For Anna Franceschini, film is more than just a medium. It’s a living, breathing form in itself – it’s modernity manifested behind a silver screen.
Milan born and bred ‘documenter of the soul’ Anna Franceschini boasts an impressive résumé of exhibitions, awards, fellowships and residencies across the world on her belt. With her numerous accolades one must wonder that she’s certainly got the art of experimental s film to a T – metaphorically and literally (See: THE STUFFED SHIRT film of hers). When viewing a film of hers I was always intrigued as to the thought process that drove such exceptional ingenuity. I was lucky enough to interview her and find out.
Very briefly, for those who have not heard of your art before. What would you describe it as?
I work mainly in experimental film, art films, and experimental documentary. By ‘experimental documentary’ I mean something that is in between straight documentation, visual anthropology, surrealist films and everything that escapes the conventional definition of 'documentary' but has, somehow, a deep relationship with the observation of phenomena and performances that involve the production of moving images in real time.
Now you studied media and film extensively. But what initially inspired you to get into this field?
When I was a child, my parents allowed me to stay up late at night only if there was a good movie on television. We would go to the video shop together with my father, which was also a bit of a ritual. This helped me to develop a 'taste' in film, and visions in general quite early on. Also, my mother and father had always been very attentive towards the cultural offerings I was exposed to. This doesn't mean they prohibited me to watch this or read that thing. It was quite the opposite – I always had a lot of freedom, but they were always present. They were always explaining, contextualizing, and entertaining themselves and I with irony. They had been the first and most important trainers of both my eyes and mind. And now, the more I grow up, the more I realize how important and inspiring that was. I now have a different look towards things, to be autonomous in my thinking. This is what led me to be an artist and this is what they taught me.
What aspect of your work do you think defines you? In other words, what do you think makes you a unique artist?
I never thought about myself in terms of uniqueness, but I would say that my aim is to focus on some inherent characteristics of the film language like: movement, montage and light. I'm also interested in cinema not only as a form of art or entertainment but also as a technique – an apparatus. Besides this, I'm interested in a sort of 'cinematic experience' that encompass different aspects of life and experience. Traveling by modern means of transport, taking a escalator, watching the effect of the wind, living in a urban landscape. Everything that belongs to modernity, historically intended, is somehow cinematic. It's not by chance that the first experiments with moving images and the beginning of the modern era are coexistent. Modernity is cinematic and cinema is modern. Which makes the term ‘seventh art’ a little obsolete now. But all this is occurring in a beautiful way though. Cinema is aging gracefully.
You are a very visual artist as well as a filmmaker. Would you consider your art to be a viewing experience for pure aesthetic purposes or something else?
It's a very crucial question and answering it is quite complicated. The esthetic experience it's way more than the mere experience of 'beauty', it involves perception, rational thinking, emotional reactions, all that concerns the self and the Other. I think art has been mainly based on the form rather than its contents – otherwise it turns purely informational. Jean-Luc Godard used the expression 'politique des formes' and I think it's a perfect synthesis for what art is.
Lastly, what’s your creative process like?
It usually starts when a thought meets something that belongs to the so-called ‘phenomenological reality.’ It's an encounter between my subjectivity (or some aspects of it), and what I consider the 'outside.' It’s based on a process of identifying which is often subconscious. Then I interiorize these ideas and rationalize them in order to achieve a result.
All images obtained at the courtesy of the artist