VIP - VideoChannel Interview Project

Korporal, Maria

Maria Korporal
Dutch videomaker in italy


Interview: 10 questions

1- Tell me something about your life and the educational background

I do not have an artistic background. I was born and raised in the Netherlands, in a working-class family not without problems. But I say this with great respect and love for my parents.
My father taught me to walk: the journey of steps. He taught me to see the miracles, large and small, that we encounter on our way.
My mother taught me to read: the journey through words. The words that lead us to worlds filled with surprises and wonders, to the infinite space within us. She was also the opposite of a classical housewife, as a child I could play as much and as I wanted, without caring about spick and span. As a child I already liked to experiment with unusual things, and I wanted to become an inventor as a grown-up.
Thus, even without knowing anything about art, my parents have had an invaluable influence on the development of my creativity.
When I chose to study at the Academy of Fine Arts, the main reason was my “capacity to draw well” – it was a naive and intuitive choice, I knew virtually nothing of the visual arts and I did not have the faintest idea what to expect. The course in graphic design and painting which I had entered was very wide and let the students free to learn about other disciplines. So, after a first period in which I developed my skill in engraving technique, I began to experiment with the base material of the etching: I let zinc and copper in acid for hours, obtaining forms that inspired me to go beyond printing them on paper. At the same time I began to work with photography, and I was particularly fascinated by moving subjects and creating sequences.
These experiments have resulted in the two projects with which I graduated: a steel sculpture, and an animated film set in a video installation.
The five years of study at the academy have been crucial to my artistic development.

2- When, how and why started you filming?

As I told before, I made my first film while I was a graduate student at the Academy of Arts. This film was entitled “Joy to the World” and had a strong anti-war content – an ironic comment on militarism. I made it almost entirely with stop-motion animation, recorded on 16 mm film, mounted by hand and then reversed on video tape.
Immediately after graduating in 1986 I moved to Italy. I wanted to continue with film and video, but I did not have the material resources. So I returned to engraving and painting, but this was very useful for my artistic development anyway. I also had a small photo lab at my disposal and experimented a lot with the various disciplines. In 1990 I founded, together with my partner, the publishing house Apeiron Editori, and in this environment I became involved with the use of computers. In subsequent years, slowly my artistic work became more digital, but it was only in 2003 until I had the necessary equipment to restart with video art – and once started, I could not stop anymore and I have created one video after another until nowadays. I have not the slightest desire to work with other disciplines such as painting or graphics.
I still have a copy of my first video “Joy to the World” on U-matic tape, and recently I’m trying to convert it to a digital file. So far I have not found a laboratory that can do it, but I have not lost hope. If I will manage to convert the video, I will put it online, and it will have a place of honor on my website!

3- What kind of subjects have your films?

My films deal with several subjects. When I am invited to participate in a project with a certain theme, I usually see this as a nice challenge, and often I become enthusiastic and I manage to develop some good ideas. But most of the time the subjects for my videos come from myself, and it is difficult to say how they originate; sometimes it is a slowly growing process, other times a rapid inspiration.
Since 2009 I am working on the project Korporal Zoo, a series of videos that deal with the relationship between animals and humans from different perspectives – cultural, social, environmental. At the moment of this interview six episodes have been published in Korporal Zoo, plus the prelude “Passing By” and the interlude “. unending . “. You can see the online versions of all videos on the dedicated Vimeo channel:
The last episode in Korporal Pictures is the video “Nevermore”, which I finished on December 1st, 2012:
I got the first idea for the video in January 2003, so it took me almost ten years to complete it – but it was not a linear journey on a single path, I walked on many paths instead, often interrupted; several times I got distracted and took roads that led me to other places. To put it in more concrete terms: during the past ten years I have repeatedly tried to go ahead with the project “Nevermore”, but during the work in progress it has always evolved into another direction and has become another work.
I would like to mention two of these works in particular: “Made on Earth” and “Timelines”. Practically they deal with the same theme of “Nevermore”: human violence, but the three works present different points of view.
In the video “Made on Earth” the artist is the one who walks and looks, but remains invisible, she is not integrated in the story ( ). In the photographic installation “Timelines” instead, self-portraits of the artist are flanked by public domain images of people who suffer from violence. Here empathy is introduced, but there is always the division between the artist and the rest of the world ( ). In the video “Nevermore” the artist is finally integrated in the story, she is a victim and culprit at the same time, she takes the human responsibility for violence and pronounces the promise “nevermore”, while she is always aware of human weakness.
I deliberately use the word “artist” and not “I”. I am nothing but a speck of nature … while creating art, the artist must be detached from the ego.

4- How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?

My ideas and inspirations come from everything I meet on my way. Each film is always a new adventure; a blank sheet. I do not follow certain principles or styles, but of course I am influenced constantly by the things I see and experience: nature, people and relationships, music and literature, works by other video artists, and also my own work. I examine my previous works always very carefully, and I often re-use certain elements in newer contexts, with more or less variations. Each of my works originates from earlier experiences, but is at the same time open to the new things I find along my way.
Each of my works is a journey and a re-birth.

5- Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

I use both videocamera and photocamera to get my footage, which I edit in Photoshop, After Effects and Final Cut Pro. For the sounds I have a sound recorder and an Apple keyboard which I use with several plugins and soundfonts.
The editing is fundamental for the biggest part of my works. Until 2008 I did not even have a videocamera, I used still images and digital photomontages, which I processed with several animation techniques. In my more recent films I combine moving footage with still images and animation.

