VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Guggisberg, Sonia

Sonia Guggisberg
Brazilian videomaker

The Refugee Film Collection

Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I’m doing a Pos doc in Fine Arts, USP, São Paulo University. (Capes Scholarship). I’m Ph.D. in Communication and Semiotics, from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) obtained title in 2015 and Master of Arts, through the State University of Campinas (Capes Scholarship),obtained title in 2009. I work as an artist, videomaker and researcher, participating in group and solo exhibitions, lectures and workshops since the 1990s. I have experience in site-specific and video installation and, today I develop studies in videographic language for documentary, as a research object.

My return to academics was a way of expanding my research and rethinking the huge network of interwoven connections in the art world.Today my work is directly connected to the “art using moving images” in different contexts.

In my opinion, independent of the choosen midia, the researcher artist seeks a multiplicity of perspectives and other conceptual focuses, activating his or her work and the expansion of critical social knowledge.

2. When, how and why started you filming?
As an artist and a researcher the issue of movement was always part of the work. The interplay of tensions presented by the unstable structures in my work since the begining, in 1990, ended up being substituted by the image in movement with the video-installations from 2006. I can say that through the dynamic process of experimentation along with technological evolution, the entry of technology and the “art using moving images” into my work, was inevitable.

3. What kinds of topics have your films?
After my decision of choosing the “art of moving images” into my work, the next step in this perpetual motion machine was the choice of water as material and subject. Water, as an asset of life, drew me onto the surface of the ground and then to its place of origin – in other words, into the earth, where underground reserves are found. At this time, I produced some works and the video installation Nascente (Source). With the projection of a source in a water mirror inside the former vault of the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center, I presented a reflection on the relationship between natural springs and the country’s financial reserves. In this way, political weight was given to the work.

After this, I’ve begun to think about new possibilities for documentary video and its extensions, the subject of my doctorate. Besides the political concept, my research became too more focused in the realities captured by the camera, in the construction of clippings, in technological and sound manipulation, and in aesthetic and sign-related issues.

The objective of the thesis was to analyze the process of documenting memories and testimony, using different languages with the moving images.

From 2010 to 2013 I did a research on the cities redesign, using demolition falls as a metaphor to talk about the dismantling of the city and subject’s memory. Nowadays I’m very interested on the redesign of the identities. Memories and testimonies are starting point of this constant listening, always focused on the voice of the others, always facing images of others and their singular embodiments. In 2014 I started to map the refugee wave and build my project about the Migrant Dream.

4. Concerning your included video: please tell me more about the aims and the contents.
The videos included are part of my project about the Migrant Dream and the aim is an openning reflexion for social inclusion.

In order to talk about the refugees, we need to understand their place in today’s society; we need to consider them as members of a community of those who don´t belong to any community. After crossing the Mediterranean, trying to save their own lives, they turn into a group of excluded people that happens to exist because of the nuisance they cause where they arrive. Their inclusion in new countries takes place under a deeply hard way that is by exclusion. People of different origins, religions and ethnicities are joined by the fact that they crossed an ocean and entered countries that don’t recognise them.

It is important to understand that the refugee crisis in Europe is considered the biggest humanitarian catastrophe since the Second World War. Thousands of people deprived of their own lives. They mourn their families, with no money, without a state and are at the same time unwanted in almost every place they go to.

5. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
My research is thought by the relationship between testimonies and memories with the question of time comes mixing them in layers.

The witness tells stories based on cuts of reality; but the report carries the power of reflection on what has been silenced. One of the possibilities of activating the past is the artistic production in its documental format, because it develops testimony difficulty, questioning the empty, the silence and the gap, those being reality indicators.

My documentary proposal is that of recovering connection points between memory and reality, working on the difficulty of testimony and questioning the emptiness that accompanies it. The production of films shaped by a collage of diverse references is capable of generating documents as well. It is an imagistic construction that generates in the viewer ideas maps, because during remembering memory is not passive. It constructs itself in a bounding, perceptive action, elaborated by emotions, relationships that activate the senses, reasoning and ideas.

The aim in my work means renouncing existing rules on a given subject and proposing another mode of organization. It’s also a mode of organization of thought and of interpretation of differences as a political act. It has to do with reformulating procedures and finding points of convergence for different languages.

The interweaving of formats and different artistic visions is not only a strategy for the production and expansion of knowledge, but also makes the continuous emergence of other languages and other forms of thinking about and building art possible.

6. Tell me more about the technical equipment you use.
I have a basic small but good equipment. My camera is a Sony Alpha Ar7 II.

7. How do you finance your films?
Actually, the trips I finance with exhibitions invitations, Pdh and PosPdh scholarships because they are my personal research. When it is possible I use tax incentive law in my country too.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
I work individually as a video artist/film maker.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
The production of my works are shaped by a collage of diverse references. It constructs itself in a bounding, perceptive action, elaborated by emotions, relationships that activate the senses, reasoning and ideas.

Gathering files, inquiring witnesses and questioning them oppositely is a way to resist to erasure of tracks, to dedicate to the construction of a possible reality, a new gesture, admitting precariousness of inevitably constructed truths.

In the creation process, files and testimonies are collected data that precede the work and end up structuring it physically and conceptually. The work, in turn, is a testimony which comes as a deployment of such information, mediated and translated by the author. It may present in its project the past social and political values review proposal. History is constructed not only through historical facts, but also by speeches from the lived and perceived world.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?

About my future projects or the projects that I’m involved today I can say that my research goes more and more to the discussion in art in political terms.

My research called Migrant Dream it is not only an artistic research, but also a channel to challenge the silence of the intellectual comfort zones that camouflage the contemporary migrations reality. The main idea is to shed light to underlying processes, like the constant redrawing of human identities. Under such conditions, the deconstruction of their identities followed by the need of tranforming it is inevitable. The research project proposes an approach to these identities that are forced to adapt. It presents the ‘redesign’ of identities, focusing on their dreams and their losses since the crises, the long waiting inside the Camp until the uncertain future.

My dream today is finding sponsors to go in front in my research.

Can works of yours be reviewed online besides on the platforms of The New Museum of Networked Art? If yes, where?

Yes. They can be seen in my website ad these two links.