GETTING TO KNOW: AJA DEWOLF MOURA
ILYSM commissioned videos from artist Aja DeWolf Moura, a freelancer based in Sonoma County. She works with visual media and music as a means to connect to a greater metaphysical and emotional world.
Your videos are - for lack of a better phrase - poetry in motion. Can you tell us about your work as a filmmaker and the language you've created in your juxtapositions of imagery?
I definitely comply with my intuition when working visually. For me, it has to be rooted in intuition and must satisfy the basic needs of perception. Sometimes this means employing light in a way that provides immediate satisfaction, or quickly establishing a relationship between two objects. I enjoy the indulgence of juxtaposing materials or entities against each other until they merge and can easily catch fetishistic attention. I constantly find myself working with very basic elements; liquids, fire, anything that can catch some sort of movement, because they hold a lot of libidinal energy. I purchased an airbrush last year and have really enjoyed introducing those modes of functioning to a flatter plane.
With my personal work I have noticed clairvoyance prevails. Before the pandemic I was working on a video entitled Saudade that was a meditation on change, both the generational shift I was in touch with at the time and changes in my life structure. I thought a lot about the digitization of memory, and it's distorted and nostalgic by-product. We lose a lot of sustenance through the modification of our memories. I wanted the video to be a sensory archive for that period in my life and the space I occupied. While filming I felt as though I was looking back at the present. A couple of months after I finished that project the pandemic hit. It definitely felt like I had some kind of global premonition, and I think that attests to working from intuition. The video is available on my website.
You also compose your own music! Do you have a different work approach to music versus visuals or do you find you lead with the visuals before creating an accompanying piece?
Personally, making music is a lot more lighthearted. I think I still apply the same systems around externalizing my thoughts and feelings in order to make them tangible, but in auditory curation I feel the resolution in my gut, as opposed to working visually which is much more cerebral. If a song is accompanying a video, then I enjoy the process of translation that takes place in that.
Has the pandemic shifted your approach to your craft? Have you found it to be a bolder or more meditative experience?
The biggest change I have experienced during the pandemic has been my transition out of working in the service industry and into being self employed/unemployed. That has definitely changed my perception of my own craft as it is a larger fraction of my income now. It can be difficult to manage the commodification of your work, and I have struggled to find a balance along the way. If I could change anything about my process right now it would be to take more time to myself to investigate other ways of materializing my inner dialogue. I’ve been selling airbrushed clothes for a while now. When you introduce your work to the market, a lot of people expect you to replicate your work over and over again, which makes it easy to feel discouraged from exploring less predictable methods. I do freelance modeling part time, and through that have had to learn to vouch for myself. A lot of that knowledge came from working alongside more experienced people in the industry. I would definitely encourage artists to surround themselves with individuals who recognize one another’s needs instead of manipulating the industry and seeing one another as stepping stones. Overall, I think this has been the biggest shift pandemic wise. In some ways I have gotten bolder, or maybe just more assured in my capabilities.
What's the most striking piece of art you've seen on instagram lately?
Naomi Hawksley (@num.nuum on instagram) is a San Francisco based artist who draws really amazing dreamscapes that always inspire me. The tonal nuances of Naomi’s work are so delicate and dreamy. I have one of her prints hanging above my bed. Definitely check out her work! www.naomihawksley.com
What was your collaboration like with ILYSM, can you tell us about your visual process?
My relationship with ILYSM really helped me get started on working in video format. I shot their mask campaign and wanted the videos to be playful while still capturing the fragmented reality of the pandemic. I thought about how masks have bridged the gap between isolation and the semi-normalcy of safely socializing, and how this could be celebrated in a way. ILYSM has provided a lot of creative autonomy to their collaborators. That form of encouragement is so nourishing.
What's next for you and how can the ILYSM community continue to support you?
Right now I am working on a semi-archival video project with my father, Art Moura (@inartsroom on Instagram). I have witnessed his fanatic oeuvre expand exponentially throughout my life, and cannot wait to interpret it’s preciousness. The video is for his opening in Healdsburg, Ca, but will be uploaded on my website as well. I am also looking forward to the warmer months and the creative momentum that brings. I am always open to collaborations in any form, and hope the rest of the year brings much fortune in that realm. ILYSM has supported me and other artists by opening up a dialogue with lesser known creatives and providing us with financial and professional opportunities. I am excited to see the ILYSM community grow and to continue finding new ways to work with their team.