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Maria Chalela-Puccini

Recreating yourself again and again and again and again

ARTIST MARIA CHALELA PUCCINI WAS BORN AND BROUGHT UP IN COLUMBIA. SHE STUDIED FINE ARTS AT THE UNIVERSITÄT JAVERIANA IN BOGOTA. AFTER COMPLETING HER STUDIES, SHE TRAVELLED AROUND EUROPE AND SETTLED IN BERLIN. EXEMPLARY WORKS FROM THIS PERIOD INCLUDE THE STUDIES ON MOVEMENT ANALYSED BY DEPICTING A DANCER WHOSE DANCING SILHOUETTE WAS TRANSPOSED ON LARGE-FORMAT PAPER USING CHARCOAL. THE RESULTING OVERLAPS HIGHLIGHT AN INTRINSIC THEME CENTRAL TO CHALELA-PUCCINI‘S ARTISTIC ANALYSIS: THE CONSTANT ATTEMPT TO CAPTURE MOVEMENT, TO BREATHE LIFE INTO THE DEPICTED PEOPLE AND OBJECTS. THIS OCCURS BY USING DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES IN THE INTERFACES BETWEEN STILL AND MOVING PICTURES, BETWEEN ANALOGUE AND DIGITAL.

Chalela’s inte­rest in explo­ring dif­fe­rent nar­ra­ti­ve and abs­tract pos­si­bi­li­ties in ani­ma­ted films led her to Vien­na whe­re she enrol­led in the Pain­ting and Ani­ma­ted Films class at the Uni­ver­si­ty of App­lied Arts under the gui­d­ance of Judith Eis­ler. Her ear­ly work at the uni­ver­si­ty speaks of an expe­ri­men­tal approach with dif­fe­rent media and tech­ni­ques: eit­her prin­ted digi­tal col­la­ges which are then pro­ces­sed manu­al­ly or manu­al­ly pain­ted first, then scan­ned, and ani­ma­ted digi­tal­ly. Watching her ani­ma­ted film, Dia­ry of a sailor who did not pay the rent, is a plea­sant expe­ri­ence. The short film recounts the tra­gic desti­ny of a lonely sailor focu­sed on pain­ting on his can­vas; he’s so intent on drea­ming of the wild adven­tures at sea that he for­gets to pay the rent. The per­so­nal quest for artis­tic iden­ti­ty is iro­ni­cal­ly repre­sen­ted as a fil­mic para­ble. In the film vie­jo, old man, alter mann the prot­ago­nist suf­fers from a dis­so­lu­ti­on of his iden­ti­ty. The film uses one sur­face, frame after suc­ces­si­ve frame pas­sing by in a flash of oil colours and con­stant­ly pain­ted over; it tells the sto­ry of an old man sit­ting at a win­dow in his usu­al bar, hol­ding up his glass for so long that he com­ple­te­ly mer­ges with the sce­ne­ry and disap­pears into the wall.

Her pain­ted ani­ma­ted film on glass, An edu­ca­ted woman, is a three­part seri­es which was awar­ded the Hubert Siel­ecki Pri­ze at the 2015 Tri­cky women Film Fes­ti­val. It’s an inter­pre­ta­ti­on of socie­tal prac­ti­ces influ­en­cing the crea­ti­on of a woman’s iden­ti­ty. Parts of women’s bodies roll by various sta­ti­ons on con­veyor belts in a pro­duc­tion hall to be adjus­ted, their brains are remo­ved, and their bre­asts enlar­ged. An old gra­mo­pho­ne plays a vinyl record during the pro­ce­du­re, spur­ting beha­viou­ral codes. In the epi­lo­gue, the artist tells us how she works and of sur­fa­cing absur­di­ties she encoun­ters when try­ing to paint a self­por­trait: ‘A self-por­trait is like try­ing to remem­ber your own exis­tence by recrea­ting yourself again and again and again and again.’ Her working pro­cess under­pins the quo­te. Every pic­tu­re pain­ted with acry­lic colours on glass is pain­ted over for the respec­ti­ve next frame. The came­ra docu­ments the traces of this game of chan­ges, dest­ruc­tion and creation.

Cur­r­ent­ly, Cha­le­la-Puc­ci­ni is working on a seri­es of fic­tio­n­al por­traits. Next to her joy for hap­tic work and the direct natu­re of pain­tings, she exp­lains her per­so­nal deve­lo­p­ment and shift to pain­ting by means of the word ‘ani­ma­ti­on’ which ori­gi­na­tes from the Lati­no ‘ani­ma­tio’ (give life to). While in the past she crea­ted move­ments in her films by a quick suc­ces­si­on of indi­vi­du­al frames, she now tri­es to con­vey move­ment using still frames– the repre­sen­ted peop­le infu­se them with a soul. She speaks of chan­ce if, over­night, the oil colours seep becau­se the pic­tu­re was pla­ced ver­ti­cal­ly up against a sur­face, thus chan­ging the face’s expres­si­on. Con­sis­ting of a per­ma­nent repe­ti­ti­on of the same pat­tern, the seri­es now inclu­des more than 200 por­traits, and finds fur­ther signi­fi­can­ce when rea­ding Benjamin‘s essay on Das Kunst­werk im Zeit­al­ter sei­ner tech­ni­schen Repro­du­zier­bar­keit (The work of art in the times of its tech­ni­cal repro­duc­tion). For Cha­le­la-Puc­ci­ni it’s a per­so­nal act of defi­an­ce, coun­te­ring this tech­no­lo­gi­cal­ly abundant world. The blur­ry, unre­co­gnis­able faces descri­be the fast-paced lives and loss of iden­ti­ty of the post-modern digi­tal indi­vi­du­al – and the­re­fo­re are part of the histo­ry of portraiture.

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wurde 1988 in Klagenfurt geboren. Nach Studien- und Arbeitsaufenthalten in Udine, Zagreb, New York und Brüssel studierte er Architektur an der TU Wien. Er arbeitet als freischaffender Architekt, Bühnenbildner und Filmemacher.

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