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Rafael Guendelman Hales

Rafael Guendelman Hales

What’s your background?

I studied Art in Chile at Universidad Católica, but I always liked to work with video. There, I took some courses about film, video, and film theory. I also did the MA on Situated Practice at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, which was about the relationship between context and practices. In a way, I have been always getting into stories from the perspective of spaces, travels and chance (and very often using video and drawing).

What influences you artistically?

I feel stimulated by small stories, personal archives, and random encounters. I love to study, to research, and to dig very deep into something. Sometimes this could be misconstrued as a waste of time, sometimes is not the most “productive” way to produce something, but I feel it is just part of the process. On occasion pieces can appear very narrow and small, but behind them there is a big amount of information that is not displayed. I am also very attracted by alternative ways of thinking society; in that sense I feel very influenced by other disciplines such as ethnography, sociology or social sciences.

How do you start a new work?

As I said before, first I feel attracted by something that could be a particular story, and then I go deep into a research period. In this process, I can go searching for information in Libraries, internet, flea markets, interviewing people or in my own mind. There is always a degree of randomness in the research process; in this process I always try to leave space for non rational thinking, or for some random mental connections. In this weird equilibrium of disciplined study and random uses of time the work begins to emerge.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a project that is an exercise in reframing the memories of my father’s family when they migrated to Israel in 1970 from Chile, escaping from the Socialist government of Allende, then returning to Chile to a regime of radical Neoliberalism in the 80’s and 90’s. There is a question around the validation of Zionism but, deeply, is a work about the questioning of our own attachments and motivations. It will lead to a video piece and an artist book that will be exhibited next year in Chile. For this I’m working with the curator Claudio Guerrero and the designer Gracia Echeverria.

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Daniel & Clara

Daniel & Clara

What’s your background?

We are two humans that work as one artist, we have been working together for nine and a half years. Our collaboration began as a dialogue which within only a couple of weeks led to us starting work on a project called Savage Witches, a feature length film about the imagination, creative freedom and the possibilities of cinema as an art form. Savage Witches was the big bang of our life together, it’s when the artist Daniel & Clara was born, when our practice fused into a single entity and our path became clear. In that film can be found the seeds of every single project that we’ve made since.

We work with moving image, photography, letters and performance. Over the years our work has moved through several phases, highly impacted by where we were living and the tools we had available to us. For 6 years we lived in a small seaside town in Portugal in a dilapidated beach house where we grew our own food and kept chickens. This was an incredibly important and fruitful time for us, being in isolation enabled us to work without distraction, spending every day focused on our art and digging deeper into the workings of our imagination and creativity.

Last year we moved back to the UK and spent some wonderful months living in London, creating new work but also launching Moving Image Artists, an organisation dedicated to supporting and cultivating contemporary moving image art and experimental film. Through this we run a monthly event called the Moving Image Salon which is a space for experimental filmmakers and artists working with moving image to come together, share work and discuss their practice. This is now on hold due to the current pandemic but our online activities are still running and we have recently expanded to include the publication of an online magazine.

We are now living on Mersea Island on the Essex coast where we plan to stay until this surreal situation passes.

What influences you artistically?

We are currently interested in the relationship between inner and outer experiences of place, particularly landscapes. Our work has always given preference to interior visions, we have spent a lot of time investigating the images from our dreams and the workings of the imagination, and using these investigations to inform our practice. More recently the shift has been from a solely inward gaze to more of a dialogue between these internal images and the places we are in, an engagement we can best describe as seeing with one eye open looking out and one eye closed looking in. Particularly we’ve been exploring how we project our psyche out onto landscapes and nature, and also how in turn the natural world and environments impact on our thoughts, imagination and inner states.

The two films included here on 6x6 project are a part of these investigations. INT. LANDSCAPES was one of our first works directly approaching these subjects. It was filmed while on a journey around southern Ireland in 2017, all sound and images were recorded on location but most of the film takes place in complete darkness. Through the use of sound recordings and fleeting images interrupting darkness we seek to step beyond both documentary and fiction to exist in a third form that is simultaneously neither and both.

The second film Revisiting was created in summer 2019 and is a part of a larger ongoing project in response to Avebury stone circle in Wiltshire. Avebury has become a significant place for us, one of the key zones on the map of our projected psyche, along with the Essex salt marshes, Dungeness and the rocky beaches and hills near Hastings. We first visited Avebury in 2017 while on a tour around the UK showing our films, during the tour we shot footage for a feature film called Notes From A Journey. Revisiting is about the experience of returning to a place of a significant experience and about how the various narrative threads of past and present collide continuously.

