Alexander Hetherington

Five Propositions, Towards a Scottish Collection of Artists’ Moving Image, CCA, Glasgow Panel Discussion and Screening Programme, CCA, Friday 13 January 2017

She closed her eyes and walked, hands outstretched until she came to a piece of furniture. Between her and the objects there was something, but whenever she caught that something in her hand, like a fly, and then peeked at it – though she was careful not to let anything escape – she only found her own hand, rosy pink and disappointed. Yes, I know the air, the air! But it was no use, it didn’t explain things. That was one of her secrets. She would never allow herself to say, even to her father, that she never managed to catch ‘the thing.’ Precisely the things that really mattered she couldn’t say. (Near to the Wild Heart, Clarissa Lispector, p. 6)


Something I observed on when presenting a set of works from Scotland in China was an insistence by an audience member that artists’ s film and moving image only emulated independent or experimental cinema and I intuitively know that some forms of storytelling or attempts at narrative evade the screen, that the material on screen are the ‘workings’, ’framings’ ‘attachments’, ‘contradictions and ambiguities’ of storytelling to find ways to articulate what cannot be expressed in that way, with those methods found in cinema, and that there are resolutely different kinds of screen, it is not just a method of transportation, the edge of narrative


I have come to understand from film and moving image that some subjects and ideas cannot be expressed only by what happens through and on screen, although most films do, some films are porous, circuitous, askew, that perhaps the opening or concluding parts to their experience might happen off screen held in a gesture, a phrase, an object, materials brought together, a performance and dispersed or distributed differently,


I am intrigued by where the content sits, where it spills out, where it stops, and where the artists first draws herself to the subject, what other things pass through that makes the subject more porous, rather than less, so that the subject is expanded by artists gaze or activity, the subject is slackened, unattached, made transparent,


I am understandably interested in the subject of learning with its difficulties, its repetitions, mistakes, returns, disciplines and influences, the meaning of learning, to learn a skill, learn a language, learn from the learning of film, I am interested in the elsewhereness of learning, and that hallucinating edge of concentration, focus, inside the thing,


I am drawn to gestures of the hand in film.


That line between fiction and reality that I discuss and present so frequently in my curatorial ideas, working with films and video by Rosalind Nashashibi (Lovely Young People, Jack Straw’s Castle), Lynsday Mann, Anna Lucas, Anne-Marie Copestake, Allison Gibbs, and Sarah Forrest to name a few.  Modern Edinburgh Film School is a fiction, it’s a false space, but is held together by forms of reality and engagements that allow it to be occupied by different presences, express the content by holding it within an object, alternative ideas of film held in an object or pursuable activity, expanded fiction, disrupted, interrupted documentary,


I am interested in how film discusses subjects like sculpture and ideas of ‘sculpture on screen’ how one thing can been seen through another, I am interested in how this film and this artist presents voice, time, tense, the present tense on screen, and the strange anomalies in the English language that describe the past as now, like looking at a screen of the past,


The woman described on-screen in this work moves from imagination to reality, and in some of the descriptions of her actions and words brought to mind the narrator in Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil, a voice-over detailing wholly fictionalised letters he wrote in the capacity of a fictionalised self, the still, the moving image, freeze frame, and the sound…


How this work worked in CURRENT in China in Mingsheng, at Pure Movement at K11 Art Foundation in Wuhan and at The Hallucinating Edge in Beijing, I have travelled with this work:


Pure Movement “In this screening artists engage with the performance of non-verbal gesture. expression and movement in physical, imaginary or illusionary spaces. The apparatus of the camera is evident in these works, drawing the mechanical or digital technologies of the lens closer to that of the operation of the eye and in turn to the workings of the mind.”


Hallucinating Edge: “In this screening artists explore different methodologies for the expression of their subjects which lie between real and imagined worlds and across past and present. This includes holding up mirrors to their own lives and the potential to create and inhabit alter-egos. Familiarity of subject and the mysteries of new discoveries overlap and in doing so stage and represent new possibilities.”


I am interested in how Sarah Forrest attaches and detaches the voice from the screen, that it points to objects and materials off-screen,


It brings to mind, some of other works and approaches for example Daria Martin’s Man and Mask, 16mm film from 2005, Daria Martin’s Soft Materials from 2004 and the interaction of intelligences in objects and touch, materials have intelligences, Corin Sworn’s Faktura, the nuances of movement, physical relationships with the inanimate, Lauren Gault’s sculptural and video works Granular and Crumb and Here Bianca! from 2013 and in the same year Georgina Starr’s Before Le Cervau Affamé, bounding ceramic objects, voice, intention, moving image and hallucination (from sleeplessness) together, and of interests I have in the use of film and moving image to be depositories for sculptural materials and the observation of properties of substances and their behaviours under different conditions, but also to demonstration films, oscillating between fiction and reality at imperceptible speeds, that might include Anna Lucas’ Gustav Graham and Lee from 2011, and Lucas’ recent film Workshop from 2016 imitating the cinematic screen-wipe through the movement of objects and surfaces and on-screen descriptive texts prefaced by the phrase “she said”, and Anna Lucas’ 2010 film Things that have had stories rubbed out, with collaged sequences of objects as screens and surfaces as blank screens, as even on a white page, there is something to be seen, everything to be seen


My proposition for the Collection is Sarah Forrest’s, The Pot, 2015, HD video with sound, 5 min 10 sec


Image courtesy of Sarah Forrest



Alexander Hetherington