Toni D'Angela: I really appreciate how your films engage with the montageof images, words and voices.
Nazli Dincel: Language often fails over the power of an image!
t.d.: It breaks the power of the image, of the gaze, and especially the male gaze. This isthe gaze that has influenced cinema and spectatorship. Your synesthesic approach to combining images, sounds and written words (a montage which works like some sort of conflict) seems to break with that approach.
n.d.: I’m interested in things that are not themselves. If images can work as sounds, and sounds can work as text, and when text can become image, etc. Cinema can, but language cannot complicate itself with so many layers on its own- maybe with the exception of Dante.
t.d.: That's what I mean, there is something like this in some of Paul Sharits' films also. He breaks with the canonical harmony between words and images. His images function as sounds, and his sounds function as images, particularly in Word Movie.
n.d.: True. Have you seen his classical music compositions? Just blocks of colors pages and pages of it painted on sheets of paper. He assigns a note to all colours as sounds.
t.d.: There is something like a décalage also in your films. No harmony between image-sound, in Color Sound Frames image sounds! Color sounds! But your films have to do with something so deeply ingrained in the “tradition” of the avant-garde: the body and sexuality. For example, Geography of the Body by Willard Maas was an essay on the release of the body and an exploration of unknown territories, including the body itself and the new body of American avant-garde film.
n.d.: I think there are some harmonious moments between sounds and images in my work, although it often plays around or is not afraid to break free from the harmony. I have been hearing this too, this relationship to the canon, especially to the female experimental film. I don't think the second wave feminism has worked for women. I don't know why fewer women make work about their own bodies or about bodies to protest, or to offer a tirade against sexism. I grew up in an environment that had very little access to any sense of feminism in Turkey. Or the sense of feminism was not in the extent that the white academics have in the US. I had no control over my body and now I have no other option than to make work about the body in order to understand myself.
t.d.: But they did. Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Hammer, no? In fact I wanted to ask you just that, why has this stopped?
n.d.: I meant currently, after the second wave, yes I am asking the same! After Carolee, and Barbara Hammer and Barbara Rubin, Su Friedrich, Jennifer Reeves and Naomi Uman (although last two are more recent), why isn't there an ongoing interest to make work about sexuality that is against patriarchy? Or if there is work being made, why isn’t it being shown as much as any other work?
t.d.: In his updated edition of the book Visionary Film, P. Adams Sitney wrote that the most powerful interesting novelty in the field of avant-garde cinema duringthe 1970s was feminism. Before him, at the beginning of the 1980s, the influential art critic Craig Owens (writing in October) wrote that feminism had broken with the phallocentrism of modernism. This is evident not only in the work of filmmakers, but also artists such as Martha Rosler, Louise Lawler, Barbara Kruger, and others. Now don't you see this kind of attention, this sensibility in the works of female filmmakers we mention?
n.d.: I am not very familiar with the artists you have mentioned except for Kruger and Yasinsky. I don't have my copy around but there is a part in Eyes Upside Down in the chapter on Abigail Child. Writing about “Prefaces” Sitney says something along the lines that the relentlessness of the sound and the rhythmic quality of the film creates a language of its own, that the film itself is speaking instead of the filmmaker. The aggressiveness and the film object as a strip ends up having a language of its own. I guess this is what I was attempting to say earlier: I cannot talk about this in contemporary gallery work, because I am not familiar with it, but I am searching for more female colleagues that are confrontational and aggressive (maybe even structurally or formally, not necessarily in content) currently, with film. And if they do exist, they are not given the same voices in film festivals and other platforms that put them in positions of power. There seems to be little interest in a feminist perspective that is aggressive or controversial that is current, and is easy to dismiss it as a movement of the past. Feminism is understood coming from my generation as something that should be hinted at in work, hidden and not aggressive, with no political connotations, without gender... Again I am not saying that women have stopped making these works, but they are not being shown or prioritized. This is the weird aesthetics and capitalism of the art market, in a medium (film) that should ideally represent everything against a sense of commercialization, or tradition. I want to see more women in positions of power in my field, and not a homogenized community that is interested in curating and showing work for their own benefit.
t.d.: That’s interesting. Do you mean that "feminism" is present in cinema and the arts, but only as a theme or topic to be broached, because now it's a little bit institutionalized? This makes it seem "natural", but not as part of a shape or form within the film. Do “they” (the people that operate within institutions such as museums and the media) take on the “normalized” aspect of this but not the aggressive, violent, polemical or subversive approach to feminism?
n.d.: The academic portion of it is definitely a factor, which is what essentially pays artists, at least in the US. There are very little options for filmmakers besides teaching/being a part of an institution that is still primarily comprised of white, cis men. I have to do trigger warnings for students, etc. The Dallas Contemporary had a show recently called black sheep feminism, on how women were censored from galleries in the 70's that made radical feminist work. It isn’t surprising, but it upsetting that the art world cannot learn from previous oppressions. It becomes an institution itself, which keeps feeding the wealthy and the privileged.
t.d.: Actually, I quoted artists from the 1970s too...
n.d.: What do you think? History is just bound to repeat itself inevitably? Socially?
t.d.: I think that philosophy, politics and art should always strive to create something new. Of course, this “new” may also involve a new usage of old tools. When I decided to create this journal I thought of it as something new; something that just wasn’t around at this time. But Walter Benjamin says that the revolutionary is already inside the field of tradition. We cannot remove it, especially from the tradition of avant-garde.
n.d.: So you are saying tools are essentially irrelevant to the context?
