Monday, 7 July 2014

Meet, Vanja Sandell Billström

– How would you describe your art practice?
I’m an artist and a filmmaker often using fiction and documentary together since they often intertwines for me. The presence of the person behind the camera has been one of the subjects in my work of the recent years. Creating situations where the photographer, the cast and the audience are being addressed, I’ve wanted to raise questions about our relations to film and how we structure our perception of reality and the image of ourselves.
– What is your usual working process?
The moving image is constantly in my focus and as a part of my work I often try to figure out why I am interested in a certain image. In my latest film What There Is (Det Som Finns) I explored what filming with the cell phone meant to me. Earlier I asked myself whether the videos I’d made with my cell phone was a part of a professional practice or a more common wish to store an experience of the moment. In this film I intended to blur the line between these practices and treat even the most boring everyday-videos as a part of the work.
During my residency here in Norrköping I’ve started a project where I’m working with the videos of other peoples cell phones. I find it interesting that a large amount of the videos and images that we produce soon will be lost on aging hard drives or stolen cell phones. At the moment I am collecting videos from a lot of different people and my plan is to make a video installation that visualizes different stories of what we felt was important at a certain moment. Hopefully it can become an opportunity to experience our own everyday life connected to each other's stories.
Please visit if you want to be a part of the project or get to know more!
How important is the place or site where you practice your art?
I’m always dependent on having something or someone in front of my camera in order to make a film, so the people and the area of where I’m currently located is usually of great importance. When I’m lifting my camera the things around me could most likely end up in the film. But then I also bring myself into the situation and things start to transform. I don’t call my work site specific even though I think almost everything is that, in a way.
– Can you describe an encounter with one or more members of your audience that have inspired you particularly in your artistic practice?
When you work with a film for a longer period of time your eyes almost gets blind or at least at bit distorted. Even when you think that you have a good overview of the project you get surprised of how much the viewers sees and how many readings there are. For me that reminds me of that I’m doing one part of the work but then the viewers are doing theirs part and suddenly the work becomes much more than it was before. I remember being at a film festival and experiencing the luxury of having people approaching me and commenting on my film. Most of the time you don’t get to know what the audience thinks.
– What would you like to get out from a residency?
Spending time at a new place and meeting new people to discuss things with, make me reflecting about my work in new ways. Sometimes my work takes a long time to finish and a residency is a good way to get time to really focus at a certain part in a new context. It’s important that the organizers have confident in the artist. Allowing the work to take unexpected turns and being investigative is part of the nonlinear practice that art making is. My work of collecting cell phone videos is hopefully a good way to quickly get to know the city of Norrköping.

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