WomenCinemakers, Special Edition

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w o m e n CAROLINE HAYDON ANGELINA VOSKOPOULOU JESSYE WDOWIN-MCGREGOR KATHERINE WATERS IXCHEL PRADA SHIRA KELA PINION&CROWN ensemble MOLLY LUCILLE MARIE LAMBIN-GRAGNON HANNAH SCHALLERT

INDEPENDENT

WOMEN’S CINEMA SPECIAL EDITION

On the cover Angelina Voskopoulou


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Contents 04 Angelina Voskopoulou

128 Shira Kela

Exogenesis

ZYGOTA

24

164

Caroline Haydon

Nicola Hepp

HYDRA

Echo

56

198

Katherine Waters

Molly Lucille

re:forming space

It Never Leaves You

76

226

Ixchel Prada

Jessye Wdowin-McGregor

Anima Momentum

Isle of Grain

102

260

PINION&CROWN ensemble

Marie Lambin-Gagnon & Hannah Schallert

OXYMORON

Nature Morte


Women Cinemakers meets

Angelina Voskopoulou The whole idea came from the theory that the "seeds" of life exist already all over the Universe, that life on Earth may have originated through these "seeds"...it is not religious but spiritual, in a conceptual way. The idea of exogenesis (outside origin). It is also about Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. From chaos Eros is being born (love). Literally become one again (The question arose from Plato’s Symposium, which refers to the creation of mankind.... Each of us is half of another person as if he were half of a whole cut in two and in this way each person seeks the part, which ones is missing. The reason for this is that people were not always cut into two parts. The desire and the pursuit of this reunion is called love… “Exogenesis’’ is responsibly depicting energy, illuminated energy which moves freely inside the electrical field of the universe, interconnecting every Thing, holding and shaping the physical, the spiritual and the intellectual world, giving it life and movement. “Exogenesis” is all about the flash like moment when light is about to define form and prevail over darkness, when the soul hidden inside every thing is ready to emerge and identify with an idea that will give it its form. It attempts a visual presentation of that very moment at the very boundaries between the inner and the outer world, where all the contraries touch. It is an act of truce, an armistice and a resolution, in the sense that it represents, expresses and displays, in graceful movement and harmonic progression, “our life a permanent flow inside a steady time frame”. The alluring mystery of darkness versus the illuminated mystery of light, chaos versus order, the innumerable possibilities of synthesis, are all there, available material for man to use... An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

Hello Angelina and welcome back to

. We already got the chance to introduce our readers to your artworks in a previous edition and we are now particularly pleased to discover the




Women Cinemakers development of your artistic production. The new work that we have selected for this special edition of WomenCinemakers is entitled Exogenesis and that our reader can view at https://avos.wordpress.com/exogenesisexperimental-short-film. has captured our attention for the way you are developing a more and more distinct visual identity. How does your practice has evolved over this year and what were your aesthetic decisions when conceiving your recent work? Hello! I am glad I am back for a refreshing interview. I adopt a quote from Steven Spielberg and go on “I DON’T DREAM AT NIGHT, I DREAM AT DAY, I DREAM ALL DAY; I’M DREAMING FOR A LIVING.” - Steven Spielberg When you dream about a film then you are ready to make it.You start with a general idea of how it should feel and then you find you've got a runaway train. You have to race to catch up: the movie is telling you what it wants to become, and when that happens there's no greater feeling.

Brilliantly composed, Exogenesis features sapient combination of vivacious and at the same time thoughtful nuances of tones, that walks the viewers through the fine line that links reality and the oniric dimension: how did you balanced the tension between the real and the imagined in order to achieve such brilliant results, especially on the visual aspect? There are a lot of combinations and experimentation on making a video balances in between frames. Starting with basics: camera tricks: stop motion, slow motion, dissolve, fade-out, superimposition, and double exposure…Its all about understanding the essence of a moment. Film as an art in the form of subtle arrangement of colors, objects, and spaces. Each part of it is composed by lyrics / poetry. Poetry creates images in such a way that they mean nothing beyond themselves. Visual poems, visual metaphors. A glimpse of life on how unique each moment is and how rapidly it changes. How surreal the visual plethora of life in present is and how unreal




all the past and future seems to be. A SelfReflection. The footage of Exogenesis seems meticolously composed, with keen eye for details: what were your decision regarding the editing? Well, the editing is the most difficult part of each video making. I am trying each time to bring attention to the present moment ,done by using slow or long takes. To feel the passage of time and got an experience of observing the moment.When I create a video work, for the most part, I am creating videodance, (also known as screendance), I am not documenting. I am making dance for the camera. I choreograph a piece knowing that I will re-organize and ‘manipulate’ the material during the editing process. combining Elements such as time, space, speed and spatial composition. In addition, one incorporates the movement of the camera, as well as the composition of the frames. Even though the body in movement is the ‘seed’ and inspiration of screendance, often the movement phrases get ‘throw’ around, the end becomes the beginning, the

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body gets fragmented and layers of dancers end up superimposed into different backgrounds, creating a new work which in some cases is far apart from the movement material that it was based on. My decisions are based on the rhythm and composition of the new piece, as well as on the design, contrast and the proximity to the camera. I am trying to create a creating a visual metaphor. Using a combination of both, narrative and location. The concept of a video choreography,in my films, is based on my own lyrics texts and ideas. We have particularly appreciated the way you mixed moving images with audio, in order to create such homogeneous mixture: how did you conceive the visual rhythm of Exogenesis and how did you create such a compelling soundtrack? The soundtrack is based on the motion picture. It takes lots of experimentation with the video playing in one screen and the band trying to compose a rhythm on the other side. The first part of Exogenesis ‘floating in space’ is a sound mixture from real NASA recordings from outer




space. The other two parts are an inspiration from a fellow artist with whom I had the chance to collaborate once. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, “Exogenesis’’ is responsibly depicting energy, illuminated energy which moves freely inside the electrical field of the universe, interconnecting every Thing, holding and shaping the physical, the spiritual. Centered on Man and his inner world, the whole idea of Exogenesis came from the theory that the “seeds” of life exist already all over the Universe, that life on Earth may have originated through these “seeds": what did attract you of this idea and how did you research about this stimulating theme? Well, Panspermia is a Greek word that translates literally as "seeds everywhere". The panspermia hypothesis states that the "seeds" of life exist all over the Universe and can be propagated through space from one location to another. Some believe that life on Earth may have originated through these "seeds". Mechanisms for panspermia include the deflection of interstellar dust by solar radiation

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A still from


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Women Cinemakers pressure and extremophile microorganisms traveling through space within an asteroid, meteorite or comet. The first known mention of the concept of panspermia was in the writings of the Greek philosopher Anaxagoras (500 BC – 428 BC), although his concept differs from the modern theory: All things have existed from the beginning. But originally they existed in infinitesimally small fragments of themselves, endless in number and inextricably combined. All things existed in this mass, but in a confused and indistinguishable form. There were the seeds (spermata) or miniatures of wheat and flesh and gold in the primitive mixture; but these parts, of like nature with their wholes, had to be eliminated from the complex mass before they could receive a definite name and character‌ Exogenesis involves the audience into such an enhanced audio visual experience, emphasizing what is happening within the frame and invite the viewer to contemplate what is happening outside the edges but can't be seen. Austrian Art historian Ernst Gombrich


Women Cinemakers once remarked the importance of providing a space for the viewers to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the viewing experience: what are you hoping your film will trigger in the viewers and what do you hope they take away from your work? To capture life as a reflection, life as a dream. The viewers to feel the passage of time and got an experience of observing the moment. To quote Max Ernst's word, every normal human being has an inexhaustible store of buried images in his subconscious and into his inner world: it is merely a matter of voyaging into the unconscious, to bring pure and unadulterated found objects to light. How important is for you to show the Ariadne's thread that links the inner world and the outside reality, as you effectively achieved in Exogenesis? Well, It is of Greek origin, and the meaning of Ariadne is "most holy" SO, the most holy thoughts from inside out…loud … Sometimes in life we all have

Labyrinths that we would like to escape from. Ariadne’s thread is there , you just need to catch the thread and let yourself flow… You are an established artist, and over the years your works have been shown in many art festivals and exhibition spaces worldwide, including Greece, Italy, Canada, Sweden, London, USA, Spain, Peru, Argentina, Bulgaria, Morocco, Paris, Hong Kong: . Direct relationship with the audience in a physical is definetely the most important one, in order to snatch the spirit of a work of Art. However, as the move of Art from traditional gallery spaces, to street and especially to the online realm increases, how would in your opinion change the relationship with a globalised audience? In particular, how do you consider the role of emerging online technosphere — and platforms as Instagram — in creating new links between artists and worldwide audience? I will try to keep my answer simple. Its a hard task. Today, there are a series of projects aimed at getting art online. From the Google




Women Cinemakers cultural institue, which aims to digitise millions of artworks, collections and stories from around the world, to institutions such as the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, which allows virtuals tours of its exhibits by desktop or mobile device.But can technology capture the experience of visiting a gallery, theatre or opera house? Will digitising artwork help to make it more accessible to a wider audience, or will it encourage people to stay at home instead of taking a trip to exhibition spaces? Is it a way to make art more affordable and open to all? The Benefits for Artists showing online Is the Marketing & Art Promotion Provided for New & Emerging Artists Who Are Looking to Expand Their Online Reach. It is very important to link an artwork online with other fellow artists but at the same time there is a need to be presented in physical art spaces as well. It is much better to keep a balance between reality and online environments.

We have really appreciated the multifaceted nature of your artistic research and before leaving this stimulating conversation we would like to thank you for chatting with us agsin and for sharing your thoughts, Angelina. What projects are you currently working on, and what are some of the ideas that you hope to explore in the future? Thank you very much, once again ,for being your guest. I truly enjoyed the interview.. Well, From a very young age, my parents taught me how to listen. They taught me how to listen to everybody before I made up my own mind. ‌ so I have a lot to share and I will keep the mystery alive until next time‌ See you soon with a new project. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Women Cinemakers meets

Caroline Haydon Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, USA

I like to think of my works as existing on the axis of reality and the realm of dreams. This place is a multidimensional, inbetween space in which the surreal and the mundane may exist alongside and within one another. My choreographic canon draws from the visceral, the innate, and the essential strangeness of the human existence. My work thus far has used the frame of Butoh dance to illuminate the dark and unfamiliar spaces within the self to reveal presence and our interconnectedness on an infinite scale, and in the process, to bring about a recognition of sorts—a meeting place which encompasses the deep and ancient familiarity that is at the core of our existence, often hidden in plain sight. I have found the landscapes of surrealism and deconstructionism to be useful in the rearranging of received ideas, images, and motifs. The pieces I make are placed in the canon of performance and multimedia art, in hopes of making visible what is often overlooked and unnoticed. My work has always been grounded in the altering of time and space, encouraging the witness to seek these dark places to bring about presence, reflection, and internal revolutions.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

artistic research? Moreover, how does your cultural

and Dora S. Tennant

substratum due direct the multidisciplinary nature

womencinemaker@berlin.com

of your artistic research?

You have a solid formal training in acting and Butoh dance, and you hold a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting,

I have been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a diverse artistic journey that has allowed me to work with and learn from incredibly insightful mentors and

that you received from the University of Utah: how

collaborators. From a very young age, I was immersed

did these experiences influence the directory of your

in theatre, dance, and a myriad of movement and


Caroline Haydon photo by Mark Escribano


Photo by Nedda Afsari


Women Cinemakers performance styles, and my path continues to be shaped

movement and its intersection with other mediums. I

by an innate curiosity about exploring the potential of

strive to create works that are living and breathing, as

multidisciplinary endeavors. For the past 8 years, my

Butoh in and of itself is an ever-shifting form. As it

artistic work has existed within the frame of Butoh, a

ricochets off of other cultures and art forms, it too

Japanese form of postmodern dance and avant-garde

becomes malleable and changeable, and I truly enjoy the

performance art which developed at the height of the

exploratory process of developing this type of work.

Japanese Counter Culture Movement and was influenced

When I moved to Los Angeles, I began to create my own

by surrealism, neo dada, French mime techniques, ballet,

works on film. How the form may remain alive and

flamenco, Neue Tanz (German Expressionist dance) as

present when digitally captured is a constant challenge

well as French and European literature. My introduction

and reward while working in this way. The draw of Butoh

to Butoh came during my time at the University of Utah

comes from the deep sense of presence within the

in Salt Lake City where I was fortunate enough to train

performer, and the visceral experience which

with Jerry Allen Gardner, a Butoh dancer who for many

magnetically pulls the viewer in. Capturing this on film is

years trained with and danced for Yoshito Ohno, the son

often challenging and requires extreme amounts of focus

of one of Butoh’s founders Kazuo Ohno, and his dance

and patience while shooting, but I have found that this

company.

presence on film, when accompanied by strong imagery and tableaux, can be deeply moving and powerful.

In its inception, Butoh represented a shift from the conscious to the subconscious, and sought to deconstruct traditionally accepted themes, motifs, and characters, often drawing inspiration from Dada and surrealist visual artists such as Salvador Dali and Francis Bacon. The multidisciplinary nature of Butoh itself has had a strong influence in the development of my current work.

I have been fortunate to begin working with LA-based Safety Third Productions, a movement-based new media production company founded by choreographer/director Katherine Helen Fisher and creative technologist Shimmy Boyle. Their self-taught and self-driven approach to the art of filmmaking has further inspired me, and their curiosities involving technology and new media have informed my artistic works as well. Uncovering the way in

Most often I am looking to deconstruct our cultural

which my works may be enhanced by technology is

understanding of narrative, time, and space through

exhilarating, and I am grateful to be working in a place


Women Cinemakers and time where these modes of expression are available to be manipulated and explored through the realms of dance, performance art, and film. Ultimately, I am still always striving to remain grounded within the roots and foundation of Butoh as its power lies in its simplicity. As I traverse these modalities, my goal is to remain centered within my artistic identity and the infinite power which lies in the language of movement and the body. For this special edition of we have selected HYDRA, an extremely interesting film that premiered at Art See Ocean Gallery in April 2019 and our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once impressed us of your insightful inquiry into the repetitive and cyclical quality of nature, is the way it draws the viewers through such a multilayered visual experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of HYDRA, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? The textures and the profound multiplicities of time found in nature have always been influential on my artistic work. I find visceral and physical inspiration from the various landscapes of the natural world, and am in awe of the diverse life cycles of flora and


Photo by Nedda Afsari


Photo by Nedda Afsari


Women Cinemakers fauna which are all happening at once within the same microcosm. To think that a flower could be blooming while inches away a stone is slowing being consumed by moss and still a fallen tree branch begins to rot and decay is energetically such a buzzing and multilayered universe to inhabit and experience. Initially I was drawn to the dreamy ways in which this wild and untamed world was captured by British Impressionist John William Waterhouse, and the mythical and nymph-like women depicted within these environments. It began as a desire to further understand who these women were within these botanical worlds. Rather than exploring who they were being depicted as by the myths or stories they emerged from, I was more interested in how they themselves were painted into these natural landscapes, often alone and perfectly immersed in their environments. From my perspective, they belonged to these worlds and, just as the stone is slowly consumed by the moss, they too were in process of being absorbed by their environment. There is a deep sense of passion, true wildness, and profound longing that I get from the women in these works, and I was most interested in taking the moments depicted and expanding upon them, creating a life cycle for the woman within that universe. HYDRA was my attempt to simplify my filmmaking, and truly create a work unencumbered by equipment, postproduction techniques, or effects. While much of my work involves these processes and while I am always interested in


stills from HYDRA

still from HYDRA

exploring the intersectionality of technology and my

drove the film and created these beautifully surprising or

artistic works, HYDRA was a chance for me to rely solely

evocative moments of pause throughout the piece.

upon my presence as a dancer and the unbelievable environment I was filming in. I was also deeply inspired by

Shot in the Nynäs Nature Reserve as part of your artist

contemporary short film director and glitch artist Sam

residency, HYDRA brings to a new level of significance

Cannon who blends the human body and the natural

the tension between the body and its surroundings:

world in such a fascinating and visually stimulating way. I

how did you select the locations and how was the

too wanted to explore deconstructing the human body

filming experience?

itself, and the ways in which our limbs or our bodies mimic elements found in nature. I had very strong

