Fak’ugesi Labs 2021 Residency Artist: Interview with Artist & Animator Ana Maria Boquero
Fak’ugesi Festival with the support of Arts Research Africa (Wits School of Arts) is delighted to announce a new residency exchange partnership that it will be hosting Colombian Animator and Interactive Media artist Ana María Baquero at Tshimologong Innovation Precinct for the months of August and September.
The residency is an exchange programme developed in collaboration with Plataforma Bogotá – an interactive art, science and technology laboratory that promotes the creation, research, training and dissemination of interdisciplinary projects and a project of the Bogota City District’s Institute of the Arts-Idartes – and Trias Culture: Africa Art Box, which aims at supporting digital creative exchange between Africa and Latin America.
Ana Maria will develop new collaborative work on her residency which will be presented in the Fak’ugesi Festival programme in October. During her residency Ana-Maria will run a laboratory and workshop for young digital creatives in making interactive animations and exploring the question of informal work in the global South, look out for this featured work at Fak’ugesi 2021 #BuildCozYouHaveTo
*The following interview with Ana Maria by Idartes was first published in Spanish on the Plataforma Bogota site.
A PERSPECTIVE ON INFORMAL WORK IN THE GLOBAL SOUTH
With a critique of the current capitalist model, Ana María Baquero , also known as Crila Regina , presented her proposal Visualizations of the Third World Search for the Bogotá Platform Residence – Trias Culture: Africa Art Box, of the District Stimulus Program of the District Institute of the Arts – Idartes.
This residency, which takes place within the framework of the ArtBox Digital award, seeks to support the digital creation of African and Latin American artists who seek to develop in this field and contribute to the consolidation of a professional network of the Global South and open new dialogues with the world.
According to the organization Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing – WIEGO , in the Gauteng province of South Africa there are around 1.1 million informal workers in the three main cities, including Johannesburg. Of this figure, a large majority sell food on the streets of the city, with regulations set by state policy.
Acting deputy director for informal commerce at the city’s Department of Economic Development Elliot Dubasi said there are about 11 refugee markets in central Johannesburg, according to the Ground Up news agency . In addition, it is important to mention that this sector was highly affected by the health emergency generated by COVID 19.
How has your career been and what projects have you developed? How did you get to digital animation?
I graduated from the Francisco José de Caldas University as a teacher in Plastic and Visual Arts in 2017, but during the last semesters of the degree I was very interested in digital creation, especially animation. Whenever I thought about the execution of an idea of mine, or of some work, I felt that it was not enough to capture it in a static way – like painting and drawing – to fully develop my concept. So, I felt that animation was the means by which I could express myself best. We were not taught this technique as such in college. During the last semesters I learned with fellow students who also had this interest.
On the other hand, I consider that the most relevant of my career is the 2018 Young Art Award . I won it when I left university with an animation called Repeated Route, which was born out of my frustration of having been working in production areas for a mass audience, like in club restaurants in the north of the city – I mean a lot of diners. I worked as a kitchen assistant and I saw myself doing repetitive actions all day, which for me had no purpose other than feeding a number of people, so I did a character animation in a video, where they are constantly working on one. industry. Besides, I made another animation that is complementary to show the consumption of that industry in which these characters work: a supermarket with many consumers, a repetitive cycle.
I also took out a series that is on YouTube called My crying falls in love . This was exhibited at Beyond the Pussy in Costa Rica. In the animations, I presented dramatic scenes from Latin American novels to make parodies of something that is already ridiculous in itself; make a kind of exaggeration of a scene already exaggerated. It’s constantly growing, I have like 11 videos now.
Another thing that interests me about animation is the versatility of what we live. Now we can share it much more easily within social networks, and my aspiration is that it reaches different types of audiences without being very structured, such as an exhibition in a gallery or a museum. In a social network you do not know where what you create can end up. The digital image has the ability to be more massive.
With what tools do you encourage? What did you learn from?
I went through a phase where I would draw drawings on paper, scan them, and then run it on a timeline in Premiere . Then I did the same process in Photoshop frame by frame . This is how I like to do it in soap operas, because that movement, contrary to what would be an ideal animation in which the characters do not move cut off, but rather there is an overlap of movements and it feels more fluid. I like that he feels cut off. It is the aesthetics of my animations, of the pixelating.
Later I learned to use After Effects and a platform called Toon Boom . I learned with some friends from the university who had more knowledge and then I started working in advertising agencies as an illustrator and there I met other people who taught me to make more professional animations, so to speak.
What are your references in animation?
One that has been very present, although it is not an animation as such, but a video game, is called Roller Coaster Tycoon from the 90s. It has a particular aesthetic, that even at that time there was not much alternative beyond 8 bits. That game marked my life a lot because you have to build amusement parks there, but the important thing is that you can see the consumers in the park. You have access to their level of satisfaction, the money they have spent and what they have. It is very interesting because it is like seeing a micro-society based on consumption, a subject that interests me a lot. Already in college I saw animations of Adult Swim . With these I realized that it was possible to make animation beyond advertising, something more artistic.
