Saturday 11 June 2016, 8:00pm
71 Eyre Lane
Sheffield S1 4RB
Given the times, it feels inevitable that artworks in any medium or genre, whether intentionally or not, will be considered for their ‘use value’. This can be a world away from the crudely economic, being measures of, and aids towards, resistance to the diverse and significant forces currently oppressing us. Documentary, given its engagement with the ‘real’, however defined, might, it could – and should – be argued, feel this particular responsibility more keenly. This status is only increased when coupled with the form’s condition, its intention and outcome, or not, as ‘art’. This tension is felt most directly in how the work relates to its performers, its protagonists in the territory of the actual. The choices made result either in a piece that creatively supports and strengthens its personnel, or consumes them within a deadening hall of formal and conceptual mirrors.
Directed exclusively by women, this programme adopts different strategies towards the above issues, but each film, it feels, seeks a relevance to the pressured moment, as well as joining in a dialogue with the larger frames of time that we all move within. To be both urgent and enduring. Whether orchestrated or observed, retrieved or reflective, each purposes its intimate aesthetic, emotional and intellectual impulses and energies towards the common realm, with care and for consideration. They are singular and social.
From home to homeland, personal to public, their success in this pursuit is surely only aided by the fact that each maker has, in their own way, been required to navigate borders, to move outside familiar frames of experience into fertile encounter with the energies of the ‘other’. – Gareth Evans
Selected by Gareth Evans, writer, editor, presenter, event and film producer (Unseen: the Lives of Looking; Patience (After Sebald); and By Our Selves). Evans is Film Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Followed by a discussion with the artists moderated by Adam Pugh.
The Logic of the Birds began as a public processional walk before becoming a film. Shot in the Jordan Valley in Palestine, the work takes a 12th century Sufi poem about a group of birds crossing a difficult landscape in search of a leader to reflect on ideas around freedom of movement and collective presence in the landscape.
Two events, taking place in two different parts of Europe in the early 1970s, are the starting point for No More. The footage used is from a BBC broadcast of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Brian Faulkner, introducing Internment, and from a demonstration of body exercises designed to allow the practitioner to go beyond ‘their own personal limitations’, by Ryszard Cieślak, of Grotowski’s Polish Laboratory Theater Company. Mairéad McClean was 5 years old when her father was taken from the family home and interned in Long Kesh prison. No More combines the footage of Faulkner and Cieślak with personal artefacts to create a landscape of haunting.
Oriental Silk is an exploration the world of Kenneth Wong, owner of the first silk importing company in Los Angeles. As he goes through the daily routine in his store, we hear about his parents, first-generation Chinese immigrants, who realized the American dream through the store. The once legendary store’s fortunes rose with the Hollywood industry, then fell with the proliferation of cheaper silk in the new global economy. As the caretaker of the family legacy, Kenneth Wong talks about his deep feelings for the shop, its history, and its future.
Shot on 16mm film on the outskirts of Moscow, Sleeping District is a document of the residential, concrete structures built during the Soviet Era. Static shots of massive apartment blocks and interior views of private apartments form the visual side, which is intercut with a textual side constructed of observations and memories of the residents, translated from Russian into a broken English. Entering private homes built on tangible experiences, memories and imagination, the film questions how we think of collective memory and how the present may hold traces of history, family relations, and a fallen political ideology in the shapes of physical objects and structures.