These places speak to us, they activate imaginative thought and through our artistic engagement with creating images of them we are able to draw something out from the depths of ourselves. Fundamentally we are interested in consciousness, the experience of being a human living in a body with a mind and being conscious of it. All our work is about exploring these dimensions and seeks to expand the possibilities of being human.

How do you start a new work?

In order to be inspired we must create within ourselves the conditions for creativity and imagination to flourish. For us it is necessary to have a daily practice and a daily routine that keeps the doors to the imagination well oiled. The imagination is like a muscle and must be exercised to be at its strongest and most flexible. In addition to this one needs a craft, material forms which become containers for the imaginative material. Our work comes out of this daily discipline, the constant dialogue between us and within ourselves.

All works are born differently but there are some common stages and processes that reoccur. Being two means that the dialogue between us is continuous. The way our collaboration works is that we take no personal ownership over any ideas or activities, we both give everything we have to the projects and it then belongs to us both equally. We see ourselves as servants of creativity rather than as creator gods or masters, our duty is to listen to what creativity tells us and to follow its guidance.

What are you working on right now?

We always have several projects happening at any given time and they feed into each other, we have learnt not to force things, when we find ourselves at a standstill with one project we simply move across to one of the others and work there for a while until the obstacle fades away. It took us a while to get to grips with this, to learn to step away rather than push through, but as soon as we began to take this approach everything flowed, we managed to achieve more and creative breakthroughs became more regular.

We have our ongoing Avebury project which so far consists of a feature film (Notes From A Journey), a shorter video work (Revisiting), several photo series and letters. We also have a book, installation and a performance in the pipeline but that is on hold at the moment for obvious reasons.

We also have an ongoing mail art project of letters which has currently become more important due to the fact that we are unable to see people in person, so we have been posting these out quite frequently. For us the internet is incredible but it is also important to continue to create something physical that can be touched, something we can send directly from our hands into the hands of the viewer.

An unexpected and exciting outcome of this enforced isolation is that we have finally started editing Plot Points, a feature film which we shot on the misty beaches of Portugal about two years ago but hadn’t had a chance to finish yet. We are currently using our time to focus on working through the hours of footage of that and slowly piecing it together.

The world has suddenly changed, it won’t quickly go back to normal after this and it would be very easy to get distracted and confused because it is such a turbulent and scary time but we need to all do what we can to stay safe and stay sane, find that part of ourselves which is constant and clear and stay connected to that. For us we can do this by spending time each day creating, some time outside, and some time dreaming.

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Leah Clements

Leah Clements

What’s your background?

Art.

There’s a video of me at 10 years old where my Mum asks me “What are your favourite subjects at school?” (note the plural ‘subjects’) and I respond without smiling or blinking and looking very serious: “Art.”

I grew up in East London. I haven’t gone very far, but I did cross the river.

What influences you artistically?

Mostly the people around me, especially when they talk about experiences of emotional,
psychological and physical things that are difficult to explain or articulate.
The community of crip artists that I’ve found over the past couple of years have been a
big influence too, people like Romily Alice Walden, Lizzy Rose, Carolyn Lazard,
Johanna Hedva and loads more have been really important to me developing a crip
discourse for my practice, and to better advocate for my access needs when working as
an artist, and those of others.

The people I work with are incredibly important to the development of a piece or
project – whether that’s the DoP of a film, or someone I interview for research, my work
often involves a fair amount of collaboration with other people who massively impact on
the work.

The people in my life who have/continue to support me and my practice in general have
also of course influenced it. My partner George Woolfe listens and talks through all my
work with me while I’m making it, which definitely helps the work be the best it can
and do what I want it to do.

How do you start a new work?

I usually have loads of stuff that I want to make work about at any one time, and just
waiting until I have a chance to start making it. Often the first place I start is
researching the subject I’m interested in, and then I seek people out to talk to about it.
This is usually people who have a particular psychological, emotional &/or physical
experience that’s hard to describe, or just isn’t often talked about, and then I’ll often
interview them and make an audio recording. Beyond that though it varies quite a lot
what I do next. I might edit those recording into a film work, or develop them into a
performance, or make something else that’s sparked by them.

What are you working on right now?

I’m making a film work called ‘To Not Follow Under’, for which I spoke to a sleep
neurologist, a psychotherapist, and a rescue diver about the limits of care and empathy,
and where the cut-off point is. I’m filming in a sleep clinic, a swimming pool and a
hyperbaric chamber. It’s been commissioned by Science Gallery London and will be in
the show ‘ON EDGE: Living in an Age of Anxiety’, opening in September.

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Michelle Williams Gamaker

Michelle Williams Gamaker

What’s your background?

