Sofia Caetano – finalist of the Sonae Media Art award

“one needs to spend time looking for opportunities”

There is a world where one lives imprisoned and has to communicate by telepathy. When the scientist, who created this idyllic world, acknowledges that its inhabitants are far from being happy and that his minds are becoming unfruitful, he sends a couple of teenagers to the Garden of Eden, in the past.

That’s Bliss briefly summarized, one of the works that have turned Sofia Caetano into one of the five finalists of the Sonae Media Art award. The movie made its debut in the USA this year, on March 24, as part of the 55th edition of the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and is currently being screened at Arquipélago – Centro de Artes Contemporâneas, in São Miguel, until April 16, as the winning project of the 2016’s Artistic Creation Scholarship in Art and Multimedia

More than a movie, Bliss is the artist’s first experience that mishmashes cinema with installation, in order to grant the viewer with a physical experience which “deconstructs the experience that we extract from conventional cinema”. As she explains to Umbigo, “when you go to Bliss, you have to move through the rooms in order to see the different parts of the movie”, an experience that must be taken individually. “It’s not my concern to convey any tangible message, instead I want to make an invitation to a unique, individual and subjective reflection that every single person conducts about their own experience”.

The setting chosen was the Azores and for obvious reasons: Sofia Caetano is from São Miguel and never before she had recorded in the archipelago. In addition to that, the Azores are the Earth’s paradise, the perfect location to reenact the Garden of Eden. “Cinematically speaking, it’s something that gets translated into stunning images”, she confirms.

Besides Bliss, the artist applied as well with 2.866.642 Ways to Create Space, a movie produced in 2014 and that has been screened “a bit all over the world”, as she affirms.

She did not expect to win, but she was aware of how strong her application was. This confidence is, actually, Sofia’s stance as an artist, who advocates that “one needs to spend time looking for opportunities, to be persistent and to have a great passion for what we do”, since “opportunities do exist, but we have to know how to create them.”

That’s the Portuguese reality, just like in the US, where she constantly listens to people saying that the “opportunities are in Europe”.

She moved to Boston to take the master’s degree in Media Art, after having studied photography at IFP and directing at Restart. That’s when she started making movies, perceiving that she had just found the right means of expression to explore her own ideas. While still in Boston, where she lives, she splits her time between cinema classes, lectured by her, and her most recent project, The Spectacular House, a production company that has been doing some videos. “This month we have debuted 100 days of May – an experimental sound project, by Portuguese artists” –, at the music festival Tremor, in São Miguel.

Besides this one, Caetano has in her hands her first feature-length film. Entitled The Happiest Man, it tells the story of a future caveman, who is going to save humanity from media enslavement.

As for now, the five finalists of the Sonae Media Art Prize have presented, at the end of March, their proposal for the work’s subject, which will be assessed by the jury in order to decide the overall winner. Those five works will be displayed at MNAC (Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado), in Lisbon, at the end of November.

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