A night of live cinema and performance old and new at BEEF in The Brunswick Club: home for experimental & expanded cinema. As a part of Low Light, collective-iz are coming to re-enact Annabel Nicolson’s Matches (1975) and to perform their own works: Light Time (Dickson, 2013); Media Blackout (Johns, 2017) and Lightning Strikes (Anastassiou, 2013). Gill Eatherley will perform her celebrated expanded cinema shadow work, Aperture Sweep (1973). BEEF’s Rod Maclachlan hand cranks the dimmest slowest 35mm film.
On reflection the resonances between work by Nicolson and Eatherley proliferate. BEEF have had to consider the strength of the screen for Aperture Sweep as it must be able to withstand the force of Eatherley sweeping it. On the two occasions when I’ve watched Aperture Sweep it had seemed that the screen was swept only lightly, the action primarily gestural. However David Curtis’ remark that Eatherley actually attempts to brush her own shadow off the screen caused me to rethink the degree of force necessary to enact this task.
The determined removal of ones own image also underpins Nicolson’s Reel Time (1973) in which Nicolson performs the sewing of a length of film bearing imagery of herself. The repeated running of the film through the wrong machine eventually causes the film and the imagery of the artist to break apart. This material disintegration is in contrast to the ‘unwavering’ live presence of Nicolson at the sewing machine (Lucy Reynolds, 2011).
The forcible removal/destruction of the artists own image shared by the two works raises many considerations, suggesting that: for Nicolson and Eatherley, or for female film-makers in the 70s , the representation of the female is weaker than her actual presence; the presence of performance endures over the past of the filmic event; to occupy roles as both domestic labourer and as public performer provokes an un-resolvable conflict.
A context for violence to the image of the female figure in experimental materialist film can be found. Film in Which Appear Edge Lettering, Sprocket Holes, Dirt Particles, etc (1966) by Owen Land is just one example that shows what female film-makers of that time were up against when putting their own image on the screen. To conclude- the re-enactment of Matches by all female group collective-iz is a fitting compliment to Aperture Sweep, both highly pertinent in 2019. And – a day before International Womens’ Day!
Reynolds in Expanded Cinema Art Performance and Film (2011) eds Ball, Curtis, Rees, White