A six-week online screening programme curated by Tess Charnley
Kihlberg & Henry This Building, This Breath</em> (2015)

Kihlberg & Henry This Building, This Breath (2015)
Video with live voiceover Commissioned by fig-2,
supported by the Art Fund, Outset, and Arts Council England

20th April - 31st May 2020


For its first online exhibition, the gallery presents a screening programme of video and film works by Kihlberg & Henry; Neville Gabie; Oona Grimes; David Cotterrell; Paulette Phillips; and Suky Best, curated by Tess Charnley. This presentation will occur over the course of six weeks with a new work made available for streaming each week. The works explore ideas of spatial and bodily interiority and exteriority, solitude, communication and the elasticity of time; topics that resonate in this time of altered living (within and without our selves). They allude to the possibilities of healing, as well as the complexities that arise with this repair.

Each work will be available to stream on the gallery website and also through the gallery mail out.

Screening Schedule:

W/C 20th April: Oona Grimes | u.e u.
W/C 27th April: David Cotterrell | Mirror III: Horizon
W/C 4th May: Kihlberg & Henry | This Building, This Breath
W/C 11th May: Neville Gabie | Experiments in Black and White XXX
W/C 18th May: Suky Best | The Sea House
W/C 25th May: Paulette Phillips | The Quoddy Fold


For more information on the artists and the work screened please click here.

Week One:  Oona Grimes | u.e u.
20th - 26th April

Oona Grimes  u.e u.   2018   iphone and 16mm film   duration: 9 mins 28 secs

Oona Grimes’ u.e u. is one in a series of film works, born out of her six month Bridget Riley Fellowship at the British School at Rome. Referencing (and intersplicing) scenes from Passolini’s neorealist film Uccellacci e uccellini, the work is a collaged dance between Grimes and the birds, between iphone technology and 16mm film, situated in Rome’s deserted streets. We see Grimes repeat gestures, drawing the acts of birds with her body, drawing herself onto film, until she becomes one of the sparrows.

Birdsong and church bells are the primary sounds of the film, with sound overlayed from Passolini’s original. A man’s sobbing is enacted by Grimes and the blur of Italian speech steams through the work; fragmented conversation heard and then forgotten. The same scenes are repeated in both silence and sound, as though we are submerged in and out of water, or hands have been clasped over our ears. ‘Amore! AMORE’ is the cry that cuts through even the hawk’s screech, and the words appear again in the film’s last shot - hidden amongst the graffitied steps down which Grimes leaves the frame. The work speaks to the dislocation of solitude, the prayer and play that we find within ourselves. Bells chiming, birds singing. Nothing to be done.

Week Two:  David Cotterrell | Mirror III Horizon
27th April - 3rd May

David Cotterrell  Mirror III Horizon  2016  2 Channel HD Projection, Custom Morse Code Generators and iOs App   duration: 10 mins 06 secs HD video
Made in collaboration with Ruwanthie de Chickera

Mirror III: Horizon, part of David Cotterrell’s Mirror series, is a collaboration between Cotterrell and Ruwanthie de Chickera. The footage was produced simultaneously on land and at sea, off the coast of Malta against the backdrop of the refugee crisis, using marine lights and customfabricated morse code generators. The work explores light as a frayed rope of connection between two strangers, underpinned by a sense of imminent danger, its resolution delayed by the glitches that come with communicating across space and time.

The screen is split, the stillness of the shore contrasted with the movement of the boat at sea. We see the lights stop and start, the morse code translated as the messages are received. The communication is dislocated, the work an exercise in mistranslation. We know the stranger on the boat needs help and we are given the words ‘lost’ and ‘child’, but are they a child who is lost, or someone who is pregnant? A mother who has lost their child? As the communication unfurls, the rocking of the boat reminds us of a baby’s rocking, its silence ominous. The work evokes the sense of strangulation when communication fails; the powerlessness we feel when technology glitches; the loaded fear generated by a lack of response.

Week Three:  Kihlberg & Henry | This Building, This Breath
4th - 10th May

Kihlberg & Henry This Building, This Breath 2015
video with live voiceover (video version), commissioned by fig-2, supported by the Art Fund, Outset, and Arts Council England duration: 17 mins 34 secs

Kihlberg & Henry’s This Building, This Breath is an exercise in the elasticity of time, using pace, breath and rhythm to play with the frequencies of calm and anxiety. Beginning with the metronomic sound of a record player’s revolutions, turning without a track, we are reminded of the second hand of a clock turning, of our own heartbeats fractioning our time. ‘Breath is the punctuation of your death’ the voiceover tells us. The voice is instructive, a guided meditation or perhaps a hypnosis, directing the viewer that ‘when ten minutes has elapsed you will breathe in time with the room’. Time is counted while found footage overwhelms our vision, too much to take in at once. The countdown gives its viewing a sense of urgency, of something unspoken impending. The imagery is erratic; a pair of lungs inflating, countless windowless rooms, boarded up buildings, elevators in free-fall, earthquake simulators, tsunamis carrying houses on their wave. Some of the footage is real, some from films, all tinged with blue. We are disorientated by our inability to distinguish between fiction and reality.

