This week, we have the chance to interview Mario Brondo, we discovered a few weeks ago on internet. After studying in France, he started producing and directing films and art in Mexico and Europe. He has taken part in important art exhibitions and film festivals in Mexico and Europe. He lives in Mexico City and produces films, video and art.
In 2014 he shot his first feature documentary Villa Cisneros in the Western Sahara. The 4 deaths of María, his second feature, is in postproduction and his latest project, Cacopedia, is soon to be shown.
Mario Brondo interview
Mario Brondo, how did your relationship with the moving image begin?
When I was a little child I was very interested in painting, and later in photography. After some years of practice, the concepts of time, duration, simultaneity and death became some of my main concerns. Surprisingly enough, movement was at the time not important for me, I began experimenting with video, working mainly with long still shots that suggested only the passage of time. That forced to begin working with sound, although I made some silent videos. I was studying music and psychology at that moment and loved to read ﬁction. I started including music to set the tone of my still abstract videos. As the passing of time, and movement have so much potential, I started working with narrative as a measns of structuring and giving internal coherence to my works. The possibility of joining visual arts and time, along with music and narrative led me to the audiovisual arts universe and, ﬁnally to ﬁmmaking.
How is your work related to politics?
I think every work of art is a statement, even a text. Art is inescapably related to politics as is any text. Even the most sober, the most naive, and the most experimental, results in a statement, a position on the discourse of the world; a position towards the relationships on human beings. Politics result in the end, not in its etimological deﬁnition though, but in reality, the way the ideas of the masses share space and time. Even a small idea, with slight differences to the institutionalized ones can be dangerous. Art is in the end an act of resistance and rebelion, a reminder that the world can be modiﬁed by the people.
How do you use sound?
Sound is a very complex form, and it is essential in my work. I use several planes of sound. First, direct sound, diegetic voices, narrator and music. Of these, the most particular things I work with, is the difference between what happens and the sound or its absence. Narration is always important, mainly to generate a discursive subject that will transmit the idea to the spectator. In my latest video works I have been experimenting with artiﬁcial intelligence voices, that create impossible discursive subjects, mindless ones. Music plays a big role in my art, normally it is aimed at setting and changing the tone and mood of the work, but also the perspective from which the spectator is to read the work. Humour, conceptual distance and solemnity are some of the main uses I give to music.
How do you use mix ﬁlm and art forms and expressions?
Throughout my career, ﬁlm and art have been interwined, creating hybrid forms. Spectators tend not to know where the ﬁlm or art piece start. I have this very clear: sometimes the limits of theatrical movies have to be pushed, then I include art techniques. When a video for a gallery ﬁts snug in this category, It might help to push it with a narrative or conventional ﬁlm approach. It is some ﬁxation I have with breaking the frames and escaping clichés.
Your early works show much interest in the concept of time and the space´s plastic relationship to it. How has your work evolved ever since?
As I mentioned before, time was one of my ﬁrst concerns when I came to the moving-image ﬁeld. I think space is a psychological phenomenon that gives context to the characters, subjects or minds playing with ideas in an artwork. The counterpoint comes there. My work has evolved throughout the years to the ideas of direct captation and montage. I tend to improvise more, and do not center my expressive goals in characters, but in phenomena; and the way every media or syntagm can be arbitrarily or randomly mixed with others, as to create some sort of automatic conclusion. I believe that collective consciousness is essentially that: a mashup of all the signs available to a the many in a period of time. That is my main ﬁeld of exploration at this moment.
There is sharp sarcasm in most of your video work. How does that relate to the sometimes solemn tone and the music?
Normally I treat subjects that intrigue me a lot, many of which I am afraid of. The way I am able to digest them while creating a piece is to set myself apart, get some distance between the work and the author. Also, through music, I create a distance, as well as I do through humour. When a subject is rather difﬁcult, I might wear some solemnity out of it through sarcasm. When a subject is too funny or lacks seriousness, I might also deprive it of such tone using a very serious music. Classic music displays a whole range of emotions, as well as abstract contemporary music. I prefer to use those forms.
How is your work related to classic art and classic music?
I ﬁnd a lot of inspiration both in contemporary ideas and in classic art. I can´t describe the awe I feel when watching a barroque master´s painting, with all its heavenly perfection. In this context, I also think that art is always contemporary, and all the big artists were contemporary in their times. Romanticism and sacred art lead me to other realms, as they open the way to an inﬁnite that I love, but which I have never known.
How was Villa Cisneros conceived and made?
Villa Cisneros started at the moment we landed in a military base in Algeria. I was surprised to ﬁnd my self in militarized Africa. We headed in land rovers to the Saharaui refugee camps in Tindouf. We were welcome by a family of 5 wemen and we stayed in their living room. I tried to capture all the scenes I could, having only vague ideas on how to edit or present each. I had seen a ﬁlm before, long ago, whose overall sensation I wanted to come through Villa Cisneros. Unfortunately I couldnt recall the name or author. After aI ﬁnished the ﬁlm, which of course I edited only with structure and a few discoursive subjects in mind, I bumped over that ﬁlm, it was Werner Herzog´s Fata Morgana. Long, dreamy takes, with a strong, but discrete political background. In Villa Cisneros, it was all about talking of a central problem, which grosso modo is humanity and geopolitical issues, through several different perspectives: Poetry, scientiﬁc epistemology, archaeology, open protest, lies, sarcasm, etc. The discoursive subject needed to be an empty voice, a robot with no knowledge, that might lie, but innocently. The outcome has been very constructive and I think Villa Cisneros is already marking the future of my viedo and ﬁlm works.
What is your research now?
Artiﬁcial intelligence, classic literature, theology, and vertical ﬁlmmaking. Also, for the Cacopedia, I am doing a lot of research into city animals, pornography, cartography and street performers.
What is next?
I am releasing the ﬁnal gallery version of Villa Cisneros, for 8 simultaneous screens. The 4 deaths of Maria, my second feature documentary is also coming up in the next few months. I have several ongoing art exhibits that you can follow to check the new stuff. Cacopaedia is some of the most fascinating projects I have taken. It is a disfunctional encyclopaedia of useless knowledge, lies, rhetoric exagerations, etc., whose order obeys the rigorous science and enciclopaedic methodologies. It contemplates happennings, photography, video. I will start with ﬁve themes, which will also be compiled into encyclopedia volumes. I have planned 5 exhibitions, but useless knowledge is inﬁnite… The titles are: Animalia, Erotica, Artiﬁcialia, Atlas, and Solemnia.