Hardeep Pandhal at The Gymnasium (for the Berwick Film Festival)


Emoji summary: 👽💦💨

I feel like writing this is going to be hard; i’m having a long and laborious autumn already, i have very few words left within me. I often worry; am i like a well? one day will all the words just dry up and disappear, reabsorb back into the ground that they came from? it feels like a really silly anxiety, unnecessarily placing weight on my back; but this show made me feel it.

When we went to Berwick, it was (as Gab said last week) a weirdly physical week. I felt overwhelmed; maybe less kind to the things i didn’t like, i started falling asleep in the cinema almost every other time i sat down. If my mind wandered, my eyes closed and my head fell back. I started rationalising it as an active refusal; i was consciously choosing to not partake, shut my eyes in protest of something i was not enjoying, not partaking by being unconscious. It was kinda dumb, but I now think it’s bc I started to feel less and less like I was in an actual cinema, and more and more like I was just watching it at home, or in bed or watching telly. I never fall asleep in the cinema, but i always fall asleep on the sofa ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ it made sense to me.

Back to my anxiety and this show:: after getting worse at watching films, i started to think: maybe i need space? maybe this format of screening films rather than dropping in n out of them is too needy for me? like a really insecure friend, i felt these films were maybe taking up more of my time than i was comfortable with, but i kinda had to stay with them;;;;; Hardeep Pandhal’s show, the Konfessions of a Klabautermann, felt like loose trousers. like i had the space to choose to be there.

We bunked off a Jean Luc Goddard film to see the show, ran away from the cinema across to the Gymnasium Gallery. n it was such a weird space. I heard rumour it actually used to be a Gymnasium. as you walked up to the building, outside on the grass was this massive board with a cartoon across it;; like a Native American headdress wearing fella telling a guy in boots with a Union Jack tattoo to jog on;;; along the bottom was tagged “GO HOME” in graffiti writing that normally makes me squirm, but this time round made me giggle.

as you walked in there was a massive wall kinda secluding u from it all and then as you turn the corner you’d be met by all these lil things;;; 3 cutouts with lil face holes so u could plop ur face in and be a cartoon also;;; a lil crocheted cardigan with a blank eyed pink face in the middle;;; a massive pencil drawing on the other side of the wall when u came in (i can’t remember what it was, and it’s too blurry in all my photos));;; n then ahhhh like being led to a prize, a video,,,, screen on a pink mount,,,,

it was such a weird wild video u know,,, writing about it feels wrong bc i just experienced it. it was this electric kinda candy fever dream, Hardeep rapping over a cartoon world slowly all melting;’;’’;’ but melting, forming, melting, forming over and over like pure chaos.

I will be completely honest, normally something like this might actually stress me out. i am not here for boys, for lad culture. n this show, its aesthetic n its pace, felt like lad banter in its tone n its pitch. but i wasn’t stressed n i can’t place why???/ WAIT, i’m lying, i totally do::: bc tbh the humour it introduced itself with wasn’t the only thing i saw in it. there was more going on when i sat n watched. N i guess that’s like the bulk of it, isn’t it? the like, the way u first meet a work, ur first reaction. Sometimes u stop reacting after the first one n it’s stressful. but i didn’t, n it all kinda affected me. the humour felt like performance n i couldn’t trust it, or take it at face value wholly. it felt like i was being tricked, someone was hazing me.

I don’t have the words to really describe what happened in the film;;; that’s what i mean by saying that this show made me feel an anxiety about the words drying up. bc scenes all bled into each other, nothing felt like lucid or real or actually like clear. That’s fine though. it was the same full body overwhelm feeling i felt sometimes in the cinema but different. i wasn’t trapped by the wave, i was like…. riding it. it all shifted and whooshed under my feet and I was being moved along by it, but it felt calm. i was calm about it all happening bc my head was above water.


same as with my review of Zadie Xa’s show @ Pumphouse, maybe actually my thoughts have moved on and it’d be worthwhile me just publishing my notes all raw and unedited. for ur eyes:::

sculptures as ongoing collab w his mum

reactionary 2 performing an identity;; post-tokenism ahhhhh

it was like the same kinda humour/sarcasm/flippancy/facetiousness u find on twitter,,,, navigating a world where dominant culture is not here 4 u

the show was like tongue in cheek (i fully hate that phrase) but in the strangest way, as a way to like manhandle this stream of like pure vitriol; like , , , how great to see someone swim thru all of that like it’s nowt, it’s a bit jokes,,, .

i feel like i recognise the shape and form of this mode of address, like, i feel like i wana be wary while writing about this bc i know how i feel when i read what other ppl write about my work. It’s so easy to dismiss humour/the farcical as shallow, face value. The like double edged sword in its complicity I guess is that not everyone gets it (i can’t claim I get the joke either). But I guess I always think it’s nice to say or do things where the joke is only for certain ppl? U get me?

Zarina stands smiling with a big chunky scarf around her, in front of a big drawing of a native american in a headdress pointing at a british invader above the graffiti ‘go home’

Zarina stands in the gallery watching a flat screen tv animation on a pink metal stand, next to a big painting of a white dismembered arm through a basket ball hoop pushing a yellow ball through it

an animation on the screen says who’s inciting these people to this senseless anarchy in a big wavy speech bubble

a crocheted cardigan with no arms hangs over a free standing metal rail and there’s a scary pink face on the back of it with scary hands too and the words Pillory Head, with threads falling down too

A big board with words spray painted on says Hardeep Phandhal, ‘we recommend parental guidance for this exhibition. It contains language which some people may find offensive and scenes of a sexual nature