Thursday 4/21/16 time 12:50 PM - interviewed by Hanna Peräkylä

Manuela Morales, 25, Chilean-Canadian

Background as an artist: 

At a very young age I got into making art through drawing. It wasn't until I was 14 years old that I became interested in photography, when my parents took me to see Robert Frank: Storylines at the Tate Modern in London. There was a room filled with Frank's contact sheets and the sheer number of images was astounding, the idea of being able to capture that many moments in time was incredibly appealing. In retrospect, I think the attraction may have been due to my own terrible memory and what seemed like a device to keep me from forgetting. 

I started taking photography classes in high school, where I learned the basics of the medium. I then went on to receive a Bachelor in Fine Arts with Honours in Photography Studies from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. Through my four years at Ryerson, I became immersed in the history and theories of images, which led me to start also working in video. 

Currently, my work is situated within the documentary practice, often originating from my own lived experience. The themes of memory and post-memory have continued to be a central component and I also deal with issues surrounding trauma, womanhood, global politics and their impact on interpersonal relationships.

How did you end up choosing your media? Best/worst sides of it?

Probably my favourite thing about photography/video is that it takes me out of the studio. My work usually takes me outside into different environments and often different countries. I tend to go stir crazy quite easily; I'm incredibly impatient and get bored far too quickly. I would not do well making all of my work in one room. I think in this way I also enjoy photography and video because unexpected things can transpire when you're out in the world making work, and sometimes it can change your whole project or just be an exciting moment. Then, when you return to the darkroom or computer, there are often new things you notice each time you look at the work. You have created the overall composition, but what goes on within it can change or appear different overtime. 

The worst part of working with these mediums is that I can be a bit of a perfectionist and you can't necessarily change the composition of the world. This is usually something I can easily get over though. But there are definitely moments I wish I could move wires, or a tree, or a pole and that is impossible. 

What do you find as the best and worst sides of being an artist?

In my particular practice I often look at my own family trauma. So personally, the best part of being an artist is that it helps me work through difficult things in my life. My work is extremely cathartic for me and in that sense I think I am always drawn to creating things when I have some sort of turmoil in my life. But through the process of making a project I often work through the distressing emotions attached to the subject matter and start moving forward.

I think the worst side of being an artist is fairly obvious. It is incredibly difficult to make a living. As a woman I find it more difficult because we are often the gender that is charged with thinking about family, and the idea of having children on an artist's salary can seem completely unrealistic. I have always been someone who wants to have children and really looks forward to being a parent, however I want my kids to have security and part of that is not worrying about their parents finances. For some this means working jobs they can't stand, however I am currently looking into pursuing the arts as well as a career in law. Law has always fascinated me and influenced my work, as well as being a lucrative career where I can support my art and a family. 

Is this your first time in Finland? What kind of expectations did you have about Finland/ Joutsa?

Yes! This is my first time in Finland. I had no expectations at all!

How's your average day in Joutsa?

Moving around from Haihatus to different parts of Joutsa. Shooting video, discussing/writing out ideas, editing, researching, hanging out with cats and other artists, eat, sleep, repeat. 

What are the best sides / opportunities in having an art residency? 

The best part of an art residency is that it takes you out of your comfort zone. New spaces really jump start the creative brain, also being able to just have a designated chunk of time for making things, not being distracted by other obligations. My mind is constantly occupied with making. I also enjoy the opportunity to meet new people and see how they go about their artistic practice. 

How does Haihatus meet your expectations? 
The space and work areas were very much how I imagined, I like the communal areas and I feel like access to bikes, buses and walkable areas made exploring very easy.
I would recommend Haihatus to artists who are at similar places in their career or even further along than I am. I think it is a great opportunity for artists who have finished school and have one or more projects under their belt. I think if you are stuck in a rut this is the perfect place. Joutsa honestly does not have a ton of activities for visitors, but the atmosphere of Haihatus will get your mind working and you'll have nothing to do but make work. 

What are your plans after Haihatus?

I hope to continue working on the piece I have been working on here and submit it for exhibition at a few galleries.

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