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This is not a pier

By Sarah E. Turner


(15 mins)\ud Commissioned short film that responds to the AHRC Poetry Beyond Text project. Catalogue and tour. Tour opened at Dundee contemporary arts, March 2011.\ud \ud Sarah Turner has created a film for this project in which the artist contemplates the effect of traces. Film and photography, as a process, record the moment; Roland Barthes makes a critical observation when he states: "In an initial period, Photography, in order to surprise, photographs the notable; but soon, by a familiar reversal, it decrees notable whatever it photographs. The 'anything whatever' then becomes the sophisticated acme of value." For Turner, the fact that film is a photographic process made by things-as-they-are stands in contrast with the representation they become after the fact. She says about this work:\ud \ud Magritte’s painting Ceci n’est pas une pipe stages the battle between words and images; the thing and the representation of the thing. There, neither is nor; the painted word and the painted image are a punning paradox, a playful staging of the arbitrary nature of both the visual and linguistic contract. Indexicality in film both taunts and haunts us with the idea that the thing is in fact the thing. Equally, language in cinema, mostly experienced as subtitles, is always authoritative; asserting, translating and determining the image. But film is always a haunting; a memory work. In the first sequence of the film we see thousands of starlings perform their murmuration over Brighton’s West Pier, which was closed to the public in 1975. The birds’ aerial ballet is poetry beyond text; the pier is no longer a pier but its ravaged structure forms the starling’s winter roost. When the sequence is repeated with subtitles, the affective experience of the visual choreography is reinterpreted, disrupted by the authority of text. But the words here are a language play, a non-play, a punning play on what is and isn’t a pier or appearing; the long planned restoration. All of this is displaced by the final title card: The pier was demolished in 2010. The experience of the birds exists only in memory, the experience of the first sequence: the memory that we no longer have access to, reinterpreted and undone by language, and, finally undone by history …\u

Topics: N1
Publisher: AHRC
Year: 2011
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