My Inarticulate Tongue
2 to 21 March 2014
Gabriella Beckhurst was born in Plymouth
She studied at Norwich University of the Arts
Gabriella currently lives and works in London
Questions asked by Phoebe O’Donnell to Gabriella Beckhurst on 27 February 2014.
Phoebe O’Donnell: Blue is a prominent colour in this exhibition. Is the colour significant?
Gabriella Beckhurst: Yes of sorts, the blue emerged from watching Derek Jarman’s last film Blue, made in 1993, the year before he passed due to AIDS related complications. It marks a slow degradation of his vision, while his medication caused him to see as if through a blue filter. Jarman’s idea of a ‘blue film’ evoked something very physical for me, the idea of a layer of film being pulled taut over the eyes, clouding logical judgment. It’s a film heavily marked by temporal associations, and yet the visual and auditory experience of watching Blue seems overwhelming dislocational, in an almost pious way, as though time could simultaneously render its viewer unaware as to how long they had been sitting there.
I find myself drawn to moments where filmmakers place these kinds of purist monochromatic frames within their films, to denote a chapter or interval. It parts the visual experience in an interesting way, hurling you back into the exhibition space like that. I enjoy the idea of moving-image having this push-pull effect, of being aware of the shape of the film. It falls into a quite structuralist way of filmmaking. This sudden collapse of falsified three-dimensional filmic space and action, the viewer momentarily faced with a single flatness. It’s also interesting, how in bringing the blue out of the film and projecting it into the gallery, it innately alters how the eye reads the architectural space. It felt for me to draw more of a diagonal path for the eye to follow, tracing the floor to the wall, sharply deviating along the beams then upwards to the skylights.
POD: I understand that you began as a painter, do you feel like this has had an influence on the way in which you approach film?
GB: I’ve never thought about this directly, but I suppose the way in which I approach film and video is in a sense, painterly. There’s an adoption of common elements, such as light, composition, the framing of the crop. I’ve always been drawn to the binary, to investigating some sort of conflict, and so aesthetically I find collage, and collagic processes of video appealing.
POD: Your previous work was very focused on architecture and objects. Can you talk about the shift to this more personal subject matter?
GB: Admittedly architecture and object-orientated constructs seem like a far cry from My Inarticulate Tongue. In the past I’ve been largely preoccupied by barren anachronic landscapes and metropolises, which seem visibly bereft of human presence, or a presence of the body. Yet I’ve continually worked through ideas of bodily association, of the body moving through architectural space. In a way I’ve transferred the architectonics of experience to a filmic, or cinematic space. It permits me to be more explorative of an immaterial spatiality.
This work pertains to a binary that I mentioned, an inner subjectivity, against an external dislocation, of an attempt to view something such as motherhood from an objective position, while remaining its subject. It navigates a relationship between mother and daughter, yet I don’t believe that it offers anything particularly personal. I was interested in it enacting more of an exploration of material, mutually filmic and corporeal.