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Paloma Orlandini Castro

Paloma Orlandini Castro
“A uterus, two fallopian tubes, an ovary”. A table, a pair of black, latex gloves, a sexology manual and a black box. Like a porn researcher, Paloma Orlandini Castro offers us an essay on sexuality: a quasi-scientific device with the invention of a cunning box which analyses pornographic images. While her hands manipulate diagrams and drawings her voice recounts the stand-out moments of her sexual journey and dissects the classifications and violence of current mainstream porn imagery. Ob Scena: obscene or opposite the stage. In the end, by exposing herself during rehearsals for a performance, facing the audience, Paloma Orlandini Castro manages to find a kind of liberation.
(Louise Martin-Papasian)

Interview with Paloma Orlandini Castro

In this first-person essay, you approach sexuality from several angles: your own body, your attraction to pornography, the family legacy of your grandfather who was a sexologist. What was the starting point for this project and how did you develop it?
The project started out as an investigation on mainstream pornography. I was fascinated with the junction between the categories of documentary and fiction that is at work in this type of materials. In the process, I came across some documents written by my grandfather, who was a psychiatrist and a sexologist. It was a turning point in various ways: on the one hand, it placed my interest for the genre in a “lineage”, in a family legacy of sorts; on the other hand, I discovered textures, concepts and terms from another place and time. Through this conversation between two worlds that seemed disconnected, I discovered a third source of “archives”: my own body, and the collection of experiences and intimate scenes that constitutes a corpus in itself.

Magnifying glass, gloves, archives, box… you investigate sexuality and pornography in the manner of a scientist, using a voice-over that seems modelled on a sexology manual. Can you comment on the making of the film?
The idea of the laboratory was crucial to develop the narrative, the spatiality, the visual treatment of the archives and the sound proposition. I found it interesting to have the different layers of the story intertwine successively, and to use an “impersonal” tone to approach an intimate material. Hands, optical devices, latex gloves, a light table, textures, fabrics and slides, such are the implements and the raw materials of this experiment.
The editing phase coincided with the beginning of the pandemic. The atmosphere of isolation and introspection proposed in the script was only reinforced by the strict quarantine. Isolated and stuck in my home, surrounded by books, I found more material and I started animating the illustrations of the medical textbooks and playing with the soundscape. Thus, the editing table became a research laboratory where I could try, test and repeat things until the film found its final form.

Based on a sexology treatise written by your grandfather in the 1980s in Cuba, you identify similarities between medical classifications of paraphilias and pornographic categories. How does this observation allow you to explore a new territory of sexuality?
Finding these similarities allowed me to use their discursive forms and propose a detour – a deviation from the literal frontiers between the medical categories of sexology, and a visual sidestep from the mainstream composition axes of porn. I find it crucial to come back to visual pedagogy to build another sexual mindscape. Going back over the blueprint of affects and stating the subjective effects of the archives was a way for me to show the body as a territory at once liberated and inhabited. The pleasure to learn, affectivity as a collage of impressions, marks, images seen, conversations heard, memories made, all of these elements drew the outline of a central question – the power of the image. Both the one that escapes the visual representation of the sexual encounter between bodies, and the one that may venture as an education on the discovery of desire, as a territory to be liberated.

You propose a very inventive attempt at a “homemade pornography” – using a black box and sheets of tracing paper – that allows you to reflect on the construction of pornographic images and to deconstruct mainstream porn. How did you come up with this idea?
What started out as a slightly naïve plastic exercise at first turned into a device that concentrates the proposal of this short-film. First, I selected a sample of mainstream video frames and delineated the outlines of the bodies. I technically analysed that set of lines and decomposed them into parts: figure, background, axis, shots. Then I designed a box capable of simultaneously holding 15 drawings and thus of composing and decomposing human figures live. I wanted to find a device capable of exposing the systems of representation, and then to destroy or subvert their meaning. I wanted bodies that are arranged under rigorous composition axes to merge into a set of unclassifiable folds, shadows and textures.

At the end of the film, you leave the question of classifications aside and you reenact a performance by Tracey Emin, 20 years after you discovered it as a child. What is the meaning of this repeated bodily experience?
This ending was a way for me to return to the vital origin. Revisiting this flashback from my childhood implied recovering a curious, intuitive and unprejudiced gesture. Concluding the story with the representation of the same action, executed 20 years later, after having collected new experiences, is a way for me to recover that primitive and vital drive. It is an attempt to return to that territory that is free of pre-concepts, but which incorporates the marks, impressions, wounds and prints on the body. The film does not seek to deny or correct that particular childish fetish of feeling cold metal of coins and rough bills on one’s crotch, but, on the contrary, it aims at reaffirming it as an erotic game that returns, only enhanced this time by the capacity to (self) represent.

Interview by Louise Martin Papasian

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Technical sheet

Argentina / 2021 / 18’

Original Version : Spanish.
Subtitles : English.
Script : Paloma Orlandini Castro.
Photography : Felipe Bozzani.
Editing : Zoe Fahler.
Sound : Zoe Fahler.
Casting : Paloma Orlandini Castro.
Production : Manuel Pasik (OM).
Distribution : Gisela Chicolino (FilmsToFestivals Distribution Agency).