Beatriz Santiago Muñoz: Pay Attention to Everything

Walking with a camera, the images found provoke and confound ceaselessly. And catching and maintaining the look and sound of an image has been a gift for Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, for whom filming is life enhanced.

She started inviting people on the street to perform local histories that they knew, and the result was what she describes as a "committed improvisation." An archive that relied on people's memory and imagination. To "pay attention to everything" is the task, and walking with a camera produces situations, the expansion of thinking and the discovery of previously hidden or forgotten historical layers.

"It is very important for me when I'm collaborating with others that what we are both paying attention to is the possibilities of expansion of thinking between us." Those moments of shared discernment have allowed her to marshall the non-actors to retrace their stories and expectations, both social and political. "I know art has social consequences. The most important thing for me is what art does by itself - the new possibilities, the expansion of thinking that happens."

In the process, she was surprised by the participants' experience of the past filtered through the present, and its opposite: “I was questioning images of a romanticized agricultural past, of military domination, of a paradise spread by the service industry," she says.

The surprise was that "none of those are what I’d experienced. What I’d experienced was our history of military occupation, bombings, slavery and continued racialization. We experience all of these events happening at the same time.” And in every encounter with the subjects of her instant creations, she filmed the results -- history as a spontaneous combustion of memory.