I was fortunate enough to have been selected to be an

tableaux in mind for the film, which ultimately I think

Artist in Residence at Art See Ocean Gallery, a beautiful


still from HYDRA

gallery space situated at the edge of the Nynäs Nature

accommodations. The first evening at the gallery, we

Reserve just near Vasterljung, Sweden. The experience

took a five minute walk down to a field overlooking the

was rich, profound, and further immersed me in this

Baltic Sea which became the sight for what I consider to

exploration of simplicity, presence, and exploration of

be the film’s iconic hero shot. This process was also

time and space. In the woods surrounding the gallery, I

extremely powerful and illuminating. Having built up

found those vibrant, breathing environments I was

such a strong treatment and storyboard for the film, I

attempting to capture from the Waterhouse paintings.

had a very clear vision before even arriving at the nature

Being a small crew, solely comprised of myself and my

reserve. However, once there, I actually found that the

fantastic director of photography, Katherine Helen Fisher,

film began to unfold and blossom into this powerfully

we were extremely mobile and found such rich and

image-driven meditation on the ebb and flow of the

diverse shooting locations only steps away from our

natural world, and our role as people, and women, within


it. The results were astounding to me, and in my opinion what we captured aligned so fully with the initial questions I was raising in a way that I don’t think it would have had I stuck to the rigid outlines of my treatment. So in many ways, this was also an exploration of my process of filmmaking, and the beauty of remaining present, malleable. The filming experience was, in a word, cold! We were at the gallery at the beginning of April, just as spring began to arrive in Sweden. On our initial location scout, there was still ice floating in the Baltic Sea. I was initially a bit hesitant about the weather conditions given that the entire piece I am in nothing but a silk nightgown, but in hindsight the color schemes of this early Swedish spring were exactly what I was looking for. To mimic the cooler-toned pastels and richly vibrant greens found in those impressionist paintings, I had selected the perfect time of year. While it was colder than is perhaps comfortable, I personally think that the weather brought a sense of focused determination to my performance. Additionally, this is often an element of traditional site-specific Butoh dance, usually occurring in nature and frequently in colder weather or involving garments which offer little to no protection from the elements. I do believe the effect of the temperatures brought about a stronger sense of presence and an ability for me to more deeply embody the surrounding environment while also accessing an extremely authentic visceral journey. The focus, longing, and wildness reflected in

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Women Cinemakers my eyes throughout the film manifested because of this environment, and needless to say I will always be proud of myself for submerging entirely into the near-freezing Baltic Sea. It was so worth it and such an exhilarating experience overall. New York City based artist Lydia Dona once stated that in order to make art today one has to reevaluate the conceptual language behind the mechanism of art making itself: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the big picture of your performance and the creative power of improvisation? Does spontaneity play an important role in your artistic process? Much of my choreographic work is structured based upon tableaux or moments that I consider to be markers through the journey of the piece, but being heavily trained in Kazuo Ohno’s improvisational style of Butoh dance, my artistic process does incorporate a fair amount of spontaneity. For much of my work, I usually find repetitive gestures or spatial patterns during the developmental stages, and those become the foundation for the journey of the dance. What happens in between is very often based upon the environment and the present, visceral experience of living the dance. Moreover, I have always attempted to maintain an aspect of spontaneity as I believe very often these extemporaneous moments can result in inspired movements and revelations. To a degree, capturing dance on film


requires more structure than I typically use for live performance, but it is in these more structured moments that my internal journey becomes all the more important if I am to remain in this space of deep awareness and presence. Additionally, allowing for a sense of spontaneity and play while filming HYDRA resulted in some of my favorite moments and shots. I had initially decided that I’d like the entirety of the piece to be shot in real time—no slow motion captures—but while shooting close ups in front of the ocean we experimented with slowing down the frames per second just for variety, and I think these slower takes became invaluable to the manipulation of time and space that drives the film. The refined interdisciplinary narrative structure of HYDRA is driven by visuals, sound, and pace with figurative, landscape, and inanimate object signifiers to provide meaning. Austrian historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the audience to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? I firmly believe that existing signifiers and linguistics are often insufficient when it comes to the potential of the artistic realm. In this vein, I am drawn to working with

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Women Cinemakers images, and building my works upon images that I am inspired to expand upon or explore the journey of in an abstract or deconstructed nature. Linear narrative for the sake of pointing the viewer to understand a work from a specific perspective seems limiting, and I am much more interested in creating works in which the witnesses may interpret and attribute meaning to themselves. When I first began viewing and attending Butoh performances, I was often given the advice as the viewer to receive the performance as if I was within a dream which belonged to someone else. This has infused and informed my work, and has proven to be an effective means for me to create and to also release any objective ownership of my works. French critical theorist Roland Barthes’ essay “The Death of the Author� has greatly influenced my artistic process, which I think urges creators to release their works to the interpretations and perceptions of their audience. It is my hope that the audience for this project will come away feeling a resonance and inexplicable familiarity related to the earnest exploration of the human experience within the piece. I find myself drawn to creating works that are malleable and remain living, breathing, and changeable as they are received and understood by witnesses. Inspired by the dreamy, mythic, and often wild paintings of nymphs and women in folklore by late 1800s




Impressionist John William Waterhouse, HYDRA: as an artist particularly interested in the exploration of the intersectionality between ancient forms and innovative mediums, how do you consider the relationship between the cultural heritage from Tradition and Contemporary sensitiveness playing within your work? In particular, how does the theory of comparative mythology inspire your artistic research? The theories surrounding comparative mythology are very much intertwined with my interests regarding the axis of tradition and innovation. Deconstructionist theory plays a large role in my creative process as I am particularly drawn to finding these axis points with the intention of raising questions that may or may not have a resolution or answer. Rather than synthesizing these intersections, I am most interested in finding the meeting point, and illuminating that which does not coalesce or fuse together. By doing so, I find there is the potential for these accepted semiotics and motifs to become inverted, cultivating what can be referred to as a “pyramid on its point.� In this way, conventional understanding can give way to an inexplicable recognition and provocation within the witness. In my own works, I consider the relationship between cultural tradition and contemporary deviation to be integral at every stage and through each layer of the work. In my developmental process, I am frequently drawn to exploring images or ideas that spark this sense of contradiction or

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Women Cinemakers reversal. My choreographic canon likewise involves exploration of a physical language that hinges on transmutation of accepted classical forms or alterations of accepted shapes and spatial patterns. Within my devising process, I particularly enjoy finding the starting point of a piece within distorted and abstract forms found in surrealist works of visual art from painters like Francis Bacon, and allowing the sense of tension and contortion in those shapes to inform the journey of the dance. As someone who has always held a great reverence for classical works across artistic mediums, I truly enjoy the opportunities to draw inspiration from cultural heritage and seek out how to approach the subject matter from a contemporary and deconstructed perspective. Your artistic practice links dance and with multi-media technology: how do you consider the realtionship between Art and Technology? When considering the relationship between art and technology, I think it is safe to say that the contemporary age is a digital one. New media and experiential forms of tech are on the rise, which in my opinion is quite exciting to witness and draw from. Still, there is always the concern when it comes to art and art-making that the development of technology sits in violation with the creative process. In my personal opinion, I believe this to be a somewhat narrow perspective. While I do think it is important to remain grounded and centered within the act of blending art and technology, we are on the threshold of entering an age and space with infinite


possibilities to explore. This is not something to fear or eschew, but rather to intertwine with our deeply human need to create. As I build works involving new media and technology, I am constantly aware of the role that tech is playing, the ways in which it supports and enhances the project itself. This is where the excitement for me lies, and in the unfamiliar frontiers we have the opportunity to explore as a result. In the same way that I draw from deconstructing classical forms and accepted motifs, technology and interactive experiences such as augmented reality provide us with an even more amplified sense of multidimensional perspectives, expanding the potential for our understanding and perception of artistic works, and our own existence to places beyond our awareness. As you have remarked in the starting lines of your artist's statement, you like to think of your works as existing on the axis of reality and the realm of dreams. Czech-born philosopher VilĂŠm Flusser once defined ‘imagination’ as the ability to abstract surfaces out of space and time and to project them back into space and time. As a creative whose work highlights the Ariadne's thread that makes visible what is often overlooked and unnoticed, how do you consider the relationship between reality and imagination playing within your artistic research? The correlation between reality and dreams favors strongly in my artistic works and in the process itself. Being that my

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Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers interests during the developmental phases of my work often involve everything from 12th century iconography to lectures on dark matter and alternate dimensions, I am always seeking to decode and more deeply understand the nature of our existence within and throughout the universe, space, and time. There are elements of Butoh dance that dip into Zen Buddhism and Quantum Physics, so to me this relationship between reality and imagination is integral to the power and the multilayered nature of the form. In my own works, I am constantly curious about the potential expansion of one moment, image, or tableau. Allowing an extremely mundane or pedestrian image to then unfold into something surreal can produce a beautifully poetic expression of the human existence. The genre of Magical Realism often informs my work as well, further expanding the ways in which we perceive our experiences and where we place ourselves within the universe and our understanding of reality. My works are often rooted in our accepted reality but featuring slightly surreal elements with the intention to make visible what perhaps would go unnoticed otherwise. In the case of HYDRA, the surreal element is as simple as the ways in which the human form blends and moves and intertwines with the natural world, enhancing and highlighting the human relationship with nature, time, and space. You are an established artist and we have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in


contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I am grateful to have been encouraged throughout my journey to develop works and a process that is intrinsically aligned with my artistic identity. Butoh developed as a radical form of protest, and in many ways I believe this has shaped my experience as I have never felt denied of or powerless within my own works, or the contemporary art scene. I am inspired by thoughts Marina Abramovic shared on the subject; Abramovic recognizes that women have often paid a higher price for committing to their craft simply because of accepted hierarchies within our society, but she herself never accepted that her position in life would be dictated by men, or anyone outside of herself. I believe that more and more people are recognizing that it is this sense of reclaiming one’s individual power which gives us the potential to balance the masculine and feminine energy both outwardly and within ourselves, and to open a door to conversations which have the potential to shift accepted power structures. I believe that art has the power to reframe and reimagine the dynamics and power of the divine feminine in an attempt to create universal balance. As we move towards a more interdisciplinary and multidimensional

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Photo by Nedda Afsari


Women Cinemakers

artistic landscape, I believe this striving towards balance

Sean Deckert on a series aiming to capture the duality of

offers up an exciting time and space to create. Allowing

identity and multiple shapes all at once through the frame

our art to be universal, human, and multilayered provides

of Butoh forms. I am grateful to collaborate with other

the potential for a deep sense of connection and oneness

artists who are curious about the intersectionality of

with our own existence, and others.

different mediums and techniques, and the ways in which

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

are works are mutually inspiring and exciting to one another. The evolution of my work thus far has come from the opportunities to share my creations across a wide variety

I have the deepest sense of gratitude to be on this

of platforms throughout the world, and to inspire and be

creative and ever-developing journey, and I am beyond

equally inspired by a number of multidisciplinary artists. I

appreciative to Women Cine Makers for providing this

believe dance and new media as an art form has the

platform to share and expand upon my works.

potential to allow access to a wide and diverse audience,

This fall I am developing a new live installation piece involving Butoh as it relates to sensory deprivation through manipulation of light and sound. My hope is to develop and workshop this piece with the intention to share and premiere in early 2020. I am currently delving

and it has already begun reshaping the possibilities of film and accepted narrative structures. With my own work, I am ultimately striving to create a sense of presence and deep exploration of the perceptions of reality and our existence. This work has had a strong and meaningful

into a series of self-portraits involving deconstructing the

impact on my life and the way I structure it, and that is

human form as it relates to accepted motifs and settings. I

something I strive to offer up to the world with my energy

am inspired by the self-portraiture by artists such as

and artistic works. The impact lies in the sense of

Francesca Woodman and Antigone Kourakou, and am

recognition and visceral journey of both performer and

curious about exploring the nature of capturing and

witness, and I am most interested in my work continuing

depicting these moments. Additionally, I have been

to evolve by incorporating new media in ways that

collaborating with talented LA-based art photographer

deepen this sense of interconnectedness.


Women Cinemakers meets

Katherine Waters Lives and works in London, United Kingdom "...what defines a relationship of power is that it is a mode of action that does not act directly and immediately on others. Instead, it acts upon their actions: an action upon an action, on possible or actual future or present actions... it forces, it bends, it breaks, it destroys, or it closes off all possibilities." -Michel Foucault. "Between the covers of the books that no one had ever read again, in the old parchments damaged by dampness, a livid flower had prospered, and in the air that had been the purest and brightest in the house an unbearable smell of rotten memories floated." - Gabriel Garcia Marquez "It's not strange no mystery You and I are history I put up my protective wall It's 4 feet thick and 10 feet tall" - Loudon Wainwright III Throughout the day, the atrium will host an experimental collaborative work that will explore the dialectical relationship between the body and the space it inhabits. The work is based on the assumption that the corporeal form is fundamentally constrained by structures that envelop it: modelling, producing and forming modes of behaviour and comportment. And yet the body forces back against its environment, creating new formations of meaning and constructions of truth and positioning itself at the centre of all human interaction. This work uses an atmosphere of exploration and play to test the limits of our understanding of bodies as necessarily bounded by the subject/object dichotomy. Thus, the fluid interaction between playground and player continually reverses the active/passive relation while at the same time challenging the notion of the physical form as discrete from the environment in which it exists.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

readers to visit

and Dora S. Tennant

http://www.katherinewaters.co.uk/ in order to

womencinemaker@berlin.com

get a wider idea about your artistic production

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

and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. Are there any



particular experiences that influenced your evolution as an artist? While studying at Cambridge I was lucky enough to meet and make friends with people who were as artistic as they were academic and who were studying all kinds of subjects — architecture, music, languages, philosophy, history, social sciences… Cross-over between disciplines was natural and in many ways that sense of boundless curiosity and those friendships remain at the heart of everything I do. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting dance video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/73572937. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the dialectical relationship between the body and the space is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with refined aesthetics, inviting the viewers to such a multilayered experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? The idea was developed by composer Soosan Lolavar in collaboration with choreographer Rosa van Hensbergen. It was pitched to the LSE Space for Thought festival and Soosan asked myself and Jim Pockson to document the performance — the musical composition and the

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers choreography came before the film. The piece was performed four times over the course of an afternoon and combined set-pieces of choreography with improvisation. The weave of voices you hear in Soosan’s composition are recordings of her friends reading poems they themselves had selected. There’s a constant interplay between public and private, disclosure and concealment combined with a disinclination to pin down or lecture — there is immense freedom in this kind of work. Broadly though, I see the piece as asking us to pay attention to the confines we unconsciously cleave to — be they emotional, intellectual, physical, social, temporal. What are the rules that govern what we reveal to other people, how aware are we of their unspoken pressure, how much do we actually see of the people we are living alongside? What are the limits of compassion and how legible is another person’s interior life? They’re forceful questions. How far can — do — we know another person? In the years since the performance there are so many ways these questions have become more pertinent and more complicated. Fundamentally though, they of course remain the same. Featuring essential and well-orchestrated choreography by Rosa van Hensbergen, re:forming space involves the audience into a heightened experience, urging them to challenge their perceptual categories to create personal narratives: what are you hoping re:forming space will trigger in the spectatorship? In particular, how important is for you




to address the viewer's imagination in order to elaborate personal associations? The film is primarily a record of the performance, and I see spectatorship in two ways. The first is prosaic: it’s a way of conveying the performance to grant-giving organisations and academic and arts institutions. From this arises opportunities for further study or funding for further projects — boring, certainly, but absolutely key to being able to continue to working. The second is artistic: an act of translating spectatorship of the performance into spectatorship of the film. In the

performance, audience members didn’t necessarily realise they were participating — they were merely passing through a public space and many were taken unaware. In the film, we wanted to distill certain chapters in the performance, events around which other activity swelled, while simultaneously conveying the sense of many curious eyes catching on fleeting moments of action (or inaction). The performance’s spectators become players in the film to be spectated. The film is both the essence of the performance and a rendition of it — an extension of the performance into


another realm as well as a record of it. The film, perhaps, could be considered the performance’s afterlife. We have appreciated the way your approach conveys a sense of freedom and reflects the performance’s rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and the need of spontaneity? How much importance does improvisation play in your process?

Improvisation is so important — things can be planned in ways that go from microscopically granular to vast and rough, but nothing will be perfect and in that way, improvisation is utterly necessary to anything actually happening. In another way, being responsive to other people’s needs and movements, getting on quietly and sensitively with your own role while others are doing theirs is the very heart of trust — and from trust comes freedom. It’s not like you throw away the rules, rather that there’s understanding in common and from that grows work and the promise of further work.


