Map Magazine in collaboration with artist Rosie Roberts present a collection of short films and performances at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020. you there, are you there? promises to ‘engage both artist and audience in a synchronised act of communication; of watching, listening, feeling in each other’s presence’. The screening comes with an accompanying text and verbal introduction from artist Rosie Roberts. This intro contextualises the selection of work that we are watching as an active and collective viewing experience. Due to technical difficulties the order of the event is slightly shifted, with the films preceding the performances, but this does not distract from the thematic focus of the event.
The first short film is Speedboats (2016) from artist Alex Culshaw. Here voyeurism and text are the foci, as we view a speedboat from a far distance and then as a close-up. At just one minute and thirty-three seconds, we are not given the luxury to indulge ourselves in the imagery, but instead rely on the text that appears on screen to help convey an emotional response to the film.
Toddy (2020) from artist Jessica Higgins takes a different approach to experimental cinema. At twelve minutes long, we are given time and space to digest the images. A voice-over, along with close-up images of the band Vital Idles, presents an experimental reinterpretation of the song Rather Be Your Lover by Toddy Cole (bassist in the band Dead Moon). The film links the song to Madonna and also Prince and creates an intimate but perplexing short film.
A Protest, A Celebration, A Mixed Message (2019) from artist Rhea Storr expresses a more complete narrative and looks at the idea of a celebration being a protest. The focus is on Leeds West Indian Carnival, where white people observe black bodies celebrating their culture. The idea of protesting in rural spaces and what it means to be mixed-raced is also covered in what is definitely the highlight of the programme this evening.
After a short break, we begin the performance section of the event with A conversation between the back of a head and a peacock (2020) by Alex Culshaw. This is a live reading where the title of the work gives a good description of what we see. The text looks at the relationship between two unlikely characters. The act of looking, which we previously saw in the short film Speedboats, is again presented, but this time in the more immediate and intimate nature of a performance.
Rain, or such-and-such impressions (2020) from Alison Scott is again a live reading with accompanying video. Here the artist considers whether it is raining or not in a short and visually enticing piece. Alex Culshaw then returns to the stage with Egremont Red (2017). This documentary performance looks at Florence Mine in West Cumbria (which is now Florence Arts Centre). The performance feels like a work in progress or part of a larger multimedia production and plays with the idea of authenticity.
La Folle Du Jour (2020) by Rhea Storr takes Josephine Baker’s banana skirt as the starting point. The performer talks in front of grainy projected images and discusses themes of appropriation and race. All in all, you, there, are you there? is an interesting selection of short film and performances that brings many ideas and voices to the stage. Rosie Roberts has programmed work that definitely and defiantly engaged with the themes that were promised.