Arcadia Missa, Screening Room 2018


Emoji summary: ☁️ 👃🏾 ⌛️

so, this is a bit of a sticky one this week my friends. not sticky bad, sticky as in texturally. i feel like writing this, i am peeling velcro apart or pulling jackfruit flesh apart w my hands. it’s a nice n whole feeling, I am glad to be turning this in on itself ever so slightly. This week I went to go see Arcadia Missa’s Screening Room 2018, j popped my head in for an hour or so while I was dashing from point to point. Gallery as pitstop on an itemised tour, a packed itinerary; meeting, look at art, eat, go gym, shisha n hang out in the passenger seat of my cousin’s VW golf.

I don’t think it’d be too valuable to talk about this as a Show, bc idk if it was. Or at least not in the sense i’m used to. Screening Room was just that, a screening room, a running order and a timetable. not a show really, just a chance to watch all the stuff that exists out there as private vimeo links. except it’s public, you’re watching in a gallery not ur bedroom;;;; it’s a pocket to fall into, if only for a while. No frills, no fat, just a projector and a cushion; you pop your head into their lil space and stay as long as you can before your leg falls asleep. i appreciated the focus and the scale; I didn’t walk out feeling cheated by the imbalance in time spent getting there//time spent in there, i paid attention the same way i would’ve in a set screening where i’m held captive by the weight of being part of Audience(TM), but it was also generous in a way that set screenings aren’t (i have never walked out of a movie, n i’m scared of people who have). By the time I publish this, Screening Room will be closed;; it was only open for 4 days. i j appreciate the scale n size. I think London sometimes feels like it lacks this smallness (not literally, n not RE: the institution) but w the lack of spectacle n polish. Everything can feel v buffed at times, even the slack stuff that’s too cool to care feels botched on purpose. Screening Room felt like a genuine stretch into Good New Format, without tryna make itself seem successful first time round, n i appreciated it. I wana see it again but different.

I wana talk about 3 specific works I saw rather than j Screening Room generally n i wana zoom in on them n not rly talk about them in relation to each other so i’m j gona do that w headers bc i am into performative syntax (like performative utterance but like,,, not).


rubber plants & shaky roads, a lil passport sized photo of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the middle of a washed out palm (it crumples flatly, i blink slow n realise it was cut n pasted on? is this post-production? sksk). a clean image, legs dangle from a toilet, shaking violently. When i was 14 i ate a Roshgullah from a street stand in Dhaka n i shat n vommed bile (simultaneously) for 12 hours almost immediately afterwards. My cousins spoke in hushed tones as they passed the bathroom I was holed up in. My Aunt knocked on the door only once to leave a plate of toast biscuits on a small plate by the door. I sicked them up as soon as i swallowed them. I spent so much of watching this film remembering all the weird n small, gross moments I’ve been witness to in Bangladesh. A baby cockroach belly-up, dead on the marble-tiled floor of the lobby in my uncle’s apartment block // a really huge, probably human, unhealthily yellow-ochre, shit on the pavement next to the gates of Ahsan Manjil in Old Dhaka // the sound of my great-uncle tryna hawk up a fish bone for 2 hours, just wandering round his apartment w a raking “kkkkkkkkuuuuuuhkhhhhhhhh” that i could hear from the balcony as i tried to smoke my cigarette in peace. This film felt like half a love song, ((i can’t tell where the other half was)). i didn’t pay enough attention to the words flashing up on screen;; they moved slow to a rhythm i couldn’t hear, and i was too busy thinking about when I was last in Dhaka, a 5 day old stray puppy w foggy eyes followed me through the port market and i scooped it up and held it to my chest the entire walk back home; and how it made my aunt scream when she saw I was holding it. i remember my Dadi sat me down that evening and said “you really scared Nusi khala, i think you should apologise, she thought you were holding a big rat” sksksks. There was a shot of a body tangled on the floor in white hotel sheets, leg draped half on half off the bed, cut off at the shoulders, back facing camera. White tube socks, the sound of air con. it made me shudder, but i thought it was so cleanly beautiful. i viewed this film purely through the space of my own memories, but i am glad for having been allowed that space. that felt like a type of generosity beyond aesthetic.


