MARLA JACARILLA: "I am very interested in exploring the possibilities of the medium, on both a formal and a narrative level."

03/11/2021

This month we interview Marla Jacarilla, a visual artist, writer and film critic. We talk with her about her relationship with audiovisual, but also about La Escocesa, which forms part of Barcelona’s Network of Art Factories, where Marla has a residency.

As an artist, what is your relationship with the audiovisual medium and when did you begin to be interested in audiovisual as a form of expressing yourself artistically?
I have been producing most of my works on video for more than a decade now. Sometimes they are single-channel works, sometimes video installations… I am very interested in exploring the possibilities of the medium, on both a formal and a narrative level. In each project I use one methodology or another, depending on the case. I can create a photography or video project and three weeks later be experimenting with epoxy resin, sewing or writing. I am also very interested in film reviews, and I occasionally write about film for some media outlets. I believe that writing about the films that other people make helps me in a certain way to reflect on my own work, which is more liminal and interdisciplinary, related both to audiovisual and to literature or conceptual art. 

When it comes to expressing yourself, what do you think audiovisual offers you that other media cannot?
First, you have the possibility of working with the concept of time, something that a photograph or a painting does not offer you in such a direct manner. There are moreover huge possibilities to experiment with the narrative, and I believe that there are still many things to be done in this field. All this, together with the fact that the technologies are increasingly accessible and offer more possibilities, means that we have access to more and more audiovisual content. This is not necessarily good or bad per se, but it does involve a substantial change in our way of relating to the world and to images in particular. 

You are currently an artist in residence at La Escocesa, which is a self-managed artistic creation centre which forms part of the city’s Art Factories. For those people who don’t know what it is, what is La Escocesa? 
La Escocesa was originally a former textile factory which in the 90s was recovered by a group of artists, artisans, designers, etc., who created a large artistic community there. At the beginning it was a completely self-managed space, but it currently forms part of Barcelona’s Network of Art Factories. The artists gain access through a competition which is held each year, and they all form part of an association. There are two types of member in La Escocesa: resident and user. The difference between them is that a resident has their own workshop while the user only has access to the shared spaces and the facilities (analogue photography laboratory, chroma set, workshop to work on wood and ceramic, risograph machine, etc.). At the moment it is a community with over a hundred artists counting both residents and users.

You enter La Escocesa through a public competition and, unlike other centres, you do not arrive with a specific project, but rather you develop it once you are there. When and how did you arrive in La Escocesa and what do you think that this approach to creation brings to your work as an artist?
I arrived in La Escocesa at the end of 2015. It is a space which has changed a great deal since then, both internally and as regards the organization of activities. I think that it is very important for an artist to have an adequate context in which to carry out their work. To talk with other artists, create synergies, work in a community… Being in a space like La Escocesa allows you to do these things, as well as to undertake projects which would be unfeasible on an individual level. 

La Escocesa does not just provide somewhere to work, a workshop; it also helps its residents to disseminate their work. How does La Escocesa help your work as an artist?
In many ways. From the organization of various activities and exhibitions in which its members participate, to calls for different grants to carry out projects outside Spain and also on working as a link with other artistic and cultural institutions. Moreover, as I already mentioned, we can use the different facilities that the centre offers: from the analogue photography laboratory to the risograph machine for self-publishing, the video set, the pottery kiln… Depending on the type of work that each artist is carrying out, they may use certain facilities or others more but, as you can see, the line of La Escocesa is focused above all on analogue processes, unlike centres such as Hangar, for example, which concentrate more on new technologies. 

 

Exposición PostBrossa20, Fundació Joan Brossa. Foto: Silvia Poch

 

The fact that it is self-managed and assembly-based as regards decisions must be an added benefit for the artists who form part of La Escocesa. What do you think of this more participatory type of system?
The best aspect of this system is that the centre does not become a bureaucratic machine run by a superior being without paying attention to the needs of the artists. Rather, it is an organic space which adapts to the people inside it who also manage it. It is not always easy, because there are many of us with very different needs, but through dialogue we always reach the best solution for everyone. 

What other audiovisual artists are currently in residence in La Escocesa? Do you create collaborative works?
At the moment there are several people working with audiovisual. On the one hand, we have Carlos Vásquez and Valentina Alvarado, who are working with analogue films, Super 8, 16 mm, etc. Then there are residents like Caterina Botelho or Laura Arensburg, who are working with subjects close to documentary photography and non-fiction films, or Antonia Rossi, who often works with experimental films. There are also many artists, like Helena Vinent or Juan Antonio Cerezuela who, although they do not always work in an audiovisual format, do frequently use it in many of their works. 

Collaborative projects do sometimes arise, yes. Before the pandemic, for example, we jointly organized an open-air film cycle. And the Co- Project, which I will talk about later, also allowed us to work collectively. 

La Escocesa does not only focus on the creation of works but also on many other aspects, such as research, workshops, exhibitions. What do you think La Escocesa brings to the cultural fabric?
Many of the activities which are carried out in La Escocesa are open to the public, although the current health situation has made us change the dynamics. We participate in the Open Workshops of Poblenou, we organize a Festival of installations each year called Recreating Ruins… Also, the different workshops which are held over the year are open to the general public, with prior registration. 

La Escocesa has both residency and research projects. What is the difference? And what have your projects being during your residency?
The calls for residency are so that artists can have a workshop in La Escocesa and become members. The research and experimentation grants (the calls for which are open to members, but also to those who are not) are for artists to make proposals for experimental artistic projects, workshops, etc. Finally, there are internationalization grants which allow artists to carry out projects outside Spain (Berlin, Belgrade, Paris, …) for one or two months.  

You also organize public collectivization activities such as the (De)formations and Altiplans workshops. You participated in some of these workshops. Tell us about the experience, especially bearing in mind the difficulties caused by the pandemic. 
Yes, I have participated in several, although La Escocesa’s entire programme has been reformulated during the last year and, for the moment, the activities open to the general public have been greatly limited. Last year, I conducted a workshop called “The intrusive image” with Juan David Galindo, and in 2018 I held a workshop on the relations between film and contemporary art. I also participated in an Altipla with Josep María Català in which we were talking about film and many other things. 

The Co- Project transforms La Escocesa into an artistic research centre to confront the Covid-19 crisis and propose solutions. You are participating in it. Tell us what it consists of.
It’s a project in which various working groups are currently involved, the main motivation being to rethink the artistic dynamics, structures and institutions during the pandemic and to reflect on the function of art and artists. I am currently in the documentation group, but there is also a group coordinating various artistic activities (the co-cktail shaker), one which is in charge of investigating safe protocols and ways of bringing art closer to the community (co-rpus), a group responsible for communication (the co-mmunicators), another which forges links with different institutions (the co-nnectors), another which is in charge of seeking funds to finance the project (the co-obtainers),… 

And what are your future projects related to audiovisual that we can see in the city?
Well, on 11 March I will open a solo exhibition at the Twin Gallery, Madrid (which will be open until 30 April), and at the end of April I will open another in a Barcelona gallery, Projektería, where I will display an installation with photography and video. I am also completing a video project with a grant awarded by the VEGAP (Visual Entidad de Gestión de Artistas Plásticos) last year, although I do not yet know when or where I will show it. 

Photo Marla Jacarilla: Lluc Queralt

 

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