Projects do not end when people return to the same ideas or work together time and again. In this sense they become more like staging posts in an iterative process, and the relationships between players is enriched by that looseness. As noted in the film’s statement, re:forming space challenges the notion of the physical form as discrete from the environment in which it exists and we have particularly appreciated the way your work reveals the tension between the idea of physicality of the body and its surrounding: how did you select the locations and how did they affect your shooting process? Soosan proposed the project to the London School of Economics and the space came with the project. The New Academic Building, which was originally built in the early twentieth century in the Beaux Arts style, was redesigned by Nicholas Grimshaw Architects following its acquisition by LSE. It opened in 2008 and offers many levels and viewpoints. It’s within the university so turnstiles separate it from the public entrance but staff, visitors, students — all pass through and use it in different ways. The interaction between bodies and bodies, and bodies and space was a set of ideas to which both Jim and I were naturally attuned. There’s formal seating, informal seating, galleries, a café and it’s tiered with many levels. While the layout suggests principle ways of moving round the space efficiently, it doesn’t force less circuitous or tangential routes to become non-options. It suggests wandering, lingering, sitting, strolling — all kinds of physical

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Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers

exploration. It also offered opportunities to consider power dynamics through the prism of perspective. Who gets to see whom, who notices what, who is so accustomed to the space that it becomes invisible, who sees it newly in light of strange occurrences. It was a fascinating space to work in. Sound plays a crucial role in your film and the brilliant composition by Soosan Lolavar causes within the footage of re:forming space an ethereal and a bit enigmatic atmosphere: how would you consider the role of sound within your practice and how do you see the relationship between sound and movement? To my mind they can be considered different languages, translations of the same impulse. Each aspect stands in relation to every other aspect; a sound can become incorporated into movement, movement can provoke sound. This is where editing (in two senses: firstly in terms of producing audio for the performance and in the physical rehearsals where processes are established and ideas winnowed and honed, and secondly editing in filmic terms) can be seen as the heart of the process. Parts of the piece are scrambled and recalibrated yet they naturally speak to each other in different configurations. Interpretation is fluid and continuous — in the end, we are the ones generating meaning. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established are today ever growing forces in


Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields of practice meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something about this proficient synergy? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between artists from different backgrounds? I think it’s a strong representation of how autonomy, trust and respect result in freedom and art which has attained a certain poise. Ideas are what you are all trying to communicate — so it’s not about one particular form or another, not about one particular voice over another. This is why process is so important — it’s about inhabiting a space — a physical space or a space in time — and then seeing what comes out of that. Nothing is ever really finished because, as I said earlier, the work that results is more like a staging post in relationships and collaborations that intersperse other kinds of work. And with this kind of attitude, the boundaries between disciplines naturally break down because each discipline is just a dialect in the language of ideas, just another way of working. If you’re all connecting at the level of the idea, bringing it collaboratively into the world becomes a polyphonic possibility. Another interesting work of yours that we would like to introduce to our readers is entitled inventory of my life and can be viewed at http://www.katherinewaters.co.uk/inventory-of-my-

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A still from


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Women Cinemakers life. Recently performed at University of Cambridge, this captivating work brought the collaborators of re:forming space, Soosan Lolavar and Rosa van Hensbergen, together again. It also brought in Kae Ishimoto, a butoh dancer whose performance has caught our attention for the way she sapiently provided elements from traditional heritage with stimulating contemporary sensitiveness. When introducing our readers to this recent work, would you tell us how do you consider the relationship between Tradition and Contemporariness? Do you think that there could be a proficient synergy between such apparently opposite concepts? It was actually both Kae and Soosan who were responding to this question of tradition and contemporary practice. Soosan’s father is Iranian and in the performance she played the santoor — a traditional Iranian instrument, while Kae, who is Japanese, interacted with (danced, bundled, whipped) her mother’s kimono. Both are examining the weight of tradition that comes with many generations and the impulse to break free of that — to rebel — while weighing that against the enrichment that coming back to those practices can bring. In both cases, it’s about remaking, appropriating and making it their own. Tradition becomes hollow if it doesn’t live within the people who practice it, and for both the sensitivities around gender roles and the expectations placed upon each by their families about ‘safe’ ways of being are being broken apart and made into something new, something beautiful. It’s kind of a


Women Cinemakers punk sublimation, a beautiful anarchy in which each stakes their claim on traditions that might exclude them but which, in order to continue to have relevance, must be broken open and contain a plethora of voices, a cacophony competing beyond the small cohorts and collectives who have governed them until now. 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? The abstract animates the physical. Thought provokes every movement. A pencil mark proves that thought can be expressed spatially, translated indelibly. A line contains and represents time, intent and thought. The separation between body and brain, brain and mind, physical and mental is useful but in many ways fallacious. Learning to read bodies is just another way of reading. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women

in contemporary art scene. Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our contemporary scene it has been a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in in this interdisciplinary field? What I see is a greater acceptance of process-driven works where multiple people are involved from different fields. I’m not sure this is a specifically female way of working, but many women are currently producing strong work along these lines. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Everything so far has been so unpredictable I would not care to prophesy! What is certain is that I will continue working with people I respect in ways that are mutually respectful and intellectually and artistically thorough. At present I am writing a lot and would like at some point to see those words translated into other art forms, have new life breathed into them.



Women Cinemakers meets

Ixchel Prada Confrontation of death, sorrow for emptiness, anguish for a far beginning and an uncertain future are recurrent thoughts which I formulate every time. They are personal questions that represent my state of mind, like a mental canvas which gives birth to every single work I wish to embark. Momentary answers lead me towards a research where anthropological fields are the relation between an unconscious and conscious world. Consequently my artistic journey begins in the quest of a possible alternative world. I want to create distinctive stages or scenarios where the unconscious still has its kingdom; a parallel world with archetypal forms that circulate freely in places where we also live. Secret and dreamly places suggesting great and obscure answers with hidden forms. Myths, ceremonies, rituals and altars are anthropologic elements that play an important role in my work; figures are simplified in a way that images become undistinctive as this forms were part of a surreal environment. I try to give to the making of the artwork itself a performative meaning which also inteals a mythological connotation which I attempt to represent with the use of mixed media. My artwork grows from the personal situations in which I am living and dealing with. Situations affecting me emotionally. In this fashion, from the beginning of a project until the end, I elicit for sublimation in terms of transformation. ‘Anima Momentum’ is a video art project that reflects a moment in a period of time in which I try to analyse myself through my own perception of complex personal circumstances; I would like to call it a sort of a self portrait in movement. Inside this scenario a great feeling of isolation surrounds the walls of the room and the outside world has a gloomthish impression becoming darker and darker; inside of it there is myself represented by two characters. One of them is sitting still, linger in front of the beholder, breathing slowly: my standstill representation. The other character, a surrogate, who is moving between a limited space in a sequence of repetitive pictures, performing a kind of anguished and dismal dance.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

regarding your background. You have a solid

and Dora S. Tennant

formal training in Music since early age and you

womencinemaker@berlin.com

later nurtured your education in Stage Design at

Hello Ixchel and welcome to

: we

would start this interview with a couple of questions

the Accademia di Belli Arti, in Rome: how did these experience influence your evolution as an artist?



Moreover, how does your cultural substratum due to your collaborations in theaters and films productions in Rome direct the trajectory of your artistic research? First of all I would like to give a big thank you to Womencinemakers team for the effort that you make in giving independent creative women a space. I was born in Mexico, but my family is from Bolivia, it emigrated to Mexico due to a political situation in the early 70’s. My parents, although not artists themselves, were always very interested in art and that was fundamental for waking up on me an interest for it. I wanted to study music since I was seven years old and without thinking much about it I found myself carrying on with the conservatory of music and by the age of 15 I started working in a youth orchestra. It is very difficult to relate directly the manner in which music can influence the visual arts being the former so abstract, because the way to appreciate it comes from a completely different sense than the visual territory. I guess that in one hand the music experience gave me some kind of realization of what can be a form as structure. When I am working on a video art project, for example, I have in mind minimalistic music based on repetition, which could be translated to the visual arts too; when it comes to the editing of a video I consider that and I try to apply those principles. On the other hand, I have in

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Women Cinemakers my mind examples of composers like Shostakovich who have taken the presence of an obsessive musical theme through his different compositions, which could be a source of inspiration as in the way of reprocessing some recurring themes or elements obsessively. I believe that music gave me some sort of method and also endurance. Nevertheless I was somehow always interested in the visual arts; my love for them was there all the time. So while I was in the conservatory I started a short drawing course with professor Per Anderson which I believe was an important influence, because it was mostly a course of creative drawing which gave me another standpoint as an observer, for therefore appreciate visual arts themselves. Having a great affection for cinema I went to study Set Design at the Accademia di Belli Arti of Rome. During that period I participated in several theater and film collaborations which influenced me in the way that I approach and analyze subjects in my current practice; I generally like to make a lot of research. I owe this to Set Design. I believe that I am kind of methodical about that. Not very strict though, but I like to keep the subjects of my lectures always related to my practice. So while I am looking for inspiration I try to enrich my research with different lectures. Hence I can have a more eclectic vision about a problematic that I want to analize. So when I start a project I like to approach it from a philosophical, psychological and anthropological perspective; In this way a subject becomes a theme which is waiting to be




developed, with different variations which I try to deepen.

invite to our readers to visit

I also think that because of Set Design I have an affection

http://www.ixchelprada.com in order to get a

for the installation work which I consider very close to Set

synoptic idea about your artistic production: would

Design itself; both of them are using certain elements or

you tell us what does address you to such captivating

objects in between a particular space.

multidisciplinary approach? How do you select a

You are an versatile artist and your eclectic practice includes sculpture, sculpture dress, ceramics, painting,

particular media and discipline in order to explore a particular aspect of your artist research?

drawing, installation, photography and video, to

The materiality of my work is meanly symbolic. I try to

pursue multilayered visual results: before starting to

give a particular significance to the medium I choose to

elaborate about your artistic production, we would

work with. I consider that a very important part of my


research, which depends on some philosophical and

world as they are responsible for the primordial

anthropological aspects of the subjects which I am

beginning of life, and in some cultures, they are in

dealing with. I am interested in the studies of Levi-

charge of burying the dead giving to earth a deep

Strauss about the Myth as a structural system which

relationship with women. For many cultures exist a

gives me a wide overview and a kind of lexicon to

relationship between women and earth. So as a kind of

nourish my practice. For instance the symbology of the

motif I use this element in different forms. In Gynaikalia’s

clay, which I am deeply passionate about and I use in my

Portal, an installation based on the principles that I

installations, has great female implications as an

mentioned before, I attempt to correlate them with my

enigmatic beginning in an anthropological context and

own womanhood, I tried to go further; I prepared the

philosophical one. Women, for a philosopher like Hegel

paint for the ceramics that I made. I researched an

in his essay about Antigone, are in charge of the spiritual

ancient painting made of clay which is the terra sigillata.


This same project was inspired by the making of primordial crafts as part of a mythological context and meaning; they symbolised the beginning of the civilisations. So for me it was important to use different building techniques as part of the artistic process like welding with the use of pewter and raw materials. Yet, the nature of the subjects of my work are related. Practically I consider the interconnections of the materiality as well, I follow a stream or path of recurrent thoughts or ideas with a correlate theory that I assume could support the whole artwork; I apply different disciplines in the service of this chain of considerations. For this special edition of selected

we have , an extremely interesting

video art project based on a self observation of the artist’s mind, that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://youtu.be/980FWjfVoUg. When walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? In the last few years I become interested in the self exploration. Not because I believe that I could be so important for the possible beholden but as a starting point from which I can pretend to comprehend some elements of the outside world; In the way that I analyze myself and I learn some aspects of myself or I try to inspect myself, I

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may have a possible understanding of the outside as well. That brought me to recognize a personal emotional situation which Carl Jung called the standstill, a kind of “getting stuck� feeling; I am living a certain complex situation where I feel that everything goes in a vicious cycle and nothing seems to move. In essence I wanted to represent this situation with myself sitting in a stillness position; a video, in which I doubled the speed and where I try to carefully hold my breath, where the time looks to pass slowly in an apparent reality with its relative time, on a possible physical world. Beside this, there is another scenario where there is actually movement, represented with a kind of mythological representative, a surrogate who is performing a sort of dance in a series of photographs, forming a stop motion video. That comes from the consideration of the individual’s life as a dual one; we live a conscious life (the day by day situations) and an unconscious one, which is hidden and in constant movement, that could be the soul, which is almost impossible to decipher; both at the end of the day are closely related and one depends on the other. Both of them play a game of opposites. Anima Momentum features essential cinematography with a keen eye to details and we have really appreciated your successful attempt to capture the resonance between stillness and movement, as well as the way you have provided your film with such a poetic quality, capable of establishing emotional involvement in the viewers: what were your aesthetic decisions when conceiving It?


I wanted to show my room as an oppressive place, as a cage which is limiting my movements. My movements themselves were representing some kind of grief, a walk of mourning. I wanted to show a palpable sign of decay, chaos and degeneration on all of it. I believe that my work generally has some of these elements. I can say that I am very keen on the grotesque and the macabre art; James Ensor, Hieronymus Bosch, Felicien Rops for instance. I tried to reflect an air of abjection that flows into the atmosphere of the video, something that is kind of oscure and restless. Considering all this sensations related to something which is not dead but kind of rotten as the Julia Kristeva definition of the abjection itself. At the same time I wanted to give a sort of archival record idea by researching very old films, such as those of Muybridge, due to his studies of people doing simple movements. That was my idea; to recreate a record of an anguished dance. What has at once impressed us of Anima Momentum is the way it brings the nature of relationship between the body and the surroundings to a new level of significance, unveiling the ubiquitous bond between the individual and outside reality. While introducing us to the initial idea of this film, would you tell us how do you consider the relationship between perceptual reality and our inner landscape? The perceptual reality, I believe, depends on our inner world. It is like a snake biting its own tail. We experiment the world through our personal experiences, which are often distorted, as we perceive the so called reality throughout our senses. Our actions

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A still from


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Women Cinemakers are giving us our own history, they are molding our way for interpreting the world. In this fashion, culture and environment play an important role building and consolidating our inner world. It becomes an interaction of many elements as we are an addition of essential factors. We have been particularly impressed with your insightful inquiry into interstitial point between the personal self and the collective unconscious. In this sense, your practice seems to respond to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind: as an artist particularly interested in the creation of distinctive stages where the unconscious still has its kingdom, how important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, what did you hope Anima Momentum will trigger in the viewers? When I work I try to consider a lot of factors. As I said before I like to develop a subject in different forms and then I try to deepen it. That is the way that I like to do my work. I believe that that is what concerns me; the way that I perform my making. I like the fact that the viewer makes his own associations even if they are so different from mine. I find great beauty when someone gets the meaning of my work but at the same time I am delighted when the viewer gets other meanings. However, the unconscious has its freedom and it always has its own ways.


Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the the soundtrack provides the footage of Anima Momentum with such an enigmatic atmosphere: how do you see the relationship between sound and Images? Everything depends on the nature of the artwork and the artist itself. In some films or videos, sound can be an atmospheric element or a simple background for a situation. However, for my work, I find the sound to be a crucial element, a character if you want. I would like to say a kind of narrator who is unveiling other parts of the artwork. I try to use music and sound which contend certain kind of history that reinforce the visual elements. For this reason I generally love to utilize classical music as I did for Anima Momentum where I used an edited and inverted Requiem of Gyorgy Ligeti. As Requiem is a mass for honouring our dead but simultaneously a remembrance and a farewell to the bodily world. I believe that at the same time it gives a certain restless movement to the image. In other video artworks such as Invocation I and Invocation II I tried to find the music with the same idea in mind. For instance in Invocation II there is a sound recording from a planet named Miranda, a moon of Saturn which is named in this way because of Prospero’s daughter. I found a connection with the sound and the principal idea of the video which is about the loss and grief for a beloved one, in

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Women Cinemakers this case it was the search for my father through the objects that belonged to him. As you have remarked once, your artwork grows from the personal situations in which you are living and dealing with: how does everyday life's experience fuels your creative process? I generally develop my projects as if they were secret; all the difficulties to find the time and a place to work becomes relevant at some point. But you have got to endure and keep going. Not all the time I believe that I am doing something creative or going somewhere with my practice, sometimes I believe that the quotidianity is ingesting any artistic aspects of my life. My position is to keep working and trying to learn other technologies which can give other standpoints to my production. Meanwhile, as I said before, I like to choose my lectures related to my practice and I keep looking for new information about exhibitions, artists, films; always trying to keep my mind open, which I believe can give me an internal enrichment. For instance I like to read poems, during a length of time, which give me the right atmosphere and stay afterwards as an internal voice. That is a constant in these past years. I think that a creative process comes in an unconscious form and from the absorption of many experiences. Consequently a personal event comes up and a mental flow starts to generate an association of ideas. For me particular situations in life trigger a need to create


something. So in this way I keep myself constant with my production. When I am working on something that I find dull, I keep on trying until I feel that I am grasping something. However I generally have a strange sensation of the uncanny, a great feeling of void; that is part of the beginning of all this process which impulse me to start something. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in dance, how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the concepts you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your practice? The body could be a great force or a limitation. All our emotional distress and physical pain experience falls into the body which at the same time, in an inevitable form, reflects them. Every single event in life is absorbed by the body, by our bodies. In this fashion it becomes a receptor which can be transformed to a vehicle of expression of itself. Accordingly, I associate shamanic representations that could use the body through repetitive movements and dance in liberating acts and rites. All of this as an anthropological procedure to interpret the meaning of the body’s narrative. I have in mind performances of The living theater which were inspired by the studies of the Tarahumaras in Mexico by Antonin Artaud. They used a series

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers of simple disrupting and primitive movements and gesture as a principal communicative element. So the body gesture is expressing what the words can’t. The body becomes the artist’s communicator of his unconscious and conscious intentions. We have appreciated the originality of your approach and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? Yes! I do believe that things are starting to change for women in a lot of areas but I also believe that we are just at the beginning. I can say that in Europe I have seen many women in the classrooms of art academies or in the universities. Even in latin america women are taking the lead in art studies which is amazing, considering that maybe before of the 50’s that was not really common. This is something that we have earned and we must keep. But what I can notice is that there is a huge struggle for every female artist or artists in general to keep on with their own art production. Specially women have a more complex existence and natural responsibilities which lead to the abandonment of their artistic career. In some countries it is even more difficult if there aren’t organisations that can support


Women Cinemakers meets

PINION&CROWN An oxymoron is a figure of speech that juxtaposes elements that appear to be contradictory. Oxymorons appear in a variety of contexts, including inadvertent errors and literary oxymorons crafted to reveal a paradox.

Concept, directing, choreography and performance: PINION & CROWN ensemble Dancers: Sara Marin & Griet Vanden Houden Video recording and editing: Arne von Nostitz-Rieneck Photography: Christa Gaigg Composition, synthesizer: Lucas Rabe Composition, vocals: Elsa GrĂŠgoire Curator: Jessica White Text revision: Hannah Timbrell Graphic design: Authentic.co.at

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

order to get a wider idea about your artistic

and Dora S. Tennant

production and we would start this interview

womencinemaker@berlin.com

with a couple of questions regarding your backgrounds: are there any experiences of formal

Hello Sara and Griet and welcome to

training that did particularly influence your

: we would like to invite our readers to visit

in

evolution as artists and creatives? Moreover, how does your cultural substratums direct the



Women Cinemakers trajectory of your artistic research? Sara Marin (Italy) and Griet Vanden Houden (Belgium) both come from Academic backgrounds as well as having studied at the National Academy of Dance Rome (IT) and de!Kunsthumaniora Antwerpen (BE). They first met at SEAD (Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance) (AT) 20082011. They have been working for choreographers such as: Roberto Olivan, Todd Williams, Quan Bui Ngoc, Jelka Milic, Ori Flomin and many others. After graduating, they completed a one year Pilates Training in mat and equipment, at the Academy of Modern Pilates International (AT). During and after school Sara and Griet spent a lot of time together, working, sharing ideas, moments of growth, tastes and traditions; influencing and enriching each other. Being friends and professionally working together in different fields (such as: dance, teaching, performing, choreographing, art directing, casting in live events, photo and video productions) they have built a special connection that is reflected in their own work. It's no doubt that artistic collaborations as the one that you have established together are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your work? Can you explain how your work demonstrates communication between two artists?




Women Cinemakers We completely agree on the fact that the most exciting contemporary productions are made by the collaborations of creative minds able to share their capacity and combine their differences in original work. The reason we began our company in 2015 was the urge to express our taste in the dance panorama. After dancing for different artists, we developed a strong need to establish and evolve independent work. This meant taking distance from the crazy audition-freelancer world of dance and, instead, putting down roots for more stable collaborations. Why did we search for collaborations? The first reason was the actual technical need of music, photos and videos for our production. The second reason why we developed a sense of an ensemble, of an interdisciplinary community of artists, was out of spontaneity. We have been participating in several art events and playground of ideas and there we found other artists willing to participate and add their own original work to ours. In this beautiful way we found Lukas Rabe (German musician and composer) who made the music for our first piece “SAME same BUT DIFFERENT”. He joined us again together with his partner Elsa Grégoire (Belgian singer and composer) for the music track of “OXYMORON”. When we got selected with our previous dance-video for a short movie festival called FON (Festival of Nations), we had the chance to connect more with Christa Gaigg (Austrian photographer and graphic designer), who at the first stage was just a mate and then became very quickly a strong member of our ensemble as well as a good friend.





Women Cinemakers

At the same festival we met Arne von Nostitz-Rieneck (Austrian cameraman and video-editor) who recorded and rolled with us in to the dark and white side of “OXYMORON”. Just by doing, we discovered that our uniqueness was to express our ideas of dance in different art-ways. We also realized in the past years that sometimes the pure performance of dance can be difficult to some eyes and that with the support of other disciplines we could reach more people and eventually take them closer to dance. In this way we decided to work in a trilogy! The distance between our dreams and reality is called action, and action is key to success. When you are afraid to do something, even if it lives in your mind for a long time, if you don’t actually do it, it will never exist! We believe it is our responsibility to take a risk and create new work. So, inspired by a pinion and crown mechanism, both parts unique in shape, enabling them to fit harmoniously together and coexist by pushing, pulling and supporting each other, we have founded our Ensemble PINION & CROWN. Our ensemble is a unique laboratory for dance combined with theater, music, multi-media and other arts for research and development. Within our projects we are collaborating with dancers, musicians, film producers, and more. We aim to provide a platform for research and education. We aim to create an exchange of experienced artists and “newcomers” so that there is

both mentoring and a creation of a larger network that goes beyond just dance alone, but integrates with other art forms and disciplines, creating interdisciplinary work. In most cases, implicit knowledge and experience are understood, learned and transmitted only through a pictorial description, by observing, imitating and practicing processes. We want to create better conditions and perspectives within the contemporary dance and performance world that goes beyond current limitations. For this special edition of WomenCinemakers we have selected OXYMORON, an extremely interesting an experimental project that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article: when walking our readers through the genesis of OXYMORON, would you tell us (A) how did you develop the initial idea? In particular, how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of (B)scheduling the details of your performances and the need of spontaneity? How importance does improvisation play in your process? Moreover, do you think that your (C)being a women provides your artistic research with some special value? An important characteristic of our creation is to take the environment in big consideration. We want our bodies to melt into the space, not only to match the space but to literally embody the surrounding. It is difficult to explain from where and how the idea came


Women Cinemakers

first. As a creative person you have the urgency to create, there are so many things boiling inside you that you must take them out! Making art is a great way to liberate your inside “demons”. We are fascinated by aesthetics and we work with our instincts to begin with. From that, we make a rough idea of what we want to express and we let it grow through certain visual aesthetics that we like for this precise concept. This is the reason why we always start with the pictures session, then rehearsal will follow. The video will come and from all of this the music together with the choreography for the live piece will be done. One thing will be influenced and made richer from the previous one, like a chain. But first, we start searching, brainstorming and looking for the perfect location that will inspire us. Scheduling is extremely important for us. It is the only way how we can keep our productions going. Without planning every single detail in advance we couldn’t make it, especially because we do not live in the same town, not even in the same country anymore. We meet every week online to keep on track and update us. Then, we work separately on our tasks and we discuss the progresses in the following meeting. Certainly, not all the work can be done separately. So when we meet, we do it for at least 3 days and up to 2 weeks, and because of these circumstances we definitely need to have a very clear idea of what and how to do in order to proceed. So yes, there would not be any room for improvisation without scheduling. We will always need to play with our



A still from


Women Cinemakers spontaneity and use our improvisation skills, both during the process of making and during a live performance. Without improvisation and mistakes there will be no innovation and no possible original creation. However, in order to succeed with that, you have to be very focused on your final goal and indeed organized. As we are running the Ensemble, there will always be a recognizable female aspect in it, a certain look, use of Harmony, sensuality, irony or violence. We do not even have to try or pretend to be or not be female: we are, and we will be recognized by the audience as 2 women-makers or 2 female performers. For the next production, we are actually trying to take this topic to the next level, by creating dialogue around dance rituals, lighting up the figure of the women and mother nature. However, our ensemble is not only made by girls: we love to collaborate with inspiring male artists as well. What has at once impressed us of OXYMORON is the way it brings the nature of relationship between the body and the surroundings to a new level of significance, unveiling the ubiquitous bond between the individual and outside reality, establishing emotional involvement in the viewers: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting and what did you aim at triggering in the spectatorship? We wanted to underline contrast, to recreate a sense of solitude. We wanted to take the space back to life, just like in a dream appearing and disappearing. Dissolving inside the


Women Cinemakers same space by making the observers curious to see more and maybe willing to interrogate themselves about their own contrasts and different aspects of their own personality. We like the idea of interaction. A critical part of interaction for us is a communication with the space. Hence, our location plays a fundamental role in the creative process and the performance. We adapt our material to the environment and through this process the abstract dance can transition to become real and relevant. We work with what the environment offers and our characters have to play, communicate and interact with the scene. We like the way OXYMORON creates entire scenarious out of psychologically charged moments. Austrian historian Ernst Gombrich once remarked the importance of providing a space for the audience to project onto, so that they can actively participate in the creation of the illusion: how much important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, how open would you like your works to be understood? We believe that a piece should have a specific clear topic, but we also love the idea of having an active public who can reinterpret the original themes. We want absolutely to stimulate our audience. We have been receiving many different feedback about OXYMORON, and some of them forced us to change and rework the piece in order to




Women Cinemakers either drop some misunderstood concepts or follow some unforeseen perceptions. Coming to the details of OXYMORON, we have been raising the following questions: “How far can we push our limits?”, “What are our internal and external boundaries?”, “When do we allow someone to enter our space?”, “What happens and what changes when we can enter someone else’s space?”, “When can we put down our defenses?”, “How much do we care?”, “How much can we hold within us or what do we want to share?”, “How much can we ask of others?”. Exploring the theme of space, confines and contrast in relation to ourselves can affect not only other people but also shift the physical environments. By extrapolating these various elements we can reveal the absurd. By revealing the absurd there can be transformation of the status quo. This is how powerful dance can be, as we can reveal what was once familiar into something that is now unfamiliar, strange, absurd and therefore, open to change. Whole structures and societies can change when this is revealed. We would like to explore this in OXYMORON, as then the audience can see how powerful they are to change the status quo in society through dance! You are an eclectic duo and your versatile practice involves a variety of platforms, including live performance, video art and photography installation to pursue multilayered results: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do

you select a particular language in order to explore a particular aspect of your artist research? In Trilogy Dance Art the pictures are not anymore just reflecting the dance piece but are becoming a section of the whole project, a part of the story, an installation that can stand by itself. The same concepts apply to the video: it is not anymore a record of the dance piece used to promote or remember what is already passed; it is another section of the whole concept, another part of the story, a short film ready to be watched. The music is a common thread and gives vent to the live performance; where the Trilogy ends and completes, where we dance and convey the concept to the people. PINION & CROWN is taking Dance to a whole new level. Trilogy dance art is a set of 3 works of art that are connected and can be seen either as a single piece or as three individual pieces. Three pieces that taken together will give you a completely new feeling! Trilogy is a form of art commonly found in literature or cinematography. By applying this tri-logical structure to dance reveals how dance is not separate, but indeed influenced by other art forms. It's important to remark the role of "Trilogy Dance Art" as a way to bring dance to a wide audience. 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




Women Cinemakers right time: how is in your opinion online technopshere affecting the consumption of art by the audience? Do you think that today it 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? When we are talking about contemporary art, we should be able to speak to the contemporary audience in the contemporary world. For this reason, we think that it is normal to embrace the new technology both for the production of the project, as well as for its promotion. If you would not do that, you would just stay trapped in the past in your own tiny circle. In our opinion, there is no “right” or “wrong” audience when it comes to art. We like the idea that any person could be addressed, positive influenced, touched or opened to art. As for the “right” place, we agree that not every place is appropriate for art. We would never publish our full work online for free. Instead, we would just promote our company online and then invite the people to join us on a suitable place for performance or art -event! We are definitely staying away from show media such as television talent shows. There is nothing bad on enjoying or participating to these kind of events. However, one should be very careful not to confuse the two things: they completely have a different target and purpose behind. To show Art does not make Art a show!

If you are making art, you want to tell something and for that you need time, technique, passion and what some people would call craziness, others talent. You perform not to please, comfort or entertain people, but because you want other people to enter your vision. In order to do that, you need the right time, the right space and the right attitude to fully express yourself. In this respect, we have begun to expand our horizon to go beyond just dance. We have strengthened our collaboration with artists and professionals in other fields, who have been contributing to our growth as an ensemble, either with their art or with their platforms or resources. This has begun to make our work much richer as a result, as we are able to cross several fields and disciplines whilst keeping dance as our core form of art. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that "it is always only a matter of seeing: the physical act is unavoidable": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in dance, how do you consider the relation between the abstract feature of the concepts you explore in your artistic research and the physical aspect of your practice? It is an interesting aspect and question to us. The relation between an abstract concept and the physical




Women Cinemakers aspect in it is in the realization of the movement. When the abstract concept transforms or transfers into a movement it becomes real and loses his abstraction. It is literally a small piece of magic to be able to translate your feelings in something concrete. Either into a dance sequence or into a drawing or into a song and so on... It is what makes us really happy and satisfied and this is maybe the real push to keep on going in such a hard field. We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? Trying to be an artist has never been an easy decision. To be a contemporary woman producer you need to be strong and very motivated. We always knew that and we have to confront every day with this reality. We believe that each artist is dealing with these problems in his own way to try to get a solution, but each of them has for sure experienced a sense of instability, doubts, disorientation and, last but not least, financial difficulties. We managed ourselves being involved in


Women Cinemakers education, as we are both dance and Pilates teachers. We remained centered on the study and use of this amazing instrument which is the human-body. By deepening every year our knowledge, we focused also on pedagogy which we found being a relevant aspect of our lives. Sometimes we feel like a millipede: many people say that it is a special capacity of women to be able to handle a lot of different things at the same time, it is for sure not easy but it is possible to combine disparate elements, this is what we have found and how we see women facing the future. It is not a secret that when women are staying together there is a special vibe going on influencing the surroundings. We see women strong, passionate, pugnacious and, at the same time, still fragile and very mysterious, with their 1000 hands and duties. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Sara and Griet. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? We are working on a new production, which will be released in 2019 with the title “Décadanse”. Also for this project, we will continue applying the Trilogy Dance Art scheme: the fotoshooting is already done and we are getting ready for the following steps. This piece will focus on the female figure inside the concept of ritual. We will explore the elements of mother nature (e.g., fire, air, water, earth) integrating 10 (i.e., “Deca”) components extrapolate from

traditional dances from different countries around the world. This production will be a compilation of dance forms where the purpose is ceremonial or ritualistic with the possible relations between folkloristic and contemporary dance. Ten performers go on to confront these locally rooted dances with elements from worldwide pop dance culture. With this work we aim to touch the primitive instincts of the audience and to bring them in our trip with the support of a hypnotic music-beats and of a raving-bodily rhythm! The theme of Décadanse sounds like: "this dance is for the world and the world is for everyone". We would like to thank you a lot for your challenging and profound questions and also for giving us this space in your magazine. It is a fantastic way to make people curious about art and female power! We wish for more empowering supporting associations/opportunities for the female artistic near future to come! We hope to have satisfied and or stimulated the readers with our answers and we remain open and available for any additional curiosity and discussion. Thanks, Sara Marin & Griet Vanden Houden PINION & CROWN ensemble http://www.pinioncrown.com An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com



