People are the same everywhere, but the circumstances are different
December 18th 2021LIVING ROOM: STANKO GAGRČIN
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Interview by Vanja Marjanović
After finishing his studies at the Faculty of Technical Sciences, in the field of stage architecture, technique and design, Stanko Gagrčin from Novi Sad continued to work in various related arts. He turned his knowledge and interests into several short films, one of which, "Tereza's Sons", was recently shown to Novi Sad and Belgrade audiences.
"Last weekend, as part of the 'Merlinka' festival, my new film 'Tereza's Sons' was shown, which was seen by the audience in the hall of the Cultural Center in Novi Sad and in the Belgrade's Dom Omladine. It is a film showing the life of Alex Elektra, a transgender girl from Belgrade and follows the day in her life. The film is semi-documentary, but half of it is fiction and the two things overlap. It was completed this summer and published on the YouTube channel Klinika, but it also has its own festival life", Stanko said at the beginning of the ORADIO interview.
Although transgender people are fully accepted and included in all walks of life around the world, it is still a taboo topic in our country. Why is it so?
That's a big question. I wanted to make a contribution with this film, so that transgender people would be portrayed like everyone else. All people in the world have the right to their feelings, to their life and to see what their everyday life is like, for everything to function normally.
How hard was it for you to get in touch and convince them to make a movie?
That was not a problem at all, this kind of milieu are the people I am surrounded by every day, and the performers were friends of my friends. I had some ideas for the film, I contacted Alex, she was thrilled, so that part went pretty easily. All these topics are close to me personally, so that part was easily resolved.
The whole approach to the film is interesting, editing, directing, camera, everything is seen in one breath. How did you do that?
A lot of people told me they didn't get bored, even though the movie lasts about eight minutes (laughs). I am glad about that, especially when I look at myself and my generation, our attention is very short, "perhaps around ten seconds". That is why I paid special attention to editing, and I am personally inspired by such forms. On one hand, extremely raw, short, documentary, something similar to vlogs, and on the other hand, something stylized and surreal, as is common practice in music videos. I spontaneously came up with something I would love to see. All this can be characterized in terms of genre as a documentary, experimental film or as a short film, which is basically a matter of semantics.
For now, at least as far as the film is concerned, you are dealing with short form. Is it your decision or is it just a feature film too expensive and too complicated to realize?
There are both. Definitely, a feature film needs a serious budget, so this came to me as a kind of exercise and practice, but also to build my own language and expression in a manageable form that I can make without any budget. I hope that longer forms will come naturally, when my capacities grow.
How multidisciplinary does an artist have to be today?
I also wonder, that is, what is better. The fact is that today, due to the availability of various media that we all deal with, we are essentially dealing with various disciplines anyway. It used to be a problem to find, for example, a camera, it was heavy, bulky, and today we all have cameras in our pockets. It is a similar thing with microphones, and in addition to all that, we have online tutorials on how to edit, how to record, how to set up the light, we can learn everything ourselves. And that has contributed to people advancing in various disciplines. Sometimes those disciplines are similar, and sometimes it happens that people in unrelated disciplines are successful. And which is better, smarter, should one focus on one or more? I ask myself that, because I also did some virtual installations, which can be consumed as video games, or via the VR headset. Although it can be defined as art in digital media, it still touches on other industries that are not necessarily so closely related to art. Those industries might include different people, other occupations, so I don't know how to answer this questions for myself either. Whether to focus on one or do it all...
You still come from a slightly different sphere, you finished stage design, how much does that correlate with the film?
That's right, I studied Scene Design and Architecture at the Faculty of Technical Sciences in Novi Sad, and the idea of those studies is to think about a "scene" in the broadest sense of the word, so for theater, film, video games, contemporary and fine arts... So, the same kind of thinking is applied to everything that can be a seen as a scene - both in the spatial and temporal sense.
Why 36 (questions)?
It was a clever American who came up with this scientific procedure. He defined 36 questions, with which one can fall in love with anyone. My Bachelor diploma work inspired with this study, so I connected some 18 couples on blind dates. I paired them up and then filmed them going through those 36 questions. Then I put the obtained video material into a virtual space, game basically, but it can also be seen as a virtual memorial park dedicated to the moment they spent together. So, when one day, in the future, we live in a semi-virtual reality, I imagine that it will be one of the destinations you travel to with just one click. But spoiler alert, related to the falling in love part - no one fell in love. There was some chemistry, but I realized that perhaps a crucial factor for falling in love is the will to do so.
What is the future of people who complete stage design or perhaps more generally, artists in general?
From my generation, only one person, a colleague, works in the profession. So I don’t know how much to be optimistic specifically about my profession. But in general, I think the internet has transformed our lives a lot. As for artists in general, I am optimistic: democratization on a global level is present, everyone can learn what they want, maybe even do what they want at home. It is something that has made a big change in the world of art and in that sense I am optimistic. I am glad that the regional connection of my generation is happening on various cultural scenes. The recent developments of domestic popular music is especially interesting, I think that the quality of music, but also video and film production has increased astronomically.
What are your plans for the next period?
I am planning another short film and a couple of virtual installations, which will be based on dramatic texts, so it will be another hybrid format of digital art. One of those installations will be in the gallery of the Cultural Center of Belgrade, in 2023.