Maria Lusitano

Position: Researcher/ Visual Artist
Institution: University of Westminster
Geographical areas: Transnational, Southern Europe

Research areas: Performing the Voices and Times of Childhood through Relational Video-making


I am Maria Lusitano, a visual artist born in Lisbon. I concluded in 2015 my arts based PhD at University of Westminster. My video work is characterized by artistic research that appropriates the methodologies of sociology, history and documentary filmmaking. In my practice I explore the hybrid space between the video essay and the artist film, to create videos and video installations that address collective and individual memory, explorations of time. I have exhibited at international events such as Manifesta 5 (2004),  Photo Espana 6, Madrid (2006),  29th Biennial of Sao Paulo, (2010),  Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010), Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian (2010), MUKHTA (Antwerp), LundsKonstHall, Galery 198. Mywork is in the collections of the EDP Foundation, National Art Library at the Victoria & Albert Museum, Centre Pompidou Kandinsky Library, the Museum Of Modern Art Library and various private collectors.


Maria Lusitano produced the arts based research (un)childhood, performing the times and voices of childhood through relational videomaking. The researcher and artist developed in her research the methodology entitled ‘relational videomaking’ during the course of four and a half years of video work with her own child, now aged ten. She also extended her practice to other family members and friends (children and adults) as a way to relate her understanding of childhood to that of others. (un)childhood performs childhood through a relational voice, that results from the embodied presence and actions of both children and adults. The non-chronological nature of the video-essay (un)childhood offers an alternative to the conventional linear approach to childhood representation. Through montage and a literal allusion to time in various dialogues, the video-essay performs childhood through relational times, which combine the present days in children’s lives, to the temporal dimensions that have traditionally constructed childhood: past, future and timeless.

This thesis containing both audiovisual and written components results from a practice-based PhD which originated the video “(un)childhood”, a 53’ video-essay shown on two screens, and the written thesis titled “(un)childhood, Performing the Voices and Times of Childhood through Relational Video-making”. Both film and thesis investigate the tradition of artists working with their children in time-based art projects. The artists Stan Brakhage (1933-2003), Ernie Gher (1943), Eric Bullot (1963) and Mary Kelly (1941), pertaining to different generations and genders, were reviewed and studied. For various years they documented, photographed, and filmed their children to produce time-based art projects (experimental films and a time-based installation) about childhood. By reading the projects as cultural texts, one can say they convey a construction of childhood through the development and pastoral paradigm, wherein children, shown as they grow, symbolise an abstract primitive subject. This thesis challenges the convention of representing children entirely from the adult point of view, as aesthetical objects bearing no voice, and per the artist’s chronological approach to time. It rather offers a new approach to time-based artistic work about childhood, which focuses on the relational joining of the child’s and adult’s point of view.

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