‘The room has no clock, no window, no time. If the outside world were in free-fall you would not notice.’ This line from the voiceover seems particularly relevant now; we sit in isolation waiting for a future that is indefinable while time wears on, the trajectory of our lives thinning, confined by viral threat. When the countdown has ended and the minutes have passed, windowless buildings are projected on the screen while Roy Orbison’s House Without Windows plays, the music an unnerving but welcome anticlimax to the work’s stirring anxiety. The metronomic sound starts again and the work reverts to where it began, our vision wiped clean of what we have seen, an opportunity to start anew if we remain in these buildings, with our breath.

Please note: The artists recommend that the work is viewed full screen in a dark room, preferably with no windows.

Week Four:  Neville Gabie | Experiments in Black and White XXX
11th - 17th May

Neville Gabie  Experiments in Black and White XXX  2020  video still  drawing with black marker pen
duration: 7 mins 09 secs

Neville Gabie’s film Experiments in Black and White XXX begins with a story, or a fragment of a story, its words appearing on a white screen disrupted by a pair of empty black shoes. We are told of a child who liked to climb trees in search of mangoes, whose movement is now restricted: ‘soon I could no longer lift my foot.’ The story comes from Mrs Begum, a woman Gabie visited several times as part of a research project, learning about her debilitating experience of Motor Neurone disease, wheelchair bound and limited in her movements.

The work sees Gabie, suit-clad, step into the empty shoes, nailed to the floor. He creates a drawing, maximising the reach of his body’s span without moving from the shoes. He lies down when needs be, protracting the energy of his drawing, the energy of his body, as far as it will go. The work is a play in restriction. Gabie imposes limits on his range of movement, marking where his body can go with his pen, constraining his body as a reminder of the inches and metres between the range of bodies’ movements; how not all bodies can operate without effort, without assistance. Made during lockdown, the work is overlaid by a soundscape; field recordings of bird song combined with a recording of an MRI machine in operation. The rhythm of Gabie’s drawing, the pattern of its editing - flexing time - aligns with the MRI’s mechanical drone and clunk. We are reminded of the unseen hum of the NHS at this time, the birds that have become louder as planes vanish; the soundtrack to our confinement - rooted to the spot, mapping out the time of our limitation.


Week Five:  Suky Best | The Sea House
18th - 24th May

Suky Best  The Sea House  2014  moving collage with sound
duration: 7 mins

Suky Best’s work, The Sea House (2014), begins as it ends; a black screen enveloped by the sounds of the sea. The work is a moving collage; images of historic interiors combined with live footage of the sea. Each separate interior in the collage has its own individual sea; some swelling and crashing, others gently lapping at the carpeted coast. At one point the sea even seems to emerge from the mouth of a fireplace, water-logging piano legs, its wildness threatening this man-made fragility. The work’s metronomic effect emerges not only from the sea soundscape but from the moving slit in the image, revealing the visual collage only in fragments, allowing us to peer into this collaged world through a segment of a screen that is primarily black. The obfuscation focuses our gaze on the details of the interiors; our eyes following the slit in the screen, left to right and back again, in the same way they might follow a hypnotist’s pendulum. The collaging is intentionally clunky in places, adding to the surreal nature of the work - we know the sea has not actually invaded these rooms but can we be sure? The fact that the work is in black and white confuses this further; we register the sea on the same visual plane as the room’s interiors, the only clue of its fictitiousness in the collage’s disjunctions.

 I watch this work on a countless day of COVID-19 induced self-isolation. Half an hour passes and I find that I have watched the work on loop, four times. There is something mesmeric about it, something soothing in a time of such high-anxiety. This is partially the magic of the sea, its healing qualities effective even through the transposition of its sound into a London flat, where in confinement I could not feel further from its salty sting. It is a metronome, marking the passing of time with its tides; with the soporific rumble of its body, retreating outwards and crashing inwards - dredging up and vanishing the grit from its bed, all in the same breath. The white noise of the sea underpinning Best’s collage draws us into the work’s imagery; lulls us into a rhythmic looking. At a time when many of us are facing empty rooms, we can take comfort in this work, rocked in our homes by the work’s lulling sounds.

Please note: The artist recommends that the work is viewed on a continual loop.

Week Six:  Paulette Phillips | The Quoddy Fold
25th - 31st May

Paulette Phillips  The Quoddy Fold  2019  film
duration: 56 mins 11 sec

We are living in a state of impermanence: a ‘new normal’, the transience of which defies normality. ‘Normal’ implies consistency, an unchanging state of affairs - the touch stone from which everything else is measured. But this is impossible at the moment. The realities which we may have positioned as concrete, as normal (our freedom of movement, our jobs, our abilities to stay afloat financially) have been turned to rubble by the COVID-19 pandemic and we have been exposed to the precariousness and impermanence of our existence. In Paulette Phillips’ film The Quoddy Fold she explores this impermanence and the porosity between the natural and the manmade, between life and decay through a quiet and poetic lens. The work documents the interaction between a woman and a derelict costal house. Ice thaws and cracks on the rocky beach beyond the house, mimicking the cracked sheets of wallpaper she pulls from the house’s walls, traces of past lives pondered and discarded. Cobwebs glisten and sway to the soundtrack of the wind; a snail marks its curious path around the lip of a vessel filled with water, the threat of its drowning evaded. The camera work is soothing, keeping close to the details, an investigative eye seeking the tensions where the house has invaded its surroundings and so it, in turn, has been invaded. The woman’s presence is ghostly and ephemeral, hardly noticed by the surrounding trees, hundreds of years old. The house decays as its surrounding landscape ebbs and flows in the consistency of its existence. Its interior and exterior worlds seep into each other, returning to nature as we must do now.