there’s something rly ephemeral or (?) (idk the word) that I like about this work. maybe it’s the slight touch, soft hand well moisturised about it all. Its silence, its speech (the way it speaks) its sincerity n the way it deploys a specific kind of authenticity in the depiction of Struggle™. Its bare honesty w it all. it is admission n testimony both; idk why those feel like distinct categories, but they do. I have written about this film before, in 2017(?) [link] when I saw it at Jerwood. But idk if i can sit where i stood that time round. i j remember the last time i saw this work i was a whole different human, my face, my hair, my heart, i have exfoliated a whole character arc away from her since I last saw you. This time round, i j remember thinking bout the word ~deft~~~~. Where it so easily could slip into trope or ism or self-serving selective reflection; this film looks outwards also. Maybe that’s to do with they way it launches or launders Aesthetic™? n i am not settled on a definition of what i mean when i say that. i j know i felt something move when text flashed up on screen saying: “i am two generations gone from mud huts and bare feet”. Where that could fall into plagiarism of Akash’s ironic diaspora poetry (“shout out 1947”) something makes it turn its gaze outwards, and i am no closer to figuring out what that is, like a year n a half later. It all feels loaded on my back as I try n bear the weight of dismantling it all. Heavy pull focus, blink and waver. I hope this review of the work speaks selectively. It would match well w the way the work moves; text & image, grain to grain.


I think it’s funny how this work rejects being photographed all in one go. it rejects sliding neatly into ur insta feed in one post, that one word flashes up at any one time so i gave up tryna take a picture for this review. Wallahi, I get a real kick out of that. i had to google what syncopation means today (for something else entirely unrelated) but I’m glad i did, bc now I’m writing about this work, i can pepper it in to sound cleverer. There is something funny about an offbeat, something funny about being jarred. I am interested in what it means/would look like to harmonise w rhythm instead of tone. I wonder if it’d look like this, words n sound flashing up in harmonious but not synchronised rhythm. Something about it means i never really read the words and instead I follow their shape or their shadow. I have nothing but affect n reaction pics for this work n that is entirely to do w m own bad eyesight n dodgy attention span.


I am quite scared of writing something w commitment about Hannah Black’s work. She has the aura of a Clever Person; and I am distinctly aware that I am not a Clever Person (n i have no desire to nosedive into chasing that). But I worry that my reactions to her work swivel from Wild Affect Unbound, to Mild Fear and Slightly Arousing Terror, a 50/50 split almost always. I worry that there’s no middle ground or grey area. Where Powercut felt like Wild Affect Unbound, Credits felt like Mild Fear and Slightly Arousing Terror. I think it was in its silence, it was like charades in that silence. Like I was trying to interpret but I couldn’t read the response? I think this was all a big play on Credits (at the end of a movie) n Credit (finance n stuff) but i also know that i’m not clever enough to claim to understand what credit actually is or means, or how it functions, or TBH WHY IT EXISTS. All i know is one time when I used to smoke, i watched that Michael Moore doc about Wall St after having a lil bedtime zoot n i fell asleep halfway through but it bled into my dreams and i woke up 3 hours later sweating and deeply worried about capitalism. n while this mini-review might still feel like I am channeling BodyKnowledge, it's less like I am writing through affect, n more like I am tryna put words into the void i felt between me n the work. Beyond kinda getting it, the credits//credit plot-point n missing the point about masks n how they function as useful objects; this work scared me. I felt like I was talking to my parent’s friends n they were asking me what my 5 year plan was; j stood blinking at me as I sweat lightly n stutter about how i think there is no such thing as certainty. I worry this sounds like a Bad Review, but i don’t think it is. This is j the point at which my leg fell asleep.

Screening Room 2018 was on at Arcadia Missa for just this week, in their new (not so new anymore) space on Brewer St. Although it was only open for 4 days, i did rly enjoy the format. Normally I get quite sad when I write about things that have closed, bc it presumes that you either saw it/u didn’t n sometimes that feels like it operates on exclusion like “u had to be there man”. but this time i don’t rly feel that, n i think that’s bc i hope it’ll happen again j with a different menu/list of works. n i think I see value in it being small n not necessarily universally seen.

a naked body sits bent over uncomfortable on a white stool and there is a black bag over their head like you might see a hostage forced to wear

a hand holds a tiny passport picture of a man with a moustache and glasses

a half naked body is seen fallen out of bed covered with the bed sheets

a man in security gear walks through an overgrown spaces with the caption over top that says I have these pale dreams

a CGI forest with a dramatic red sky