Jeannette Muñoz. An Infinite Process

Jun 6, 2019 | Interviews

You always talk about your work as a process of bringing film fragments together, as if creating a piece that is always in progress. What’s the role of this in your art?
That’s something that has to do with my early activity as an analogue photographer. Not in the results, what you see in the end, but it’s similar in the way you approach the work. To me, experimenting was essential. My choice, for the work I’m developing now as a filmmaker, was to stay in the here and now, instead of trying to figure out a finished film. This is because, throughout the years, I came to realise that when you have a finished film, you can, let’s say, disassemble it and reassemble it again in a different way, that is, you can have infinite films. Finishing a film is a decision, it’s a choice you make: let’s stop here! And it’s an arbitrary decision, because the film could actually go on together! So I had this insights about cinema, and they were so present and important to me, that I thought the best I could do was to listen to them and act accordingly. Envíos, for example, is like a container. It’s made of a number of unities, each one of which has its own internal rules –and they’re not finished films, they’re just fragments of something bigger. The fact of dedicating some of them to certain people is already a way of finishing them, but the process of Envíos is always present, ongoing, because I’m always adding something to it, making it evolve. Sometimes I send one of those pieces to the person I dedicated it to, and we watch it together, but some other times I’m not able to do that. Sometimes I just tell the story of it. This idea is especially present in Puchuncaví. Puchunchaví is a specific place that exists, but for me it is a place in the universe. And it’s also a very long process I’m starting now. When I find a situation and I spontaneously film it, it has to me a dynamic that’s inherent to it, and that is present for that exact instant only. Sometimes I engage in an active participation, with my camera. Sometimes I feel like I’m really communicating something in a deep, intense way, and it’s like I’m talking with the character. Some other times I’m just an observer and I keep a low profile. There are different rhythms, different ways of reacting to the situation. And what I’m doing now is creating bridges between segments, bridges that start on the edge of a piece and jump into a different one. And these things, which are of the realm of my imagination, are fundamental to me. This is they I want to experience cinema. Discovering what I have inside and is only mine, that is, my own dreams –but through the process of discovering other people’s dreams. Puchuncaví is a lot about the place, because it’s a place where you can find different ways of life that coexist but never mix. You have factories, but also the people living there, leading their everyday life… A spa where people go spend their holidays… So many things! It’s also a historical site. The thing is that this project has now grown so much that it’s overflown its own borders, and now I film Puchuncaví everywhere I go, thanks to those bridges.
What about your performance Proceso hacia una película (Process of making a film)?
I have a huge amount of material that I haven’t used for my films, but that I think has great potential. Actually, every time I film, I save those fragments that I want to use for my other projects –which are actually part of the same bigger project. I can separately show my still images, series of images, slides, this projector… but they’re still part of the same thing. Actually, I could just use the title Process towards a film for everything I do. That’s the general concept of my work, because I stay in the process. What is a film? A film can take many forms, each one of us has the illusion of a film, and we work according to that illusion. I see films as something that has many levels to it, many layers. Some of them are intimate, like the one that involves cutting, pasting… But the show the same thing in the end. They’re fragments of a film: you put them together and you get a film that you can disassemble and reassemble into another film over and over again. To me, philosophically speaking, the most interesting thing is to stay in the process, and so I keep adding up materials that contribute to broaden the limits of my process.
Can you tell us something about your still image art and how it relates to the rest of your work?
I have this feeling that things happen to me whenever I film. That I’m interacting, that I’m part of something. I change levels: sometimes I feel inside the situation, very engaged with what’s happening, and some other times I’m more passive, contemplative, and there are times when I’m really communicative. This is something that happens a lot when I’m filming animals, and also some people. I generally film people I already know –I don’t film people I’ve never talked to without their permission. So it’s true that there’s always some kind of communication that’s already there, but there are unexpected things that keep happening all the time. And it’s not only about cinema, those are new layers that add to it, and that have to do with the very reality that I’m experiencing and that is so rich. To discover that magic, sometimes you need to pay attention to the little details. And that’s what I did: taking the time to select four or five still images that I feel contain something in which cinema itself is present and can be felt. Something that also has a strong connection to the physicality of putting a number of images together in order to create new images –moving images. Also I used different filming speeds, from 50 to 12 images per second. And all of that speaks of the very elements of cinema –time, how two still images mingle together, the present time contained in each one of them… they became time-objects, objects of time. And then I can play with linear time, too: that’s my slide work, which is also very relevant to me, it’s where I stop and take the time to contemplate. What I’m going to present on Saturday has to do with that intimacy of cinema that I feel when I’m working with the material and get amazed at something I saw, and I think “wow, that was crazy!”, or “look how perfectly these images go together!”, that is, my editing work –when you come to see the material for the first time once it’s developed and you open the mail to finally discover it. That’s something that every filmmaker experiences, also the ones that work with digital tools. The only difference is that I can cut it and show it, because I work with analogue media.
Film-lecture AulaCREA. The Visible and the Invisible in Jeannette Muñoz’s cinema. Saturday 8 June | 11:30 am | (S8) room at PALEXCO