Marie Craven – inspirational poetry film maker – Interview

Marie Craven is an Australian filmmaker. She has made about 100 short films and co-created several electronic music albums as a vocalist/lyricist. She presented the project Poetry + Video in the International Video Poetry in Athens.

The Australian multimedia artist Marie Craven always surprise us with her perfect video version of poems

Dear Marie, we have met in the International Video Poetry Festival in Athens two years ago. We appreciate and admire the amount of your video poems and the collaborations that you have done all these years. When did you start to dealing with the video poetry and what is that which keeps you devoted to this art field?
In 1992 I made a film called Pale Black that in retrospect I now see as a kind of poetry film. At the time I’d never heard of that genre. I saw what I was doing with film in those days as connecting purely with experimental cinema. In 2014, I first heard the term videopoetry by random chance. This rekindled my interest in combining poetic text with film. After making a first videopoem, I quickly became enraptured by the genre and continue to love it. Any devotion I have to anything is for love.

Do you have any strong life experiences that defined your artistic worldview?
There have been a great many strong life experiences that have impacted my life massively, for bad and good. Anything that has affected my life in general has affected my creative activities and my attitudes to them, as well as the way I see the creativity of others. I don’t really have a coherent artistic world view in an intellectual way. In fact the older and hopefully wiser I become, the less interested I am in theories in general. I mainly just do what I am inspired to do, and love what I love.

What did you have to develop, try or learn to create your artworks?
I have been making short films since 1984 and am almost completely self-taught, often through trial and error. Since childhood I have been naturally curious and hungry for new learning, which motivates me highly. On the other hand, I have big personal problems with authority figures, which means I mostly do not like being taught things in a direct, instructive way. The brilliant and creative people I’ve connected with over the decades, and the interesting artistic and intellectual cultures I’ve been part of, have indirectly educated me in a great many ways.

How do the arts communicate emotions? How central is emotional communication to the nature of art?
There are so many ways of approaching art: conceptual, political, emotionally expressive, and many more. For some artists, emotional expression may be the main motivation. Others may try to keep emotion out of their art altogether. Most of us are probably somewhere in between. The question of how art communicates emotions is more theoretical than I tend to be these days. It could be that theorising a lot about how to communicate emotion may even defeat the purpose.

Have the art world, poetry publications, galleries, festivals changed over the years and in which direction?
To be honest I have seen very little change in over thirty years to the overall structure of how film and arts festivals, galleries and publications, tend to operate. As a film-maker the greatest change has simply been that it is vastly easier now to send applications and films themselves due to the rise of digital technology. Back then the process was incredibly unwieldy and a great deal more expensive. I remember sending all my festival applications around the world by snail mail, filling out forms with a manual typewriter. If selected we then had to follow that up with again snail-mailing heavy celluloid film prints. Other than that, different festivals and publications continue to have their own differences of view and philosophies and ways and tastes in selecting for exhibition. It’s possibly true that none of this has changed much in 100 years, except on the most practical levels.

Any devotion I have to anything is for love

Marie Craven

Do you want to give an international message to the artists, poets, performers, video artist, film directors?
To my international friends, collaborators and colleagues, known and unknown… thank you for being there, for your work and creative contributions, your enjoyment and appreciation of our 21st century global creative culture.

Marie Craven based in Queensland since 2002, she spent her early childhood living on a sheep and cattle station in country NSW, before her family relocated to Melbourne in 1967. She was an actor in theatre in her teens and early twenties, becoming involved in film-making in 1984. Over the next decade she played a significant role in the development of the underground and experimental film communities in Melbourne.

During the early 1990s, she moved from experimental into narrative film-making. Her films into the 2000s were exhibited extensively and internationally, including at major festivals such as Rotterdam, Sydney and Melbourne, along with more specialised or smaller festivals and events in many countries. Her films ‘Pale Black’ (1992), ‘Maidenhead’ (1995) and ‘Blow’ (2002) gathered several awards at international film festivals.

From 2007-2015 she was prolifically involved in providing vocals to electronic music producers around the world, collaborating via the internet under the artist name, ‘Pixieguts’, and in a duo with Paul Foster called ‘Cwtch’.

She returned her primary focus to film-making in 2014, specialising in poetry film. Between 2014 and 2019 she released more than 60 short films in this genre, which have screened widely and internationally at specialised festivals and events, and gathered a number of awards.

In other roles, she has freelanced as a teacher of screen-writing at universities, technical colleges and community centres, a reviewer of films and books, an arts administrator, and a curator of film exhibitions, most notably the Australian National Focus at the Festival de Cine Experimental de Madrid in 1994. In 2019-2020 she is touring internationally a short film program she curated, called Poetry + Video‘.

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