Paiva, Margerida

Margerida Paiva
from Portugal

artist biography


Interview: 10 questions

1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background.

Well, I’m from Portugal. I started to study at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Oporto in 1995, sculpture and plastic arts. In my 4th-year I went exchange one year to Trondheim/Norway. There I started to experiment with photo and video, and I’ve been working with video since then. Since 1999 I’ve been kind of between Portugal and Norway, and in 2005 I started my Master studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, and I’ve been living in Oslo since then.

2. When, how and why you started filming?

It happened at the art school in Trondheim in 1999. There were several reasons that led me to work with video. First I wanted to experiment with the new medium and the educational freedom in that specific art school allowed me that. I didn’t have that freedom at the school in Oporto since the study program there was still very traditional and academic at the time. Another factor was also my interest for storytelling. At the time I was struggling with my academic education in sculpture and trying to work it out on my own way. So I was very interested in nature and making works that were very close to Land Art, using organic materials. When I went to Trondheim, my first contact with the Nordic nature was a very inspiring experience. In the beginning I was staging scenes in the forest, inspired in fairytales, to be photographed. Later, I started to use video. My first video was made in the forest, in part inspired on the typical fairytale of someone who is lost in the woods; it was a rhythmic video of someone running away in the forest without direction and without way out. This experience was very interesting because I realized the potentials of video that I couldn’t take from sculpture or even photo. I think that’s what I like best of working with video, to experiment with movement and time, editing images, and trying different combinations between sound and image.

3. What kind of subjects have your films?

I’m very interested in personal narratives and interior worlds. Usually, the characters of my films are women and this is not intentionally, it’s more like natural to me and maybe that’s because I’m a woman. In these narratives, there are always present feelings of fear, loneliness or melancholy. It’s not so much to tell a story of something that happened with a cause-and-effect structure, but it’s more about showing a mental state, or an experience of something. Before, I was working with narratives which were stiffer and more closed in structure. Now, especially with the most recent video Untitled Stories, I’m trying to loosen up. Untitled Stories is a video based on everyday stories that are put together in a broken monologue told by a female voice. This monologue is associated with freely interrelated mental images of enigmatic interiors of buildings, streets and landscapes. In this way, the video explores worlds of memory as a kind of stream-of-consciousness in which several layers of time are connected by the voice of this female character. In short, the subject-matter is the human soul, the human feelings and affections, and I try to show that through poetic and fragmented images and words.

4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles, etc?

Before, I was using a storyboard and try to make up a story with a certain logic. Now, as I said above, I’m trying to work differently. I usually film a lot first, always trying to find the right images, right as in visual, aesthetic, beautiful, or just interesting. I edit them accordingly and try to figure out a narrative out of it. I start to write a text for it after I have a notion how the video will look like. I don’t know if I can call it style, but at the moment it became important to disconnect sound and image. It has something to do with memory and interior worlds, I think. Like when you are physically in a place but your mind is somewhere else, and those two worlds can coexist.
I experiment both with story, image and sound to achieve interesting combinations. Since the subjects are connected to feelings, affects, thoughts and memories, the temporality has to be another than linear time, therefore there is a deconstruction of the common spatial and temporal reality, trying to achieve another logic, another reality.

5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.

Well, I always worked with video DV. Two years ago I bought the small version of Sony HDV and I’ve been using it since then. I really like it because the image is very rich in color and contrast, and I also like to use it because it is so small and I can bring it everywhere. It allows me a greater mobility in the filming and it’s very good for the kind of work I’m doing now because I can make a kind of image diary, since I film a lot all the time.

6. What are the chances of new media for the genre film/video in general and you personally?

There is a very commercial side of new media affecting film as we can see in mainstream cinema, films are becoming louder and bigger and greater, which appeals to very young viewers, the video game generation.
On the other hand there is also a new way of thinking about film in general . Films like Timecode, for example, that are based on multiple storylines and shot on real time, contribute to a new kind of cinema that cannot easily be classified within the usual film genres.
In time, I think there will appear (or it is already appearing) new genres in the moving image, but traditional film will probably continue to exist.

7. How do you finance your films?

I usually finance them myself. Sometimes I get a small grant and that helps too.

8. Do you work individually as a video artist/filmmaker or do you work in a team?

I usually work alone; the work is always very personal. Sometimes I need an actress to do the voice, or a small role. Lately I’ve been also using a musician to write a melody for the videos. But it’s always a very individual process.

9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?

It is difficult for me to name an artist or a work which influenced or inspired my video works.
I usually try to get as much information as possible, which is to see as many films and videos as I can, and read as many books as I can. Everything around me can be a source of inspiration. Sometimes even just one scene in a film, or a piece of music. I always go for the poetic stuff, both in film or music, and I read a lot of poetry too.

10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/videomaker?

To make more films.