A prophetic Ghost – Video Dance

It is chilling when our art crosses space and time, and meets in a different dimension. In this case I wish it had not happened. I wish #VictoriaMarinova, the investigative Bulgarian journalist was still alive. I wish our country was safe for women and for journalists.

Serena Performance Edit v20This is a still from “Study of Ruse #3”, a video dance which we shot in 2016 with Serena Chalker during Process Space Art Festival. Serena, who is performing a ghostly presence roaming through the Ruse waterfront, disappears at the end of the video around the area where this still is. In the same place on 6th October this year (2018), #VictoriaMarinova disappears from our world. This happens days after she aired a program about a scheme for misappropriating millions in European funds by high government officials in Bulgaria. I watched the news about her murder, and when I saw the place of it, I had a flashback of me and Serena, shooting all by ourselves in the same place. It is weird how sometimes in art, time interlaces. The video we created which evoked a ghost from the past visiting the present, now seems chillingly prophetic. Victoria, somewhere in different times we have crossed paths. I don’t believe the official version for your murder, that a crazy young Roma man committed it, and that it was not politically motivated. I signed the petition for an independent investigation into her tragic death: https://www.change.org/p/eu-high-commission-for-independent-eu-investigation-into-the-murder-of-bulgarian-journalist-victoria-marinova

I have chills thinking about all this. I want to dedicate this video to you Victoria. Video excerpt.

From the Outside, In – Study of Ruse #3 – Video Dance from Maia Iotzova on Vimeo.

 

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,,Цветята на София” – Креативна Резиденция Водна Кула 2018

Вече 10 години използвам картографски методи в изкуството. Целта ми обикновенно е да добавя субективно измерение в картата. Всичките ми карти досега са се опитвали да отразят връзката на хората с природата. Спазвайки тази линия, започнах двуседмичната креативна резиденция Водна кула със задачата да картографирам граждански инициативи в софийските зелените площи. Бях вдъхновена от няколко миниатюрни градинки в центъра, украсени с философски цитати.

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И се впуснах да търся още такива самоинициативи, които красят кварталите и по мое мнение запалват искрите на доброто у нас. Тук ще опиша картографския процес, през който преминах, процес, който има и изследователска, и креативна страна.

Кварталите, до които стигнах, бяха Изток, Витоша и Младост. Имаше много самоинициативи в зелени площи, толкова много, че трябваше да пренебрегна доста от тях. Ограничих се с тези, в които се срещнах и говорих с хора. Заснех на видео тези срещи, които станаха много спонтанно. Например жена, живееща на първия етаж ми каза:

– Ами ще ви отговоря от прозореца, че сега готвя.

Следващата жена влезе в кадъра, докато снимах входа, тя се прибираше вкъщи. Друга излизаше на работа. И така събрах 7 градинки и интервюта.

Excerpt of video of gardens in Sofia -Mladost from Maia Iotzova on Vimeo.

Сега предстоеше да премисля как да представя наблюденията си в карта и как видеото и картата ще се допълват.

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Реших на картата да изобразя само частта от София, която посетих, тоест Центъра и югоизточните квартали. Отново реших да раздвижа нещата и единствените ориентири, които да сложа, да са големите паркове. Без улици или сгради. Платът, върху които щях да рисувам, беше огромен (2.8 м х 3.4 м) и ми беше трудно да скицирам картата в началото. Затова, използвайки коноп, разграфих общите форми на парковете и с тиксо отбелязах градинките, които съм изследвала.

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Това ми помогна да придобия представа за местоположението на градинките спрямо парковете и да ги композирам, преди да се втурна да ги рисувам. Koгато се рисува върху плат, няма възможност за изтриване и прерисуванетака че трябваше да съм много внимателна.

Нарисувах Борисовата градина и Ловният парк и реших да сложа и парк Въртопо, за да оформя композицията с втора голяма зелена площ и да дам ориентир къде се намира Младост.  Има много други по-малки паркове, не ги включих, поради липсата на време.

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Всъщност разполагах с толкова малко време, че трябваше да мисля и действам бързо. И така всяка градина на картата я обособих като точка. След това избрах едно изречение, което хващаше есенцията на интервюто и го написах до въпросната точка.

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Представях си, че последователността на фразите от всяка градинка ще се чете като стихове от строфа. Не много стегнато стихотворение, но все пак ще даде възможност за асоциации и връзки между тях.

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Картата беше готова, поне на етап, в който може да се представи в края на резиденцията.

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В началото се страхувах, че видеото ще е излишно, но от отзивите, които получих, стана ясно, че видеото вдъхва живот на картата. Вярно беше, че тя сама по себе си е малко оскъдна. А и видеото има една автентична и силна страна. Докосва ни до хората, които се грижат за градинките по-директно. До тяхното ежедневие, мотивации, проблеми. Естествено това даде дълбочина, която не можеше да се изобрази в схематичната карта.

