LAPSO: In Psychoanalysis we understand the feminine as a mystery. Lacan says: “The Woman doesn’t exist”. We are interested in your film work because it demonstrates in a subtle way, what cannot be said about female. It is not possible to express it in words. It is uncatchable, intriguing, even threatening.
Lucrecia Martel: It is possible… The categories that try to transgress the “category status” lead the thoughts to some other areas of thinking. It is very difficult to stay in an ambiguous zone without feeling uncomfortable. We are always trying to understand things as if they were all objects. It is like a positivist passion that we inherited while even the objects resist actively. Perhaps, what happens with the feminine is a non precise way of categorizing the roles in the society. For men, for women, for all. I know nothing about psychoanalysis but I’m obviously interested in it to explore and infringe my perceptions —taking into account that constant hunting of things we will never catch— to suspect that reality is objective and that the subject just can comprehend it.
On the contrary, film, literature —and some other practices that involve a self search and a clear intention of communication— try to break those social patterns in regards of reality and what has been said and established in society, the unquestionable. This is for me, the greatest discovery of cinema. A tool that allows not to say explicitly but that allows to revive certain life experiences that will make people think or understand things in a different way. It is like: “Oh! Things can be differents!” or “What’s going on between these two characters?” A doubtful reality. We all see “cracks” in reality. Which is the reality or unreality that we are all submitted to today? We are all submitted, though, to sparkling moments as well. A spark that comes and goes when we express ourselves. I feel that, through cinema, we repeat those cracks in order to share with others this doubtful way of experience reality.
Film and literature are attempts doomed to failure, but these fleeting moments are present in a movie. The viewer may or may not find them. But they are there. The constant repetition of that crack or failure in reality may lead to a thought, just a thought that “things may be different”.
L: So your films are built by those cracks and components that can’t be named. They show those failures.
LM: And not even me can name them… I just have the gadgets to try to do so…
L: Could you share a few?
LM: Yes! Always stay in the ambiguous zone. For example: I always advise the students at film school not to create a psychological profile on their characters. From that position, the film maker would be superior to the character, analyzing him, his life, his behavior. I’d rather not understand the character. The key is to not know what are they thinking, feeling or where are they going. I can share that purpose with the cast not knowing what’s really behind it.
There is a theory that helped me a lot: Monstrosity. The psychological profile is opposite to monstrosity. Back in the days, the monster was bringing this sort of divine design that needed to be deciphered. So, “monere”, that in latin means “warn”: The monster comes to warn about divinity. I like the idea of the human species as monstrous. There is no human being that could concrete a form, a human ideal. On the contrary, we all carry a sign, this divine mysterious design to read and comprehend. This idea is very useful when thinking or creating characters. This idea of monstrosity is an idea that gives the characters freedom because their sexuality is not relevant at all. The monster’s nature is to deviate from the rules. Thats the power of the monster. Understanding reality as pathological or not pathological is leading us nowhere. You, the psychoanalysts, know better.
In film, these are the gadgets of construction.
Then, we have Sound. We can close our eyes in the theater and sound will come through you. It’s like being in a dance club. Sound will pass through your body. If you close your eyes, you will hear that knife slice, the storm or whatever that may be. You can’t resist it.
Even being deaf you can’t resist the vibration. That is a perception of the body. The sound material in film is the voice, the music and the sounds. If sound is treated from the only aspect of the language reference, then it becomes sounds with a reference. But if dialogues are treated as a sound with functions, you can go into a zone of ambiguity. Then the sound becomes constructive and meaningful itself and you can use it to cut, reject, to wrap….
L: Forget about the meaning…
LM: Exactly! And start taking advantage of the voice as a function of sound. The sound and its narrative power, has no reference. It is not the same to express with images than with sound. The image is explicitly showing you a meaning. The sound is something that you will have to interpret yourself.
L: The sound leads to more ambiguity…
LM: Yes! The “non reference”. The weakness between the sound and the reference. On one hand, the weakness and on the other hand the power that generates a location. The weakness is what links sound and the referent will make the sound more useful. The construction of the off sound, weakens the image of that reality you are trying to tell.
L: Remembering La Cienaga (2001) Tali (Mercedes Morán) talks with her husband about leaving to Bolivia. He is giving his child a bath and tells her that she can’t go. She goes to the room next door and you can hear a loud sound, an explosion. When the camera comes back to her, it seems that nothing happened there. She claims that the light bulb was burned but the light is on and working fine
LM: Yes, the light bulb is working, yes. Film relies on those gadgets. The power of manipulating sound weakens the image or makes it more powerful. Once again, these are the gadgets to keep ourselves in the ambiguous zone. A film is a thinking process. The plot — and I believe this as an absolute truth— it is not the purpose of the film. It is just what we have made up to condense time. With consciousness, I propose to the viewer a film, a piece of work, a thinking process that we will share for two hours, without taking the emotions out of it.
Therefore, it is a process that needs to be built with the gadgets we are talking about. The theme, the storytelling, the plot.
I believe —and that is why the plots may be repetitive and we never get tired of watching movies or reading books that share the same themes— these are just resources to handle time, condense and polish it in order to build the process that will lead to sharing it with others. All those things are never present in what is said, in the story or in the facts. They are present in the construction of this particular film.
L: Do you think that your movies makes those “cracks” possible?
LM: I hope. That is my greatest wish. If the audience has experienced that, then my life has a purpose. A meaning. No doubt, I try. Even knowing that is condemned to failure. The outcome will depend on when you watched this movie, what time was it, what where you doing when you did so, how old you were. I really try. Not long ago I was at a colloquium, and Gianni Vattimo was there as well. We were discussing the trends of contemporary art.
I was saying, ‘first, we have to understand what are we standing for. Are we in the area of weak thinking? How do we define Art? And do we establish Beauty or art in this thinking field.’ I believe that all these ways of expression intend to repeat the “crack”. We all try to express these “cracks”. Combining certain elements that will lead to a meaning. Light, objects, sound. The result will make us wonder: Who is the author of this moment? In that very moment, you have no will. Just the circumstances. A subject and a situation (A scene).
This happens even in that field that we don’t consider artistic. For those who make this happen the value and purpose is in trying. Even if it causes an effect as a consequence or not. I have been outside the theater, while projecting my work, and the reactions would be diverse. A lot of people would leave the theater pretty mad. As if the movie was insulting to them or as if they were mad at the good critics. My encounter with failure. But the willing is extraordinary. It is a privilege. I encourage people to lie and say that they are film makers. People knowing you are a film maker, approach you telling stories that they believe can be made into film. It is a true privilege to hear other people’s dreams…