Interview: 10 questions
1. Tell me something about your life and the educational background
I was born and raised in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. The neighborhood where I grew up is part of the largest market in Africa. After graduating from high school I moved to the US for higher education. I have a BFA in painting from Massachusetts College of Art and an MFA in combined media from Hunter college.
2. When, how and why started you filming?
I started making films as part of the Ethiopian Story Collection Project in 2004. I traveled throughout Ethiopia for four months conducting interviews and documenting places. When I returned to the US I was living in New York City with limited studio space but wanted to keep painting. I accidentally ran into stop action animation. It became a great way for me to do tons of paintings, layering one on top of another. I also wanted to make paintings that were alive with sounds and time, a static painting on canvas just wasn’t enough.
3. What kind of subjects have your films?
As a person of two homes I am in a continuous dialogue between tradition and modernity, here and there. The ideas of flux and fragmentation have been reoccurring themes in my work.
4. How do you develop your films, do you follow certain principles, styles etc?
Most of my work has a performative aspect. They are life-like, unrepeatable (if I make a mistake I have to redo the entire scene). For my stop action animations the entire short is made on a single surface (canvas for painting or Mylar for drawing). In all my work the concept dictates the technique; I strive to reflect the idea through the making of itself. I continuously seek new conceptual and technical development.
5. Tell me something about the technical equipment you use.
I use graphite on Mylar or Heavy Body Golden acrylic paint on canvas. The canvas or the mylar are stapled to a wall. A camera (Canon EOS 1000D) is mounted on the opposite wall, connected to a computer. I use a remote shutter to take each picture after the desired still is developed. I then bring the stills together and edit them in Final Cut Pro. For sound I use an OLYMPUS sound recorder. Most of my sounds are collected from life.
6. What are the chances of the digital video technologies for creating art using “moving images” generally, and for you personally?
I think digital video technologies are creating many new possibilities for artists. They are affordable, forgiving (you can experiment with ideas as much as you want and then delete them) and democratic (they can be duplicated infinitely for everyone).
7. How do you finance your films?
I have received some grants in the past but most of my films are self financed.
8. Do you work individually as a video artist/film maker or do you work in a team? if you have experience in both, what is the difference, what do you prefer?
I work individually but my spouse is also an artist and gives me constant feedback. I have worked in a team as well, they both have different strengths. My work is realized and discovered during the final stage of production which can be challenging for others who work with me. In my experience working in team is like having eight arms, it is fast and you must stay in communication every step of the way.
9. Who or what has a lasting influence on your film/video making?
My work is a combination of different disciplines (painting, pohotography, performance, video and animation). The everyday is a great inspiration for me. I watch movies almost everyday, there is tons of great stuff out there: any movie by the Dardenne brothers, The Great Match, 3 Irons, Elling, 20 Fingers…
10. What are your future plans or dreams as a film/video maker?
I want to push my work toward audience interaction projects such as films that play only when an audience is present.
Can works of yours viewed online besides on the CologneOFF platform? Where?
List some links & resources