I have a background in Fine Art, which I studied a BA and for a practice-based PhD. I also participated in a 2-year residency in Amsterdam, de ateliers, which gave me a great deal of time to think and make. The experience radically changed my practice, and for some years I worked almost exclusively experimenting with documentary. For this reason I did an MA in Visual Anthropology at Goldsmiths.

What influences you artistically?

I love cinema in all its forms, I was shaped by watching a lot of TV growing up and on my BA, accessed experimental video, which I think has influenced a lot of my thinking around moving image and its structure and tone. I am also influenced by the innovations of many artists who, like me were not schooled in film school, but find their visual language and message through other means. I look at painting and listen to film scores when I am in the studio.

How do you start a new work?

I read around the subject I am researching, looking for nuggets of facts that might send me in the right direction. I collage images together to see if things make sense. I begin casting characters, and once I have met a potential actor, I can start to write my script, with this person in mind. I then weave in my background research and once a script is in place, I start to sketch and storyboard my ideas. The challenge is transforming the text into something that translates visually as well as conceptually.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a new commission for the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, a moving image project called ‘The Silver Wave’, which will be exhibited in May 2020. I am also working on a solo show The End of the River for Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds in November 2020.

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Katie Hare

Katie Hare

What’s your background?

I’m from London, where I still live and work. I finished an MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths in 2016 and before that a BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in 2010.

What influences you artistically?

Memories or more specifically, the way I remember things. Personal experiences, books, stories, TV, news, zines, DIY culture, walking around the city, our relationships with objects and technology…

How do you start a new work?

Usually an idea will be with me for a while before I figure out how to actually start making it into a work. I do a lot of research before starting and most of my work has started as a piece of writing although I’ve recently been experimenting with interviewing subjects as opposed to using my own voice.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve just finished a video that looks at the 2015 Hatton Garden heist and the Wapping Dispute in 1986, considering the way narratives are constructed in the media and beyond and the power imbalances that exist within these spaces. Built around first-hand interviews with a crime journalist, a trade unionist, an activist and a linotype operator, it’s made up of a mixture of self-shot and found footage.

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Jennifer Martin

Jennifer Martin

What’s your background?

I have a background in Fine Arts, my BA degree was a fine art programme and I studied in the media department with a focus on time and space-based mediums. My MA degree was in the Photography department, although this interest was more so theoretically grounded than materially based in photography.

What influences you artistically?

NY Times cultural writer, Jenna Wortham commented on the change in her professional content around popular culture since political upheaval in 2016, stating, ‘We had entered another ecosystem, and gravity was different. We had to re-evaluate what we were doing and for who. Instead of treating culture as an extracurricular, it’s like the culture is actually forging and shaping who we are and why we are here. And we have to treat it like a hypertext to try to understand something about where we’re all at emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychically,’ (April 2019).

My process of making is usually influenced by culture and in particular popular conception and popularised belief systems around a set thing.

How do you start a new work?

There’s not always a clear start to a work, I bank a lot of ideas and rely on the note app, TextEdit and google sheets to save thoughts. Most of the time I begin in language and research, sometimes I’ll start with an image in my mind and the language is later.

What are you working on right now?

I have two solo shows opening this October, Turf Projects in London and Primary in Nottingham. Both works approach the subject of immigration.

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Karolina Stellaki

Karolina Stellaki

What’s your background?

I grew up in Athens, Greece in the 90’s. I studied Sculpture at the Edinburgh College of Art and I completed recently an MFA in Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Art in London.

What influences you artistically?

I am interested in how people communicate and perceive particular contexts and the language. Reading is another important source of inspiration and regular confrontation which largely contributes to question things anew. I am devoted in watching independent cinema. It is a recurrent and vital interest and influences my approach in art-making.

How do you start a new work?

I usually I have an urge to create something new when I encounter a work which I love, or a story or a person which fascinates me. Some other times it occurs gradually through a long process of research and exploration of subjects that I deeply care about and investigate.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a performance and dance work which invites people to explore their bodies, inner rhythm and movement in silence. The work is seeking to unfold personal narratives drawn by on-site experience rather than representation. I’m also in the process of editing older and newer video footage and thinking on possible narratives for a work which deals with themes of subjectivity, interiority and representation within western and post-colonial contexts.

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Hulda Rós Gudnadóttir

Hulda Rós Gudnadóttir

What’s your background?