t.d.: No, they are always relevant, especially when we think they are irrelevant.We cannot think to use them simply. We are also used by them. But being aware of it is something that permits us to not only subject it to this (like objects) but also to become the subject of (in an active way) the whole tradition of avant-garde or the whole tradition of feminism. These traditions can be used like tools. It's better than being devoted to them as if they were a museum. A museum does not have the power to scare anyone (maybe to excite them).
n.d.: Yes. I agree. I am interested in film because of this; it physically can become an extension of my body. The best moments are when I don't realize that this is happening. I spend hundreds and hundreds of hours with the film object and scratching becomes some sort of a flesh memory, I keep repeating myself, I forget what I am doing and it turns into meditation. This is usually where I make mistakes with my work, and I welcome all of these imperfections as a part of the process of making.
t.d.: Can you describe your very carnal and sensual relationship with film? Your works are hand-made, by which I mean that you really "touch" the film. Film is a body that encounters other bodies (the body of film and the bodies represented in it). This is something of a radical stance today as film is continually disappearing, and just now actively using film may shed a new light, provide a new splendor. Film appears strange now because it's dying. This is the obsolescence of the medium, as Rosalind Krauss would have said. There's a tendency in the current landscape of experimental filmmaking to consider this“body” of film, in for example the work of Karissa Hahn and – even if they are less sensual than your films – the hand-made cinema of Sandra Gibson and Luis Recode, Julie Murray's End Reel, Els van Riel's Gradual Speed. Of course this is also connected with the beginning of the avant-garde too (such as the work of Stan Brakhage), but today this has another meaning.
n.d.: This relationship you are describing, the carnal/sensuous side of working with film is a very obsessive relationship with the medium. I feel very similar about the physical sense of touching and intimacy that I have with lovers with my work. I am with a 30-second film strip for three months straight (scratching over 10 hours a day) or with a single frame between a few minutes or hours depending on what I am doing with it. This is also how women mourn in the countryside in Turkey. Tedious work like intricate cooking or rug making as a form of meditation works knot-by-knot or frame-by-frame. It does hurt to work like this. I am doing my body physical harm by working with my hands continuously. The film strip decays, and I am decaying with my work as well. And what is represented in the images are of bodies, bodies that are failing to communicate, bodies that are making mistakes and decaying as well. Conceptually, I am interested in creating text this way because I am physically removing emulsion to communicate stories that are extremely personal. I am communicating these by physically removing my body from the emulsion to create the text. And with a sense of meditation, I am removing myself emotionally as well.
t.d.: I think you have already answered my next question. In fact I wanted to ask you how you work daily to create your films? I also wanted to ask you something about Turkey. Is there anything that you took from the Turkish tradition for your work as filmmaker. Were you born there?
n.d.: I immigrated to the US by myself at the age of 17. I was born in Ankara.
I also only work with reversal film that I hand process myself in the darkroom, so the material never leaves me from the beginning to the end. I want to treat film as an object of the home, an object that is close to my body, that doesn't leave my physical surroundings until it is finished. There is a mutual relationship that I think both the maker and the (film) object gains by this intimacy.
I also see this question relating to language. The change of a language/culture has made me hypersensitive in recognizing social patterns. Learning a language academically also means to reinvent a persona in that language. This is also primarily why I am interested in text and why I want it to function as a synesthetic experience for the viewer. To use language to make language disappear, so it can communicate as an image, as a feeling, as a thing that isn’t purely (text) itself.
t.d.: May I ask you if have any interest in artists that have used words/language in their art crafts like Ed Ruscha or some conceptual artists, but also female artists in 1970?
n.d.: I don't think I am familiar – but yes, of course a lot of interest in words, text – but mostly in poetry, or artists that don't use text as a strict way to communicate but rather see it as an object. Do you have anyone in mind when you say female artists from the 70's?
t.d.: Also Barbara Kruger made a de-construction of language (which is often the language of Man) but there was in Italy also a movement, perhaps a neo-avant-garde called the Poesia Visiva (Ketty La Rocca).
n.d.: Yes, also Lettrist cinema in France.
t.d.: Ah yes, of course. I also think of Carole Schneemann's performance ofInterior Scroll (1975). Now we know (after Barthes, Deleuze etc.) that language is always language master, transmission of commands; so arts (often) tries to disrupt or interrupt this “chain of command”.
n.d.: Yes! Definitely. I am currently reading Deleuze's Repetition and Difference – it's very dense.
t.d.: When and how did you meet movies?
n.d.: I guess at an early age, I would go to the movies with my mother and watch vhs copies of her favorite Hollywood musicals with her when I was a child. What about you?
t.d.: I discovered the movies at around 17 years old. Before I was a 'street fighter boy'. Like you see in some movies, like Coppola's Rumble Fish. The film that changed my life and saved me was Cassavetes' A Woman Under Influence. I encountered this film in a sort of miracle/hazard. I did not know Cassavetes, I only knew the street. I was good at fighting, my (sur)name was the “Rock”. Then everything changed. I started to read books, to get more deeply into the movies, I encountered philosophy etc.
n.d.: That sounds wonderful, cinema changing lives
t.d.: Who has inspired you?
n.d.: The world!
t.d.: That's right! What are your next projects?
n.d.: I am working on an experimental feature – 28 single camera rolls edited in camera, each of them concentrating on an aspect of human failure. I have just finished Inability and Forgetting currently making Pain and Redundancy. I am also working on a short film I have been shooting for the past four years in Turkey, about my grandmother’s sexual experiences as a child bride.