In one of her essays, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (1972, San Juan, Puerto Rico) considers the practice of filmmaking as analogous to the performance of a ritual, insofar as a ritual transforms the conditions of attention and perception of its participants, in a dynamic relation of fluid and interchangeable roles and positions. She also proposes a shift in the focus of cinematographic thought, from the experience of the spectator to the states of consciousness and the agency of the filmmakers. This is why, although there are evident similarities between Muñoz’s processes and ethnographic cinema – including the careful research of contexts and personal proximity with the participants gained through prolonged shared experience – she is always willing to subvert the conventions of this model. Her films and installations juxtapose documental records, historical memories, random discoveries, material investigations and fictional explorations.
In various of her recent works, as well as in the installation proposed for the 34th Bienal, the limits of what can be understood as cinema are carefully expanded, on the physical point of view, through many stages of the work production and presentation processes. In film development, the artist uses handmade chemical agents extracted from local plants. In the installation, she also incorporates objects (some of them already used in the shootage). Such objects, placed in front of the lenses, distort and modify the projections. By shifting the emphasis on the images themselves towards the processes of development and projection, Muñoz points also to the physical or sculptural character of the cinema.
Taking Puerto Rico as their starting point, many of her films contribute to create an imaginary of an authentically decolonized Caribbean, rooted in alternative ways of seeing and experiencing the contradictions of the region. That is why Muñoz's work has addressed from the clash between an "imported" idea of progress and the extremely rich local culture, as well as examples of hybridizations of various sorts, such as the translation of Proust's Recherche into the Haitian Creole, undertaken by Haitian theater writer and director Guy Régis Jr.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).