I come from Reykjavík Iceland but moved to Berlin some 10 years ago. I’m raised up at the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean, literally with the waves going over my house in bad weather, and childhood family travels between the different small harbour towns in Iceland extended to world travel as I grew up. I have always been very curious and carved out my own path to satisfy that urge. In my 20s I was travelling and studying anthropology and later interactive design in London before going to art school. My first encounter with making art was during a stay in an high school in the US as a teenager. Later I was the first one at the University of Iceland to hand in a visual project instead of written thesis when I was finishing my degree. I started making creative documentaries before I ventured into contemporary art.

What influences you artistically?

I’m very influenced by the critical perspective and approach that I was so lucky to receive during my studies in anthropology. My art work is born out of qualitive research and observation of socio-economic issues. I haven’t really approached art making with adoration of an older master artist but rather been influenced by the art and thinking of my peers. I’m very influenced by the many conversation I have both with friends, colleagues and collaborators. Everything I see, hear or sense, whether it is art or the broader culture and society influnces me. I feel like I’m an observer.

How do you start a new work?

My projects are very long-term. I work on the same research project for years and there are many artistic outcomes on the way. Documentary, book publication, single-channel videos, sculptures, large immersive mixed media installations…. The last long-term project Keep Frozen started with a gut feeling and the research goals and objectives came clearer along the way. It was a journey of discovery. Iceland had just become bankrupt and I had just moved to Berlin. I felt that the problems Icelandic society was facing and continues to face have very much to do with a denial to deal and work out the past. It is my conviction that how you deal with and what you choose to deal with in the past, what kind of research is funded, what kinds of diggings are undertaken, determines what possibilities are imagined for the future. How the collective or the individual can imagine how things should or could be done. So my gut feeling was that I should go on a personal journey looking at the past and travelled to the small fishing village of 166 people that my grandmother came from before moving to Reykjavik. There I just walked around and talked to people, observed, took photographs and just did what I felt like doing. I ended up making a one minute single shot video work Keep Frozen part zero. My next steps took me on a journey all along the North-Atlantic to the coast of Africa in the east and the coast of the US in the west and to Reykjavik in between and the works started to have much more broader relevance although rooted in the personal.

What are you working on right now?

I just started a new work. Couple of years ago I was invited on a residency in Southwest Australia to research the harbor there. I had become some kind of harbor artists I assume. I’m not used to going on organised residencies. I usually just go to the places I need to go for my research interest and organise it myself. So I was not sure what do do. I had not much previous connection or reason to go there. What I decided to do was to start using my camera to investigate, I shot photographs and video clips around all the products that were exported from that harbor both at the port and also in the hinterland where those products were mined or harvested. It was later when looking at those photos and and video clips in my studio in Berlin and also at the same time hearing about the opening of German owned silica processing plants in Iceland that I started to make connections. One of the export products from that port was silica dioxide sand mined closed by. This kind of silica dioxide needs a lot of processing and the most pure silica (Si) that comes out of the process can be used to produce chips and solar cells. I used my time at Künstlerhaus Bethanien to show the project in its initial state to some curators and now it looks like it is going to be part of two exhibitions in Berlin opening in October and also an exhibitoin opening in south Germany in November. The journey is just starting and I will be on this journey for some years to come.

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Pieter Geenen

Pieter Geenen

What’s your background?

I hold a MA in Photography, which I obtained with a project that entirely consisted of a series of video pieces which explored the limits of the photographic and the moving image. During the following postgraduate program Transmedia at Sint-Lukas Brussels I had the opportunity to have classes from inspiring artists like Herman Asselberghs, David Shea, Manon De Boer, Leslie Thornton, Malcolm Le Grice, Anouk De Clercq and Hans Op de Beeck. It was then that I started experimenting with the evocative aspects of sound which resulted in a series of so called ‘nightscapes’. Since then my practice is generally characterised by an audiovisual and photographic approach. However, some ideas recently ended up being translated into text, print or installation.

What influences you artistically?

Since my first passion as a child was music, I still find a lot of inspiration in music and sound. What affects my work as an artist most is minimal, ambient, electronic, new age and experimental music, especially from the late ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. Also music and sound work which is rooted in field recordings and traditional music attracts my attention. In film and video art I spontaneously have to think of the work of James Benning, Sharon Lockhart’s ‘Teatro Amazonas’, and Ben Russell’s ‘Let Each One Go Where He May’. Or the photographic work of Richard Mosse. On a continuous basis perhaps an even bigger influence is the work by my colleagues and fellow Messidor co-founders Meggy Rustamova and Sirah Foighel Brutmann & Eitan Efrat. The ongoing dialogue between the four of us on the level of content, production and presentation is perhaps the strongest influence of all.

How do you start a new work?

My work is based on research and finds its origin in the history and current reality of a place and its people. In most cases I travel to these places to explore and to verify the local situation, make contacts, interview people, collect footage and make use of local archives to collect data. The fascination for a certain subject can be triggered by different literary sources or from traveling itself, and might be hanging around for a long time before actually being used, if ever.

