Guest curator and San Francisco Cinematheque director Steve Polta speaks each Wednesday with artists in the Screening Room exhibition certainty is becoming our nemesis, which was interrupted by McEvoy Arts’ temporary closure due to the coronavirus. The program is now available to view online in its entirety.
Steve Polta: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your current artistic concerns or projects? Where are you answering this Q&A from?
Pere Ginard: I am an illustrator and filmmaker based in Barcelona (Spain), which is where I am confined while answering these questions. And I think I can describe myself much better by listing my three eternal artistic references: filmmakers Jan Svankmajer and Stan Brakhage, and author/illustrator Edward Gorey. Even COVID-19 has not changed that.
SP: How does your film in this program relate to your ongoing practice or body of work?
PG: It’s an important film in my career. I usually get a lot of inspiration from literature when making a film and I like to make versions of novels or stories, reinterpretations, etc., but in this one, I went a little further: I directly vampirized a silent film and slowed it down and imagined very slow-motion metamorphosis would be like…like the digestion of a snake. And then there is sound design: this is one of the first films in which I begin to take the narrative potential of sound very seriously, so much so that in this film, sound is often more present than image.
Subjects such as transformation, reinvention, uncertainty, doubles (and by extension the sinister and the weird), are subjects that undoubtedly are part of my interests and obsessions…Pere Ginard
SP: As you know, certainty is becoming our nemesis is inspired by McEvoy Arts’ exhibition Orlando, itself inspired by Virginia’s Woolf’s 1928 novel and Sally Potter’s 1992 film adaptation starring Tilda Swinton. What, if any, is your prior relationship to the work of these artists?
PG: I read Virginia Woolf’s novel many years ago, and for me it is her most interesting work (I will never forget how she narrates the transition from the 18th to the 19th century). I saw the Sally Potter film much later and I must admit that I remembered very little: I took advantage of being part of this project to review the film.
SP: The program explores themes of transformation, self-invention, and gender performance and suggests that ambiguity of identity can operate as an emotional survival strategy and act of defiance. Are these themes something you consider in your artistic process or as central to your work exhibited here?
PG: Subjects such as transformation, reinvention, uncertainty, doubles (and by extension the sinister and the weird), are subjects that undoubtedly are part of my interests and obsessions, but always from a much more phantasmagorical point of view. Let’s say that my approach to all these themes is much more poetic than social.
SP: In what way has your inclusion in this program (or in conjunction with the larger Orlando exhibition) impacted your view of the work itself?
PG: Within the context of the program and the exhibition, suddenly my film seems to me much more linked to a current social issue than ever. It is strange and at the same time nice to see how the perception changes.
SP: How are you coping with the current public health crisis? How has it impacted your approach to art making?
PG: After the first days of confusion and daze, I have become accustomed to a new routine—much calmer, quieter, and more intimate—that I am really enjoying. The projects that come out, even without intending to, reflect this reflective state and focus on the small: series of tiny drawings, small animations of microscopic beings. I suppose that, unconsciously, this recent work is influenced by the constant medical news that we are all consuming these months.
SP: Lastly, what’s the last piece of art, media, or culture that exerted a profound impact on you?
PG: David Toop’s essays, and especially his book Sinister Resonance: The Mediumship of the Listener (2010). His reflections on music, sound and literature are fascinating. Packed with cultural references of all kinds, Toop’s essays contain a thousand books in one.
Pere Ginard is an illustrator, filmmaker and alchemist. He was the co-founder and member of the multi-disciplinary studio Laboratorium for over ten years. His specialty lies in experiments with perpetual motion and variations on Lumière’s prototype.