VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Knoetze, Francois

Francois Knoetze
South African videomaker


His videos
CAPE MONGO – Plastic, 2015, 5:00
CAPE MONGO – Paper, 2015, 5:00
participate in artvideoKOELN – audiovisual experiences 01

Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I was born in 1989 in Cape Town, South Africa. I grew up in the small town of Grahamstown, South Africa. As a child I learned to value seemingly useless objects from watching my grandfather repairing broken appliances, toys and furniture. After completing my BFA at Rhodes University in 2012, I moved back to Cape Town to pursue my MFA at Michaelis School of Fine Art, UCT.

2. When, how and why started you filming?
While I majored in sculpture during my undergraduate degree, I have always been drawn to film. As a child, my little brother and I used to make short animation videos using Microsoft Power Point and shoot music videos for our favourite songs. By the fourth year of my BFA degree I had begun to feel unsatisfied with the limitations of making sculpture largely for the viewing pleasure of gallery goers. I decided to move my work out of the studio, making sculptural costumes out of discarded materials and performing in them in a variety of public spaces. I later began to arrange the video documentation of these performances into rough narratives. Working with film allows for my work to be copied, circulated online and presented to a wider audience outside of the gallery context.

3. What kinds of topics have your films?
I am concerned with finding ways of creatively repurposing and representing garbage through a broader systems lens. I use reclaimed waste material as an artistic medium through which to explore the dirty underbelly of the sanitised sphere of consumption. My work is not so much ecologically-focussed as it is an attempt to engage with the social, political and economic counter-narratives to which trash is inextricably bound. The status of a material from useful to used to useless is ever-quickening and the recontextualisation of these materials allows the viewer to reconsider a material’s value at a particular moment in time.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
The process of editing plays an integral role in ordering and framing the narratives of the films and involves finding a balance between cinematically arranged shots and frenetic montage scenes. My work fractures materials and audio-visual media, before rearranging them into visual and aural montage according to a new set of rules, contexts and themes. Collage and montage are used as tools to conflate surfaces and experiences usually separated by boundaries of space and time.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
Since the performances are unrehearsed and improvised, we use a guerrilla-style of shooting. We therefore mostly use handheld SLR cameras and GoPros. I generally don’t have access to professional equipment. I therefore put emphasis on other aspects of filmmaking.

6. These days digital technology is dominating also video as a medium. In which way the digital aspect is entering the creation of your videos, technologically and/or conceptually?
Similar to the garbage dumps overflowing with material waste, public domains are increasingly saturated by media bombardments. My work looks at the acceleration of the willingness to discarded unwanted matter, and how this is often mirrored in the hurriedness with which human beings are rendered waste through various economic structures.

7. How do you finance your films?
I focus on keeping the costs of production as low as possible. I use discarded objects for props and costumes, and therefore save a lot on material costs.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team?
if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?

I generally work in a team of two when going out to film. I own a small flat back vehicle that allows me to transport my props and costumes in the back, leaving space in the front for one passenger. For the past two years I have been working closely with photographer Anton Scholtz. He plays an integral role in making the work, in terms of filming as well as planning shots. It’s also nice to have someone to chat to during long drives.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
The work of David Lynch, M.F. Doom, Jane Alexander, Matthew Barney, Werner Herzog, Nick Cave, Stanley Kubrick, and Steven Cohen to name a few. I also play a lot of computer games, which influences the way I think about the ways in which characters interact with spaces.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
I would like to put together my own small film studio. This will allow me to broaden my practice and incorporate things like stop-frame animation using miniature sets. I would also like to begin work on a sci-fi road film that will involve travelling around the desert interior of South Africa.
Can works of yours viewed online besides on the CologneOFF/artvideoKOELN platform? Where?
List some links & resources