Exhibition—“The cartography of Sonia Fritz: migration and gender”


In “Sonia Fritz traza su mapa audiovisual,” Mariela Fullana Acosta writes about Mexican-born, Puerto Rico-based filmmaker, Sonia Fritz, whose lengthy career is recognized through an exhibition—“Cartografía de Sonia Fritz: migración y género” [The Cartography of Sonia Fritz: migration and gender]—on view at the art gallery of the University of the Sacred Heart [Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, USC] in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Summarizing three decades of an audiovisual career in an art gallery would seem to be a daunting task. But not for filmmaker Sonia Fritz, who has been taking risks for more than three decades.

Since the 80s, this Mexican by birth and Puerto Rican at heart has insisted in making films in Puerto Rico, cultivating a filmic voice of her own and with great social awareness. Although she began her career in Mexico, where she won an Ariel Award in 1986—equivalent to a Mexican Oscar—for her work “De bandas, vidas y otros sones,” it is in Puerto Rico that Fritz has developed most of her work.

In celebration of her great career, the Art Gallery of the University of the Sacred Heart (USC) will open today, at 7:00pm, the exhibition “Cartografía de Sonia Fritz: migración y género.” This exhibition, which was curated by renowned curator and researcher Margarita Fernández Zavala, presents fragments of 22 documentaries and films by the filmmaker, for whom migration and gender issues prevail, which have been consistent in her work over the years.

“For me this exhibition has been a big surprise,” said the filmmaker yesterday, during a meeting with El Nuevo Día, where Fernández Zavala was also present. Last year, the vice president of the University of the Sacred Heart, María Teresa Martínez Diez, and the coordinator of the Art Gallery of the institution, Norma Vila, informed her that the next exhibition would be about her work. Fritz, who is a professor at the USC, could not believe it.

“It is very difficult to think about film, which one always imagines in a movie theater or outdoors, unexpectedly in a gallery. Suddenly, you think, what are you going to do differently so that the experience for the public is different,” she explains about her concerns at that time.

With the help of [. . .] Margarita Fernández Zavala, Fritz gave form to the idea until the audiovisual exhibition was achieved—the first of its kind to take place at the Art Gallery of the USC. “About a year ago I started conversations with Margarita to put the work into context. We met many times and I gave all the material so that she could look for what connected the works and begin weaving a story together,” said the filmmaker, who has over 40 movie titles to her name.

Fernández Zavala viewed films and spoke multiple times with the filmmaker, digging into Fritz’s memories, until she identified two major themes in her work: migration and gender.

“Sonia’s stories are always told from a woman’s [perspective and] voice. She has never denied her gender, never. Furthermore, it is a voice of a liberal woman, committed to the place where she lives. So that was one topic. And the other topic was obvious—a subtext that lies under the surface but that is visible to everyone—migration. When you look at that, you realize that you are facing a brave, risk-taking, and daring person,” said the curator about the director, whom she cataloged as a filmmaker capable of “melting borders” away.

Sonia Fritz said that this exhibition project has been enriching because it has allowed her to see herself from a distance, identifying new readings of her own work. “I think what has been cool is to see these narrative lines, how there have been some inspirations, concerns, or motives that have led me to tell something, whether in documentary or fiction, and how there are also connections between fiction and documentary,” she said later, referring to a theme that worked for the documentary “La alianza de mujeres viequenses” (2000), which suddenly led her to the fiction film project “América” (2011).

Fernández Zavala highlighted the way in which Sonia Fritz has created several maps through her audio-visual work. She highlighted, for example, her great contribution to the fine arts of the country through the series of documentaries she made about Puerto Rican artists. “She created a cinematographic map of what art is in Puerto Rico, and from there, several sub-themes,” she said. Hearing this, the filmmaker said that “a map helps you understand, and I think it is part of my process, in order to know what topics one wants to cover (in a project),” she said, referring to the title of the exhibition. [. . .]

[Photo of Sonia Fritz by Vanessa Serra Díaz.]

Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For original article (in Spanish), see https://www.elnuevodia.com/entretenimiento/cultura/nota/soniafritztrazasumapaaudiovisual-2513197/.

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