What are you working on right now?

Currently, I’m preparing a solo show in which a first body of mainly photographic work from three travels around Mount Ararat and Mount Aragats and its surrounding Kurdish and Yezidi communities on the border between Turkey and Armenia will be presented. This series of work speaks about belonging, the desintegration of memory, the construction and deconstruction of cultural identity, but also of the image itself. At the same time I’m processing footage from a recent residency period in Mexico City to start editing a few new video pieces.

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Chooc Ly Tan

Chooc Ly Tan

What’s your background?

I am a French-born Afro/Vietnamese/Cambodian creature. I was mostly raised by my mother, in the suburbs of Paris. She was a seamstress, alternating with moments of unemployment. We lived in a housing project, with my sister and my brother, in a very multi-cultural and working class environment. I grew up watching kung fu movies, Japanese animations, playing video games, riding my BMX and drawing. I also practiced karate for 5 years. Then I became obsessed with reading and writing. At 18, I begun studying modern literature at the Sorbonne. After 2 months, I gave up and moved to London with 500 francs (£50) in my pocket; I slept at the hostel. And phewww! I quickly found a cash-in-hand job, washing dishes and pans in a Soho restaurant. Then I worked in a factory, then a number of restaurants and bars. I was also a party animal and hang out a lot with ravers and DJs. Then I studied Fine Art at Central Saint Martins (2006), focusing mostly on sculpture and installation. At the end of the program, I started incorporating videos into my 3D work. Then I moved to Reykjavik (Iceland) where I lived for 2 years (2007-2009). There, I worked as a bartender, a set designer, a touristic guide and a fisherman. I did a lot of road trips around the country whilst making a series of videos. Then I returned to London, to do a Master of Fine Art at Goldsmiths (2011). In the meantime, I also became a DJ.

What influences you artistically?

Almost everything but mostly classical and theoretical physics, science fiction, activism, rebellion, weird landscapes and music. But for more details:

My practice is informed by progressive research in fields, such as Chaos Theory and Synchrony. Many of my works present a “surrealist” take on this manifest reality. In the past, I have worked with Quantum Theory researchers, drawing parallels between their legitimate fields of study and the narrative extravagancies found in science fiction. Also, I love watching the making-of (behind-the-scene) of sci-fi movies and magic shows.

Recently, I have been interested in how race and gender have become other systems, used to make sense of the physical reality. As a brown female artist from a working class background, I have been made aware of my own “characteristics”, when privileges are given upon a “chart” defined by race, gender and class. So I read, watch and listen anything to do with social justice and activism. I am a big fan of senegalese writer Fatou Diome, author of The Belly of the Atlantic. She gave enlightening lectures proposing efficient solutions for the process of decolonisation. Also, Martinican Psychiatrist and philosopher Frantz Fanon is one of my hero.

I am interested in optimism and positive technology as forms of activism. I look into futuristic architecture, product and graphic design, and, Afrofuturism. I listen to niche music produced outside the West. I’m interested in mad topology in nature, and vulnerable and intense landscapes.

How do you start a new work?

It varies. Generally, I do A LOT of research. Sometimes I can’t sleep because of my hyperactive brain that processes the first ideas. In these moments, I get up and try to put these ideas on a notebook, writing, making storyboards and / or diagrams.

I like setting a list of parameters, similar to a plan of action, to improve the quality of my productions. I write this list on a whiteboard or digital document that I commit myself to check regularly throughout the process. Here are examples of possible parameters: “have textures”, “build a climax”, “don’t overdo the flares, otherwise it will become hmmm!”, “do not compromise”.

Sometimes, I’d collect homemade and found audio-visual materials that I use directly, or, let to ferment for ages until it becomes relevant to a project.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a video, in collaboration with Icelandic-based artist, radiopresenter and adventurer Svavar Jonatansson. Last year, we used his Nikon D800, and filmed ourselves interacting with outdoor warehouse spaces. We did it on the outskirts of Reykjavik, while playing loud music from his car stereo. One of the tracks was mine; otherwise we played a lot of techno. He did a first edit of the video and it’s already super kuul! Now it’s my turn to have a go. We work remotely but we will sometimes be in the same city. He was in London last week. I am going to Reykjavik at some point in the spring. Also…literally I just started working on a satirical, political and upbeat video. It will premier at the next Euronoize event, on 23 May in London. Also-also,I am working on my first EP – I am making super hybrid music. One of them as a zouk (Creole music) kind of beat, with a very electronic feel to it, and my own voice.

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