Willing The Possible
Saturday 11 June 2016, 6:00pm
71 Eyre Lane
Sheffield S1 4RB
“Living with one another can be unhappy, wretched, ambivalent, even full of antagonism, but all of that can play out in the political sphere without recourse to expulsion or genocide. And that is our obligation.” – Judith Butler
Willing The Possible takes its starting point from Emma Leach’s film Conflicting Thoughts: Thoughts on Conflict, which explores mediation in the context of Scottish separatism. Narrative Mediation – a subgenre in mediation – is a methodology focused on multiplicity in the construction of conflict narratives. Originating as a method of conflict resolution in Narrative Family Therapy, it encourages face-to-face contact between parties. In the realm of cinema, the encounter between the film object and the audience, together forming a site for collective narrative plotting, could be thought of as just such a face-to-face contact. Though the films in this programme are situated in conflict zones across geographies and times, none make any singular known conflict narrative the central object of their study. Instead, the films allow the possibility of collective narrative plotting as an open-ended process – a way of thinking through conflicting positions. When making a film in, or about, conflict, past or present, what is our obligation as commentators, observers, or artists? What to make of works where an emotive conflict narrative is absent, replaced by strategies of ambivalence, humour, contradiction, or the ordinary – or where exile becomes an exotic vacation? – Minou Norouzi
Willing the Possible is accompanied by On Being Spiky, a text written by Emma Leach for this occasion, and read by Alison J Carr. Five years after making Conflicting Thoughts during a residency at the CCA in Glasgow, Emma reflects on the benefits of being spiky.
Selected by Minou Norouzi, filmmaker, programmer, and doctoral candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Conflicting Thoughts explores symbolic events in two long-term conflicts still relevant in Scotland today. A mediator reacts to two video clips: footage of football hostilities captured on live TV, and the demolition of Ravenscraig steelworks. The mediator’s responses were recorded and re-voiced by an actor. The work, like conflict, obscures and reveals in turn.
Five years have passed since Emma Leach made Conflicting Thoughtsduring a residency at the CCA in Glasgow. In this new text, written by Emma for this occasion, and performed by Alison J. Carr, Emma reflects on conflict and the benefits of being spiky.
The Goodness Regime investigates the foundations of the ideology and self-image of modern Norway – from the Crusades, via the adventures of Fridtjof Nansen and the trauma of wartime occupation, to the diplomatic theatre of the Oslo Peace Accords. The film combines children’s performances with archive sound (incl. US President Clinton speaking at the signing of the Accords, and Prime Minister Bondevik’s 2000 New Year address to the Norwegian people), and documentary footage shot on location in Norway and Palestine.
In Electrical Gaza, Nashashibi combines her footage of Gaza, and the fixer, drivers and translator who accompanied her there, with animated scenes. She presents Gaza as a place from myth; isolated, suspended in time, difficult to access and highly charged. Commissioned by the Trustees of Imperial War Museum. Produced by Kate Parker. Image courtesy of Rosalind Nashashibi and LUX, London.
There are icons in Cyprus that are centuries old. They bloom like flowers in houses, churches, monasteries, and markets. Last summer marked the 40th anniversary of Cyprus’ invasion and partition. Today the island remains divided with abandoned spaces on both sides of the Green Line. For decades every US administration has exploited this partition, using military bases on the island to conduct surveillance in the Middle East.
Established as a Russian mining town in 1927 with 1,000 residents, Pyramiden was abandoned in 1998, Russia no longer able to keep it functioning. Families were given a few days to leave – some boarding a ship back to Russia, others, to another mining town in Svalbard, Barentsburg. Filmed out of a cabin porthole when sailing away from Pyramiden, the soundtrack, ‘Red October’, is played by Wes Milholen on a piano which still sits on the stage in the Kultur Huset in Pyramiden.
Exile Exotic is set at a hotel that is a replica of the Kremlin. Narrating the exotic beginnings of my mother’s and my exile from Russia, the film serves as a platform for us to visit the Kremlin again, albeit by the side of a pool. Soundtracked by an operatic score reminiscent of the song of the sirens making Odysseus stray on his long journey home, our story reverberates throughout the scope of Russian history’s limiting of free movement of individuals. This film is a pilgrimage. This film comes in waves.