Wu Tsang - Under Cinema @ FACT Liverpool


Emoji summary: 🌒👣🌱

i have watched a lot of films recently or tbh: since we went to the berwick film festival last year i haven’t been able to stop. maybe i gained a skill there 2 to finish my meal, idk. I got a mubi subscription on black friday and it’s just been on and on, nice, concentrated; like each film is a bit of an education. But i realised when I went to see Wu Tsang’s exhibition at FACT how bound films are to their own form/audience/identity as capital f Films, and how instead, art can afford the filmmaker room to be a liability, a lil weird, late, irritable, chaotic good. An artfilm can talk with food in its mouth and u still listen, or it can type something messy without autocorrect turned on and u still get what it’s trying to say. the actors are normal people; the lighting is a bit off but its fine. (I should spend time on vdrome.org ffs why do i always forget that website exists).

In the downstairs gallery at FACT, Tsang has a large wide film that opens with two children twisting around each other until they get to a field, slipping in crocs and makin eyes at the camera. it is called ‘We hold where study,’ n made in 2017. The image splits and on the right there r two dancers in an empty hall and on the left we stay in the field where a new body, tattooed and crying black, is fronting on the camera. there are small mirrors hiding amongst the grass. And everybody is moving in a way thats closer to dance than Performance Art;; it makes me feel relieved.

I enjoy the backdrops, like different settings in the same game.

so i watch Tsang’s dance sequences, not making any sense of how she has related each movement to its section title. ‘Assembly Line,’ ‘Consultant' etc. That’s an arty level i’m not aspiring to today, i’m not even thinking past the surface - half because i am low energy this morning and half bc the image is so activvvvvve. The left and right shots are being bent into one another, the overlap is faded and either warped or I’m imagining that. ‘We hold where study’ is down as two-channel but that comes off as art pedantics on the wall text, and unfair really when this film is 1 together like an oil puddle (an aesthetic that for me has long felt deviantart/tumblr/kind of emo?, but now belongs to itself again. i do NOT know what has changed in my life for me to see oil puddles differently, honestly. even rainbows feel genuine to me right now). but I’m watching the overlap and my eyes are being pulled around because the LITERAL camera action is amazingggg and swwwwwift. i swear to god there is a camera operator flying across the hall and the field, hello r u powered by Youtuber steady cam technology? the camera work is to be applauded clap clap, an unusual part to acknowledge but if u’ve seen it u’ll know;; how that movement is alien and careful (like the mad frame rate on the Finesse bruno mars/cardi b music video, but here tender and not poppy, being magic thru space).

* and the two dancers in the hall, how they work together. it’s like knowing what goes on behind closed doors. How do you lean on each other? What do you do with your bodies? When you were little did you ever lie down and suspend someone else above you like an aeroplane? Or were you the one in flight? and what does it take to make that all collapse? is it words, actions, politics, trauma, or you can do it all on your own? this is where sincerity is.

with the very good dance pair and the camera skill i am fulfilled, this is good art, and that’s before the sound accompanying it or the way the whole thing tastes (between open and stormy palm tree skies and youtube dance studio channel, but also just melancholy);; the genuinely trying aura of Tsang’s work.

I went to the exhibition straight from therapy. it was hail-stoning outside, and I was walking completely inside-out with my coat on, hoping I saw nobody I knew because could i be fucked using my words. Someone told me that following their therapy sessions they’d always sit on the same bench and have a smoke to give themselves time to re-adjust to the world of human behaviours. they recommended i find my own bench, and i haven’t yet but today this film was its stand-in. art became a safe moment to consider the fucked-upness of things. ~.

(FACT also commissioned Tsang’s short documentary on Kelela upstairs and it’s brilliant but in a professionalised way that i’m not in the mood to write about right now. I will say tho that i hope fact does more solo shows like this and stops the bad group ones. thats my 2 cents/pence goodbye xxxxx)

a dual video, one side showing grass blades against a night sky, and the other someone performing in a large hall

a title screen that reads part five, the socioecological disaster

grey pillows on a grey carpeted floor in the gallery

the dual video shows palm trees on the left side, and a person performing in a room full of blue light on the right hand side