Isabelle Pauwels

It's like another planet put together in a very simple, easy to understand language.

Videos, texts, info about art works by Isabelle Pauwels.

INTRO. Third Person. The Production of Garbage. Hacking a Path.

What about me?

I make videos & media things called art. Usually they go in art galleries.

If you want something in officialese and in third person about my “art practice,” let’s just get that out of the way right now: “Working primarily in video, Pauwels’ blend of performance and documentary realism highlights the fraught relationship between narrative conventions and everyday social interaction. Focusing on the possibilities of non-linear editing, her work reconfigures popular genres such as the sitcom, the home movie, the porno, or the documentary.”

Yes, I wrote that myself— under the gun of course (grant applications, curators who want artist statements). But that’s not how I think about my work! Actually I barely think at all, during the long process of making a video. Instead, I do and I redo. How would I describe my practice? My practice is two-fold. 1) THE PRODUCTION OF GARBAGE. 2) HACKING THROUGH THE GARBAGE TO MAKE AN INTERESTING PATH. Garbage can be: pages and pages of writing, terabytes of footage, 1000’s of cellphone pics of mini-sculptures and hundreds of weeds & dead neon downloaded from the internet. What’s hacking the path? It’s making folders on the computer, parking footage in there, opening a timeline, then chop chop chop chop go down wrong rabbit hole for 3 weeks chop chop OH! chop chop chop chop OH! (etc, for several months in a row). The OH! is the part where I get really high off a really good cut or rhythm.

What’s in it for you? Well hopefully I hacked an interesting path and you can get a few highs too when you watch & listen to the video. That’s my goal. ( I hope you weren’t expecting me to say that my work improves the lives of women & children in my home country. I’m not that delusional).

Though my work still is art (because it sure isn’t good business!), in the last few years I’m turning away from the gallery and towards the web and cinematic projection. The gallery was well suited for my earlier work, which often took the form of video installation pieces. But if I’m not making an installation, then why be in the gallery? How many times have you been in a gallery where the video looks great but you can’t hear a damn thing? Too many times, if you ask me! So much of my work is dialogue heavy, and I want you to understand the words!


More… (thoughts & stuff about making videos)

I fell into video because of all the babble. It was television that attracted me. Chit chat and bric-a- brac, and Acconci too... Beauty was never my bag.


Sure, everyone looks at images.  But who really sees them anymore? What do images contain? The second coming? The correct meaning? You used to find that down by the courthouse, on a high horse. But today we already know we are good people and we know better.  Do I really need to listen to an image preaching, like a good image should?


Take eighty-fucking-thousand... The neighborhood just sits there, tight, wide and unavailable. It knows what it is, so I think it ought to be something else.  I look for mistakes. But what do mistakes look like, in a neighborhood like this? Well I don’t know. My camera is too expensive. It refuses to make mistakes. Do these people even want me here?


We didn't have video cameras. We had walkie talkies-  cheap ones for kids, with rubber antennas. Fake antennas, but I couldn’t admit this to myself. They transmit for about 2 city blocks-- unsocial media. We’d take them into the forests of Galiano Island, into the bush where no one could see us.  There, we’d get into character.  We pretended that we were two girls who were unrelated, we were friends because we just happened to like each other! Because we were social!

ACT 1. I'm going to be Charlotte. OVER. I'm going to be Georgia.  OVER.

ACT 2. Charlotte and Georgia explore the territory, searching for people to spy on. OBSTACLE: who is there to spy on? The general public just drives by, searching for the way to Coon Bay.

ACT 3.  Charlotte doesn't like Georgia's personality anymore. OVER. Georgia doesn't like Charlotte’s personality anymore. OVER.

ACT 1. I'm going to be Lynette.


Who is this character – this Metcalfe, Molloy, Malone, Mylady, this tramp losing his luggage all over the landscape? What’s he running from? The family name.  The taxpayers. Perhaps a typist. Or even worse-- a jury of his peers… where everyone jerks off to mutual recognition. Ah yes, this is an archetypal story about an author chasing his subject, and failing to recognize it when he comes across it.  Or no. No longer recognizing herself when she recognizes her subject. Well that’s a lot of baggage. What’s the moral of the story? You can’t be the same at the end as you were at the beginning… because that’s the rule!


The hippies lived in fair weather,  changing the colour of the rock formations in Coon Bay with their cooking fires… until the ocean rubbed that off.  When it rained too much, they retreated to their tents, vans & station wagons, adding colour and trash to the treeline.  The hippies didn’t live off the land, but they were always close to the dirt, they always had a lot flat tires. So did the Indians on the reserve two or three bays over.  The Indians collected more cars than the hippies. Parts piled up next to houses & shacks, which looked a lot like the docks in Baines Bay,  rotting, patched up & cobbled together, some of them half sunk- more deadhead than dock. It's 1979, and all of this-- Coon Bay, Baines Bay, colour & trash, patches & flats-- just looks like magic! Couldn’t tell the difference between being dirt poor, and getting dirty from playing too hard.


The world is made to be worth watching, otherwise what good is it anyone, especially me? Yes I work, but I don’t do labour. Labour is something that is still being done by other people in uncomfortable poses. Can I really watch this? Can I really film this? Yeah I can, because they’re all straight outta Central Casting, and let’s face it so am I, so there’s no harm in looking—


What are you doing here?

Oh, just taking some pictures of the view.

For some organization for example?

Uh no, I’m just an artist and I like taking photos...

But not of the, of the houses, not of the houses?

I lie and I say no.

He says what?

I say do you live around here

He says what!?

I say do you live around here

He says what?!?

I say do you live around here

He says yessss….

I say well this sure seems like a nice neighborhood

He says everybody here, everybody here is sen-si-tive

I say, have you lived here for long

He says what

I say have you lived here for long?

He says what?

I say have you LIVED here for long

He says what does that have to do with the question I ask, I am very serious about the questions I ask.

I say I can give you some more information if you like but I cut that part out, and while we're talking the red dot is marking 6 minutes and change. I know you're deaf but are you blind-- check out the red dot.  I'm shooting video, not photo, that little click is just for show.

Then he says how long you gonna be

I say about 2 more hours

He says so what time would that be, approximately

I say it’s 8:30 now, so you do the math

And I intercut all that with the garbage truck, rumbling and collecting


The large trademarks & the majors in Las Vegas keep shoveling more pixels onto the picture. What’s the moral of the story? Good cinematography is nice because not everyone can do it. Better yet, not everyone can appreciate it. That’s why they got a price tag on it, because at least everyone can count.


The adults are ready: we must sell as fast as possible.