Women Cinemakers meets

Shira Kela Lives and works in Berlin and work internationally

This film explores the haunting embodiment of the mind’s behaviour. Just as the baker kneads bread, so does an individual’s mind mould his physical experience. Weaving feminine metaphors throughout the narrative landscape, the film encompasses our inner struggle. Once we have let go of the past and peeled the layers of separation to the core, we arrive to the primordial beginning of life in its purest form, the serenity of finding what we have long forgotten: zygota.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of

and Dora S. Tennant

your artistic research?

womencinemaker@berlin.com

There is a direct link in between the place you come from to your visual and cultural references, I guess Hello Shira and welcome to

:

that goes without saying. I was born and raised in

to start this interview we would ask you a couple

Tel Aviv, Israel and was always very fascinated by

of questions about your background: are there

different languages, forms of communication and

any experiences that did particularly influence

body movement. Loved to film my family since I

your evolution as an artist? Moreover, how do

was young when we travelled abroad and I guess



that stayed with me up until today. The older I get the more I understand that I have a direct link to my emotional state and subconscious intervention to my creative flow. I try to heal my wounds and experience that vast myriad of feelings and emotions through my artistic approach and outlet. So I would say, first step for me is going inward, see what surfaces up and then process this onto the outside and connect it to what reality offers. For this special edition of

we

have selected ZYGOTA, a captivating dance film that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/306546180/61552bae3e. We have been fascinated with the way your insightful inquiry into the haunting embodiment of the mind’s behaviour provides the viewers with such an emotionally intense visual experience, enhanced by elegant composition. When walking our readers through the genesis of ZYGOTA, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? I wanted to be able to feel that softness within myself in the same way I feel compassion and acceptance towards others. I thought that I was naturally more

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers




Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers

connected to a masculine side inside me and questioned where this judgement towards femininity came from. Weaving feminine metaphors throughout the narrative landscape ignited my curiosity and longing for a deeper understanding of my feminine side and made me understand that both of my feminine and masculine were always inside of me. We all have both, we are conceived from female and male cells, creating the zygote- that then leads to the embryo and then the human baby. This understanding fascinated me and made a lot of things much more simple in my mind. Many limitations and separations I received from the talks around me all of a sudden melted into a much softer and inclusive state of mind. Elegantly shot, ZYGOTA features gorgeous combinations between refined indoor cinematography by Peter Garajszki and a keen eye for detail: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? Peter described his technical and artistic choices through his first notion going in the main location for the first time: he was in this grimy rundown location that for him was symbolizing the mindset of all people and their conservative view about gender identities. He wanted to




make it look rough and and all the textures should be punctuated by rough lighting and really added

The people that are captured in the film were lighten

darkness and contrast. He wanted to create this

mostly like unfavourable - no beauty lighting\ fashion

environment that is hugging all the fragile bodies that

lighting, no Hollywood lighting. Everything was

are trying to move there, but are mostly isolated.

concentrating in making them look more distorted, not enhancing their obvious beauty but bringing out

Through Peter’s view together with my view we

more their edges and their imperfections. While still

concocted together the variety of tight stimulating

keeping certain glow around them which has a duality

shots, with emphasis on peak moments that we wider

in its presentation.

and broader in their view.


We have appreciated the mix between sense of

itself are very fragile and important. I have an idea in

freedom and rigorous approach to the grammar

my head, and from there I try to structure it with

of body language: how do you consider the

different techniques and then I find the main

relationship between the necessity of scheduling

skeleton and stay open in my mind. I love to hear and

the details of your performative gestures and the

include the people I work with since it is always an

need of spontaneity? How much importance does

inspiring input to the process. In Zygota I decided to

improvisation play in your creative process?

collaborate with Choreographer Gal Naor that guided the girls with mostly connecting bodily gestures and

I find that the wiggle room that is left within planning

breathing techniques that were very crucial for this

and giving freedom for the moment to unfold by

specific scene.


This whole intense moment where the protagonist tries to break free from the girls and escape is based on the synchronicity of breathing and being together. As in our life, breathing is the main tool of being, once we follow its rhythm and natural flow we can navigate through almost everything without much struggle and with rather more open and receptive attitude. So once we guided the girls with breathing and some core structures we let them find their own pace and get entangled and unattached again in an organic way, as one organism does. Rich of metaphors and marked out with powerful narrative drive, ZYGOTA could be considered an allegorical report on our inner struggle: moreover, we have particularly appreciated the way your work allows an open reading, urging viewers to elaborate personal narratives that draw from their own experiences. How important is for you to trigger the viewer's perceptual parameters in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? In particular, were you interested in creating an allegorical film capable of reflecting human condition in a general sense? I love the fact that every viewer can relate to another detail in the film and create its own plot and message,

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers having his own feelings and emotions influence on the meaning and the story. I also have my own story but it is hidden in between the many layers this film is constructed from. I was interested in sharing a story of an individual that can be applied on a bigger scale, so I guess in an indirect way I did want to create an allegorical film. Using a refined veritÊ style and well orchestrated camera work, ZYGOTA has drawn heavily from the specifics of its indoor ambience and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful resonance between performative gestures and the surrounding of the performers: how did you select the location and how did it affect your shooting process? It was an important element for me that the viewer won’t have any leads about where and when this story is taking place, then it can remain unidentified, more neutral and also can be described as a figment of our imagination. I knew about the location since a while back and knew once I had written the story that this place fits like a glove to it, both kitchen and the magnificent concrete space. It contains the perfect contrast; on one hand the kitchen that gives a warm, homey feeling- everything works in a perfect symbiosis and on the other hand we have the concrete, cold, distant


unidentified zone that gives us more chilled and unknown atmosphere. The main struggle happens there naturally since the almost dystopian environment allows it. You feel that you have a lot of space in that room, yet it is still crowded. We have particularly appreciated the way you sapiently structured the combination between footage and the minimalistic sound tapestry created by Andrea Mainardi, to provide ZYGOTA with such a both ethereal and a bit enigmatic quality, capable of challenging the viewers' perceptual categories: How do you consider the role of sound within your artistic research? Moreover, how do you consider the relationship between performative gestures and sound playing within your work? I was raised on the background of dance, body movement and music, these were elements that were constant around me. I guess it is very natural for me to include it in my work and to always explore with and around it.

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


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Women Cinemakers I am very interested in non verbal communication, therefore I decided to have this film orchestrated just by sound and body language. With that decision I started collecting every sound and frequency I could find that made me feel something. I was recording soundscapes, recording friends talking and singing, sampling some great people from interviews and speeches, sampling music and so on. Then for the first part the talented Andrea Mainardi and I placed everything together and then the wonderful Arielle Esther took over and gave her final angelic feminine touch to the whole sound. This was a true pleasure to work with sound, it made me understand how crucial it is for me and how connected I am to this medium. With all that said, it is inevitable that with having that sound, location and actors but no words, the body and its gestures are playing a very important role here. It gives so much more space for meaning and layers it even more, a drama can become a comedy- or can become even a tragedy. It all depends on you as the director (together with the choreographer) on where you would like to take it. Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "the artists' role differs depending on which sociopolitical system they are living in.' How do you consider the role of artists and filmmakers in our unstable




contemporary age? In particular, does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? I think that as artists we have a great place in society to shed light on themes that are burning with importance for us. We are privileged enough to be able to transmit themes and ideas from the metaphysical world onto the physical realm and serve them as we wish to. The risk is that we are not responsible anymore for the perspective of the viewer, then we have to learn to let go of any expectations and this was a challenging part for me. I think while giving birth to zygota I was very serious and critical about myself and my surroundings. I was contemplating a lot about where do we decide to focus our energy and how do we handle our inner conflicts on different scales; as a single human up to a collective. Now I feel that the interest of my heart is less about the research of that behaviour and more about how to elevate oneself. We are all born with simple given skills and somewhere along the way we forget how to use them.I want to revive the connection to our body and self and the understanding of how crucial it can be for our individual future and also as a society. ZYGOTA captures emotionally charged moments and seems to respond to German photographer Andreas

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers Gursky when he stated that Art should not be delivering a report on reality, but should be looking at what's behind: what do you hope ZYGOTA will provoke in the viewers? It is funny, one of my early works is called : “The absolute horror of the mind behind.� I always hope to reach within myself into a deeper layer of my emotional world. I find it much more healing and intriguing, to reveal what really moves us in the world. I am hoping to provoke some hidden themes in people’s hearts and minds that can be processed then into something they can also heal and work with or just be aware of them. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in cinema. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? Do you think it is harder for women artists to have their projects green lit today? I think that nowadays it is brighter than ever, some women really took their place and stance regarding this challenge and it seems to work out immensely. I am a firm believer of


just doing what you want to do regardless of your gender or any other limitation society makes you believe you have. I know that I am also very lucky to live in this time when things are more open than ever and I am very grateful for that. I say, if there is a will that is authentic there will always be a way. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Shira. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently writing a script for a feature film, it will be the first time I will be doing something like that. It is very challenging and exciting for me! I will be directing new music videos in different places on the globe, cannot really reveal yet but i’m sure will be an adventure. I am also very interested in combining my body and voice into some other planned project which is more experimental and installation based. I feel that 2020 is going to be a wonderful year for everyone, keeping high vibrations. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers meets

Nicola Hepp Lives and works in Wijk bij Duurstede and Amsterdam

Echo is a one minute film created after I had seen the open call for 60secondsdance.com. The challenge of making a film last exactly 60 seconds was added upon when I decided to film and choreograph it as a one-taker. The only edit happens when the boy appears in the mirror. He was filmed in front of a green screen and the visual effects artist tracked the space and composited the young boy into the image. The mirror in the space presented a challenge for the postproduction as the steadicam operator would be seen in the mirror each time she passed behind the dancer. Her image had to be erased frame by frame. Echo is a kinetic, subtle film about aging. My father is the older dancer performing in it. At 86, he is still dancing and finding it difficult to accept that age is catching up on him. The theme of aging, reminiscence and memory is recurring in my work.

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

Hello Nicola and welcome to we would like to invite our readers to visit in order to get a

:

wider idea about your artistic production and we would start this interview with a couple of questions about your background. You have been trained to be a dancer at the Schweizerische Ballettberufsschule in ZĂźrich and Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in the Netherlands and you graduated from the AHK Modern Dance Department after having


Nicola Hepp photo by Adnan Hasovic


spent your last year as an exchange student at the School for New Dance Development. You later obtained your Master in Choreography and New Media at the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten: how did these experiences influence the trajectory of your artistic research? Moreover what did address you to focus an important part of your artistic research on the intersection between choreography and video? From an early age during my dance training I started to create work in my head, little choreographies that I saw in front of my inner eye. I was always very visually oriented and was incredibly inspired by artists like Bill Viola, Olafur Eliasson and Ingmar Bergman. On the other hand my practice always had a very physical grounding, there was always movement involved. I practically grew up in the dance studio of my father. He was my first dance teacher and in our home we were constantly watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies as well as West Side Story, A Chorus Line and Fame. Dance and Film had a very natural connection for me. My dance training at first was very academic and conventional, up to the age of 16 I dreamed of becoming a classical dancer. Then I got properly introduced to modern dance, in training and in seeing performances and dance films. I still have a VHS tape of a dance film I recorded around that time off the TV, for many years not knowing what it was. This film was so inspiring, focussing on the relationships of three couples in different locations in

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

Still by Gemma Probst


Women Cinemakers

Still by Gemma Probst


interview

Women Cinemakers one large building. With close-ups and sharp edits, I was amazed at how close the camera could get to the performers. I later found out that the film was “Never Again� by Bob Bentley, featuring dancers from DV8. My quest for learning to express myself with modern dance took me to Amsterdam and the Modern Dance Department at the AHK. Here I trained on a high technical level for three years and then did my last year as an exchange student with the SNDO-School for New Dance Development. At SNDO I was challenged into opening myself up as a maker, learning more about composition and improvisation. I also followed a course on dance and video. After graduating and working as a dancer for a few years, my urge to create work grew. I travelled for a while taking courses and workshops in dance and new media, to Palindrome in Germany and Kelli Dipple/ Charlotte Vincent in Leeds, but video was ever my primary interest. When I returned to study Choreography and New Media at the AHK, my focus was on juxtaposing live dance with video images and audience interaction. I created performances and installations with video projections as an integral part of the dance performance. I am fascinated by being able to direct the eye of the viewer and tell a story with images. Being up close to the performer and wanting to see the movements from a different angle made me embrace the use of the moving camera. The images created by a camera that is choreographed in relation to the choreography of the dancers continue to compel me. In creating dance



Photo by Bram Vleugel


Still by Alessio Reedijk

films, I am able to share my vision and combine a narrative with my movement expertise in attempting to create visceral and engaging work. For this special edition of we have selected Echo, an extremely interesting dance video that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . What has at

once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the theme of aging is the way you have provided the results of your artistic research with such refined aesthetics, inviting the viewers to such a multilayered experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of Echo, would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? I think there were two paths that came together. I had worked with my father, who is the performer in


Still by Alessio Reedijk

Echo, on a stage choreography called 23 | 73 a few years earlier. Working together was a very special experience. It was becoming clear to me that the movements he had performed in that piece only a short while ago were becoming increasingly difficult for him to manage. His physical capacity was declining and I felt that I wanted to capture that moment somehow. Then I saw an open call for creating a 60 second dance

film and I immediately had this image of my father looking into the mirror and seeing himself as a young boy. Aging and the fear of aging is a very universal theme, but also for me a very personal one as I am seeing my father having to deal with it on a daily basis and unfortunately only seeming to experience the more negative issues with it. The open call made me jump to action, and it was extra rewarding that Echo won the audience award at the event where it premiered in 2014.


Women Cinemakers Echo features essential, still effectively structured composition: what were your aesthetic decisions when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens? I’m very attached to simplicity and a clarity of aesthetics. I initially thought to place the character in a large dance studio, but opted for the void, dark space instead to focus more on the movements that he performs and the emotional void he seems to be in. There is still a performative element in adding the blue lights that come from one side, as if the character is on stage at the same time as it could all be taking place inside his own head. It was clear to me immediately that I wanted to work with a steadicam operator circling the performer. This, together with the fact that I wanted to shoot it as a continuous take gave a very clear choice in form. The steadicam operator had exactly 60 seconds to circle around the performer, following the choreography and both ending up facing the mirror. We filmed the boy in a separate take in front of a green screen and then composited him into the mirror image. The reflection in the mirror of the steadycam operator had to be cleaned away, frame by frame in post. The choice of camera and lenses was decided on following the advice of Gemma Probst, my steadicam operator. We shot on a RED Epic camera with Zeiss Super Speed Lenses. The floating, cinematic images that Steadicam produces are very appealing to me. It gave Echo a sense of being in a


Still by Adnan Hasovic


Still by Adnan Hasovic


Women Cinemakers vacuum, the dark, unspecified space and the floating camera adding to that visceral sensation. It's important to remark that your father is the older dancer performing in Echo and that he is still dancing and finding it difficult to accept that age is catching up on him: how important was for you to draw from your personal experience, in order to make a personal film, about a theme that you know a lot about? And how does your daily life's experience fuel your creative process, in general? I think we all draw from personal experiences to some extent. However, it is not always a literal story that I’m telling. For example after seeing my film Songs of the Underworld, people often ask me if my mother died, which is thankfully not the case. If you look at my work and interpret it literally then my guess is that you will think of me differently than people who know me personally, haha. And I think personal experience includes everything, also stories you might have read, your emotional response to music, films you may have seen. This all in view of who you are as a person and what you can imagine. So events don’t need to have happened in my own life for me to be able to make a film about them. I think one of my main interests as a filmmaker is my wish to understand others and what their motivations are. So when I make a film I’m always trying to put myself in my character’s shoes. And sometimes it teaches me something about myself too.



