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Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner

Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner

What’s your background?

Beny: I was born in former West Berlin and spent my childhood moving between the USA, Israel and Germany. I studied at Bard College, NY, where I started in history but switched to fine art and became a painter for a few years. After graduating I moved back to Berlin and gradually shifted my practice towards moving image and writing. In 2015 I did a year long residency at Jan van Eyck Academy in the Netherlands, after which I started teaching at Gerrit Rietveld Academy in the Netherlands. Last year I moved to London to start a PhD at the Archaeologies of Media and Technology group at Winchester School of Art.

Sasha: I was born above the polar circle in the former Soviet Union, grew up in Moscow, and have been based in London since 2004. For my BA I studied Fine Art at the Slade, where I quite quickly began making moving image works and have been doing so ever since. I received my most hands-on filmmaking training during a semester at SAIC in Chicago. Recently I finished a PhD in Media, Communications and Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, which also developed my commitment to writing as part of my practice.

What influences you artistically?

In terms of our collaboration, there are several ongoing strands. On the one hand, we’re constantly discussing the kinds of films we want to make on a formal level. This comes in response to other films we see but also from just about any kind of stimulus we encounter. On the other hand, we’re intellectually interested in how we know the world. To this end, we seek out knowledge about the labor structures, scientific developments, technological infrastructures that have informed the particular ways in which we perceive the world and ourselves within it.

How do you start a new work?

There is this general cloud of information that we’re always adding to, whether in notes, images, anecdotes, etc. Sometimes we’ll get excited about a theme we want to explore and start thinking about how this could be translated into a film. Sometimes that doesn’t at all work. Some things we’re very interested in don’t really lend themselves to film and sometimes we have to try it out in order to figure out it can’t work. The things that do work, usually happen kind of spontaneously. Like for example, with our film A Demonstration, we had actually been working on something else for about 6 months prior to that which we ended up abandoning. A Demonstration came from one sentence we read somewhere, which sparked this excitement and we worked very quickly from there.

What are you working on right now?

Right now we’re working on a film that presents 3 episodes in the history of measurement. We became very interested in the metric revolution, it’s relationship to the French revolution, how the meter was defined as a fraction of the distance from the North Pole to the equator. From there we started learning about the relationship of measurement to justice, and maybe more importantly, its use of the pretense of justice as an effective way of cheating. This project is new territory for both of us because we have a script and are collaborating with quite a few people who have skills that we don’t. So it’s a more ambitious and decentralized scale of production than we’ve ever had before.

Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner’s portfolio →

Jamie Jenkinson

Jamie Jenkinson

What’s your background?

I’m from Morecambe on the north west coast of the UK.

What influences you artistically?

I’ve been heavily influenced by experimental filmmakers, like: Peter Gidal, Nicky Hamlyn, Rose Lowder, Nick Collins, Jennifer Nightingale, Cathy Rogers, Stan Brakhage, Andy Warhol; and more recently Dóra Maurer, Jonas Mekas, Marie Menken, and Josef Robakowski. But it’s almost impossible to see their films on film — even Tate exhibit them on pirated video copies — but many of these video versions are also online, so I’ve been watching more of these. I find exciting new video work more difficult to come across. My partner Amy Dickson’s keeps a progressive flow of wonderful vids; Chris Welsby has been making some new vids in a nice direction (but that are now offline); the live feed video performances of Karolina Raczynski are also really brill; and some excellent student work, they’re a real inspiration. Then there’s music, with an unparalleled experimental community, which has been a huge influence recently; Amy introducing me to a wealth of exciting happenings at Cafe OTO (who need support now more than ever). There’s also a lot of exciting and creative experimentation in skateboarding, with recent highlights like: Roman Lisivka, Joey Obrien, Trent McClung; and always Chris “Avi” Atherton. There’s also really naff stuff, like: Frasier, Jonathan Creek, Dune, Dumb and Dumber; things I grew up with that I keep coming back to. I feel like this all influences the vids one way or another, along with what I’m reading and whatever else is going on in the news etc.; but I try to keep that separate.

How do you start a new work?

I try not to think too much. Ideas are so quickly commodified. I like Vilém Flusser’s thinking, to “sacrifice of the intellect in favour of the intellect”, to go with impulses of inspired improvisation; to encourage play, experimentation, creativity; outside the limitations of commercial rationale; as is achieved in improvised music. With this in mind, I wait for something to look like it might make a nice vid. There is no guarantee with this, and it can take days, weeks, but other times it’s can be overwhelming. The smartphone lets you do that, lets anyone do that. I think it’s important we play with these machines to understand them more intuitively, how they work/think, as this is changing the way we think, and the more they use us.

What are you working on right now?

Amy and I were planning a big cycling trip in Europe for the summer to make vids, see family, and avoid London rent. Now that’s not possible I’m not sure. I’m concerned about making “isolation videos”, feeding of the crisis, but this period will inevitably be reflected in the vids, as it will for anybody making anything through this difficult time; but oddly not when using it as a subject matter, that distances from it somehow. So not sure really. I’m also still trying to finish my thesis, so should probably focus on that!

Jamie Jenkinson’s portfolio →

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.

Daniel & Clara’s portfolio →

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.

Leah Clements’s portfolio →

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.

Michelle Williams Gamaker’s portfolio →