Anabela Žigová (*1974), an artist and film-maker, based in New York and Bratislava, creates films where realitycrosses over to the area of the uncanny.
Žigová subtly hints at certain precise mental spaces – images, emotions and memories – that exist in, or are suggested by, our emotional experience. The point of departure may be her everyday life, used as a construction site in which she combines elements of choreography, video art and sculpture and creates a film language that is mixed at its source. It is cross-bred, connected to real life and thus problematic to read in one particular sense.
Žigová is less engrossed in questioning the film material itself than in gaugingsubtly how film making imposes limitationson the act of creation. Such experiments, which deliberately impose difficulty on the artwork, are equally a form of rigorous test. What emerges as a result is not merely the film itself, but an opening up to the experience of transformation that occurs within that process of creation, unpredictable new forms of encounters and insights, yielding momentary shifts in identity and points of view, uncertainty and surprise.
Anabela Žigová’s work often challenges everyday perceptions of the world based on the production and consumption of various products by exposing, via various acts of usage, their latent obscenity. In this way she subtly expresses distrust of putatively functional societies and rules, which implicitly presume that their end products are worth the investments made with no hidden costs.
Currently, she is working on a new feature length documentary film, Salto Mortale, which dealing with the secret police in former Czechoslovakia. She positions her private identity at the heart of her discourse, as she investigates a hidden, secret and buried past. It begins with a fragment: a file that suggests a deeplyhidden part of the identity of her late father, whose psychiatric work was part of the communist surveillance state. It remains unclear to what extent he was implicated as a surveillance agent, as his agent’s file was completely shredded in 1989.
As Žigová digs deeper, via remarkably complex historical research juxtaposed with personal notes, subjective observations and moving interviews, she is finallyable to uncover the fundamental trauma – a trauma that goes far beyond the individuality of the artist to implicate an entire society. In this way exhumes and reconstructs a profound swathe of painful history buried in silence, denial and lies.
Thus, Salto Mortale is perhaps best seen as both the title of the piece, as well as a leap or a contortion the author must perform to recover repressed memories of her own, as well as the memories of an entire society.
BRUNO BOTELLA, Salto Mortale, still from film shoot, final scene, photo credit: L. Nedbalová, Bratislava – Gran Canaria 2013; Salto Mortale, still from film shoot, final scene, photo credit: A. Žigová, Bratislava – Gran Canaria 2013.