A two-headed, anthropomorphic bull; a woman who literally turns the world upside down; a blue ghost that becomes an arrow; a boulder with eyes leading a debris avalanche breaking into the valley, whereupon a pink enchantress turns the stones into pink clouds. In Ana María Millán's Elevación, very different beings appear, whose interactions with each other form a loose, myth-like narrative.
The individual characters do not seem to come from the same world, similar to characters from different (gaming) universes in computer games, or when players create their own avatars and roam together through artificial online worlds. A preform of online role-playing games are LARP, live-action role-plays, which still enjoy great popularity today. For Elevación, Millán first had participants in a workshop at the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia, design their own avatars and then develop stories with them in a LARP. Only then did she create the animations and the video, for which she digitally re-enacted and interpreted the collaborative, improvised narrative.
The special thing about LARP is that each character has its own agency, i.e., acts independently of a dramaturgy and makes its own free decisions. This results less in a self-contained narrative than in a complex dynamic of different narrative voices. Similarly, myths and sagas can also be understood as stories formed by many, even if here the narrative takes place in a succession rather than a coexistence. The resulting refractions and contradictions give them a mysticism, an undertow of their own.
According to Millán, in her work, narrative forms are negotiated, which are generally regarded as dysfunctional – plot lines run into nothing, figures disappear and reappear, symbols remain ambivalent. This aesthetic of the dysfunctional is reinforced by the amateurish, hands-on animation with its numerous references to pop, internet, and gaming culture. Colorful landscapes with drug plant flora, untouched 3D nature, and the soothing ambient soundtrack let the audience participate in the escapism inherent in gaming worlds. In contrast, a comic strip on the history of the FARC and its role in the armed conflict in Colombia from 1964 to 2017 served as the starting point for the collaborative development process of Elevación. The alleged escapism is thus juxtaposed with very real Colombian social issues. The ambivalence – on the one hand, violence and exclusion, on the other hand, departure and utopia – is not resolved until the end. We remain in the loop of a constant process of transformation. (Julius Vapiano)
My work addresses the politics of the animation in relation to digital cultures and subcultures, gender and propaganda. I have developed techniques based on role playing, reenactment and ideas about animation as methodology to make a series of plays that end in the form narrative films. It speaks from amateur cultures, pop political culture, sound territories and technology, incorporating the possibilities and mistakes of the rehearsals, and narrative forms considered dysfunctional. My work has been shown in Art Encounters Biennial, Timișoara, Romania 2019; Kunstinstituut Melly (solo), curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy and Rosa de Graaf, Rotterdam; Immortality for all, Savvy Contemporary , Berlin 2016; AUTO-KINO! presented by Phil Collins, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin 2009 and I Still Believe in Miracles – part I, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris 2005 among others. (Ana María Millán)
Images: Ana María Millán, Elevación, 2019 © Ana María Millán