INGRATA BERGMAN INTERVIEW
BY MARTA DE LA PARRA PRIETO
TRANSLATED FROM ENGLISH TO PORTUGUESE BY VANESSA MÚRIAS
“I am interested in how Ingrata Bergman uses social media and pop culture as a medium for political art. She turns major issues in today´s world into raw and joyful video art. Her work is striking, ironic and truly refreshing.”
Introduction by Helena Lacy, former Galeria das Minas interviewee, September Edition.
GdM: When you set yourself within the art system, how do you identity? is it as a multidisciplinary artist or maybe is it as a video artist? How do you identity and why? We would love to hear more about it.
MGM: I do not find any valid definition for myself in the art system – probably because I don’t know if I think of myself as an artist. Nowadays, when you say “I’m an artist” you someone agree with the system of beliefs of commercial, categorized art. If we can’t define ourselves, we can’t be bought, we can’t be analyzed. That freedom interests me.
GdM: Your work mixes -in a brilliant way- pop culture, feminism, irony, and appropiationism. Tell us a bit about it, we will certainly love to learn more about it.
MGM: I think that if there is one thing that truly unites all women in developed societies is the oppression through media images -pop culture, advertisements, magazines. Growing up I became so intoxicated with images of what women should look like, the expectations on our minds and bodies carried on by images, that I developed an eating disorder by the time I was eight. I lost my childhood, my teenage years to this disease. I do not have memories of my life before I was 24 years old – all I remember is hating my body and the media images I’ve seen growing up. They replace my memory and my sense of identity – they stole my life away from me. That’s why now I steal those images back.
MGM: Pop culture brings the common ground. In Western societies, teenagers and young people profess an almost a religious admiration towards pop icons, which we usually consume in the form of music videos. Those music videos, those songs, they filled our imagination. Most of our ideas about ourselves and others are partly shaped by the content we consumed through the years. For my generation and those after us, I think the singers you mentioned are part of ourselves – a wound and a blessing. We have enjoyed many parts of our lives listening to their songs, and at the same time feeling horribly about ourselves -because we compare with them and never meet the standard they perpetuate. I use pop culture to embrace the duality of cherished memory and trauma, of wound and weapon.
MGM: It is. I have that written on my forehead. I am proud of that, but it is not only that.
I believe the term “feminist art” it’s tricky. I do identify as someone who makes feminist art, because my work doesn’t hide its will to be incendiary. It deals with issues that right now are being discussed all the way from bar tables through institutions – not all of them, but with those I can honestly connect with. At the same time, I believe that any woman telling her own story it’s making feminist art, because it is a politically radical act to share our own experiences and our intimacy. Just telling your own story as a women in a world that has only told the stories of men – that’s a brave, strong act of feminism too.
GdM: You do talk about pretty serious –political- issues, yet you do bring them up with humor and irony. We would love to hear more about it.
MGM: Humor sugars the pill. It is not the same to say “be a feminist, you should be a feminist, why are you not a feminist” than making you laugh and sharing with you why you might want to consider certain topics. Humor is a form of aggression but at the same time is a way of creating a safe zone in which you do not feel you are just being fed propaganda. We understand through laugh, we exorcise our demons through laughing it out like hyenas. You laugh out loud, and you are showing your teeth to the world when you smile. Humor is a powerful weapon to get people to be more open about certain subjects without scaring them or forgetting affection.
GdM: I could be wrong, but I believe it can be asserted that your videoart is also nourished by appropiationism. Am I right?
MGM: You are on point. I think of appropiationism as a tool with three main assets that interest me. First of all, I think we should have the right to have the images that shaped your own personal history – documentaries, commercials, magazines, movies, whatever shaped your ideas of the world. And on the other hand, it is a moral act to produce more images nowadays in a world full of them. If you are going to record new images, you should take it as a moral act and be very aware of how, when, what you want to shoot, and specially, why. Does it add something new to the world? We live in a society that has a compulsive approach to images, whether it’s producing or consuming them. We just pull out or phones and take 100 pictures in less than a minute. So as we should do with everything else, we need to recycle images and be aware and sustainable when we produce more of them. Lastly, appropiatiosnism – for me - implies a certain level of political action, because you revisit things that you have consumed and taked for granted in other to subvert their meaning and free the images from their original, patriarchal meaning. For any minority group, to reuse and re-signifiy the images produced by white male domination is a power move.
GdM: Tell us more about your influences.
MGM: My influences go from artists like Dara Birnbaum, Martha Rosler, Barbara Kruger, Tabita Rezaire, Jon McIntosh and Christian Marclay on a more “institutionally approved” sense, to many great artists on social media, my main source of creative inspiration. I admire artists on Instagram that work on the absurd, 3D, social media and pop culture such as Jon Rafman, Pastelae, Whosthereplease, Miayork, Oliver Latta (@extraweg), Jennifer Chan, Olga Federova, Arvida Byström or Saint Hoax.
GdM: I will like to lay emphasis on your female influences.
MGM: Most of the names I gave you are either non binary or women. I made an effort to pay more attention to works made by women artists and I felt my work evolved from that. But my strongest female influences are my friends, the strong women I know – or I know through social media. Macarena Sánchez, Elisa Pérez, Tatiana Moreno, Patricia Takanawa, Cristina Beltrán, Ohra Kiraly, Teresa Rofer, Claudia Hirek, Clara Rojas, Estela Ortiz, Klari Moreno… That’s the women that I live my everyday with – either because we share our tangible life or because we share some extent of virtual life - and who’s work inspire me to be a better creator and a better person. Their strength through struggle as emerging artists – and their struggle as women - make me feel strong and part of a community where young female artist are helping each other, professionally and emotionally.
GdM: A show.
MGM: First two seasons of Black Mirror – before Netflix bought it. Now it fucking sucks.
GdM: Something to read.
GdM: Something to listen to.
MGM: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith.
GdM: Something to watch.
GdM: Congratulations are in order! You just moved to Chicago as a Fullbright Program School of The Art Insitute of Chicago Film, Video, New media and Animation recipient. How has the experience been so far? Please, tell us all about it.
MGM: It is an honor and a responsibility. Moving to a (so) different country it’s always a hard time, but I am full of life and excitement. I feel vertigo many, many times – and I wonder if I am good enough to be here, if I truly have something important to say. But I keep reminding myself that’s just a part of the oppression women have gone through – we feel out of place when we hold positions of power. I am trying my best to embrace the power and opportunities that have been giving to me, honoring them through gratitude and hard work. I completely stepped out of my comfort zone, because I am taking classes that involve coding, programming and new media – something I don’t know yet, so I think I’m bad at. But I am making an effort to step of my usual work comfort zone to expand in different directions. Fear is never a choice.
GdM: Lastly, tell us a secret, upcoming proyects.
MGM: I will bring my body into the picture (insert crystal ball emoji here).
Images courtesy of the artist