Направеното през тази къса резиденция беше голямо постижение, а и добра база, върху която да продължавам да работя.

Няколко дни след като свърши резиденцията, отидох на един друг фестивал в Балчик и отседнах в двореца с ботаническата градина. Бях очарована от тези пищни градини и тяхната красота и дизайн. Цветното им многообразие се просмуква в теб и те кара да се чувстваш щастлив. Душата ти танцува, даже и да си изморен и в лошо настроение<!– 🙂 . Замислих се за картографираните софийски градини и за това как те също са носител на радост.

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Но тук бях вдъхновена и от друго нещо – стари информационни табели, сложени до входа.

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В тях информацията беше поднесена с финес и естетика. Картите, които бяха на таблата не само обобщаваха географията или даваха информация, но и ти доставяха чисто естетическо удоволствие. Замислих се за моята карта и как мога да я подобря, да ѝ дам дълбочина и финес. Мисля да добавя бродерия с някои от растителните видове в градините. Все още съм в процес на мислене, но ще стане.

Искам да доизпипам и видеото. В началото имах идеята да нарисувам цветни анимации между всяка градина, която съм заснела, един вид градини картини. Нямах време да го направя по време на резиденцията, но ще експериментирам в близко бъдеще.

Също имах идея да засадя една градинка пред нашия вход. Това съм го правила в Монреал, но сега когато видях градинките с философските цитати по-нагоре по нашата улица, се вдъхнових още повече. И искам да завърша видеото с кадри как садя тази градинка.

WTAR Catalogue Results 2018

Art Residency – Water Tower 2018

And so, it began. My third time to participate in the Water Tower Art Festival/Residency. This year I am mapping the citizen initiatives in public green spaces in Sofia. Our Bulgarian capital is one of the greenest cities in Europe (my personal statistic). These numerous green spaces, especially the ones in the apartment building complexes were the inspiration for my last film, Green Dream.  But as I found while making the film, they can be quite neglected. Walking through them I noticed how from time to time a spark of joy would come to me. That was when I saw spontaneous gardens created by the neighbours. I had forgotten about this, when this spring walking down Parensov street in the centre, I saw a tiny little garden. On it was posted this quote “If you have a library and a garden, you have everything you need.” by Cicero. So my interest in these gardens was rekindled and I proposed to map them for the Water Tower Art Residency.  To me this gardens are a spark that reminds us what is important, a spark that rekindles the good in us.

And the Festival Started. On Sunday one of the volunteers Lily Angelova brought me to visit a garden in Iztok, created by the concierge of one of the buildings, who she said was a very humble and poor men. Here is what we saw.

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I am starting to look at ways to transfer my impressions of this garden to the map. It is the first day at the studio/gallery.  This time I feel that I don’t want to use photographs, but to actually make a map that stands on its own as one art piece. I have a large piece of fabric on which I plan to draw.

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Sofia/София 15 април

The painting of April 15th is inspired by the house of my aunt and uncle, which we visited. It is a half painting and half story.

The Guardian of Memory

“Maia look, I pulled the curtain back today and see what I found.”

“What, the icon…”

” No”

“Ah, the fish.”

“Since you gave it to me, it sits there. I have not touched it. As I say, everything needs to have a story. Every object, which you can touch in my room has a story.”

(But me, I had forgotten about this fish)

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                                                                            ©Maia Iotzova

 

 

The colours of Engiadina Bassa

The first thing you notice in the Engiadina Bassa are the colours. They are vibrant and create many abstract shapes and combinations. The area has 20 different mineral springs and the rocks around them are richly coloured in deep reds and oranges. The Inn river, the only Swiss river which drains in the Black Sea, has a beautiful rich turquoise colour and cuts through the valley’s vegetation. At the time we were there the hemlocks were turning yellow/orange. It seems that nature is an abstract impressionist in this Alpine landscape. Inspired by that I created this short video/painting piece studying the colours of the valley and their movement and play.

Study – The Colours of Engiadina – Abstract Expressionism from Maia Iotzova on Vimeo.

 

From the Balkans to the Alps

We woke up in the Balkan mountains (Стара Планина, Тетевенския Балкан). We went for a morning walk, нежна утринна роса беше покрила земята.

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Но разходката беше кратка, трабваше да стягаме багажа и да тръгваме към едни други планини. We hustled our luggage into the car, drove to Sofia airport, got on the plane, landed in Zurich, took the train, and another train, then a taxi and 12 hour later we had arrived in Nairs, Engiadina (1190 meters above sea level in the Swiss Alps).

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Our destination was the current art centre and a previous healing bathhouse. I will spend the next month here at an independent artist residency. I am already becoming enchanted by the region. The official language in the region is Romansh a descendent of the spoken latin language of the Roman empire. The area has 20 mineral springs, which is why spas, baths, sanatoriums and drink houses had opened here, and tourism had flourished. We even have an huge non- functional bath in our room/studio space.

