Aitor Gametxo (1989, Lekeitio, Basque Country) is a filmmaker and audio-visual technician. He was one of the ten artists who took part in the ´Joan Etorriak´ international art exchange programme last year, an initiative promoted by San Sebastian 2016 – European Capital of Culture, the Etxepare Basque Institute and Donostia Kultura. Gametxo spent two months doing an art internship in Wroclaw, Poland, where he carried out a study on communication through movement entitled ‘Chicha Symfonia’ (A symphony in silence). It was there that he discovered the silent world of deaf people. In May, the Etxepare Institute put out a call for applicants interested in doing an art internship in Wroclaw this year. The application period closes next Monday. We spoke to Aitor Gametxo about his experience.
-How useful are initiatives like the art internship you did in Wroclaw?
I got the opportunity because Wroclaw (Poland) and San Sebastian (Basque Country) were european culture capitals in 2016, but I think there should be more exchanges or dialogues like this, in general, in every city. I think it’s interesting to reflect on the concept of “others”, as long as it serves to broaden our horizons and we set aside clichés and preconceptions. But you don’t always have to leave the country to maintain a dialogue. In my case, for instance, I was working with deaf people which is a community not many people know much about, so I wanted to use my work to broaden people’s horizons. People don’t realise, for example, that deafness is the only disability that has a language of its own, and that sign language is not the same for every spoken language. Basque doesn’t have its own sign language, which invites the viewer to reflect on the concept of identity.
-Do you think the art internship was positive from the point of view of helping you to develop professionally?
It was an amazing opportunity to get to know another country and immerse myself in the culture. I used the same work methodology I always do: I pose questions about a subject I know nothing about, and I use my camera to try to answer them. If new questions crop up along the way, I try and reflect this in the film. I wanted to turn this whole process into a film. This is what makes experimental film different, you use the image to reflect on the image.
-Have you been able to present ‘Chicha Symfonia’ anywhere else?
Yes, I presented it at an exhibition in Tabakalera (San Sebastian, Basque Country); all the other participants in the ‘Joan Etorriak’ programme were there too. And it was selected as one of the official entries for the Punto de Vista – International Documentary Film Festival of Navarra and it’ll be screened at the Okiem Młodych festival in Świdnica (near Wroclaw) in June.
-Are you involved in any other projects at the moment?
With ‘Chicha Symfonia’, my intention was to make a film using images, without any sound. Now I want to do the opposite. My question this time is whether it is possible to make a film without any images, using only sound. I want to explore the world blind people live in. Other films have been made on the subject before, such as João César Monteiro’s ‘Branca da neve’ or Sophie Calle’s ‘Blind’. I learned in a field study that blind people dream in images, and that people who lose their sight gradually forget what their loved ones look like. This poses interesting questions about the relationship blind people have with images. With the new project, which I still need to define more fully, I’d like to focus on blind people’s dreams, memory, and experiences, and make a film for them and with them, using sound, noise, the human voice, and silence.