Amalia Ulman: “Since I found out I had autism, my life has made sense” | Culture

He had 17 days to shoot his first movie. “But I had one left over,” says Amalia Ulman (Buenos Aires, 1989). That is all proof of austerity for someone who grew up in Gijón as an immigrant and suffered the eviction years ago that he portrays in The planet. It is his first film, presented at the last festival in the Asturian city, an impressive work with which he triumphs on the circuits indies from the United States. There lives, in New York, this new film talent who grew up as an artist on the internet, playing between reality and fiction.

Question. Will I have to believe half of what he is going to tell me?

Answer. No! I’m very honest, in interviews I never lie, what happens is that my life is so bizarre that sometimes people don’t believe what I say.

P. Maybe not in interviews, but on social media?

R. I used fiction in two projects with a very strong beginning and ending. Excellences and perfections, in 2014 it was the first. He was not pretending anything, it was fiction, as any theater writer can do.

P. Can you explain the difference between fact and fiction in your case?

R. Something that is written with a script and that happened in the case of that project in photos. It had nothing to do with my life. They were planned images that he gradually uploaded to the internet to create the rhythm of the story in the subconscious of those who saw them on Instagram.

P. And they believed it …

R. For three or four months that the performance, Yes. The project was about that: using fiction with the language of the internet. I was trying to test how our brain works when using social media and use that to create a story.

P. And how does our brain work in that case?

R. In a very passive way. We follow people we don’t know and through stereotypes we create a story. That’s why I pulled this girl as a character.

P. But the girl was you.

R. Yeah, it was basically me going crazy, come on. Technically it was me.

P. Technically it was you but metaphysically not?

R. The account was mine. In a moment I put: episode one. And there it begins. I changed my hair color. I was blonde and it’s about a girl who starts working as influencer sugar baby.

P. About what?

R. A type of prostitution without sex, well, without sex, in quotes.

P. Between quotation marks?

R. Prostitution is completely illegal in the United States. The idea is that there is an exchange … The character sinks, puts on her boobs, has problems with drugs, disappears for two or three weeks. She changes, she goes back to her hair color, she does yoga.

P. Going vegan?

R. No, although he drinks juices and such. What interested me was to capture various models of girls on Instagram: from the one who does yoga to the choni. With an aesthetic type cute, anime, sexy roll. I don’t know if you understand what I’m saying …

P. No, but it doesn’t matter, I’m looking for it.

R. Well then roll on white rap listener with long fingernails, dude twerking… Then it goes to rehab and becomes a Gwyneth Paltrow with yoga. And so. My main interest was to reflect this within netart, conceptual art on the internet, and then move on to post-internet.

P. Do not tell me? Does that mean that the internet is already dead?

R. There have been a number of artists (and it’s my turn, by age) that include all kinds of physical installations that referred to art on the internet.

P. Analog art? Art, come on. I had got my hopes up that the internet had died.

R. No, he is not dead.

P. Your friends grew to care about you.

R. Well, I was interested in promoting fiction with gossip.

P. Hoaxes? What did he say?

R. I didn’t say anything. That is why this work was important. Back then there was no talk of hoaxes and many people believed that what was running on the internet was all true. When people thought he was fatal, he was actually walking in a northern California forest.

P. You were in glory.

R. Yes, out of character.

P. Then he goes to the movies.

R. It has always been my inspiration, like literature. I am working class, immigrant. I started working with cameras, but I have autism and I did it alone in my room.

P. And cinema, with so much equipment, is it an art conducive to autism?

R. No, but acting is, it allows you to learn other modes of behavior and free yourself from your own prisons. I was diagnosed very recently and it opened up many possibilities for me.

P. Had his autism slowed him down too much?

R. Yes. I suffered from silence, there were many things that bothered me for almost no reason, I was hypersensitive to many situations: smells, light, a lot of impulses that I did not understand.

P. Did you think she was a maniac?

R. No, the truth is that I was not complaining. Autistic women did not go to the doctor so much, we kept it inside. Since I realized it, my life took on meaning.

P. How did being a working-class immigrant in Gijón mark you?

R. Much. Not having grandparents here. Going to the parlor, sending money through Western Union, having parents who cry when they smell a gingerbread, I’ve grown up like this. Without a fixed identity. I am both: from Gijón with Argentine roots.

P. And Argentina, how does it resonate with you?

R. Colonialism, racism, economic problems, a country extremely exploited by Spain or the United States. I am Argentine in the sense of humor and Spanish from outside.

P. The planet that you portray is a hopeless place, for sale that plays on confusion and ambiguity.

R. Ummmm, what is the question?

P. That’s how you see the planet?

R. The film reflects those two women, like little ants, trapped in that place, about to be evicted and trying to survive in a rather clumsy way in that place that, as you say, is in crisis, in the midst of climate change and very unfair situations.

P. You were evicted, in fact. That felt?

R. A dreadful situation to lose the house where you have always lived, but it was also what allowed me to reflect the story with humor. The decline is not that steep. They warn you that you are going to lose the house but automatically you do not get holes in your clothes. Those who have made films on these issues have been upper class people who reflect it melodramatic, with feelings of guilt. I was a little fed up with it and took more inspiration from Hollywood movies with wonderful scripts and those kinds of antiheroes that fascinate me.

P. Like those created by Azcona and Berlanga, on the other hand?

R. Yes, well, Berlanga was high class, uh, let’s not forget. But I have had it as a reference.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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