Ana Paula Cohen: When and hou did you begin your production as an artist?
Joacélio Batista: My work in video began at the end of my major in animation film at the Escola de Belas Artes da Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. In 2002, on a trip to São Paulo, I went to the exhibtion Estratégias para deslumbrar (Estrategies for dazzling), where I saw the works by Bill Viola, The Reflecting Pool. 1977 - 1979, and Eder Santos, Mémoria, (Memory), 2001. The work by Eder opened a gap to another dimension, making it visible but intangible. The Relfecting Pool was like a painting that changed each time the viwer went past it; the landscape was the same, but actions of the subject within the scene were always different. I became immersed in total contemplation, watching the way he sculpted time. These influences, added to my previous experiences with animation, led to the video Se estou certo, por que meu coração bate do lado errado? (If I right, why is my heart on the left side?), 2003, witch I consider my firt work.
The partnership in the video performances and documentaries with artist Daniel Saraiva brought me into the contatc with CEIA, Centro de experimentação e Informação de Arte, where other encounters important for my training took place. In my artist residency in South Africa, as part of the project Blind Spaces, 2004 this path took form in the documetary Artifícios do olhar (Artifes of the gaze) and in the video performance Simuye, both from 2005. My affinity with video springs from this entire mix.
APC: In the video Sala nova da casa ( New room in the house), it seems that there is a construction of history based on the practice of storytellingn or oral memory, which is very present in the cultrure of Minas Gerais. but the fact that you induce the telling of memories shared among three closely related people, a mother and her two daughters, seems especialy relevant to me since ther perspectives are different in various ways, generation, interfamily hierarchic relation (mother, elder sister, young sister) , and they all feel sufficiently intimate with each other to correct their own memories and construct a possible shared history/momory. Can you elaborate on that?
JB: The conversation at the end of the day is a especial moment set apart from the day-to-day life of families in the interior of Minas Gerais State. Its when we sit at the table, generally near the stove, to talk about the day, to get entertained with memories and storelling. With the coffe served at the table, the family hierarchy is no longer present, the imagination is guided by affecitve relaltion. My parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins are excellent storytellers. These convesations would normally last for hours, everyone could add to or challenge what was told. Nowadays theses conversations break up berfore the telenovela begins.
At one of these coffe sessions, I sae my mother and grandmother commenting on the houses. They had lived in; the subject triggered an immersion into memory. Each time one of them would speak, the narrative emerged full of increasingly rich details. I remember that I didn´t want to go loook for the camera so as not to lose a single bit of the story. But the wish to record remained. Two years later, in the middle of the recording, my Aunt Edna - always considered among my grandmother´s daughters as the one with the "best memory" of childhood events - appared and told about new episodes that were tucked away in each of their private pasts, like the custom in each or their private past, like the custom ther sister had of burying their dolls in the backyard. I had been recording my older relatives quite regularty in order to registre to registre their stories about the family, the customs, and whaterver else they wish to tell. It´s a kind of "affective archeaology", that gives rise to stories, fillings gaps, tying up the loose ends of other events in life...
ANP: It seems that in your work there is a border bewteen what can be told the public and what should remain invisible, similar to a magician's show, which would lose its meaning if everything were visible and explained. Can you talk about this elemet of your work?
JB: I think that this arises from the tricks work Sem passo, Sem Piso (Without a step, without a floor). The question "How did you do that?" is often hear. The word "trick" comes from the films by French filmmaker George Méliès . Today he is know as one of the pioneers of cinema, but at that time he was acclaimed as a great illusionist. He used his films as tools for potentializing his magic. These tricks constituted the first steps toward the special effects used in filmmaking today. When I began to exlore thes filmmaking techniques in my animations, I focused on manual methods, present in the early-cinema of Méliès, in order to distance myself from the sort of computer graphics used pervasively in advertising. As a advocate of the "do-it-yourself" motto, studying the precursos of cinema and their tricks helped me with my impatience in waiting for funds to carry out the projects. If I had simply waited for this, I wouldn't have done one-third of things I have produced.