La Rochelle 2011
What do you do from morning to night?
I endure myself.
(From THE TROUBLE WITH BEING BORN - E.M Cioran)
In the summer of 2010 I was artist-in-residence at Intermondes and the International Film Festival of La Rochelle. My ambition was to try and capture some of the town’s psyche and a little bit of its’ geography.
To this end I was aided by the photographer Sebastian Edge, his ancient wet collodion photographic techniques, a mobile dark room and his assistant Gloria Lin. I documented the making of a series of photographs that managed to capture a sense of ‘place’. Ever alert to the spirit of ‘timesgone’ I have edited sounds and images that evoke a somewhat off-kilter reading of all things Rochellaises.
The finished film is called ‘La Rochelle Est Une Ville’ and will be shown in conjunction with the photographs that Sebastian made.
Invented Realities or Documented Fantasies?
Formally the film asks questions about the relationship between what is ‘real’ and what is ‘invented’, what is ‘fiction’ and what is ‘documentary’, what is ‘psycho-geography’ and what is ‘autobiography’?
The Heart of the Work
This ambiguity is at the heart of what my work tries to convey and supports my interest in the notions of ‘expanded cinematic language’. I start with ‘documentary’ images but they are always moving towards something else. In the edit suite the gleaned material is juxtaposed using carefully constructed sound tracks and then presented on monitors or as large screen projections.
Found Sound and Found Image
I draw heavily upon my library of found sounds, old vinyl records, home movies and material from Screen Archive South East. The end results invariably have a sense of the archaeological about them and sometimes ‘feel’ as if they might have been discovered in the back of a drawer or in the attic. The hearer must find out the situation for himself and the viewer must sit and watch.
My practise is informed by a desire to turn up the volume on the emotion of ‘looking’, and this is helped by the way I show the work. It might be site-specific, such as forests, lakes and derelict buildings or more conventional spaces such as art galleries and cinemas.
Drawing on my own life has given the work focus and meaning over the years and shooting with super 8 cameras or lo-fi technology creates a sense of the home-movie aesthetic. These techniques have informed most of my practise and I have continued to develop them since my first experimental feature length documentary ‘Gallivant’.
My work has always been interested in the relationship between fiction and documentary. There is a strong desire to explore the notions of ‘spillage’ from one discipline into another. I ‘sculpt’ with sound and image in an attempt to construct unreliable truths and emotive documentary narratives.
The ‘poetic potential’ of happenstance and the everyday is another area of interest. The authentic is permanently subverted and ‘other ways of telling’ invariably take centre stage. The journey itself becomes one of the few reliable structures onto which the drama hangs and one which I return to with confidence. It might even allow the audience to know where they are.
The Pull of France
France pulls me to her bosoms. Over twenty years ago I bought a tumbledown farmhouse deep in the forests of the South West Pyrenees. I have made work there in situ such as Hoi Polloi, In the Wake of a Deadad, Ivul and Louyre-This Our Still Life as well as developing projects such as Gallivant, This Filthy Earth and Offshore. It is the hermetic and elemental experience that feeds me and I am happy with her rough and tumble embrace.
NB – La Rochelle Est Une Ville a été réalisé dans le cadre d’une résidence organisée en 2010 par le 38ème Festival International du Film de La Rochelle au Centre Intermondes de La Rochelle.