Its reference points are The Hearing Trumpet, a novel by the late Leonora Carrington about a small group of old women who shift the north pole to the equator; the Oyaba, an often phallic, turban-like headdress worn by Basque women in medieval times; and modern-day hairdressing salons in Vitoria.
In a triangular space of research and production created by these three points, Olabarrieta and Evans are working towards a seven-episode, object-based soap opera filmed in the Basque country, Cairo and London.
Fragments of conversations via Skype between Jenifer Evans and Beatriz Olabarrieta.
“Nature is animate: animals chat, leaves send out signals, petals frolic, crystals reproduce themselves. Moreover, inorganic matter is animate, if not alive, although there is no doubt that in the past it was the ingredient that saw the beginning of life. There are animate beings on all sides. They can be seen in the iridescent shine of silicate minerals, in the polycarbonate plastic of a CD, in the dazzling reflection of a chrome-plated set of drums or in the bright surface of Rabbit by Jeff Koons (1986). They can also be seen in the intermittent lines and points visible in live TV programmes and in the movement of organic LEDs on a touchscreen. Animation has been there all the time, animation in an extended space”.
We are also extending the Oyaba You (Telenovelas) space, because we are using, to our benefit, the distance that exists between Cairo and London and the Skype space has become our own private TV channel. Oyaba has become an animated creature; many people, who take on multiple shapes. But it is also the drawings that speak as characters.
How do you think we will present the project in the end?
I think it should be via Skype. Or, if not, I had another idea: Hire two actresses to play us and to be responsible for presenting the project. In other words, as if we added another stratum and as if this stratum were perhaps the one in which the real soap operas are enacted.
Jenifer Evans and Beatriz Olabarrieta conceived the So shaped like roosters project – later called Oyaba You (Telenovelas)– in 2010, when both lived and worked in London. A year later, Jenifer Evans moved to Cairo, Egypt, on a permanent basis, coinciding with an extremely unstable political climate in that African country.
In 2011, they received a grant from the eremuak programme for the production of a series of films (seven chapters) on the Oyaba, a phallic-shaped device used by Basque women in the middle ages for their hair. As a shape and symbol, the Oyaba has evolved from its original idea and now represents a larger space or forum for discussion and exchange between collaborators while they live and work in different countries; with their limitations, but, at the same time, with the exciting complications it brings with it.
Over the last two years, they have continued to work on the project and Skype has become their common work space or studio, to the extent that they began to film the computer screen directly while they spoke. They have also done a series of drawings and are working on their publication as living images or animations, which they will present either in Cairo or the Basque Country in 2013.