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Diego Ramirez - Gender blend it

0:42, 2011, Video Art
Witness how the body conquers gender bias and transforms into the quintessential androgynous.

DirectorDiego RamirezComposerByron Dean

CountryAustraliaEdition2012 ScreeningsVideoooooh (One Minutes foundation), London, 2012

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Interview

Who is Diego Ramirez?
I am an emerging artist working primarily with live action video and animation. My practice is driven by a thematic interest in identity, gender and the body. My video work often revolves around idiosyncratic characters facing an existential uncertainty about their self and role in society. These cathartic enactments take place in psychological spaces rather than material landscapes. My work has been shown in artist run spaces in Melbourne as well as international film/video festivals in Australia, USA, Spain, Mexico, Bulgaria, France, Canada, Argentina and the UK.

Www.diego-ramirez.net


What is Gender blend it about?
The video expresses a desperate need to transgress established gender roles. Not in a chopping my cock off and getting a cunt kind of way, but rather by unsettling the fragile illusion of gender roles.


How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
When I watched Un Chien Andalou by Buñuel and Dalí, I was very inspired by the imagery and I filmed a very naive short video with my friends. Some scenes included a close up of my then pet hamster eating a raw chicken head and me putting on lipstick. So yeah...it was quite a simplistic and immature interpretation of Surrealism in the moving image but I think it established a lot of the interests that I continue to pursue in my work.

I just finished my degree in Media Arts at RMIT Uni. In Melbourne.


Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
My work often expresses a sense of confused subjectivity, an "identity crisis". Losing sense of oneself and role in society is a deeply unsettling experience that I continually explore via my work. I’m also interested in the capacity of video to act as a self reflexive mirror, more specifically to meditate on the performance of gender and identity. Corporeality is important to me, specially the gendered body and those aspects of the body that we suppress in order to maintain a civilized self image.


How long do you usually work on one project?
My longest project is currently in progress and it has taken almost a year now, its a sci fi video diary titled "Earthling". Sound designer and artist Ryan Granger is currently working on the sound and hopefully it’ll be ready by the end of this year. My shortest project took about half an hour and its a 30sec video of me pissing on my feet.


Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
I usually formulate the basis for my videos in an impulsive manner, then I shape my ideas and refine them into a more sophisticated narrative. I believe that my most interesting ideas have come out of mere intuition, but I also appreciate technical proficiency and an awareness of one’s medium, without ever sacrificing expressionism. Perhaps Gender Blend It doesn’t communicate this very well because of its purposely lo-fi aesthetic, but my work often struggles with negotiating a controlled aesthetic while maintaining an emotional impact.


How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
In the case of Gender Blend It is quite explicit and the title serves as a way to describe the content and general attitude of the video.


Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
I often get inspired from watching other video art pieces, film or anime. There is a more personal dimension to my practice that is often born out of personal experiences. Usually it is the things that I can’t articulate with words or I haven’t had the opportunity or desire to work through that end up in my practice.


How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
Very important! In the case of this piece, the soundtrack was done by artist and sound designer Byron Huang Dean. He did sound for a number of my pieces and is a very talented man. The process involved us having a discussion about the work and him undertaking the sound.


What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?
In my personal life, probably the absence of it. The web is so ingrained in my life and those around me that I’d be interested in knowing what happens when you take it away.


Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?
I pretty much grew up with the web so I don’t think my practice was changed by it, rather they are intertwined in some way. The web has been instrumental in finding opportunities such as film festivals and other types of screenings.


Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?
I believe my work is located at the borders of cinema and art, it feels slightly out of place in both areas for different reasons.

They are both distinct disciplines with particular histories, discourses and practices. Wondering what differentiates them points towards insecurities that arise from a vertical hierarchy where art is on the top and "low brow" forms are located just below. Art enjoys an oppresive authority in the cultural imagination that permits it to position itself as the ultimate form of expression. The truth is that art is not above cinema. They both have their strengths and weaknesses.


How influential is the reaction to your film by the audience?
Audiences reaction vary but generally I find them hard to read.


What is your next project about?
I’m currently working on a handheld video titled "Girl and Boy", a fictional, yet seamlessly naturalistic video about a young man that was molested as a child and his girlfriend. The video focuses on banal aspects of their lives and the disturbed psychology of the main character. Its quite different from my past projects and probably my unresolved sci fi video diary "Earthling" is the closest thing to it.


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