Speciale Willie Varela

Michael Sicinski

In recent months, Willie Varela has been returning his key video works, the Ambiens Series, to the public eye. Varela is best known as a lyrical filmmaker, but his video work demands equal attention. This is not only because it represents an extension of his cinematic work, with its poetic attention to landscape and compositional values. Varela should also be considered as someone who has pushed the aesthetic boundaries of the medium of analog video, exploring the unique haze and diffused light that characterize this once-new medium.

Stephen Broomer

The films and videos of Willie Varela have in the past reflected the artist’s terror and outrage. Since the beginning, Varela’s work has dealt in scenes of daily life (in El Paso and San Francisco), an autobiographical sensibility (which casts him, like so many artists, under the sign of a bleeding Christ), and a plastic manipulation, through cinematography and editing, that aspires to abstraction. While these characteristics of Varela’s work have often been set to the service of love, charity and the noble aspiration of trading visions and experiences, they are also marked by a pageant of death, a legacy of wounds, and a fury, provoked by injustice and the devaluation of human life and perception.

Dorottya Szalay

Cemeteries are known to be places of ambiguous nature. They separate the community of the living from the community of the dead, but at the same time they link the there-ness of death to the here-ness of living. They represent the ultimate destination for every individual and, as forums for spiritual exchange, they re-emphasize the finality of death. For an artist who has spent his entire life situated between two cultures and caught between the past and the future, a cemetery and its position as gatekeeper between two worlds seems to be a perfect location for filmic contemplation on eternal questions like “Why are we here?”

Brian Wilson

One of the most important traits Willie Varela inherited from his mentor Stan Brakhage is his sense of light. Brakhage, a true master on par with Turner in terms of his ability to depict the subtle, almost imperceptible nuances of luminance, explored light in all its forms and through all possible variables. It was not only a physical force in Brakhage’s films, but a deeply conceptual one as well. Varela extends this approach, synthesizing it with his own unique aesthetic sensibility and cultural background to forge a vision truly his own.

Mariangela Sansone

Lo sguardo arde dietro la fitta rete delle ciglia, brucia nella creazione dell’immagine e prende fuoco; il bulbo oculare opera uno sdoppiamento materico della visione, trascende il reale per raccontare il reale, attraverso una frammentazione visiva e un ritmo ossessivo e martellante. Due schermi, una stereografia del mondo e della società, il dolore, la sofferenza del quotidiano e la deriva umana in preda alla follia del terrorismo. È l’oscenità dell’antiumano, l’uomo che, per sua natura, si rivolta a sé stesso, si ribella al prossimo e deraglia in un suicidio, al fine di supportare un’illusione defunta. Il mondo brucia per mano di colui che si arroga di fare, disfare e oscenamente distruggere, «ogni oscenità viene sospesa, e tutte le descrizioni sono come trasferite dall'oggetto stesso al feticcio. Sussiste solo un'oscenità pensante» (Deleuze 2007).


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