Fünf Fragen an Igor Simic
What’s the topic of your art? How do you approach this topic?
Igor: Broadly, the topic of my short films are the patterns of thinking we have unconsciously accepted and live by. I try to give an unexpected view of something you might see everyday and just take for granted. The films have two aims: to demonstrate that the ruling narratives and values that permeate society undermine human wellbeing, and to hint to a different attitude toward the world. For example, a supermarket can be a seen as more than a local store, it could be the place where you meet people, engage in economic exchange, feel ashamed you do not have enough money, unwittingly exploit banana farmers, show solidarity to a beggar, its the home of plastic bags, perhaps you work there, it is a place of alienation, maybe it is a large corporation that underpays its workers, but it can also become the unlikely place where you fall in love. Any of these interpretations can be played out in interesting ways on the screen, and each sheds light on ideology (big narratives) and breaks the mold of our own mechanistic, mundane and uncritical personal narratives. In the end, this method gives a holistic view of the world: European politics, the history of capitalism, the weather, your past, your future are all connected. These connections could be funny, disturbing and hopefully revealing of some truth. It is a method of seeing things from multiple angles, which calls out false idols: the king is naked, so let’s see what we can actually say about the king.
KINO DER KUNST shows fiction, new forms of narration – how is this reflected in your work?
Igor: "The Thinker in the Supermarket" deals with packaging as a model for neatly boxing everything from potato chips to slaves and ideas. “Cost-Benefit-Love” captures two lovers as they frantically do cost-benefit calculations about the other person and their relationship - an expression of Zygmunt Bauman’s idea of liquid love. Finally, “Melancholic drone” follows the character of a self-aware AI war drone, who experiences emotions and personal freedom more deeply than many humans. It questions technology evangelism, the industrial-military complex, and the lack of personal responsibility. Each of the films employs stream of thought: internalized narratives that influence our psychological wellbeing, relationships and the suffering of humans in society. The image-voice juxtaposition jumps between psychology and the spirit of our time. This conflict lays bear the underlying contradictions, which we try to push under the carpet - lies we tell ourselves and the lies we are collectively complicit in. Formally, it is to an extent a continuation of Eisenstein’s early ideas about intellectual montage, and even James Joyce and Samuel Beckett in writing. This way of thinking was later explored in films by Jean-Luc Godard, Dusan Makavejev, Terrence Malick, and others.
What movie, director or genre would you name as an exceptional inspiration for you?
Igor: It is impossible and unjust to pick one film or director. For this occasion my choice is the gut-wrenchingly realistic, truly anti-war masterpiece "Come and See" by Elem Klimov, the husband of the brilliant filmmaker, who had immense artistic integrity, Larisa Shepitko, the director of the moral and visual masterpiece “The Ascent.”
What's the state of the medium „film“ in the world of art according to you? Where do you think it is heading?
Igor: With the advent of the internet, self-expression of the artist is not enough because everyone is self-expressing through images and online writing. Now the bar for the wannabe artist has to be much higher if the artist wants to justify her work outside of narrow art world recognition. After all, we are in a time when more people have the chance to develop Renaissance skills and knowledge and work in teams. While the flood of images in the XXI century often expresses directly the ruling values of our time, thereby promoting them, the so-called artist/filmmaker must go against the grain and it is this unique independence and responsibility that the so-called artist has to fight for. Outside of pop culture which is by and large supported by corporations, most of so-called art is valued today within the bubble of a group with a vested financial interest, thereby serving the ideology of the one percent. In addition, many film festivals, which offer a great opportunity for independent filmmakers, also circulate a lot of vapid works that do not communicate outside of the festival community. The business of selling video art also needs rethinking. The communication between museums and filmmakers has to be more open as well. At the same time, there are many spaces of supreme quality and freedom within the very same art, television, film, media and online contexts. It is a vast and complex landscape, and with the availability of digital technology, experimenting with new production methods and aesthetics will bring more cliched and uninspired stories, but also a few wonderful ones that otherwise wouldn’t have been told.
In 2017 KINO DER KUNST will focus on the present. As an artist working in film, how do you perceive the rapidly changing present?
Igor: The present is a time of social, political, financial, and climate crisis, and a crisis of meaning in general. Brian Eno’s note, as told by Laurie Anderson is useful here: "Crisis as a moment to rejoice in the possibility to create new ideas instead of hammering in old ones. Keep hammering and it will break."
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