a Project space
25 calvin st, spitalfields, london e1 6nw
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f-est 2, 17 - 19 October 2003

Late openings, talks and events, walking tours and parties. Maps and futher information available from all participating venues.


Jacopo Benci
Reality and its Shadow
Open to the public:
Saturday 18th - Sunday 19th Oct 2003
13:00 - 18:00

«What do we watch? An escape from a cocoon, a strip-tease (accent on the second syllable), or a form of rebirth. All are present, but ironized: resisting our attempts at totality; resisting our imposition of a totalizing narrative.

Scratched black painted wood. Nature transformed into culture but no longer beautiful. Both the texture and the occult message it carries are returned to throughout the main sequence; this texture is further repeated throughout the video in the colouring and quality of the clothes and other materials featured. It is also foregrounded in the sound, in the eerie presence of rasping sounds, the scraping of rough textures (the treatment of sound echoes the treatment of the image); rebarbative, slightly uncomfortable yet interesting (evoking an uncanny ‘negative’ pleasure)...

Denial of ‘nice’ sounds, of an overall ‘nice’ sound quality, as of ‘nice’ materials; yet such is the set, the bare boards, of a theatre (and this piece is performed on an actual stage as well as being presented as a framed image-stage). Neither is there a ‘nice’ aestheticized, stereotypically attractive, body to be finally consumed as the course layers are peeled-off, this ‘tease’ offers not an imaginary (fantasy body) but an actual body. In this, the advertised world, this especially is difficult to do; to show the female form in a form that can resist the received frames offered by (sexual) fantasy and advertising. This video achieves this: and so redeems or answers (responds to the question of) Tarkovsky’s use of ‘the rolling female’ in his films; his gender representations being open to question regarding dominant female stereotypes and myth – most particularly as used in existentialist-themed films (Wenders, Herzog, etc.). Such actions deem the spectator male, and world as his domain. Beyond simple sexual fantasy and the self-stultifying recognition in the mirror of domination.

Slow slide up or down. A fallen world. A person falling –or rising– and how do we tell? Slow-motion fall and strip; a second dimension of narrative: the unclothing (first was the movement across as a figurative rise or fall). Unclothing a temporal dimension regarding the ambiguity of forwards or backwards. Is it a slow-motion rewind of a film that we watch, where time goes backwards? Again there is an essential ambiguity, suggestion (or aporia). In which case (the first part of the film is the reversal of a person getting dressed) both segments are in a relation of repetition and we have, in the final part, a variation not a reversal. Otherwise the genre clash (of the two parts) complement one another in a genre clash, the motion in one genre is completed, that is reversed, in the other. Coda in real time.

Meaning? Obviously. Adorno and resistance through aesthetic discomfort; base for questioning. Otherwise put (for we are on stage), a Brechtian alienation effect. The unnaturalness of art (where beauty, mere ‘niceness’, comes from nature) as art’s true subject. The meaning (or politics of content, form and expression) comes after.»

Peter Nesteruk, 2003

still from Reality and its Shadow, 2002
20 minutes 26 seconds,
dir: Jacopo Benci,
choreographer and dancer: Alessandra Cristiani
camera and editing: Jacopo Benci
original format: Beta SP, PAL, colour, sound.

movie clip of event - 23 secs

(requires QuickTime)