6- What are the chances of the digital video technologies for creating art using “moving images” generally, and for you personally?

The new media and the quick development of computer technology has changed the genre film/video in an incisive way. Nowadays it is possible to produce a film or video without an expensive equipment and in relatively short terms. For me personally this has been of essential importance, because in this way I am able to make film and video on my own, as an individual art form.

7- How do you finance your films?

I always work with very elementary media, so I finance my films by myself. A potent computer, videocamera, photocamera, tripod, sound recorder and lots of ideas & energy are enough to make a good video … since I do all technical details (montage, effects, ecc.) by myself, I do not need to pay people or laboratories. But in the near future I do not exclude projects which would have to be financed by third parties.

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 am very individualistic and tend to do everything alone. But over the years I became also attracted to the idea of working together, and in 2006 I started my first artistic collaboration with a friend, the sculptor Marina Buening, under the name of Zweiart. Our works are visible on the site
Afterwards I did several other works in collaboration with various people, especially poets and musicians, as you can see when you look through the video page on my site
I’m a lone wolf, and every time when I start a journey in company I feel insecure … but it does not last long, fears and doubts are soon replaced by enthusiasm; it is really a wonderful thing to create and develop a project with other people.
In my opinion, a frequent mistake in artistic collaborations is making a work of which you are not convinced. Sure, you can create something for friendship and the joy of being together, in this case collaboration is more important than the artistic quality of the work, and you need to be aware of this. It becomes a game that can result in a splendid work, or in a mediocre product. But when the principal purpose of the collaboration is the creation of a work of art, I am self-critical in the same way when I do my individual projects. We should be honest and transparent, and be able to express our doubts and insecurities. I have learned to communicate well, but that does not mean that the error will not happen again – every situation is different, and my motto is “I always learn, and I never learn.”
I worked more often with women than with men. The idea of innate rivalry and envy between women is commonplace unfortunately accepted by many men and women. Of course envy and rivalry exist, but my personal experience is not like this, so far I have always worked beautifully and harmoniously with other women, there is a lot of solidarity and understanding. Women are excellent traveling companions.
I absolutely do not like to divide humanity into a male part and a female – I feel androgynous to the bone. But society imposes the difference on us, and to be born a girl means to fight all your life. I strongly believe in solidarity between women, as you can see in my video “The Waltz”:
So I work sometimes individually, sometimes in a team, and I cannot say which of the two I prefer, depends on the time and situation.

9- Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?

My way of life is the most influential on my film/video making. I would like to work full-time on my videos, but I have to do a lot of other things to earn my money (just enough to live, I do not want to be rich). However these are all self-employed jobs, which allow me to organize my days in an efficient way, and to create the necessary space and time to work on my videos. “Stealing moments” I always say to myself – I steal moments from everyday life, moments that can last half an hour, but also a whole week, in which I dedicate myself to my art and nothing else.
Sport, or rather physical movement is essential – I love mountain biking, but my true passion is running (which I do every day), and also long walks (when I have more time). Always in the open air, on the beautiful trails in the area where I live. I am lucky to live in a beautiful place at the foot of Mount Soratte, north of Rome, with a generally pleasant climate. When I run or walk I reach the maximal feeling of freedom: I feel liberated from the weight of materia and from the self. These are the moments in which ideas come to live, and enthusiasm and happiness for these ideas increase my energy even more – in short, practicing sports in nature is crucial for my creative process. But the most important of all things is desire. Desire is the fundamental driving power of my creativity.
In this context I would like to quote David Lynch, an artist that I admire:
“Desire for an idea is like bait. When you’re fishing, you have to have patience. You bait your hook, then you wait. The desire is the bait that pulls those fish in – those ideas. The beautiful thing is when you catch one fish that you love, even if it’s a little fish – a fragment of an idea – that fish will draw in other fish, and they’ll hook onto it. Then you’re on your way. Soon there are more and more and more fragments, and the whole thing emerges. But it starts with desire.”
(David Lynch, “Deep Waters”)

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

Future plans or dreams? That is not an easy question to answer; when I work on a project, I usually feel myself deep inside it, and I live in a constantly here & now.
In these days however I am in a transitional phase. I just finished three important works of which I am satisfied: “Nevermore”, “The god is dead, long live …” and “Specchiatura”, and now I am preparing myself to a new work, or better: I have to choose which project to continue. It is not that I make my videos one after the other; in fact there are many ideas, often developed to a certain point. When I want to pick up the thread of a work in progress, my notebooks are always very useful.
For many years I keep a notebook in which I write notes and sketches. Meanwhile I have a very large collection and there are times, like now, where I wander in my previous notebooks. It is always interesting and leads me to new visions, I understand better why some works have been created at certain times in my life, and I re-discover various ideas forgotten and never developed. I am currently in a period like that.
At the same time I also welcome what I find on my way – in this period I am very fascinated by the Inuit culture and I’m re-reading Marguerite Yourcenar, especially what she wrote about nature, are very taken by the music of Luigi Nono and Horatiu Radulescu; and there are the inspirations born from meetings and from the things I observe around me, and a thousand memories, dreams and thoughts that come and go …

Can works of yours viewed online besides on the CologneOFF platform? Where?
List some links & resources

My own website: