Saturday, May 07, 2016

We can't compete

Been inundated with things this month and lo! It's May. So, time to get back to blogging.

This week I ventured over to artists' space to see films by Deirdre Logue and Allyson Mitchell, visiting from Toronto, where they run the Feminist Art Gallery or FAG, "an irresistible acronym", as one of their pieces had it, drawing a laugh from the audience.

The programme interspersed Allyson and Deirdre's films, as although the collaborate in art and life, they don't actually make films together, which is interesting. The post-screening Q&A didn't really touch on this, though it did touch on how they keep their public and private lives separate, when they are so entangled--FAG is based at their house, for instance, and they seek to make it an open space, where many under-represented groups can find a platform. How, moderator Karen Mirza wondered, did that work? Mitchell and Logue allowed that they were still working through that, as FAG has put them on the edge of bankruptcy and it hasn't proven the seed they quite hoped. As with Ladyfest, they hoped others would take the model and transplant it. Logue and Mitchell differed on the success of this mission.

They have very different styles, which is apparent in the films shown. Logue's were very autobiographical and often quite intense. Tape, which drew many comments, is quite visceral and disturbing in its presentation, with a discordant popping soundtrack that punctuates Logue's efforts to tape and untape her face. Mitchell's work tends to be quite playful, with elements of kitsch and satire. Intro to FAG, which I have quoted above includes the refrain "We can't compete/we won't compete" in a distorted vocal that runs over quite a catchy dance track. I pondered what it means to not compete. Not compete with other women? With the dominant structures? Other galleries? It sounds like a very feminist ideology. And one you can dance too, as well.

I have read Mitchell's article on Deep Lez, as well as attending the duo's Killjoy's Kastle installation and talk at Flare two years ago. Their film oeuvre offers additional insight into their practice.