Still by Adnan Hasovic


Women Cinemakers

In the case of Echo, my father’s fear of aging and death has become a topic that we talk a lot about. He needs to feel alive, to feel needed in what has always been his life; namely dance. So my making Echo was in a way also a gift to him, he could dance in my film and now Echo is being screened all over the world, so even when he cannot perform the movements anymore, the film is still there for us to see. And he can enjoy being seen. My father is now 86 and is still dancing. In fact next year he will take part in a dance performance by Örjan Andersson for the Skånes Dansteater Contemporary Dance Company in Malmö. We have appreciated the way your approach to dance conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to the grammar of body language: how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative gestures and the need of spontaneity? How importance does improvisation play in your process? When we created Echo, I was first experimenting with a younger dancer friend of mine, Manuel Ronda, who together with me worked out part of the gestural movements. It was interesting to me to work with someone who had a similar background ( we had both studied at MTD) and I


Photo by Esther Murdock


A still from Photo by Esther Murdock


Women Cinemakers knew his capacity to adapt to different tasks and create an imaginary world with his movement. Due to logistics, my father was only able to arrive in the Netherlands a day or so before the shoot, so I needed to work with another person to initiate the work process for myself. Due to the fact that the film needed to be exactly 60 seconds long, we structured the choreography and set everything in terms of both movements and timing. The relationship between the steadicam operator and the performer was experimented with during rehearsals with my father and then decided on the set. But even though the choreography was set, I find it extremely important to keep an open mind and to use improvisation in some sense even while on set, I love to think on my feet in that kind of situation. Often in my process of making work, the dance movements come out of improvisation relating to tasks and ideas we work on together. I also find the people that I work with to be of utmost importance to what a film or performance becomes. That also means that I usually allow time for myself and the performers to get to know eachother, alternatively I will work with people that I already know well. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, the theme of aging, reminiscence and memory is recurring in your work: do you think that Echo could be considered an allegory of human



Photo by Chris Fawcett


Women Cinemakers experience in our unstable, everchanging age? Moreover, what are you hoping Echo will trigger in the spectatorship? I hope that people first see the film before they read this. I always find that the initial way you see something may later be enhanced by knowing more about it- which may trigger you to have another look. But if the events take place the other way around: sometimes if you have too much information before looking at something the whole experience becomes analytical. My work is visceral, intended to be viewed and experienced, felt. Echo is really about who we are on the insidewhich is not always what is shown on the outside. In Echo, an older man is uneasy in his body and then forgets himself, feels free and sees himself in the mirror as the young boy that he feels like on the inside. I think many of us struggle with the different roles we take on during our lifetimes. Changing between roles as daughter, student, teacher, lover, peer, colleague, mother makes me question- who are you at the core? I would like people to see Echo and to acknowledge that there is more to each one of us than what meets the eye. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by


Still by Nicola Hepp


Still by Nicola Hepp


Women Cinemakers 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? In relation to making a film, I personally agree with the idea that a film is made three times: once in your head, once on set and once in the editing room. I think it is extremely important to keep an fresh eye as to what the film is becoming at each of these three stages. The outcome will never be exactly like it was in your head due to the experiences and physicality of making the film in the real world. At the same time the physical act of being on set with the people involved influence what the film will be in my opinion. Which again is maybe one reason that I prefer to work with people I know. Moreover, I find the moving camera to be of utmost importance in my work. The cameraperson, whether a steadicam operator or shooting handheld becomes an intricate part of the choreography of the scene. As a choreographer, I find that extremely interesting and I give the utmost value in how I want the camera to move in my films. Decisions I take



Still by Adnan Hasovic


Women Cinemakers with the dancers concerning their movement have implications for how it can be filmed. Vice versa cinematic contemplations that arise from my conversations with the cameraperson give me new ideas to develop dance material with the dancers. In a sense it is a system that keeps feeding on itself. I do not try to separate these processes as I find them intrinsically connected to each other. I believe that as a viewer you are able to see and feel that the movement of the camera is connected to the dancer or performer and that we have placed importance on their connection from the very beginning. During the shoot, the way the dancers are interacting with the camera; how they are relating to it in the way they position themselves is based on this awareness of the interconnection. The relationship between sound and visual is crucial in your practice and we have appreciated the way the minimalistic sound tapestry by Jurriaan Balhuizen provides the footage of Echo with such an ethereal atmosphere: how would you consider the role of sound within your practice and how do you see the relationship between sound and movement? It is a marriage. Literally in this case, because Jurriaan Balhuizen is my husband! Haha! No seriously, I believe that sound and visuals have equal


Still by Nicola Hepp


Still by Nicola Hepp


Women Cinemakers importance into creating a whole. Both sound and images can affect you in such an emotional way. When I work on a film it is important to me that the sound has meaning, that it gives another layer to the experience of watching the film. The music or the sounds can enhance something that is there in the film that I might want to give more weight by using the audio in a specific way. For Echo, Jurriaan and I discussed the idea of sounds from a music box. It adds the connotation of a turning dancer in those old-fashioned jewellery boxes. Here there is also in fact the physical act of creating the artwork: We made the plates for the music box by hand and I sat and played it, while Jurriaan recorded it in sync with the film for it to be timed exactly how we wanted it. While editing I often bounce ideas back and forth with my husband, it’s a great privilege to have him be part of my process in that way and generate ideas together. I use my musicality when editing, which means that the sound and the images can influence each other both ways- if a scene works better musically to be shortened I might have to do that in the image rather than in the sound. Usually I edit the images first, but there is often some rhythmical finetuning once the music has been decided on. And vice versa. It’s a two-way street in finding the best solution that works as a whole and communicates what I want to say.


Women Cinemakers We have really appreciated the originality of your artistic research and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something 'uncommon', however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view on the future of women in this interdisciplinary field? I think there is much to be gained by allowing more diverse voices to surface and to encourage them to make artistic work. I’m happy to say that I have not personally encountered any discouragement in this field, maybe because the dance world has always been very populated by women? Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Nicola. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving?

that I have been working on for a few years. It will be a longer short film, a meditative journey into a very troubled person’s mind. The movement will be very minimal and gestural, in the largest part of the film the protagonist will be walking. The camera will follow her with an intimacy and immediacy to make the viewer part of the experience. I’m interested in making a visually stunning film but filled with anguish and dread. We are currently in the process of applying for means to realise the film. I’d also really like to take this opportunity to thank my past and current collaborators, cast and crew without whom I wouldn’t be able to make my films. It’s wonderful to feel the support they offer so that I can continue to develop my projects and ideas. I intend to continue my investigation into the relationship between movement and the camera, hoping to move a few people along the way. An interview by Francis L. Quettier

I’m working on a few different ideas at the moment, all in different stages of preproduction. The one that is the furthest developed is an idea

and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com


Photo by Jelena Popadic


Women Cinemakers meets

Molly Lucille Lives and works in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

It Never Leaves You is a reaction tumultuous state of our current society. Its purpose is to provide a safe space of understanding and healing for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, seeking to promote connections, dialogue and awareness for these victims. There is a horrifying percentage of people who have experienced these life changing assaults, who know that it truly never leaves you. These experiences can leave you completely altered, and change your perspective and change your personality. They leave scars. They leave pain. They break trust. Though nothing can truly heal the scars left by these experiences, finding a community of people who will listen can help ease the burden these memories impose on the victims. By reaching out, the healing process can begin. We are here for you. There are always people who are there to listen. People who are there to support you. You are not alone. as a filmmaker? Moreover, how does your cultural

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research

and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com

I started my interest in film during my freshman year at Columbia College Chicago. While there studying acting, I

Hello Molly and welcome to

: we

performed in several student films and productions. The

would like to introduce you to our readers with a couple of

more I explored that world, the more I wanted control over

questions about your background. Are there any

my voice and over the stories my body was telling. Being a

experiences that did particularly influence your evolution

vehicle for someone else's words and story made me feel



stifled and inauthentic. I began to explore other outlets and discovered videography during my transfer to Grand Valley State University. During that time, I had some truly incredible professors that encouraged me to delve into my fascination with the relationship between body and screen, and how that could be used to discuss feminine identity. They introduced me to the experimental, visually striking works of Mariko Mori, Marilyn Minter, and so many others. Seeing video and film used as a medium for visual storytelling in that way was liberating and incredibly compelling for me. I began using aesthetics as a visual language to explore themes and ideologies that have formed my relationship to creativity, storytelling, and performance. Particularly, the influence of women in control of their own image and the depiction of their own context drew me to this medium. Representation became the core to most of my work and often involved examining how media affects our perceptions of reality. Yet at its heart, my work remains deeply personal. I intentionally include myself to expose my own complex relationship to femininity and the specific repercussions that are created when these concepts are communicated to a larger audience. Film and video are pervasive throughout modern society and carry a substantial burden in regards to how representation can affect cultural assumptions on a global scale. For this special edition of selected

we have , a captivating experimental film

that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article and that can be viewed at . What has at once captured our attention of your insightful exploration of

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers is the way your unconventional and powerful narrative provides the viewers with such an intense visual experience. While walking our readers through

of

, could

you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? It Never Leaves You was my way of articulating, for the first time, my story. As you can hear in the piece, it took my three years to begin to process what had happened to me. The day after it happened, I starkly remember standing in front of the mirror in my tiny dorm apartment in Chicago, staring at the deep bruises that covered me. I hid everything, not wanting to talk to anyone, and not acknowledging to myself what had happened. I convinced myself that no one needed or cared to know- somehow, it was my fault, and if I told anyone, I felt that they would make it worse. I left Chicago, and took a year off of school, and buried it deeper, but it kept itching at me, covering me, consuming me. I’d have flashbacks nearly daily- sharp memories that would flash feel like a stab in my chest. This feeling continued, and gnawed at me for three years. During this time, I began my studies at Grand Valley State University, and started to explore video work. Throughout most my work, I used glitter as a hyperbolic, aesthetic symbol of femininity. It became such a staple in my work that it covered my studio space and trickled into all the surrounding spaces. The more I studied the pervasiveness of it, the more it began to resonate as a mental symbol of my trauma. I began to picture those ugly, painful bruises as glitter— pervasive and lingering, showing up as a glimmer unannounced, bringing that sharp memory back. Through this analogy, I began to slowly find the language to share my trauma I wanted to use my personal experience and the symbol




of the glitter “bruises” to communicate the lingering scars from

remaining glimmers of purple and black for weeks, trailing into

the trauma associated with sexual assault. It became a way to

our hair, ears and cheeks as a nonverbal call to attention for

ease my earlier fears that if I told anyone I wouldn’t be heard or

those who carried their own invisible glitter bruises.

understood. As I started the process of recording and writing

The piece was created for a gallery showing, which took place

the narration, I knew I wanted to open up the piece beyond my

at Grand Valley State University. The video was projected as a

personal experience. Bringing in actors, who were all my peers,

multi channel installation, each projection filling a wall of the

to personify the symbol of the glitter bruises, expanded the

gallery. In the center of the gallery lay a pedestal of the same

personification and reach of this piece. With each individual, a

glitter that was used during the filming. A sign encouraged

new layer of context was added. We each had a different

viewers to place their hand in the glitter as they listened and

moment of solidarity, of sharing and nonverbally expressing

looked into the eyes of each story. They left the gallery wearing

our own individual contexts. After each filming, we all wore the

the glitter as we did — a physical reminder of context. As the


show completed its week long run, the purple and black glitter

shooting? In particular, what was your choice about

had spread through the hallways of the building, and

camera and lens and how was the filming experience?

remained long after its de-installation as a personification and

The simplicity and straightforward framing of the

visual embodiment of the struggle I myself and other victims

cinematography was intentionally stripped down to showcase

go through daily.

the vulnerability I felt in creating it. By being confronted with the direct gazes of the actors, the viewer is forced to

Featuring essential and elegant cinematography, is brilliantly composed and we have

acknowledge the humanity of each individual. One voice is plays uninterrupted throughout the piece despite the

particularly appreciated the way your sapient use of close

changing faces. It's never designated who is speaking, which

ups allows you to capture

allows all of them to speak, in a way, while they are

moments: what were your

when

confronting the audience visually. Shooting directly and in still


shots allowed each actor to be both part of the collective, representative whole, and personifying their own emotional connection to the process. The piece was shot with the first camera I learned to work with, a Sony A 65. I wanted the piece to be as clear and minimalistic as possible so I opted for a clean, neutral background and tightly framed shots. This worked to emphasize the glitter as it popped out against its fairly monotone surroundings. We have appreciated the way your video conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to : how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your film and

? How importance does play in your process?

The process was incredibly raw and vulnerable. Filming took place in a quiet room with just the two of us. I knew that I wanted to create a space where each person would feel safe - myself included - especially if they began to feel overwhelmed. I had a long conversation with each actor before filming began, often taking place while I applied their makeup. Together, we dove into the context of the piece, which allowed them to share their own perspective and experiences if they felt so inclined. In sharing these moments with one another, I found myself altering how I wanted to frame them. The process brought me out from the isolation of myself. It connected my own experience to a broader range of people who deeply understood and lived the visual symbolism of the piece. It became a collaborative effort between myself and each actor so that they would feel validated in their part in making the final

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers work. As we talked, each actor was able to add a layer of expression in whatever way they were comfortable. They had agency to further embody the work as they saw fit- not just the visual aspects we were trying to communicate but their own personal connection to the core concepts the piece as well. We have really appreciated the way questions the tension between experience and memory, by highlighting the relationship between the real and the artificial. How does everyday life's experience fuel your artistic process? In a way, the process of creating this piece was a way of reclaiming memory. I own my story. I shouldn’t need to explain the painful specifics in order to validate my experiences, which is what originally held me to silence. I realized that communicating the specifics was not conducive to my recovery. Rather finding a way to express my main struggle — the pervasiveness of the trauma and the feeling that the experience formed me and owned me — has helped me on the road to overcoming and growing beyond that one event. The piece is about exploring the

of the memory; the

pervasiveness of that gnawing, ever-constant anxiety, the jolt when someone touches you, the sharpness of a stranger’s gaze. Articulating these visceral recollections through visual syntax gave me the means to decipher my own anxieties and trauma. Using my methodology as a form of representation, as an example of one way to process and to begin to heal, I wanted to ensure I didn't definitively declare my approach was the “right” way to heal. I hope others are able to utilize these moments of solidarity to help process their own personal circumstances.


If anything, I learned that there is no one end to the healing process. As the title states, these experiences truly never leave you, and attempting to erase the trauma of sexual assault is impossible. Acknowledging that fact, and finding a way to express the intrinsic nature of trauma and its way of bending reality was instrumental. For me, I regained the power over my own narrative and memory, giving myself permission to exist within these complexities so I control the way it is communicated and depicted. In this instance, the glitter became a visual metaphor to articulate how the specifics of the memory are not important but rather, what those memories leave behind. The use of glitter was tied specifically, in part, to my existence as a highly femme individual. Femininity is viewed through a lens of triviality, I often find myself filtered through assumptions of vapidity, self-absorption, or dim-wittedness. There is a strong misunderstanding that those who like makeup and pretty things have very little to say. Subsequently, glitter is probably the highest physical representation of the femme. It's is often considered kitschy, a tool for crafters and little girls, and incapable of containing the scope and depth to address issues of assault. There were even times during my use that a few of my professors questioned its use as a medium, believing that I couldn't work it past its own cultural implications. And I didn't. Instead I used those stereotypes to underline the stereotypes I face in my own daily existence. It's also why I still continue to use glitter in my work as a representation of femme ideologies. As you have remarked in your artist's statement, is a reaction tumultuous state of our current society: Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco once stated, "

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers

A still from


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Women Cinemakers ": what could be in your opinion in our contemporary age? Does your artistic research respond to a particular cultural moment? In the context of artistic expression, I think it’s dangerous to externally impose a specific expectation of what the role of creatives should be. Since we are all coming from different backgrounds, different parts of the world, and expressing them within different mediums, that decision should fall to the individual. They should be able to have the agency to form their work within whatever context they see fit, and not to prescribe to a set role within a global society. That said, an artist should certainly be aware of how their work will come across to any unintended audiences. They also must be open to criticisms from groups that may have been adversely affected by an ignorance of a privileged perspective. Personally, my work uses aesthetics as a visual language to evoke a sense of empathy and connection. I see firmly residing within the context of the current social climate that is moving towards comprehending the depth sexual assault affects modern society. Right now, our collective language surrounding this issue is evolving. Whether it be through the “#metoo� movement or other social contexts, sexual assault victims are finding a platform to stand and be heard. As I stressed before, this particular work focuses on empathy and the process of remembering rather than fixating on details. It's meant to reveal the layer of raw human emotion that comes from the comprehension of a personal violation and how one begins to move forward. The work is meant to guide the conversation toward that healing and empathy in this cultural moment. Ultimately, I feel like the common goal of most artists is to create a space for experience. Regardless of concept, execution, or medium, we are collectively exploring methods of communication. Whatever context it explores, art has the power to reveal and to create


connection. In any role an artist is pursuing, recognizing that power and acknowledging one’s own context is absolutely key. If the artist’s goal is to respond to a cultural moment, there is great power to contribute to the conversation or movement, to frame experience and language in an intentional, creative perspective. We have been highly fascinated with the way you combine deep realism with captvating surreal atmosphere, to highlight : in this sense, we daresay that responds to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that : in particular, you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their perceptual categories to : how important is for you to trigger create the viewers' perceptual categories in order to address them to ? And what do you hope elaborate will trigger in the spectatorship? Watching viewers interact with the installation of this piece touched on this very idea. Creating a space that reveals deep, personal trauma is an electric, intense experience. Opening it to the public eye heightens these emotions. The added layer of representing others beyond myself contributed to this tension. The core of this piece was not to evoke guilt or to prod at the trauma of others, but to rather promote an atmosphere of There is no one correct way to process or handle trauma, but to create a moment for all to stop and consider the hidden traumas many people carry is a powerful moment. This moment touches on the words of Andreas Gursky- rather than forcing specific narratives to prove or secure the validity an individual's trauma, the goal of is to cultivate a shared moment of vulnerability between the viewer and the person on the screen. Beyond the interactive aspects of the