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My intention was to experiment with watercolours and video, and to explore the theme of the alpine field. But the mystical stories of the water here, woven in the fabric of the place are pulling me in their direction.

So far I started an artist journal making a sketch per day, getting warmed up for my more in-depth watercolour video experimentations.

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What Igloolik filmmakers taught me about video editing

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I am in the plane flying over treeless brown land, with speckles of white, which turn into larger spots of white, finally swallowing the brown under a white northern blanket stretching as far as I can see from my little plane window. I grew up reading Jack London’s the ‘Call of the Wild’, and in those early years I admit I felt a certain call to that vast world where humans played by the uncompromising rules of nature. But I still sometimes can’t believe that many years later, I find myself on a small plane, chewing on a chicken wrap toward Igloolik, a little island close to the North-East part of Baffin Island.

We land in Igloolik, and I recognize the airport and the feeling of home comes to me. But it is only my second time here. I get picked up in a white truck, and we drop off my big load of bags in the office. It is completely bright out and I ask my colleagues, the Inuit who are picking me up, how dark does it get at night. “This is the darkest that it gets”. I am ecstatic!!!

In the next few days I am in the honeymoon of being here. My mind feels at ease and relaxed, and I feel happy even just walking down the street. I am not ignorant of the fact that this will probably change, and that there might be some challenging moments to come, but I enjoy the feeling that comes with a certain sense of freedom and fluidity that exists here.

Part of the ease and happiness comes from the open door at the place where I am staying, where people stop by for visits unannounced. It reminds me of my next door neighbours in our apartment building in Sofia, just coming in without knocking. Another part comes from the knowledge that while I am here for work, the pace will not be defined by the almost robotic productivity of the South. I can be much more myself and true to my own or the group’s rhythm, a luxury denied to me in most other work environments. I can ease off from the stress that I normally feel and focus on what is actually happening.

I am here to help with the editing of a TV series. I have been trying to support the editing of the Igloolik team from the office in Montreal, but the distance, the cultural differences, and the slow Northern internet has made the process tiresome. This will give us a chance to organize ourselves better and work together face to face.

Before coming I was specifically tackling the editing of one episode. I knew it was not working, but I did not know how to make it work. I had an illuminating conversation with Norman Cohn, one of the founders of the company, a non-Inuk. He said that the difference between the Southern editing style and the Isuma/Northern editing style is that, in the South, you show a few short cuts, giving the illusion of what happened. You construct reality and in a way you manipulate the audience. In the North they film what actually happens, if you are making a harpoon you are filmed doing it. The camera observes it closely, and when editing you show the long shot of making of the harpoon where the audience feels like a participant, and as if they are experiencing the event first hand. This made things click for me. The truth is that in my own work I also film and edit in the style described as Northern, well at least I did originally.

Many things had happened, that had slowly undermined my confidence in that approach. Trying to pitch my films to broadcasters, who call what you are creating ‘content’, and even though some are supportive, ultimately they want the ‘content’ to keep people watching their channel until the next commercial. The question shifts from what you are trying to show to how to keep the audience hooked. Then you are told things like: “This is female storytelling, and it is not getting funded. We need more conflict…” I am still making sense of the ignorance behind this sentence, but it does make you feel that the way you see the world is fundamentally flawed. So you consciously or subconsciously try to manipulate your own perspective. On top of that you live in a media saturated world where you are bombarded daily by slick and fast editing, where 30 seconds to 3 minute videos tackle big subjects from racial discrimination to brain chemistry. You see how fast cuts are seductive. You know that we are being conditioned to read slogans, process information as fast as possible and move on. We get the concept and move onto the next thing. Who has time to really participate, to watch, to experience. You also stop having time.

Being hired to edit and work with the Isuma collective, I found myself slipping into the Southern editing style. I had unconsciously decided that this is what good editing looks like. Cut a few shots to show that the hunters had a meeting. Cut a few shots to show that people were camping….I was editing for appearance, and getting away from the essence of the material. I wanted it to look a certain way, and was glancing over what had actually happened. However, life in the North has a certain immediacy, a certain rawness. You can not completely hide from the elements. You hunt, catch a seal, sometimes kill it with your own hands, then cut it and eat it. After that you skin it, you treat the skin and make an outfit that will keep you warm for your next seal hunt. Life is not as packaged and mediated like it is in the South. Video editing in a mediated way does not really fit here. It seems natural to edit as a participant. And you have the time to let yourself and the audience experience your material. In traditional Inuit culture you learn by observation, so watching closely is very important, as the skills you need are absorbed by watching and experiencing. Judging by the success of Inuit filmmaking, even in our Southern fast paced media saturated world, there is a hunger for this kind of films and experiences.