The use of code is a wish that I have not quite achieved. It’s another world where you have to learn a language basically from scratch, so I’ve been trying. I am very self-taught, but I am aware that this does not imply that I do everything alone, but that in my life there are many people who share their knowledge with me, for which I am very grateful.
The intention of this laboratory is to make an animation following that line, but the idea is that it be interactive, almost like a video game, only that there is no clear objective, enemies or levels. However, this may change with respect to what happens in the residence and the relationships of the moment. The idea is to create an animated city scene with street vendors, because the project is about them, where the public and the viewer can, in a certain way, access the deepest information by clicking on a vendor, interact with what is happening in the animation, with what is happening automatically. For this interactive animation we need the programming and I could contribute from my knowledge,
Where did your interest in the subject of searching come from? Why did you decide to use it for the residency proposal?
Initially, my interest about street vendors, what I call the ‘rummage’ or popular workers or informing them, is based on what I said about my experience not only in the restaurant, but in all the work experience that I had to solve my career economically. Here it is difficult to respect the schedules and it is possible that you will be exploited. Very much present is the fact that they know you have a need for a job and they can play with that to exploit you in a certain way. It’s not that my jobs have gone badly, but that I felt that vulnerability as a worker. Hence that question of mine about all those jobs in which it is difficult to find an ideal quality of life, or that it is difficult to get out of them due to the need one has.
Among those we find street vendors. That is why I wanted to make this topic the laboratory of the call from the Bogotá Platform, which also happens to link the Global South, Bogotá and Johannesburg. One of the problems that the Global South has is working in the public space, so I thought it would be a good topic to develop there.
In what respects do you refer to how your project has matured? From the theoretical or from the practical?
It has matured in the sense in which I, at first, had this idea that traveling work was something rather folkloric, that it could be represented in a superficial way, so to speak, without going much into what the experience means. of the workers or of their most personal wishes; a more humane job.
In this time I have been able to document more, read, even do field work sporadically here in Bogotá. I think they have many things to tell, some very rich life experiences that are worth listening to beyond the product that they are going to generate […] Also in concepts, relationships with street vending, what treatment is given here in Bogotá, there in Johannesburg, extensive documentation that would have been difficult for me to internalize in a short time. Now I feel that I am more prepared with the knowledge that I have.
What expectations do you have of getting there with respect to your proposal?
I am excited and nervous to find a culture that I suppose is very different from the culture here in Colombia. With the project I really wish that a genuine relationship with street vendors could be built. I understand that we have various difficulties such as the language, because many times they are immigrants and that there are also 11 official languages, including English, which I am going to speak there, but it is not the one spoken by the majority of the population, it is possible that the vendors do not speak English, but native South African languages. That is a first barrier that I hope to solve with a companion from there.
In addition, I want to develop an authentic relationship with the sellers, because relating to an object of study is key. These are being built slowly and not as something that I am going to do in an invasive way. The idea is to bring together people familiar with the local ethnography and among all of us to be able to obtain the confidence so that they also develop the project with us.
Another aspect that I want is to be able to translate everything we find in digital animation, the other phase. The idea is that itinerant workers can participate in the creation of their image that will be exposed in digital animation. It is to analyze how they see themselves in public space, how they categorize some areas, some people, all that information they have and live daily. It is to try that they can visually represent themselves with works of social cartography to themselves and those products that they are going to generate in their self-representation.
Your project has had a maturing process since the first time you presented it, how have you seen that the search has been affected by the pandemic? There is a certain affectation of the public space, how do you see it? Did it influence your project?
The search has become much more visible in the last year, not only for me, but for the population in general. The problems that these people face became more evident. Although we all knew it, these people do not have access to health or cannot be quarantined because there is no one to support them within the work structure, because many times they are considered “illegal people” who cannot be subsidized, or that many sometimes they do not receive them.
This problem made me think that the subject of the project was important, it is something that has now made us aware of the problems that they experience every day. Also regarding the products they sell… the versatility they have became more noticeable for me. I saw their superficial work in the sense that I did not know the capacity they had to adjust to all the social changes that occur very quickly, like when the pandemic began, they began to sell cleaning products, masks and that.
In South Africa it is not so common for vendors, like here who pass with carts full of fruit, to walk, they are not ambulant, but rather they settle in an area and from there they do not move, like stationary vendors. Those differences say something about the culture, aspects that I would like to find there in Johannesburg and see the versatility of change, and when they do it.
What can you say about the name of your project?
Third world is a name given to the Global South , or to developing countries, and the idea is to focus on this region in a laboratory. On the other hand, visualizations part because the invitation to the laboratory is from where they are represented and for what they are represented. In general, the role of sellers is subject to structures such as the state, or powers in the urban environment, so they are people who block the streets or who block. The intention is that they have the possibility to represent themselves, because there is not only a visualization, but there is also theirs and that of many people.