When digital media democratizes film production and everyone has the power to spread his own image by himself, the documentary SHOOT YOURSELF turns to performance artists who, since the 1970s, practice self-documentation. By investigating the relationships between the performative act and the photographic act in the work of nine Brazilian, European and American artists, the film assumes that the role of the documentarist is similar, after all, with the performer’s. Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, German artist Rebecca Horn, American artist Gary Hill, Suiss artist Pipilotti Rist, Spanish artist Esther Ferrer, Brazilian artist Paula Garcia, Iranian artist Ghazel, French collective Calvacréation and Brazilian artist Cripta Djan discusses the strategies and consequences of shooting yourself.
DESCRIPTION OF THE FILM (LONG VERSION)
Facing the audience at the auditorium of Jeu de Paume museum, in Paris, the Cuban artist Tania Bruguera talks about art as a strategy of surviving. She is radical. She pauses, takes a gun, loads it with a real bullet and leans her head. Now the audience is tense and bewildered. The Russian roulette punctuates the artist’s entire explanation. Tania comes to an end. Luckily nothing tragic happened. Entitled “Self Sabotage”, this performance was not designed to be documented. A spectator, however, recorded the act and posted on YouTube: it is the only known record of a work made to last no more than a moment. These are the images chosen to open the documentary SHOOT YOURSELF, by Paula Alzugaray and Ricardo van Steen. From Tania Brugueras’ performance to the works of another eight Brazilian, European and American artists from different generations, the film investigates the relationships between performances and cameras and focus on the strategies and consequences of shooting yourself. The metaphor of the camera as a weapon gave the title of the film.
Is there a world that can’t be registered by a camera? Is there an art work that can’t be documented? Which are the different roles that a camera can play in a performance? To what extent the action must be kept for posterity, or stay just in the public’s memories? These are some of the questions answered by German artist Rebecca Horn, American artist Gary Hill, Suiss artist Pipilotti Rist, Spanish artist Esther Ferrer, Brazilian artist Paula Garcia, Iranian artist Ghazel, French collective Calvacréation and Brazilian artist Cripta Djan, that commanded a documented “invasion” into the São Paulo Biennial, in 2010. What unites the work of them all is the use of the body as an instrument of artistic. What pulls them apart is how they document it. Some prefer not to register it, others use the recording as an object of the creative act.
The interest in their various strategies to shoot the performance reflects in the very making of documentary itself, to the extent that the roles of the documentarist transform successively, gaining new nuances in each interview. Throughout the film, the documentarist unfolds investigator, spy, illuminator, spectator, confidant etc. Thus, the film assumes that the role of the documentarist is similar, after all, with the performer’s.
A co-production between Brazil and France, SHOOT YOURSELF was filmed in São Paulo and in Paris, during an artist residency at the Centre International D’Acueill et D’Echanges des Récollets.
Paula Alzugaray (1966)
Art critic, curator and journalist specialized in Visual Arts. With a Master degree in Science of Communication from the University of São Paulo (ECA-USP) and in the process of getting a PhD in Communication and Semiotics at Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo (PUC-SP). Editor of seLecT magazine, Brazilian publication on contemporary art and culture (www.select.art.br); writer collaborator in major Brazilian culture magazines, such as “Bravo!” and “Istoé”. Among her curatorial projects, are “Uncontained”, in LOOP Fair Barcelona, May 2012; “Four Ecologies” a retrospective of pioneer Brazilian videoartist Regina Vater, in Oi Futuro, Rio de Janeiro, May 2012; “Video brésilienne: un anti-portrait”, video programme and talk at Vídeo et après, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, October, 2011; “Observatories”, at Itaú Cultural, Belo Horizonte, 2009; “Situ/ação: Video de viagem”, at Paço das Artes, São Paulo, 2007; and “Videometry: the video as measuring device in Brazilian Contemporary Art”, at Loop Festival, Barcelona, 2006. As a documentarist, she’s author of “Shoot yourself” (2012) and “Wet Paint” (2005), that won the Prize of Best Medium Length Film at 29ª Mostra International de Cinema de São Paulo, 2005.
Ricardo van Steen (1958)
Born in São Paulo, artist and film maker, studied drawing and painting during the 1970s. In 1983, he made his fist individual exposition, with paints and sculptures. Since the 1980s has been working with graphic design and television publicity. Since the 1990’s he is a member of the photography collective SX-70, working solely with the medium of Polaroid film. In 1996, he shoot his first short movie – about the Brazilian samba composer Noel Rosa. Based on this earlier experience, van Steen made a feature film about Noel Rosa in 2006, “Noel – Poeta da Vila” (‘Noel – Samba Poet’), winner, among other prizes, of the Best Movie Prize in the “Mostra de Cinema de Tiradentes”. Among his main exhibitions: ‘Ricardo van Steen’, Paulo Figueiredo Gallery (individual), São Paulo, 1983; ‘Memos’ Millan Gallery, São Paulo, 1996 (individual); ‘SX70’, Vermelho Gallery, São Paulo, 2003; ‘Situ/ação – Vídeo de Viagem’, Paço das Artes, São Paulo, 2007. In 2010 he did an artistic Residency at Céntre Recollets, Paris. He has a work on photography in the ‘Pirelli/Masp Photography Collection’.
Wet Paint (2005)
A Cidade não te há de Esquecer (2006)
Shoot Yourself (2012)
Ricardo van Steen:
Com Que Roupa? (short, 1996)
Wet Paint (2005)
Noel: The Samba Poet (2006)
Shoot Yourself (2012)
SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF THE ARTISTS ON SCREEN (ADITIONAL MATERIALS)
Tania Bruguera (1968, Cuba) – Installation and performance artist, her work pivots around issues of power and control. Bruguera works in the USA.
Ghazel (1966, Iran) – Studied in France and Germany, a performance artist that deals with the preconceptions about the Islamic culture. Works in France.
Rebecca Horn (1944, Germany) – Installation artist and film/performance director. Famous for her performances including the “body-suits” concept.
Pipilotti Rist (1962, Switzerland) – Visual artist, known for visual installations and Super 8mm works. Recently she made her first feature film, Pepperminta.
Paula Garcia (1975, Brazil) – Performance artist, lives and works in São Paulo. Studied visual and plastic arts, her main subject in the “contemporary body”.
Gary Hill (1951, USA) – One of the pioneers of the video art, has exhibited his videos and video installations worldwide. Gary also combines text and video.
Crypta Djan (1984, Brazil) – Leader from a group of “pixadores”, a unique form of graffiti from Brazil. Known for the scandal of invading art expositions.
Esther Ferrer (1937, Spain) – Reference performance artist and teacher. Famous for radical performances, represented Spain in the 1999 Venice Biennale.
Calvacréation (France) – Collective composed by Venezuelan director and multimedia artist Sabrina Montiel-Soto and French photograph Fabrice Croizé.