The Politics of Self-Representation

Matas Moris, B. 2021. The Politics of Self-Representation. PhD thesis University of Westminster Westminster School of Arts

TitleThe Politics of Self-Representation
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsMatas Moris, B.

I am a visual artist who has been making film and videos since completing a Masters of Fine Arts in Moving Image at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) in 2002. I situate my practice amongst Experimental and Avant-Garde filmmakers and visual artists, however, unlike many of them I work with narrative, humour and specifically play with Hispanic American themes and aesthetics. This commentary focuses on four of my films made in the last ten years: Chica Pop (2010), Loin, Encore Plus Loin (Further, Even Further Away) (2016), La Puta, La Santa y La Viuda (The Whore, the Saint and the Widow) (2018) and Politics and Eggs (2019).

I write, direct, perform and edit my own work with very limited external funds. I make low budget films, shot at home or in the street, using myself, friends and family as actors. This is done in combination with imagery obtained from the internet which I alter in post-production in order to create artisanal animations and video collages. This purposeful artisanal approach to animation, video-collage, rough sound and image treatment helps me to position my work in an ironic confrontation with mainstream cinema and in affiliation with avant-garde / experimental filmmaking and earlier Counter Cinema.

My work draws from my familial experience of living in exile. My parents were exiled from Chile during Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1989). My father, Percy Matas is also a filmmaker and together with Raul Ruiz made a series of films about the Chilean exile in France (1973-1978). These films were performed and made by Chilean exiles and their families and became an historical document of Chilean exile in France during the 1970s. This approach to making film in the first person greatly influenced my own practice as it made me aware of the politics of selfrepresentation.

Self- representation is at the core of my work, however, through this PhD research I have found many other unsuspected connections between my films that encompass the modes of production, including humour, post-production techniques, Hispanic American themes and aesthetics. I have realized how my experience of exile is always present in my films together with issues of cultural identity, displacement and gender. Analysing my films retrospectively has helped me to recognize the continuity and progression in my work, providing me with a clearer idea of where my practice needs to go in the future.

The analysis of these four films serves as a platform from where to engage in a broader discussion about self- representation in film. My intention to underscore connections between the personal experience and politics represents an example of how self-representation can still stablish the personal as political in film. Reclaiming self-representation as a powerful political tool even in our time of social media’s exaltation of the visual, the personal still remains political.

File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
PublisherUniversity of Westminster
Publication dates
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