Combining documentary and subjective viewpoints, Filipa César’s films are concerned with the relationship between history, memory, image and narrative. Their freedom of tone and form is reminiscent of the form of the cinematic essay, in which the image serves as a starting point for open narratives, developed like a stream of thought. In her films the artist concentrates on points of historical crystallization, on facts situated on the margins of official history but liable to reveal its mechanisms, ideologies and hidden dimensions.
Filipa César presents:
Cacheu, 2012, 11:00 min
In Cacheu Filipa César once again applies the economic technique of using a single shot – letting a 16mm film roll to the end – without editing. Here, the montage is a process that takes place before shooting, so that the image produced is the result of a performative assemblage between text, acting, projected image and framing by the cameraman and director of photography, Matthias Biber. A lecture, performed by Joana Barrios, brings together elements of César’s research on four colonial statues, which are stored today at one of the first establishment for slave trade in the West African country of Guinea Bissau – the Cacheu fortresses, constructed by the Portuguese in 1588. The lecture traces back through moments where these statues cast symbolic conflicts while inhabiting different contexts: on a pedestal during Portuguese colonialism, dethroned and broken in pieces on the ground after Independence in the film Sans Soleil by Chris Marker, as a background scene in Mortu Nega by Flora Gomes, and finally displayed at the Cacheu fortress. This film was shot as a performance in the context of the congress What Happened 2081 programmed by Georg Diez and Christopher Roth, on the 24th of March 2012 the Kunst-Werke, Berlin.
Mined Soil, 2013-14, 30:00 min
The film-essay Mined Soil revisits the work of the Guinean agronomist Amílcar Cabral, studying in the 50’s the erosion of soil in the Portuguese Alentejo region through to his engagement as one of the leaders of the African Liberation Movement. This line of thoughts intertwines a documentation on an experimental gold mining site, operated today by a Canadian company and located in the same Portuguese area once studied by Cabral. The reading of the essay explores the space, surfaces and textures of the images, proposing past and present definitions of soil as a repository of memory, trace, exploitation, crisis, arsenal, treasure and palimpsest.
Reading “Berlin 2010“ introducing Porto, 1975
Porto, 1975, 2010, 11:00 min
In Porto, 1975 the subjective viewpoint of the camera takes us through another emblematic example of Portuguese history from the 1970s, thanks to a single long take lasting the whole duration of a 16 mm reel. Bouça was a social housing project initiated in 1973, just before the end of Salazar’s Estado Novo, and conceived by an architect whose renown would subsequently become international: Álvaro Siza. The project is situated on the edge of downtown Porto, on a particularly difficult site. Only a quarter of the buildings had been completed when work was halted following the putsch in November 1975. In 1999, a decision was made to undertake renovation and reconstruction. Building work resumed in 2001 and was completed in 2006. César’s camera wanders lightly around the housing development, crosses through an apartment and stops in an architecture agency installed in what should have been the nursery school.
Simultaneously we hear the recorded appeal by Alexandre Alves Costa, who is also an architect, testifying to the effect the project had on public opinion at the time. In Porto, 1975 Filipa César approaches the question of Portuguese identity and commemoration in an extremely personal way. She evokes social themes along the way, such as the phenomenon of the gentrification of this housing estate henceforth prized by a town in full boom. – Clément Minighetti
Allee der Kosmonauten, 2007, 11:00 min
Allee der Kosmonauten is a single shot traveling –shot on super 16 mm transferred to DVD- through the pedestrian walk way in the “Allee der Kosmonauten”, Berlin-Marzahn. The Avenue, named after Sigmund Jähn and Waleri Fjodorowitsch Bykowski’s, whose space trip was meant to tighten the ties between East Germany and the Soviet Union, is a landmark of what formerly was East-Berlin. Shot with the technical support of a Crane and a Steady-cam, this video presents a subjective-camera view of a walk on the “Allee der Kosmonauten”, starting with a normal eye level POV, and progressively, loosening up from gravity, ascending to 8 meters above the ground in a day-dreaminess haunted by the communist cosmos, one of the tragic glories of the mechanical era.
The Embassy, 2011, 30:00 min
In her film The Embassy, the artist addresses the colonization era and, indirectly, its bloody end during the colonial wars. Within the framework of a much larger project about revolutionary filmmakers in Guinea-Bissau linked to the independence activist Amílcar Cabral, Filipa César by chance discovered a photo album from the national archives, deserted after the civil war in 1999. It is this album that can be seen here being flicked through and commented on by the Guinean archivist and journalist Armando Lona. With a single fixed shot and by lingering on certain details and historical traces, the artist succeeds in transmitting a living image of the past and the present of this West African state. The title of the work pays homage to the French director Chris Marker and his work in Guinea-Bissau.- Clément Minighetti
Filipa César (b. 1975 in Porto, Portugal) is an artist and filmmaker interested in the porous relationship between the moving image and its public reception, the fictional aspects of the documentary and the politics and poetics inherent to the production of moving images.
Between 2008-10, great part of César’s experimental films have focussed on Portugal’s recent past, questioning mechanisms of history production and proposing spaces for performing subjective knowledge. Since 2011, César has been investigating the conditions and origins of film in Guinea-Bissau and its related geo-political radiance, developing that research into the project “Luta ca caba inda“.
She is was a participant of the research projects “Living Archive, 2011-13” and “Visionary Archive, 2013-15“ organized by the Arsenal Institute for Film and Video Art, Berlin. Selected Film Festivals include Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen, 2013; Forum Expanded – Berlinale, 2013; IFFR, Rotterdam, 2010, 2013 and 2015; Indie Lisboa, 2010; DocLisboa, 2011. Selected exhibitions and screenings include: 8th Istanbul Biennial, 2003; Serralves Museum, Porto, 2005; Tate Modern, London, 2007; SFMOMA, 2009; 29th São Paulo Biennial, 2010; Manifesta 8, Cartagena, 2010, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2011; Jeu de Paume, Paris, 2012; Kunstwerke, Berlin, 2013; Festival Meeting Points 7, 2013-14; NBK, Berlin, 2014; Hordaland Art Center, Bergen, 2014; Futura, Prague, 2015; Tensta Konsthall, 2015.