Thursday, 05 September, 6–9pm
Saturday, 14 September, 11am
Talk/conversation with Callum Hill
Film installation and research
Ends 28 September 2019
Callum Hill is researching two new films that consider the relationship between the UK and Ireland. Her approach uses fragments of personal experience, UK politics, metaphor, psychology, and folklore as connected parts of a prism that can reveal different perspectives. This method depends on cultural research. It also depends on learning about people’s thinking and their ways of seeing.
The project in PS² consist of two components; the screening of her most recent films and the research into a new project involving the participation of the public.
The two short films CROWTRAP (2017) and British Summer (2018) are guided by layered narratives, personal experience, and by real people and places. They arrive at complex psychological portraits and pivot on images of walls and fire.
Callum Hill will spend considerable time in PS², partly
to answer any questions about her films but foremost to hear stories from
visitors that are particular to Belfast.
As such the project has as a unique active quality, a listing project to gain understanding into local politics and personal stories which will inform the narrative and images of her new project.
Callum Hill is an artist filmmaker currently based between London
and Dublin. Her films move between psychological enquiry, politics and poetry.
They are characteristically unpredictable and erratic in narrative, and tend to
inhabit an existential and psychedelic mentality towards the human condition.
Hill is the winner of the Berwick New Cinema Award at the 2018 Berwick Film and
Media Arts Festival, as well as the Artist Film Award at the 2016 Aesthetica
Short Film Festival. From 2017-18 she participated in Film London’s FLAMIN
Fellowship and was artist-in-residence at Thomas Dane Gallery, Naples. She is
currently being supported by the Irish Museum of Modern Art 9IMMA) where she is
current in the research and development stage on two new film works.
About the films
35mm film transfer to video, 15 mins
seventy-nine pieces of the original Berlin wall have formed the contained space
of a coal yard in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. Born in the GDR, the man who created
and runs this charged site has a particularly haunted relationship to the
fragments of history. Through a fictionalised portrayal, Hill parallels this
an's story with that of a heather burner in North Yorkshire, who witnessed the
Piper Alpha Disaster of 1988. The dissonance within what he does now is perhaps
the crux of this visually-led psychological study of how we, as humans, engage
with the past. Hill’s engagement with these two central characters is framed by the real-life
narrative of Mary Richardson, the Canadian suffragette and serial arsonist.
Richardson is notorious for entering London's National Gallery in 1914 and slashing Velázquez’s painting, the Rokeby Venus, as a protest against the government’s ‘destruction’ of fellow suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. Conflating the ‘artistic as well as moral and political humbug and hypocrisy’ that fuels state-led oppression, the contemporary resonance of this historical event is drawn upon by Hill in a gesture to the UK’s current political climate and its imminent withdrawal from the EU. Itself embedded with contradiction – Richardson later went on to head the women’s section of the British Union of Fascists – her story highlights the uncomfortable proximity of revolution and freedom to radicalism and authoritarianism.
The ‘wall’ is a recurring motif within Crowtrap: the fragments of the Berlin coal yard, the walls of fire cutting through the moors of heather, the slashed back of Venus, and the cage that houses the film’s eponymous bird. Hill shifts this image from one of containment, even entrapment, to a metaphor for the mind and an object with political agency. The energy of fire – its ability to destroy, seduce, control, galvanise and enlighten – becomes the counterpart tension to Hill’s narrative, the erratic movement of which is guided by the artist herself. Her presence as both a narrator and character within Crowtrap is key to the film's folding and unfolding across times and spaces that are both real and imagined.
35mm film transfer to video, 4 mins
was shot on midsummer 2017 during the early production of Crowtrap, days after the Grenfell Tower tragedy. The image of the
tower is juxtaposed with shots of Stonehenge. The work exists as a literal
document of the physical and social landscape of the UK at this time and as a
record of the political tensions between government and country that continue
to resonate and reverberate as the injustices of of the Grenfell disaster
remain unresolved and unaccounted for.
The work was intended to be made for public installation existing almost as as political billboard message (Focal Point, Essex) or as historical reference (LUX library, London) The film closes with the following text: On June 14th 2017 / 72 people died in a fire that should have been avoided / still no arrests / still people left without homes / still no justice / multi millions are invested into Stonehenge / Their current campaign slogan / ‘Step into England’ / Justice for Grenfell.
Image top: Callum Hill, Cowtrap, still.