A conversation between Jumana Manna and Ane Rodríguez Armendariz and Jone Alaitz Uriarte
We are debuting the first solo exhibition dedicated to your work in Spain. We’ve been able to see some of your pieces in group shows, most recently at the show curated by Natasha Marie Llorens in Tabakalera, L’Intrus, which included Stage for Any Sort of Revolutionary Play (2016), an installation that depicts bodies on a platform, and we saw Wild Relatives for the first time at CAPC (Bordeaux) as part of the Satellite programme in 2017.
Your practice tackles different issues such as ideologi cal constructions and the complexities of preservation practices, what gets protected and what gets erased or removed, and it explores the ways in which social, political, and interpersonal forms of power interact with the human body.
One of the works we present is A Magical Substance Flows Into Me (2016), a film where you navigate the viewer through different interviews with musicians, people from diverse ethnic communities and relatives to depict the tradition of music in Levant1. This journey is somehow guided by the figure of a Jewish German researcher, Robert Lachmann, who arrived there in the 1930s and created a radio program for the Palestine Broadcasting Service called Oriental Music. You have presented the film at festivals as a singlechannel film, but also as an installation accompanied by big sculp tures from the Muscle-Vase series, representing hollow parts of the body. You define yourself as a sculptor and filmmaker, two very specific and different ways of going about artistic practice. How do you relate one medium to the other in your work? What do you look for in each of the mediums? How important is a narra tive medium for you, as opposed to a more abstract and formal one?
Each medium offers different potentials that are both distinct and overlapping. I am learning to be careful in differentiating between narrative (film) and abstract / formal (sculpture), as this is an unnecessary distinction that I am sometimes guilty of when speaking about the work.
Filmmaking lends itself very well to unpacking immate- rial relationships of power; relationships of people and places in a complex and multi-layered way. In that way, my films may appear more discursive in the obvious sense of the word: sections of dialogue, images, places and sounds unfolding over time to create a thesis, a set of relationships. Although I am interested in narrative, it is not the primary motive when I am making a film.
When I work in sculpture, I tend to reconsider the instal- lation over and over again depending on the exhibition venue and context, and this too takes on a narrative as- pect through the titles given, the exhibition design, the meeting of different materials, their economies and ref- erences and so on.
A lot of my sculpture considers the social and political implications of crafts in relation to industrially produced materials. And in that sense, they are materially driven.
Sculpture, as a spatial practice, allows for more abstrac- tion or openness, perhaps; this could be because there is the possibility to freely form a material from scratch. This materiality provides more tools for corporeal under- standing, muscle memory, and other embodied knowl- edge since it shares a space with the viewer occupies on the floor. Sometimes, the sculptures are condensations of some of the themes I deal with in the films, and some- times vice versa: the relations I begin to set up in the sculptures inform the filmaking process. There are ethi- cal and political considerations that I find more press- ing when a camera enters someone’s life, or house, that sculpture is more liberated from. I like moving back and forth between the two, because I get excited by (and impatient with) the possibilities and limits of both pro- cesses, and also the kinds of spaces their combination might enable.