PROFILE: Cecilia Stenbom | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Local filmmaker Cecilia Stenbom screens her new work, Rules of Engagement, at Tyneside Cinema on Monday 12th February. A Q&A with Cecilia will also be held, chaired by writer and film critic Michael Pattison.

Described by the artist as “somewhere between a documentary re-enactment, a daytime-serial drama and a chamber play”, Rules of Engagement consists of three vignettes based on collective stories of ‘outsiderdom’. “I started developing this work around the time of the EU referendum when I suddenly, as a Swedish-born Gateshead resident, started to feel like an outsider.” Cecilia explains.

At first utilising her own social networks to identify interview subjects, Cecilia conducted a series of interviews with people she had previously had conversations with about being an outsider. “I wasn’t looking for a particular story but allowed the conversation to go into territories beyond my own imagination. I was interested in stories of not knowing how to fit in or [those who] didn’t want to fit in to certain contexts. I selected three stories to work on; Jack, the outcast, who attends a family gathering; Robin tries to integrate into a new social group; and Nadia is failing to blend in amongst conservative work colleagues.”

Real life doesn’t come with a narrative conclusion and a fetching soundtrack

Rather than attempting to draw conclusions from her work, Cecilia’s more interested in posing questions. “I’m interested in how reality and fiction merge in these environments; how moving image content (televisual, cinematic etc.) permeates the everyday and seeps into our notions of identity, the way we relate to each other and ultimately how we experience our surroundings. Do the narratives we consume somehow affect the reality we life in? Can a saturation of media content make real life seem unreal? When we experience something in real life we’ve only encountered on screen does the memory of these screen experiences affect the real events? And do the memories of these real events become muddled up with fictional depictions of similar occasions?”

These are themes that Cecilia has revisited often in her work, as she explains. “This dynamic between reality and screen-reality is what I’ve been obsessing over in my work. Real life doesn’t come with a narrative conclusion and a fetching soundtrack.”

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