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Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


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Women Cinemakers installation, the nature of the film exists to promote a still, reflective representation of the everyday manifestation of trauma, while confronting the real, human side behind these representations. The goal is not to embody statistics, but rather showcase a moment of realization for the viewer to internalize the hidden stories many people carry. The hope of this piece is to provide a unique, accessible frame of reference to intrinsically understand the depth of trauma associated with sexual assault, and to reveal that there is power in empathy, and empowerment in claiming one’s own narrative. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": how do you consider the relation between of the concepts that you explore in of your practice? your artistic research and The physical presence, along with representations, of the body have begun to play a more definitive role in my work as my artistic practice has grown and evolved. Having a human element within the work creates a tangible personification of complex concepts. As humans, we intrinsically respond to the figure, we relate to it and immediately can place ourselves within the depicted environment. Film also creates a space for an approachable, immersive experience. Combining my history of performance with video has become interwoven with my work. The personal element allows me to claim responsibility for the concepts I’m embodying. Not only am I creating work, I’m living it, breathing it. With any conceptual approach I take, I want it to be clear that it is an experience , within my own story and context that the viewer can then use as a sounding board for their own similar - or contrasting history. We have appreciated the originality of your approach and before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask


you to express your view on the future of women in contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something '., However in the last decades there are signs that ' something is changing. How would you describe your personal experience as an unconventional artist? And what's your view field? on the future of women in this Representation is the key to subverting the expectations and limitations in the context of gender. Women, specifically, have begun to subvert the previous methodology of exposure through the accessibility of a larger audience online and in current media. Their success no longer hinges on the adherence to the expectations set for women in a male-dominated field. This subversion has not only given them greater recognition but also greater agency to how their work is constructed and distributed. This allows for collaboration, inspiration, and experimentation to be explored and celebrated. It creates spaces and lends supports to more explorative works, and a network of artists that can bolster and champion each other. Upcoming artists who would have otherwise been stifled are now finding a broader spectrum of influences and are able to build a solid network of individuals to assist them in cultivating their ideas. If anything, these new methodologies have proven the old stereotype false; when given the chance women choose to build each other up, rather than tear each other down. Having access to this platform, as well as growing technologies allows the boundaries of creativity continuously grow. Artists such as fashion designer Iris Van Herpen are exploring new technologies, such a 3D printing, and being celebrated for pushing the boundaries of creativity. Bolstering and celebrating such artists, builds a better platform for upcoming artists and inspire more women to create and speak their own creative language. We grow together, and the success of one artist can create a path and

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Women Cinemakers audience for a plethora of creative women that could follow in their footsteps. I’m continuously inspired by the creativity I see in the powerful women that are my contemporaries. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Molly. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? As an individual, I am continuously curious about ways of framing experience, of developing aesthetics to create a common language, exploring the role of the body and representation in performance and film, and in constant experimentation. I am enthralled by the spontaneity and experimentation that film allows, and look forward to continue my practice of exploration and aesthetics. you marked a big step for my artistic voice. As I’ve continued to explore video as a medium, collaboration has become integral to my practice. Recently, my creative partner, Katie Pershon, and I established our own collaborative, titled KML. Together, we’ve further explored video and photography as a visual language to explore the historical frameworks of gender, femininity and representation. We have found collaboration to enrich our creative expression by developing a partnership that explores large concepts through aesthetics. Incorporating video, photography, performance, and sculpture combines our own individual pursuits into a more complex, unified artistic practice. Currently, we are working on a video series that explores the religious representation of women instilled in us throughout our upbringing. These ideologies have shaped our own perceptions of how womanhood is characterized in modern society. Imparting what I've learned through creating

KML's work faces the

subconscious stigmas and self-destructive tendencies that come with the two-dimensional portrayals of women as virgin or whore. We've just finished the third piece within the seven-piece series, and plan to


complete the project over the course of the next two years.Beyond this project, we are fascinated with the process of collaboration within an artistic context as we are often met with surprise and confusion over the means in which we create. We flow between each other, finding connections between our experiences to make the sum parts of a whole. This often leads to an inability for either of us to claim one aspect of the final work as individually ours, both in concept and in physical medium. We've found viewers often become uncomfortable with this, insisting they can only digest our work after finding the answer to

created

. As

our art practice is a bit unorthodox, we're want to explore the expectations that come with a collaborative partnership. Our goal is to continually bring in a wider range of artists to better enrich our own perspectives and creative languages with the hopes that a need for possessing a part of the whole will dissipate within the context of the larger community.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my story.

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

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Women Cinemakers meets

Jessye Wdowin-McGregor Lives and works in Melbourne, Australia

Jessye Wdowin-McGregor is an artist whose creative practice incorporates the moving image, performance, photography and collage. Her work explores the relationships between human and natural environments, the psychological resonances of place and notions of interruption, visual rift and image transformation. She has held solo and group exhibitions at a diverse range of independent galleries and artist run initiatives in Australia, and in 2017 presented an open studio and public film screening in London at the culmination of an Associate Artist Residency with Acme Studios. Jessye is currently an artist in residence at Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West and exhibited her residency research at the Living Museum as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival in 2018. Jessye’s studies in Australia include a Master of Fine Art (by Research) (2008) at the Victorian College of the Arts, and a Master of Cultural Material Conservation (2014) at the University of Melbourne. ‘Isle of Grain’ is set at the mouth of the Thames Estuary, where the ancient River Thames meets the waters of the North Sea in the South East of England. The film traces the elemental shifts of the Estuary, where the seamless flowing in and out of powerful tidal waters place the region under a spell at times: container ships glide impossibly across the horizon at low tide, and the shoreline converts into an expanse of open sea upon the tide’s return. In this shape-shifting landscape of mudflats, marshland and water, my own presence is both unfamiliar and elemental, channelling light and wind through the manipulation of reflective objects, as though corresponding to the surrounding estuarine environment. An interview by Francis L. Quettier

a couple of questions regarding your

and Dora S. Tennant

background. You have a solid formal training

womencinemaker@berlin.com

and after having completed a Master of Fine Art

Hello Jessye and welcome to : we would like to introduce you to our readers with

(by Research) at the Victorian College of the Arts, you nurtured your education with a Master



of Cultural Material Conservation, that you received from the University of Melbourne: how did these experiences inform your current practice? Moreover, how does your cultural substratum direct the trajectory of your artistic research? Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to take part in this Biennial Edition. I feel very fortunate for the education I have accessed, and the immensely positive impact it has had on my practice and who I am today. My tertiary fine arts training at the Victorian College of the Arts offered invaluable professional feedback and mentorship from established practicing artists as well as a creative, like-minded community. As students, we were prompted to continually extend our thinking, our approaches to art making and our understanding of what art could be. It was during my honours year that I was urged to turn my attention and research focus toward a photographic series that I had been experimenting with, through which I was beginning to explore early ideas around performance and landscape. At the commencement of the Master of Fine Art program, the photographs had evolved into videos, which pushed me beyond my comfort zone at the time – video was a medium I had never contemplated prior to this. It was a really exciting period and these shifts in my practice were the catalyst for my current trajectory as an artist and the ideas that I am still working with today. I returned to university to undertake a Master of Cultural Material Conservation as a pathway into the type of

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Women Cinemakers professional employment that had always interested me, alongside my practice as an artist. As well as learning how to care for traditional object-based collections, I undertook research as part of a minor thesis component that examined embodied and non-written documentation strategies for the transmission of a relational performance art practice. This work inspired different ways of thinking about what archives can be, about the transfer of living knowledge and what else can act as a repository outside the official cultural institutions (such as memory and place). While currently working as a practitioner in the conservation field, I also cannot help but be inspired by the collection material I have the privilege of encountering. You are an eclectic artist and your versatile practice embraces video, performance, photography and collage to pursue multilayered visual results: before starting to elaborate about your artistic production, we would invite to our readers to visit in order to get a synoptic idea about your artistic production: would you tell us what does address you to such captivating multidisciplinary approach? How do you select in order to explore a particular aspect of your artistic inquiry? My practice is largely lens-based, and it is through photography and video that I found a way to convey the charged emotional registers of the spaces at the outskirts of cities that I am so drawn to. As a time-based medium,




video especially lends itself to capturing subtle shifts in light, mood, tone and sound that can activate and transform a landscape. It also introduced a space for chance, allowing things to happen before the camera; such as the improbable intervention of a mob of kangaroos bounding through the frame during my film , which is set in a pocket of semi-wilderness in suburban Melbourne, Australia. This is an important part of the way I work, because I am often attracted to a place without knowing why or

having a set idea of what I have come to film. The editing stage is similarly instinctive, permitting further experimentation with time, image and structure in the way I bring together what I have filmed. My own presence in my photographs and films came about intuitively. In the beginning, placing myself within the camera frame was a means to pose a moment of disruption, the insertion of a human form in relation to the sparse architectural structures that inhabit urban peripheries and industrial landscapes.


But more recently performance and video have acted as the key constituents for exploring the qualities of the environment or landscape I am interested in – a conduit for the invisible undercurrents and energies that are perhaps at the edge of our senses but don’t consciously hold our attention. Though a solitary figure in my films, I am yet responsive to my surroundings through simple actions that attempt to channel phenomena that might usually go unnoticed

(such as the force of the wind or the refraction of the sun). The use of collage in my practice echoes the same enquiry as the films in attempting to tease out a hidden dimension. I am interested in the possibilities of collage for creating images that resist being revealed all at once, thus prolonging a moment of looking. The pre-existing images I choose to work with are compelling to me for their inherent imperfections (particularly those that precede digital


reproduction, where instances of misregistration, colour bleed and coarse halftone printing allude to imagery that is breaking down), but equally because of the hint of something beyond surface value alone – an unseen yet quality. My collages attempt to bring out this underlying sensation through the trace of haptic interventions and layers, prior to undergoing a digital scan and reprint process which promotes varying degrees of removal from the original source image. Although varied, these mediums reinforce each other. My work, in whichever form, is an exploration of the unknowable aspects to images and places, features that could be thought of as beneath consciousness. Of course, I am only touching upon implicit or hidden seams in things; there is always an ambiguity to the landscapes and found imagery I am attracted to and the works I in turn produce. we For this special edition of have selected , a part of an ongoing series of short moving image works, that you have produced during an artist residency in London and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. What has at once captured our attention of your insightful inquiry into the human relationship to our surroundings, is the way it provides the viewers with such an intense and multilayered experience, balancing emotional and intellectual involvement.

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When walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us what did you attract of the canals and rivers in London and South East England? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens and how was the filming experience? In 2017 I visited a series of waterways in London and South East England as part of an artist residency with Acme Studios. I was drawn to the idea of the canal as a subversive peripheral space, offering alternate passage through the urban landscape. The canals of London in particular also embody the convergence of human endeavor and natural environment that I find so compelling, being artificially constructed and inextricably linked to the history of trade and industry, yet home to remarkable stretches of makeshift wilderness. Neglected and polluted for decades, many canals have since been regenerated, offering city dwellers necessary access to rich arterial green spaces throughout London. But I was most interested in parts of the canal network that have at one time or another been left alone, allowing for the unhindered return of flora and fauna. A conversation with curator, editor and writer Gareth Evans on these interests was the catalyst for my explorations beyond the limits of London, and to the Thames Estuary, where England’s ancient river meets the waters of the North Sea. With regard to the choice of camera setup used for the films developed during the residency and for




, I must acknowledge the support and expertise of audiovisual artist Polly Stanton, who offered invaluable guidance on a video camera that would suit my requirements. I settled on the Sony A7s ll, for its low light capabilities, 4K video recording and portability, which was particularly important as I prefer the flexibility of setting up quickly and transporting equipment with ease when out in the field. I paired the camera with a lightweight, general purpose Sony FE 28-70mm OSS lens, which worked well for me. While I did encounter some minor technical issues during filming, this combination of equipment allowed me to effectively capture something of the places I experienced. I am always learning with regard to video; I try to strike a balance between knowing enough technically to realise a film project and using the camera as a tool to explore an idea. Using a naturalistic still refined shooting style and well orchestrated camera work, has drawn heavily from and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful between human and natural worlds: how did you select the locations and how did they affect your shooting process? The terrain surrounding the Thames Estuary in South East England is governed by the tide, forever on the verge of dissolving into the sea. It is a place of low horizons and waterlogged surfaces, in which vast

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A still from


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Women Cinemakers shimmering mudflats and salt marsh are daily flooded by the rush of powerful estuary waters. I was struck by the elemental forces – water, wind, light – that transform the estuary from moment to moment and these is phenomena became the basis for my film. titled after its namesake, a remote village on the easternmost point of the Hoo Peninsula in Kent that looks out toward the mouth of the Thames. Like much of the estuary region, Grain features vast tracts of wild marshland interspersed with stark human-made landmarks, including the built remnants of heavy industry and redundant defense structures. I spent an afternoon and the following morning on the foreshore of Grain with my partner and assistant camera operator Adam Downs, filming the textures and sounds of the beach at both high and low tide. My camera remains stationary and observational in feel throughout , as it is in all of my recent film work. Such a technique often emphasises a natural element as the primary source of movement in an otherwise still scene. This way of working was particularly conducive to capturing the potency of my surroundings in Grain, which resonated with subtle chromatic shifts and fluctuations across sky, water and earth. The invisible but tangible force of the wind, especially heightened at the edge of the estuary, further accentuates the contrasting moments of energy and stillness in the film. I think in some ways the Isle of Grain selected me; I could feel it pulling me in like a magnet from the moment I arrived.





