to 10 years, the development of the technology has speed up exponentially. It is true that the change has also been for easier and better living but technology is also changing and reshaping our consciousness and way of thinking which can not yet be imagined. Our perception and a feeling of the world undoubtedly changed. The impact of the fastgrowing everyday use of the smartphones and

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Women Cinemakers social networks is not yet fully known and understood, therefore that alone is interesting enough to research more on the subject. How better than through visual media to explore the change in the way we focus and see the world. In the ending lines of your statement about new world _ you wonder if we find the long awaited utopia in virtual reality or if it will just amplify society's hysteria and schizophrenia, lowering focus and awareness. We are sort of convinced that new media will bridge the apparent dichotomy between art and technology, and we dare to say that Art and Technology are going to assimilate each other. What's your point about this? In particular, how is in your opinion technology affecting the consumption of art? That could be the case, art and technology are by each new technological and social media inventions closer. Technology is changing the way art is created, shared and consumed, challenging art institution to keep up.


The internet has given the artist new possibilities of presenting their work through many different channels but has also enabled viewers to immediately react and involve themselves in the creation of the artwork. I'm sure that in the future it will be possible to totally merge with an artwork through technology. Your artworks often deviate from traditional videomaking to develope the expressive potential of the images and the symbols that you include in your videos. Especially in relation to modern digital technologies, what is your point about the evolution of visual arts in the contemporary art? I'm not sure if I would call it evolution, maybe change in perception that led to new visual creations. With each new piece of tehnology or computer software, we are getting new art material. And we still haven't exhausted all the possibilities that are offered by already obtained equipment. There is a lot of space for adapting modern digital technologies in creating a new visual experience.

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Women Cinemakers Art research is a long and fascinating process that can be influenced by everything and visual arts, in general, will continue to thrive into something new and unexpected. I’m really excited about the news related to the artificial intelligence and robotics, which will definitely influence the future arts research. The elusive boundary between reality and illusion is a recurring theme of your artistic inquiry and we have appreciated the way your project Paradise Now_ challenges the viewers' perceptual and cultural parameters: how do you consider the relationship between perceptual reality and the realm of imagination? Moreover, how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? We create our own reality through our ideas and way of thinking. In other words, the things and thoughts that we are giving the most attention and energy are creating our world. In the relation to imagination and perceptual reality, imagination can change the perceptions


of reality. What we see and hear can be reshaped by our imagination. In my work, I’m triggering viewer's perceptual parameters by overwhelming them with visual and audio sensations. By that, it is also possible to activate different associations which will interact with viewer's imagination. Another interesting work that has at once caught our attention is entitled Error in Utopia v 0.0 and it's a stimulating installation that explore the fragmentation in the EU. 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". Not to mention that almost everything, could be considered political. Do you think that Error in Utopia v 0.0 could be considered political in a certain sense? What could be in your opinion the role of artists in our everchanging, unstable contemporary societies? As you mentioned in the question, everything can be considered political. Error in Utopia v 0.0

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Women Cinemakers is a reaction to experienced and observed reality. I’m trying not to get to close to the politics, but because of the world's state of continuous, unstable vortex that is not always possible. Sometimes it is not achievable not to touch topics that are not involved in global, national or local politics. For me, the most important role of an artist is to ask questions. Sound plays an important role in your videos and it sometimes provides the film with such uncanny atmosphere: according to media theorist Marshall McLuhan there is a 'sense bias' that affects Western societies favoring visual logic. How do you see the relationship between sound and moving images? Yes, the sound in my video is important, but it is not always necessary to understand the meaning of the words that are spoken. I like to overlap sounds or play the sound reversed, relating it to the overwhelming amount of suffocating visual and audio information that we receive each day. I'm interested in creating the atmosphere through the exchange of sounds and long silence.


Over the years your works have been showcased in a number of occasions and you had six solos, including your recent show Paradise Now_ at the Izidor KrĹĄnjavi gallery, in Zagreb. One of the hallmarks of your work is the capability to create direct involvement with the viewers, who are urged to actively reflect on the themes that your explore in your artworks. So before leaving this interesting conversation we would like to pose a question about the nature of the relationship of your art with your audience. Do you consider the issue of audience reception as being a crucial component of your decision-making process, in terms of what type of language is used in a particular context? Art is completed through the interaction with the audience. The audience is consciously or unconsciously participating in the listening of the artwork's story and creating additional reading according to their perception of work. But audience reception is not always necessarily a crucial component in choosing a type of

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Women Cinemakers language, the element is present but not crucial. In some projects, I consider it very important in some not. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Ivana. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I will continue to work on my current project Paradise Now_ . Our relationship with technology hasn't been yet fully grasped and the boundary between perceptual and virtual reality is with each new invention thinner. The notion of "the real" will continue to be debated in an era when the internet, virtual reality, cybertheory, and bioethics challenge the very nature. The term hyperreality marks a new concurrence of circumstances in which disappears every tension between reality and illusion, between reality as it is and as it could be of "reality". I'm excited about all the new technological possibilities that we will encounter in the future.

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

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