Katia Maciel: Mantenha Distância

Multiple cinemas

"Cinema represents the seventh art: at least that is what a famous sentence at the beginning of the twentieth century asserts. But cinema is changing before our eyes. Its history and also its geography meander after twenty or thirty years. Art also changes and what museums are currently showing has little in common with what avant-garde galleries suggested at the beginning of the twentieth century. Being thus, the issue continues to be regularly brought up and we continue to compare cinema with arts already fairly established, intending to show now and always that it is part of the set of arts".
Jacques Aumont, Le Septième Art,2003.

Katia Maciel defines the set of works she now presents as Transcinema. This definition seems to us fairly exact to differentiate and place the propositions of camera, image and projection within the renewed issues that the history of cinema itself has been offering us since its beginnings, that is, the questioning made since its birth, on the nature of the cinema and its role as art and visual language.

Maker of films, audiovisuals, videos, research and publications on Brazilian art, cinema theory and aesthetics, Katia Maciel arrives at her most complex realisation, when she expands her experience with multimedia visuality to the situation-limit of an idea of "the field as limit of the film plan which is being redefined through the appearance of new technological layers " or, further, what is called cinema-installation.

We therefore believe that Katia Maciel’s involvement with experimental works and trends of Brazilian art – such as that of Neo-concretism, Hélio Oiticica, Cildo Meireles and Artur Barrio – has substantially contributed to the conceptual and formal configuration of the works that comprise her proposal of Transcinema: the issue of the spectator’s participation, the environmental character in art work, the installations and the interactivity allowed by the new technologies. Thus, there is evidence of the involvement of concepts directly originated from the transformation phenomenon of painting (avant-garde of the 20th century) and that these symbolically represent the development of modern art to its contemporary condition.

Similarly, it is possible to refer to the realisations of the so-called Structural Cinema of the 1960’s and 1970’s in the United States, England and Europe, when film-makers such as Hollis Frampton, Michael Snow, Peter Gidal, Malcom LeGrice, Paul Sharits, Carolee Schnemann, Jonas Mekas and many others, experimented new possibilities of realisation and definition of film values, strongly leaning on issues and conflicts in painting and sculpture: the aesthetics of  Expressionist Abstractionism  and of  Minimalism,that is, critical avant-garde points at the end of Modernism – the  drama of the search for the definition of the essence, of what was wanted to define as specificities of painting and sculpture transferred to cinema problems, such as the deconstruction of the narrative idea, filming time etc.

The idea of Transcinema does not seem to want to deny film concepts or oppose previous experiences. As we have already said, it uses freely, several experimental trends linked to new technologies, to simply propose and explore new resolution possibilities for the image and also reorganise the cinema-show.

One of her most recent works in electronic art is called  One, none and one hundred thousand, carried out in London. It is a fictional work offered to the participating spectator through a playful game of random and virtual exchanges, which is part of the research she carried out on the subject of the portrait in the history of painting. One, none and one hundred thousand provides for the spectator nearly infinite combinations of images and dialogues extracted from the common-place of verbal expressions of day-to-day life and that, in random juxtapositions, efficiently provoke astonishment and renewal in the universe of stratified values of the real.

It is nearly inevitable not to relate the results of creative processes such as those of Katia Maciel’s Transcinema to themes derived from and recurring of the fertile tradition of Modernism, such as the poetic bases of Ezra Pound, James Joyce, T.S.Eliot and Gertrude Stein; the cinema of Eisenstein, of Alfred Hitchcock, Structural Cinema and the  Pop Art iconography in series and the principles of Marshall McLuhan on the phenomenal transition of the archetype to the cliché. A fertile relation with the tradition of art together with a permanent updating in contemporary expressionism is evident in this set of works.

Luciano Figueiredo
Rio de Janeiro, 2004
Written for the catalogue of the exposition “Keep your distance” at Paço das Artes, Sao Paulo and Paço da Liberdade, Curitiba – Brasil.