Ripples on the Pond
Thursday 21 April 2016
6 – 7.30 pm
Last night was the final event in the Ripples on the Pond programme before the exhibition closes. It was a beautiful screening programmed by Modern Edinburgh Film School in discussion with Nashashibi and thank you very much to everyone who came along to witness the works in the exhibition. A huge thank you to Rosalind Nashashibi and LUX, London for the chance to screen these works in the exhibition. Thank you also to Luke Collins for his calm and collected work as projectionist on the night, Rob Kennedy for his help with the gallery’s projector and foresight about the spare bulb! and Alex Hetherington for A Poetic Measurement in Ripples on the Pond.
The following is an edit of Alex Hetherington’s introduction.
My communications with Rosalind surrounded siting the works off-site, at the temporary studio and lecture spaces at Tontine House, in Trongate, and a wonderful idea that one of those spaces might be the room where Glasgow City Council once repaired its street lighting. This off-site idea, away from the gallery, away from the principal site of the art school made me interested in paring back the material behaviour of the museum and conduct her talk as a kind of spoken-word performance, through and with a selection of her films including Electrical Gaza (2015), and definitely an expansion on Carlo’s Vision (2011), so eloquently and magically expressed at An Endless Theatre. An Endless Theatre; the convergence of contemporary art and anthropology in observational cinema was a screening event and symposium at the University of Edinburgh programmed by the artist Karen Cunningham and Richard Braxtrom, a lecturer in film and anthropology. Rosalind screened Carlo’s Vision and then spoke about her work. I observed that thinking/speaking thing that I sense I might have, but to a different degree.
I envisaged the screening with Rosalind would be a studio discussion, masterclass and intimate portrait using conversation, film, stills, stopping the projector, moving between projectors, and microphones, and a relaxed sensibility, reproducing the agility of her thinking and talking as she discusses the development of her practice and its place alongside and within moving image histories, its generations and ideas and developments . The project here is part screening, part unfolding of a film essay, A Poetic Measurement,* the sister-collection that brings from the page and into the space of this collection. How Rosalind’s works work with the material in the exhibition, what it expands, voices, layers, changes and disrupts, how her eye becomes a camera. The film programme would have brought films by Nashashibi/Skaer, and discuss how artists might work with film as a medium together, but we decided to focus on three works from her practice. I wanted to also allow film to be seen in the place of drawing and for correlations to be revealed, as part of this year of discussion on film and works on paper, in this short event, and finally with the editions to allow film to return to works on paper, and to allow them to be distributed and remembered through that form.
* Commissioned for GoMA by Affiliate: Rethinking Collections, (a University of Glasgow programme funded by Creative Scotland)
The Painter (2013)
An artist is at work in The Painter (2013)—uniformed elegantly in paint-splattered shoes and work-wear—yet another unseen artist is observing, directing, framing off-screen. Nashashibi films more than the work itself, and large, muscular, abstract paintings emerge from a combination of energetic and economic gestures. With unflinching pragmatism, the painter pushes and pours muted viscous matter, surprisingly, with a mop. Eventually, the focus shifts to a drawing of a smiling girl atop a horse—tail raised, issuing a pile of dung. It’s by the painter’s daughter. – See more here
Carlo’s Vision (2011)
“There is a young man, The Shit, and his fiancée, whose name, it seems, is Cinzia. At the start of the Vision these two young people are passing the traffic lights at the intersections of Via Casilina and Via di Torpignattara. Carlo, the one who is watching, observes them coming toward him: in fact, he is in the middle of Via di Torpignattara, on a cart with cork wheels, exactly like a director on a dolly. There is a long, slow backward tracking shot. Pulling the cart . . . are three Gods, whom Carlo, however, sitting on the tailgate, with his back to the shaft, cannot see.”
— Pier Paolo Pasolini, Petrolio.
So reads a passage from Pasolini’s sprawling, epic novel, Petrolio, first published in unfinished form seventeen years after his murder in 1975. Inspired by the film treatment style of this section of the novel, Nashashibi has taken the protagonists, the props and the location, transported them into the present day and used them as the departure point for her 16mm film,Carlo’s Vision. The result is a mixture of observational documentary and fiction, in which Carlo, contemplates the long march of a young man and his fiancée, while being towed backwards by three gods, two speaking and one silent. Although he has his back to them he can hear what they are thinking, as two distinct interior monologues. The two prophetic figures provide an interpretation of what Carlo is witnessing, commenting on the past and present governance of Rome, and focusing on class and sexuality as manipulated today by Italy’s power structures.
Jack Straw’s Castle (2009)
Jack Straw’s Castle – the title is itself a ruse: the film is named for a Hampstead pub, not the UK’s Secretary of State for Justice – is all about the time and space of rehearsal: in both halves of the film, the milieu is male and the rules of the ritual being enacted remain enigmatic to the viewer, whose gaze is both an invasion of privacy and an invitation to perform. (Nashashibi’s own mother appears in the second half of the film, apparently playing the director for whom the whole spectacle is being composed). A theatrical rehearsal, as Shakespeare’s ‘rude mechanicals’ discover, is a curious space and time in which one performs the role of actor and acted – the mask slips, unfinished scenery fails to convince, timings are botched and bathos or obscenity intrudes: ‘I kiss the wall’s hole, not your lips at all.’ The film folds back on itself, suggesting that its verité first half is a carefully erected sham.
As part of Nashashibi’s most expansive solo show to date, in 2009, Jack Straw’s Castle was the more suggestive of two new works concerned with aspects of rehearsal and performance.
Rollcall of Thanks
I had a wonderful talk with Rosalind in her studio at Bluecoat in Liverpool and the structure for the screening came out of that conversation.
I’d also like to thank Katie Bruce, everyone at GoMA, LUX, LUX Scotland, Tina Fiske, Sarah Neely, Richard Taylor, Ainslie Roddick, Francis McKee, Luke Collins, Ben Cook, everyone at GSS, everyone at CCA, especially Kenny Christie, the team at Old Hairdressers, Jenny Brownrigg at GSA, Laura Edbrook and MAP, and the artists Catherine Street, Allison Gibbs, Rosalind Nashashibi, Anne-Marie Copestake, Mairi Lafferty, Annabel Nicholson, Ruth Barker, Karen Cunningham, Sarah Forrest, Lauren Gault and Anne Colvin for hard work, generosity, space and time, insights, wonderful events and total confidence in the project and me; equally to the speakers Iain Morrison, Glyn Davis, Suzanne van der Lingen and Angela McClanahan. Also to artists like Oliver Mezger, Lucy Reynolds and to Richard Taylor for offering up insights into the practice of writing about and speaking about moving image. A special thanks to the audiences who came and came back to the gallery and its events.
Alex Hetherington, April 2015
Rosalind Nashashibi Biography
Rosalind Nashashibi, born 1973 in Croydon, UK, studied at Glasgow School of Art. She has had numerous solo shows including those at Tate Britain; Chisenhale Gallery, London; Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; ICA London; Bergen Kunsthall; Berkeley Art Museum. She represented Scotland at the 52nd Venice Biennale, and has participated in Manifesta 7, Sharjah 10 and the 5th Berlin Biennial with Lucy Skaer in their collaboration as Nashashibi/Skaer. She presented a solo show at Objectif Exhibitions in Antwerp in 2014 and an Imperial War Museum commission on Gaza in 2015. She lives and works in Liverpool.
Rosalind Nashashibi works with film, sculpture, print and photography. Her films combine close observation of everyday life with dramatically constructed scenes, in order to reveal the friction that occurs between the real and the fantastical or mythological. Her works often explore issues of control, internalized in citizens or exerted by the state.