The TTFF New Media showing on September 18 presented films which were all evocative in some way of the pressures that influence people in the most basic interactions in their modern everyday lives. Four pieces by filmmakers from across the Caribbean and T&T were displayed at the Medulla Gallery.
‘Pocket Lining’ by Lauren Marsden (T&T, Canada) showed a looped video of a man in an old-fashioned many-pocketed jacket, moving a bill from one pocket to another in endless succession. It seemed to embody the futile shuffle of money from one place to another to make ends meet. The anonymity of the piece, as the man’s head was not shown, only served to further emphasize that many people face this struggle, often without the knowledge of those around them.
The piece, ‘The Naked Truth’, by Kareem Mortimer (Bahamas), showed a white woman being painted black and a black man being painted white. The transformation was startling as all trace of their natural skin colour was erased, due to the type of paint being used, similar to the paint used for Blue Devils and Black Devils during Carnival. As they were being painted, they talked about their experiences of being their particular race in a Bahamian context.
Horacio Hospedales’ film, ’13 Bits, Power Tools & Accessories’, comprised 16 minutes’ worth of 15 second videos. At times terrifying, at other times tedious, it showcased starkly beautiful images of nature interspersed with mundane or surreal images as well as repeated imagery showing Hospedales.
“The work I produced today allowed me to explore how we go about diluting and ingesting media. Social media has allowed further experimentation with art. I built the clips around Instagram’s 15-second video format which viewers can watch without all the distractions that come up during a longer movie. It makes the viewer realize how fast-paced we are and the focus we’ve lost. What I’ve offered is the Youtube viewing experience but I’ve locked the viewer into a timeline, so they no longer have an option to jump out on their own sidebar. The continuity and poetic aspect would be the words that connect all the videos.”
“I started to work in fractions of seconds to get this almost calming meditative sequence, like you sitting there thinking on your own. We don’t realize how many points of reference go through our minds on a daily basis but they’re never chaotic.” Hospedales said “one of the things I found interesting was that when I was younger, there was the phrase “15 minutes of fame” but now using Instagram’s template for video, it’s 15 seconds and I realize that that’s the modern interpretation of that phrase. Most of the viral videos that work really well are less than 15 seconds because we just don’t have the time to watch anything else, we don’t have the attention span to pursue anything else, which is not a bad thing, because we need to get to wherever we need to go fast, who knows why, but there’s something that’s driving us to think less about things and act out more. We just don’t have time and I hope I was able to show this in this video.”
The final film of the night ‘Invisible Landscape’ by artist Sandra Vivas from Dominica, showed the artist dancing nude inside a black cloth envelope. It was beautiful but terrifying, as she created abstract shapes in black against a background of sun, sand and water. One got a sense of being smothered even though there was beauty all around.
Vivas said “The piece came from reflections on the history of art in Venezuela, which is very abstract geometric space, and asking where do I fit in and realizing that I basically don’t. It’s also an interrogation on how do I deal with feeling invisible, as a woman, with my skin colour and as someone living on a tiny island that no-one knows. Also being a woman in the Arts, it’s hard to get noticed and as a very famous art critic said “when a male artist gets naked, he’s famous but if a female artist gets naked, she’s narcissistic.” So it’s also a reflection on women’s bodies without showing the body, because a woman’s body is so charged with so many mostly sexual connotations, and whatever you’re going to try to say, it’s going to be seen not how you want it to be seen but through the conditioning that we have, so that’s when I had the idea of being inside this sack and doing these abstract shapes that make reference to the landscape and the mountains but I also reference the burka and also the constraints that I felt moving from a large city like Caracas to a small island like Dominica.”
Both artists thanked the TTFF, ARC Magazine and Medulla Art Gallery for giving them the opportunity to display their work.