Women Cinemakers

We have been highly fascinated with the way you combine realism that comes from outdoor location and dreamlike atmosphere suggested by the specifics of the mouth of the Thames Estuary, to making visible the unseen still ubiquitous . In this sense, we daresay that responds to German photographer Andreas Gursky when he stated that : in particular, you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their perceptual categories to create : how important is for you to trigger the viewers' perceptual categories in order to address them to elaborate ? And what do you hope will trigger in the spectatorship? I appreciate the way you describe an ; we cannot help but inhabit landscapes with our bodies and our minds. We always bring to bear our individual interpretations, memories, emotions and imaginings to any encounter with place. My own relationship to landscape is deeply personal, and I hope to convey to others what I have experienced in the places I am drawn to working in. This includes the inherent rhythms, tensions and vibrations that are palpable but otherwise ‘out of sight’; I try to evoke

the latent atmosphere of a landscape through a combination of directly filming what I see and drawing out what is unseen. I hope that prompts the same feeling I had of being situated within a landscape that is continually transforming. This is a place where the shape of the land changes daily, slipping in and out of view and moving between states, subservient to the force of tidal waters. Neither river proper nor open sea, the estuary exists on a threshold that stimulates a corresponding transitional space within, allowing the mind to wander with the elemental shifts of the surrounding environment. I also wanted to give form to the alternating sense of calm and uneasiness that seemed to infuse the foreshore of Grain, as though one is witnessing the moment before a storm or the eerie sensation of the tide hanging far out to sea, momentarily suspended. Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the ambience provides the footage of with such an : how do you see ? The use of sound is an integral part of my video work, summoning up a sense of place as much as the visual component. I think sound also heightens the presence of the natural world, particularly when it is


hidden from view. I often choose to film at dawn or dusk, when a landscape is in a liminal state and undergoing incremental modulations in tone and hue as the sun rises or sets. It is at this time when the light is low, that the world feels aurally governed, particularly by the sound of birds and insects. Upon approaching the beach in Grain, I was struck foremost by the sound of water lapping against the shore, all but concealed from view by tall swathes of dried cow parsley that eventually gave way to the shimmering expanse of the estuary. The soundscape of the Grain shoreline was rich and heightened, filled with the cries of bickering seabirds, the fizzle of cockles breathing through mud, the whispering of cow parsley in the wind, the squeal of swifts wheeling overhead and the call of foghorns and other echoes of industry on the river. These sounds left an indelible impression on my memory of Grain and form an inseparable part of the film I made in response. Your recent film work responds to the elemental forces and tensions that exist within landscapes that are a composite of suburban development, industry and wilderness: how do you consider the relationship between Nature and the human element in its continuous evolution? I am interested in hybrid landscapes where human and non-human worlds intersect, and the ways in which natural forces can shape human spaces. The

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Women Cinemakers perseverance of flora and fauna in the unlikeliest of environments is extraordinary, particularly in the accidental and mundane parcels of land that remain temporarily undeveloped (the voids between factories, the surrounds of electricity substations, the edges of parking lots, the green corridors bordering railways). These spaces seem rich with potential and offer a sense of co-existence, in which plants and animals retrieve a position within spaces that have been disrupted as result of human activity. This is important at a time when our urban landscapes increasingly encroach upon natural habitats, often with disastrous and irreversible results. I am inspired by the idea that an overlooked edgeland can be remarkably capable of supporting life. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": as a multidisciplinary artist deeply involved in performance, how do you consider the of the concepts relation between that you explore in your artistic research and of your practice? The concepts and ideas I explore in my film work would not be possible without an embodied connection to place. The development of a work usually starts with visiting and exploring a site, even before filming or performative responses take place. Landscape itself is


Women Cinemakers sensory and dynamic, and we experience it as much through sound, touch and smell as we do through vision. I try to find ways to communicate the physical sensation of being in a location through my chosen medium of video. In addition to recording and presenting what I see in situ, it is through the editing process that I am able to heighten an underlying mood or atmosphere, in which sequences are sometimes slowed, reversed or superimposed on one another. Overlaying footage hints at an internal animation within or below the frame of the image, an effect that is echoed at times in my performative gestures – the use and manipulation of reflective objects in my work is suggestive of a signal of sorts, an enigmatic message from inside the landscape, flickering just beneath the realism of the scene presented. You are an established artist and over the years you have held solo and group exhibitions both in Australia and in London. Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our contemporary scene it has been a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists. Before leaving this conversation we want to catch this occasion to ask you to express your view on the future of women in the contemporary art scene. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from producing something ', however in the last decades there are '




Women Cinemakers signs that something is changing. What's your view in this on field? I am excited by the work that has recently gone into recognisng and restoring the visibility of many women artists who have been relegated, under represented or deliberately left out of official art histories. Many of these artists I am encountering for the first time; they did not feature as part of the curriculum during my art education. I was captivated by an exhibition I saw in London during my residency, called at White Cube Bermondsey, exploring the endurance of surrealist elements and influences through the work of over 50 women artists, from the 1930s to today. As someone who has long been drawn to the surrealist movement, it was refreshing to see in these works a subversion of the male surrealist gaze and sexualised representation of women that is so strongly associated with the period. I hope that exhibitions and surveys like this continue, that they are not simply a trend in the wake of a growing awareness of gender disparity, both in the arts and more broadly across society. Recently the momentum for change has resulted in many positive developments, but we have work to do and a long way to go before there is to be any kind of meaningful equality, not only in terms of gender, but also race, privilege and class.


Women Cinemakers Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Jessye. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? I am currently undertaking an artist residency with Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West in Australia, combining archival research with filming on location around the Maribyrnong River, which winds through the western suburbs of Melbourne. It is an extension of the research I began in London, similarly focusing on a river environment that has been altered and shaped by the effects of industrial development. The opportunity to work directly with an archive presents a new dimension to my practice that I have long been interested in, and I am looking forward to how it will inform and feature in my work. I recently realised a site-specific project, a large outdoor video projection that offered a momentary connection to the horizon and the setting of the sun; a natural phenomenon that is largely obscured from view in the built environment. This work was a step toward expanding my practice to include temporary projects within the public realm, which I hope to continue to develop alongside presentations of my work in a gallery context. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com



Women Cinemakers meets

Marie Lambin-Gagnon Hannah Schallert Nature Morte is a 7-minute short experimental dance film, created by Marie Lambin-Gagnon and Hannah Schallert, which aims to capture the implicit beauty of flowers and the feminine body by imagining their relationships in different configurations and senses. Both existing as living modes of expression, flowers and the feminine body have played muse to some of the best known artists of our time, and their shapes, textures, and movements continue to animate and inspire. The film draws on this wealth of imagery to evoke the subtleties and the complexities of their relationship in ways which are at once poetic and surreal. A rich and sensual journey through a series of interconnected worlds, Nature Morte is a meditation on ephemerality, on strength and fragility, on stillness and motion- capturing life both without and within us.

An interview by Francis L. Quettier

questions regarding your backgrounds. You

and Dora S. Tennant

have both solid formal trainings: Marie

womencinemaker@berlin.com

graduated from The School of Toronto

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

Dance Theatre and Hannah majored from the Etobicoke School of the Arts: how did these experiences influence of your artistic


Hannah Schallert photo by Allison Schallert

Marie Lambin-Gagnon photo by Jae Yang


evolutions? Moreover, how do your direct the trajectories of your artistic researches? Prior to my dance training at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, I also graduated from college in the fine arts program, and completed an art history course at University of Quebec in Montreal. I call myself first a “choreographer” and “dancer”, but my artistic practice and research are tinted by my education in visual art. I like to play with the boundaries between dance and visual art, creating a unique harmony between those two art mediums. I like those moments where dance and visual become one, creating something that is almost undefinable. - Dance is something I’ve been involved with in various capacities my whole life- my formal training and involvement with the Toronto community have provided spaces in which any ideas, concepts, or problems I’m interested in come to bear. In the past few years, I’ve branched out from working solely as a performer and interpreter to explore other facets of dance and artmaking, from choreography, to administration, to photo and video work and filmmaking, and these have all served to deepen my involvement with the community and change the way I think of myself as a dance professional. I’m also currently completing a BFA in Dance at York University, and have become more and more involved

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Women Cinemakers there with scholarship and academia. My academic research has to do with expanded notions of choreography and movement in relation to media and technology, and these interests meet my creative work in terms of a focus on exploring the formal and conceptual possibilities of dance as a set of techniques and practices. For this special edition of we have selected , an extremely interesting dance short film whose trailer can be viewed at and that our readers have already started to get to know in the introductory pages of this article. Inquirying into , this captvating video has at once captured our attention for the way it inquiries in the elusive notions of time, urging the viewers to highlight the ubiquitous bonds between past and present, providing the viewers with such a multilayered visual experience: when walking our readers through the genesis of , would you tell us how did you develop the initial idea? - The idea for our short film started with my obsession with flowers. I love flowers and I always wanted to make a dance or a work integrating flowers in some way. Hannah and I had many conversations and we came to the idea that it would be interesting to play with images that would reflect how painters and visual artist have been incorporating




flowers into their works through visual art history. In choosing artworks to engage with, we wanted to progress through representations of flowers in Romantic, Modern and Contemporary painting and collages, by artists such as Gustav Klimt, Georgia O’Keeffe and Anne ten Donkelaar. After setting a draft for the choreography, we started to imagine the body framed in a way that would remind us of work of arts from those artists that inspired us.

Whenever Marie and I work together on a film project, we begin by collecting extensive visual references of both still and moving images that allow us to form an inspirational palette to draw from, and get more specific with each other about our personal goals and ideas for the project. In addition to the artworks Marie mentioned, we found images from photography, fashion and design magazines, that staged the body in interesting, playful, and surprising ways.


From here, we were able to start generating a collection of conceptual sketches for different ways we could bring flowers and the female body together on film- as you mention this was one of our central themes. We often work this way, choosing a particular piece of subject matter that intrigues us and has the potential to generate numerous outcomes, assemble some rough variations on that theme, and then start manipulating them formally in a

way that we think will be interesting and engaging. For Nature Morte, we decided to create a series of interlocking studies, each of which would combine flowers and the body in different relationships, scales, and senses. Featuring ravishing and elegant cinematography, is brilliantly composed and we have particularly appreciated the way your sapient use of close ups allows you to capture


moments: what were your when shooting? In particular, what was your choice about camera and lens and how was the filming experience? The film is shot on my Canon 70D DSLR, just using the 18mm-55mm kit lens. Following the rubric of formal studies and variations, I wanted to move through a range of framing and shooting styles- wide, static shots in deep focus with minimal movement and slow pans or tilts; and on the other hand, close-ups with a very shallow depth of field and intuitive camera movement that had a more intimate and hand-held feel. When we were collecting our initial references, I looked a lot at the recent work of Emmanuel Lubezki (for example in Terrance Malick’s ), especially for the close-up moments but also as applicable to all the shots- I wanted to have a naturalistic feeling of ‘moving stillness’ in the camera even when I was going for more minimal wide shots, and never used a tripod or rig of any kind. In terms of the filming experience, I would begin with rough sketches and storyboards indicating the approximate framing, focal length, and any notes about movement or key stylistic choices to incorporate. I always had a plan for these parameters in mind, but we were never working set camera movements.

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Women Cinemakers



Women Cinemakers

We have appreciated the way your approach to performance conveys sense of freedom and reflects rigorous approach to : how do you consider the relationship between the necessity of scheduling the details of your performative ? How gestures and much importance does play in your process? We approached Na t u re Mo r te, as we do all our short films, in terms of “studies”. We have a broad idea and sketch of what we want to accomplish in each scene but also remain open to following what emerges naturally when we actually start working with the camera. We let the props and sets surprise us as we play with them. I did some prior research alone in studio to explore different movement qualities and strategies, but ultimately there are no ‘set movements’ in the film. Through the choreography we wanted to capture feelings, textures and images that were reflective of the natural world- flowers dancing in the wind, the shapes and feel of their petals, the way they root

themselves into the ground and also sprout from it. We have been highly fascinated with of your video allows you to combine realism and dreamlike atmosphere to : in this sense we daresay that you seem to urge your spectatorship to challenge their perceptual categories to create . How important is for you to trigger the viewer's imagination in order to address them to elaborate personal associations? Since our work often involves combining different scenes together, it’s very important to us that we set out thematic and aesthetic ‘clues’ for viewers to follow, without completely connecting all the dots in a linear narrative. The connections are definitely more poetic than literal, and we pay a lot of attention to constructing a sense of surreal or dream-like logic- for example, the progression from an extreme close up of Marie’s hand to an extreme wide shot of her in the middle of an empty room matches the placement of her body in the frame with that of the hand, so that she sort




Women Cinemakers

of grows out of her own hand, or is held inside it, etc. A lot of these connections ultimately show up in the edit, so in the shooting stage we are not necessarily planning and staging the specific links that will be formed, but rather maintain a continuity by moving the same props around differently, re-using iconography of for example the hand, a rose, the colour pink, so that all the possibilities will be there to play with in cutting. The other layer that tends to come in post for us is sound- for example, the presence of water shows up in several different senses: first in the opening shots at the Allen Gardens greenhouse, secondly with the sound of rain falling after the first section ends, and then visually as droplets of water on Marie’s shoulder in the second section. style and well Using a naturalistic orchestrated camera work, has drawn heavily from to question the duality between stillness and motion, and we have highly appreciated the way you have created such insightful between the environment and performative gestures: how did you select the location and how did it affect your shooting process?

We wanted to pick a location that would allow us to create our own world and tableaus. The studio we chose to shoot in formed the perfect ‘blank slate,’ as it has very high walls that are entirely white, and are also flattened into a curving shape with no corners, so that, depending on how you frame a shot, you can create a sense of a sort of ‘non-space’ and play a lot with depth and staging. The studio also has beautiful natural light and a raw, open feel. For our opening and closing shots, we went to a greenhouse in Toronto called the Allen Gardens Conservatory. This location gave us the opportunity to see flowers more in their ‘natural’ environment, or at least a more typical way than we had been showing them throughout the rest of the film. Here, the body was more secondary to the plant life, and we only captured little bits and pieces of Marie, as if she was just a visitor passing through the garden. Again, we knew we would create formal connections in the edit between the two locations (for example when the two worlds start to collide at the end of the last section), but did not have a set plan for how this would happen and merely layed the groundwork in shooting.



Women Cinemakers

A still from


interview

Women Cinemakers

Sound plays an important role in your video and we have appreciated the way the minimalistic soundtrack by Asa Sexton-Greenberg provides with such an and a bit as well as the way you have sapiently structured the combination between and : how do you see ? The song was commissioned especially for this film. Asa’s music is multi-layered, it has a sense of depth and poetry to it. We thought his work would be the perfect fit for the world we were trying to create, and the soundscape works as a vehicle for the viewer to feel and experienced the film with a deeper sensibility. The sounds have a visceral effect, and are at times intense but also delicate. We also like the idea of juxtaposing the music’s synthetic quality with the natural images in order to bring out its organic and mutable aspects. - Asa’s composition also gave us a lot to work with in the edit- the contrasting sections really supported the variety of images we had come up with in shooting, as by this point especially we had realized that it was more important to let the studies’ differences come out than to try to make everything of the same tone. The first section allows us to build anticipation, or climax at the end when it returns, and then the part in the middle with the vocals




suited the section where Marie is under the pink fabric, etc. They allowed us to characterize the studies’ styles more fully, and were also easy to manipulate and change slightly by moving bits and pieces around in order to get more time or lose some. It's no doubt that collaborations as the one that you have established together are today ever growing forces in Contemporary Art and that the most exciting things happen when creative minds from different fields meet and collaborate on a project: could you tell us something about the collaborative nature of your improvisational performances and site-specific events? Can you explain how your work demonstrates ? Both of us come from the ‘world’ of dance, and from there we each have different ways and practices through which we explore ideas around the body, movement, and performance. We feel it’s more like a shared background that branches out in a variety of ways, than a separate set of disciplinary interests that come together. That said, we definitely take the collaborative process between all these modalities to be a way in which we can expand notions of what dance and choreography can be- and this is certainly something you see happening in a lot of contemporary art. Even going back to the beginnings of Postmodernism, the

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers relationship between performance, visual, and media art has been a very generative and interwoven one, and particularly with the current interests in interdisciplinary and technologically mediated performance this is more true than ever. Technology- editing, coding, imagecapture- can be considered a form of choreography and performance, for example. Those are definitely discourses we see ourselves contributing to. Many artists express the ideas that they explore through representations of the body and by using their own bodies in their creative processes. German visual artist Gerhard Richter once underlined that " ": how do you consider the relation of the ideas you aim to between communicate and of creating your artworks? As Marie was mentioning earlier, the element of improvisation and play is very informative to the way our work comes together. The physical process of bringing all the filmmaking elements together finally in the same roomthe choreography, the camera, the props, etc- almost always generates some unplanned quality or element, something new to work with. We definitely see our process as involving the assembly of a collection of materials and ideas into a single environment, within which we then play and allow things to interact freely. So, although we do a




good deal of planning and conceptualizing beforehand, we always know that physical proximity of inspirational elements together in the moment will be what ‘makes’ the film. Women are finding their voices in art: since Artemisia Gentileschi's times to our contemporary scene it has been a long process and it will be a long process but we have already seen lots of original awareness among women artists. 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 ', however in the last something ' decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on in this field? Speaking to our experiences in Toronto, a lot of the exciting collaborations we see between dance and media or visual art do come from women-identifying creators. The interest in selfdefinition and boundary-pushing definitely come together here, especially with emerging artists who are concerned with investigating

interview

Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


Women Cinemakers


interview

Women Cinemakers and reshaping what their art form(s) can be and do, often in interdisciplinary ways. Of course there is still work to be done and changes to be made with regards to the status of women in contemporary art, but we feel very inspired by the ideas we see coming out of our community. Thanks a lot for your time and for sharing your thoughts, Marie and Hannah. Finally, would you like to tell us readers something about your future projects? How do you see your work evolving? Our new short film Chromatic Variations premiered on November 3rd as part of Screen:Moves in Toronto. We are aiming to go to Berlin in June 2018 for a research residency and will be working on our new short film. We definitely see this collaboration growing since we really enjoy working with one another. We are both evolving as individual artists, but we are also curious to keep exploring our mutual artistic voices. We are planning to follow our inspirations and curiosities and see where our creativity will lead us. An interview by Francis L. Quettier and Dora S. Tennant womencinemaker@berlin.com