During her upbringing in Curaçao and Aruba it was mostly foreign commercial media representations from the U.S., Europe & Latin America that were presented through television Cinema and other media channels. This still being the case today, it led to Emanuelson’s urgency, motivation and desire to engage with film as a medium to communicate Caribbean local narratives and experiences. It was the audio-visual attractiveness that she preferred over literature, the entertainment nature that had potentiality to reach a vast audience of all ages alongside the possibility to tell one’s own story that made her want to engage as a film director. Her particular preference for the documentary genre developed because of the genre’s ability to capture ordinary behaviors of people and societies. This could possibly lead to identification with images seen on screen, which in turn could stimulate reflection and bring about a deeper understanding of one’s community.
The Caribbean had a long acquaintance with cinema, but only as a resource for foreign productions, which exploited the natural/ physical endowments of the tropical islands and invented other endowments to manufacture an image of the Caribbean radically at odds with the reality of the people of the Caribbean. (Cham, 1995)
It has been established that the historic and current dominant narrative regarding the (Dutch) Caribbean community and diaspora has mainly been associated with superficial images such as sun and sea portrayals or negative and dismissive stereotypes due to constructed representations based on archive reporting. Film is a construction of subjective viewpoints and in the event of presenting a work a dialogue between “transmitter” and “receiver” arises. These parties are both socially positioned and bring to the table their own sentiments, baggage and background on several levels such as gender, social class, sexual orientation etc., that all intersect. As a Dutch Caribbean film director she aspires to present local narratives and experiences. By doing so she takes precaution in the fact that she can merely present one or few of the many perspectives of the Diasporic, Caribbean community.
Aside from her freelance and filmmaking career, S. Emanuelson is highly committed to her Artistic Research, which preoccupies itself with two interdependent inquiries. First of all, materializing the effects, formations and entanglements of the colonial, hyper industrial period that erupted after the post-plantation world on the Dutch Caribbean territories. Secondly, she explores the capability and incapability of representing Caribbean reality and sensibilities.
She looks into traditional & alternative (hi)stories and landscapes to develop her own awareness about creole spaces – a transatlantic and interdisciplinary understanding of the world I/we experience today. By bringing together her research, collected material and the spectator’s experience she shapes her work, which attempts to formulate new contextual discourses that often times remain on the verge of nonexistence. Her urgency is a reaction to being confronted with imposed colonial histories and closed narratives that allude to stereotypes and misrepresentation.
What is Artistic Research?
Musicians and visual artists have always researched, without it being named as such. The articulation of artistic research as a demarcated activity emerged in relation to questions regarding whether artists produce knowledge, and if so, how this knowledge relates to other kinds of knowledge. Artistic research makes space for research in the arts by artists (as opposed to research about the arts by non-artists). Artists working in the field of artistic research are taught to develop a heightened self-reflexivity about their artistic practice, to explicitly position their practice in relation to wider artistic and non-artistic discourses and to expand their knowledge bases into areas that fall outside of the realms of art discourse, but are relevant to their individual artistic practice.
The methodologies artistic research entails are as diverse as artistic practice itself. Research methods used by students of the Master Artistic Research include inter-personal dialogue, reading artists’ writings, critical texts and academic essays, gathering aural, visual and physical materials, forming image-based, textual, musical and sound archives, watching and making films, doing interviews, visiting exhibitions, attending performances and carrying out collaborative experiments with people in other fields. An exploratory, focused approach to these activities and the continuous further development of lines of enquiry define them as research. More info Artistic Research