On the Filmmaking Process in Quinta da Vitória Neighborhood
Pittsburgh (USA); Duquesne University Department of Psychology; 13 September 2014; “Collaboration, Memory, and Futurity: Filmmaking in Bairro Quinta da Vitória, Portugal”
Lisbon (Portugal); Faculdade de Belas-Artes, Universidade de Lisboa; 4 July 2013; “Towards a Collaborative Aesthetic Praxis: A Process of Filmmaking in Quinta da Vitoria”
In the late 90s, a significant number of immigrants came to Quinta da Vitoria to work in the rebuilding of the eastern part of Lisbon. At that time there were about 5,000 people living in the neighborhood. In 1993, the civic government implemented the P.E.R. (Special Re-housing Plan). Although the demolition of the neighborhood began in the late 90s, it was only finally demolished in 2014. Some residents were relocated in social housing located on the outskirts of Lisbon. Residents of the neighborhood who did not live in Quinta da Vitória before 1993 were generally not offered alternative housing. Many persons in the neighborhood’s Hindu community chose to return to India or to move to England. Today the neighborhood is an empty space, marked only by some trees originally planted by the residents.
Sofia Borges has engaged in collaborative projects with the residents of Quinta da Vitória since 2006. She addresses aspects of our collaborative process that are influenced by her previous experience, including how her experiences cultivated her current sensibilities toward creating images of this place. She relates these to art practice through the work of Hal Foster (e. g., quasi-anthropological art), Henri Bergson (e. g., intuition, duration, procession of reality), and others, as well as to the film itself and our relationship with these inhabitants in the everyday.
She describes her involvement in projects parallel to the film (development of a public garden made with the trees of Quinta da Vitória neighborhood), and how these projects and processes (creative and collaborative) are all connected.
Suzanne Barnard juxtaposes a discussion of theoretically-derived concepts with concepts emerging from our own film practice. She incorporates certain concepts from (among others), Deleuze’s cinema theory (e. g., time-image, immanence, futurity), Deleuze´s and Guattari´s philosophy (assemblage, becoming), and sensory ethnographic film practice (e. g, the haptic image) in order to address two sets of questions relevant to our project:
1. How are notions of “collaboration” and the “subjects” and/or “elements” of a collaborative process to be understood?
Can collaborative practices address disparities in the subject positions of those involved (for example, disparities in socioeconomic means, in political enfranchisement, and/or cultural representation), and if so, how? Are certain forms of collaborative film practice more adept than others at resisting the reproduction of clichéd cinematic structures and forms of representation? For example, how can collaborative film practices resist problematic notions concerning “giving the other a voice” or the means to “tell [his or her] story,” or of assuming that a film or filmmaker(s) can speak for, or in the name of, persons who are culturally marginalized or oppressed?
2. How are notions of time, memory, and history to be conceptualized in relation to a collaborative film production such as ours?
Our collaborative film practice recognizes that a film does not represent a simple “document” of a pre-existing reality, but that it realizes a history, an archive, through the collective and/or aggregate participation of those involved in its production. (For example, in the case of our work in Quinta da Vitória, this process engaged various participants whose cultural notions of time – “everyday time,” “life-span,” and “cosmological time” – were different; among other things, these differences impacted participants’ understandings of and investments in personal memory and in narrative reconstructions of ‘past’ events.) Hence, a collaborative film practice must develop means (e. g., aesthetic, interpersonal, technological) for realizing this simultaneously improvisational, hybrid, AND (potentially) temporally and historically profound process in the material reality of the film itself.
Suzanne Barnard and Sofia Borges in 25 July, 2013