London Film Festival 2014 Part 3

One of my exhibitions of the year so far was Richard Grayson’s Nothing Can Stop Us Now at Dilston Grove, organised by the always interesting Matt’s Gallery. I added it to the list of places to keep an eye on, even though it’s quite far from home. Until 26th October, they have The Mechanical Garden and Other Long Encores. It’s one of sadly few shows to have a smell element (one reason I like going to the Saatchi Gallery is to smell the room in the basement filled with oil). A bit like the now-closed Wapping Project, something about the space itself seems to attract good work, in this case the creation of a new type of urban garden, inspired by Stephen Cripps’ proposal. As you enter, it’s surprisingly claustrophobic, because there’s a low net bulging with what you’d have to call rubbish, the identity of which is unclear at first. There are improvised sofas and chairs at the side, and a pond at the far end.

Mechanical Garden and Other Long Encores

I’ve always been a sucker for multi-channel sound, and it’s used very well here, conversations or music going on at the other end, inviting you to go down there or just to be pleased that something is transpiring. At one point, I was sitting opposite a recording of a booming sound system, complete with MC, while later on a young male voice asked for a “flat white, please” (recently someone had to explain to me what one of these is), amongst a commentary about the fertility of the urban environment.

One of the gallery staff offered to take me and someone else who was also reposing in the garden, up to the altar. From there, we could see the other side of the net, which was startlingly different, and gaze down on the pond.

Mechanical Garden and Other Long Encores

Around the latter were dangling bags of water, without any fish inside, and a sternly silent PA speaker.

Mechanical Garden and Other Long Encores

Walking back to the entrance I felt the ribbed pipes, hoping for a sensation of water flowing, but either my touch was too coarse or I picked the wrong ones. Sadly, I couldn’t attend the night of live performances in Dilston Grove on 18th October, but at least I’m writing about it and recommending it before it closes, which is a rare achievement.

Link to Flickr album

There’s clearly a circuit in Southwark Park. The small group I saw at Dilston Grove went ahead of me to the Cafe Gallery at the other end, to see Sharon Kivland’s Crazy About Their Bodies. I quite liked the stuffed animals wearing fezzes and spouting Marx, like escapees from a Godard film, but as happened the last time I visited, I found that it suffered in comparison with the Dilston Grove installation. The sticky notes in various texts, such as Benjamin’s Arcades Project, in the little bookshop area, were a nice touch. Perhaps I should change the order for my next visit.

On the way to the ICA, for my next Festival film, I saw a squirrel scornful of those stuffed instances. The film was Still the Water, clearly a favourite with flies, notably the one that spent the whole time flying around near the screen. It shared a feeling for the power of the sea and rocky sea shores, with the preceding day’s Lav Diaz film. The ubiquity of music, singing and dancing around the terminally-ill shaman mother was particularly affecting. In contrast, the slaughter of a goat drew lots of gasps and seat-squirmings.

Caught up with some of my reading at the Royal Festival Hall before the second film of the day, the talk at one of the neighbouring tables being exclamations such as:

“You’ve burnt my Ferrari”

and

“I would have invoiced my Parisian travel expenses”.

At the NFT I saw people with the same problem as me – bundles of Festival tickets, through which you have to fumble to find the right one. The Bulgarian ambassador very proudly introduced the director of Viktoria, who introduced the film. It was an interesting take on the recent manifestations of the Eastern Question at the large and the human scale, and I don’t think I’d seen a Bulgarian telling before (having seen lots of Romanian and at least one Hungarian). Funny at times, grim at others, I think I agreed in part with the person next to me who told his friend that it was overlong. That said, the director stated in the Q&A it was very much her own story and it may be harder to trim as a result. Asked what her cinematic influences were, she said that in fact she drew more from stills photographers than filmmakers.

“Why are forests always blue?”

was one of her laments, and a failing she saw in others she didn’t want to repeat. Two of the actors were with her, and it came out during a question about casting that one of them was in fact her niece, who admitted that the shoot had been difficult because she was, well, a teenager, but:

“I love you, auntie”.

On the train home, which was the last one, a woman lamented to her companions that

Boys don’t deserve to have good eyelashes.

Hmm. Still a week to go in my retrospective round-up. At least there will be another appearance from Godard in the next instalment.

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