In anticipation of the Tooth Fairy
As I work my way through this project I am becoming aware that my working process is evolving to be very sculptural. Initially I had a very fixed idea of where this piece was going – but now it has become much more open to evolution – in the way one might chip away at a block and try and reveal what lies hidden inside.
I was trying to explain to a lady I want to film for ‘when was NOW’ where exactly I was coming from . It goes like this:
“well when I was in Egypt there was a painting above the table where we used to have breakfast. Not a very good painting it has to be said, in the technical sense, but it was original and showed what appeared to be a Polynesian lady dancing in front of an ocean liner. It was meant to be a scene of joyous exuberance, but owing to the lack of painterly prowess on the part of the artist, the effect was much more of horror or distress – as if the ship was going to run her down. What i would like you to do is be an echo of that painting – but in your flat as the ships pass outside your window”…
Yes it does sound like a bizarre request, although, to be fair, said lady does actually own a flat which is situated directly opposite a fine view of a shipyard and various docks. She seems up for the challenge anyway – which requires that she makes an even more fatalistic leap than me in the overall scheme of things. I think I said something along the lines of “I’m not quite sure how it will work – but I know it will work”… can’t say fairer that that!
In the 80’s I did quite a lot of performance work. I remember doing a performance piece at Coventry events week where I had reduced the content down to a film projector with no film going through it, and used in as a blank frame of light which served as the entry point and focus of my performance. I had forced myself to omit content and to let whatever happened on the day take place. I sat on a high chair in front of the blank projector. It was probably the scariest piece I have ever made – and looking back one of the most successful. It certainly seemed to engage the audience. Maybe it was the danger of failure that gave it an edge.
I use that piece now as a mental yardstick when asking myself where I’m going with my work. Any time based medium, except unscripted live action, is relatively safe. You have the edit and/ or you have a script. I don’t currently have a solid script, but I do have the means to chip away and remodel what I shoot later – which is both a comfort and a safety net. So when I have my doubts about the sanity of my approach, I take myself back to Coventry with a wry smile.