Kiki Petratou - To be familiar with

1:00, 2006, Experimental
Kiki Petratou (Greece, 1971) is an artist based in Rotterdam. She studied Fine Arts at the Athens School of Fine Art (1993-99, GR) and obtained her Masters in Art at the Piet Zwart Institute (NL) and Plymouth University (UK) (2001-04).
DirectorKiki Petratou


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Who is Kiki Petratou?
Kiki Petratou (Greece, 1971) is an artist based in Rotterdam. She studied Fine Arts at the Athens School of Fine Art (1993-99, GR) and obtained her Masters in Art at the Piet Zwart Institute (NL) and
Plymouth University (UK) (2001-04). She has been recently admitted to the University of Amsterdam for the Master research Program in Media Studies. Her work has been presented in a number of museums and galleries including: Lokaal 01 (Breda Photo, 2005), Nederlands
Fotomuseum (Rotterdam, 2004), TENT (Rotterdam, 2003-04), RAM Foundation (Rotterdam, 2002), Athens Art Gallery (2001). Selected film and video art festivals include: "Belle Arte Lamia" (GR, 2006), "Art Film and Video Festival" at the Prenelle Gallery (UK, 2005), "Pixel Dance Video Festival" (Thessalonica, GR, 2005), "Video Art" at the Factory, (Athens, GR, 2005), "The Biennale of the One Minutes" at the Centraal Museum (Utrecht, NL, 2002). She has been commissioned for the
Creation of 2 video-clips for the upcoming CD/DVD of the Dutch band ZIMIHC (May, 2006) and the short film on the concepts of Realism – Modernism – Postmodernism, made for the Department of Literature in the University of Leiden (NL, 2004).

Why filmmaking?
While working with photography for several years (and really enjoying it) I felt that there are some things that could not be said with a single shot. So movement and film was for me the natural succession of still images. There are some things like humour, change, reverse that film invents in a more playful way than does photography or any other type of expression. Think for instance how you can be constantly tricked or overwhelmed by a film’s inventive use of it’s techniques namely point of view, shot reverse shot and all other narrative devices. If an image can speak for a thousand words as they say then film offers the conditions for thinking and re-thinking, speaking and re-speaking. One cannot stop being surprised and excited image after image, sound after sound.

To be familiar with is about...
There are some moments that despite any skills or expertise in any particular area we might feel uncertain, lost, cripple. "To be familiar with" is about just those moments where suddenly all gets blurry and everything seems to be such a big deal. Instead of us taking things on our hands, things just get out of control, they take on their own autonomy. This might feel scary but there is also the other side, a more humorous subversive reality, which rests nowhere else but within
Ourselves. I have to admit here that this discovery or realization is what got me out of trouble a couple of times that I had to do something which seemed to me impossible to be done at the time. At the very end what matters to me is that I am familiar with my own tendency to exaggerate difficulties so that I can kick this tendency away.

Financing your movie?
The movie was quite easy to make once I had a clear idea about what I wanted to do. I did not ask for any subsidy because of the small scale of the film, which made it doable with no budget at all. Mariza Nikolaou who performs in the movie was eager to do what she had to do without getting paid. So a ’good combination’ of filmmaking factors made it possible for me to finance my movie with the minimum budget ever.

New Media; a challenge for film makers?
Well, for the time being I am using internet to surf, mobile as a mobile while I see the challenge of using them as filmmaking devices as well. I enjoy viewing internet based projects and I am considering expanding my activities to interactive ways in the future. But one thing at the time...

Do your films have style, just as some painters have?
In my films I combine stillness with movement, repetitions, static takes and often two oppositions such as inside - outside, light - darkness. I create situations, which reflect the way I perceive what
Happens around me. When I look at people I feel that everybody slips into their own world, at once connected and disconnected from what is happening next to them. When I look outside of my window I have a double perspective of the ’world’: the people outdoors endure just as people indoors endure through their routines that require no interaction between them. In my work I want to establish this point of view – a double perspective and create an interaction between the two
Different ’worlds’. In the case of "To be familiar with" I wanted to highlight the opposition of somebody taking an action and at the same time this action to take a life in itself.

Two sources of inspiration for me have always been the films of Jim Jarmusch and Hal Hartley. I am particularly amazed by the way they use humour to detect all kinds of nasty situations and the open-ended view of the world they submit.

Individual film making or co-operation?
Until now I have been working on my films on total control of all processes: concept, camera, editing, etc. Because I think that the conception of an idea and its realization are up to me to process and they find that way the outcome I have imagined. One exception is the co-directing and co-editing with Frans-Willem Korsten the introductory film on Realism-Modernism-Postmodernism, which was based on his scenario and was made for the University of Leiden. In that case I have experienced the potential and challenge of collaboration.

In the future...
I would like to be able to work on 35 mm film for more cinematic explorations. Feature film is my aspiration for the future. I see the process of video making as a preparation and kind of sketch for the ’real thing’. Of course there is an unlimited potential to video and I am enjoying working with this medium as well.

Digital or classic?
As I have already mentioned I am looking forward to the day that I will touch real film. Until now video that is mini DV have served my purposes quite well. I have a mini DV Sony camera and a mac powerbook G4 with which I realize my projects. Another field of interest always remains photography.

All other remarks
Good work and inspiration do not confine and are not restricted to and by any medium!

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