It is possible that what motivates me as an artist is the same as what motivates me as a practitioner of the healing arts. Although my artistic motivations are more ‘self-oriented’ – certainly as a young artist it was part of my own act of survival.
– Tanya Syed
Taking the work of Tanya Syed as a starting point, this event aims to unpack themes of musicality, occupation as artwork, and what it means to sustain an artistic practice over time. The other works in this programme by Tony Conrad, Glenn Gould and Manon de Boer are an attempt to draw out the relationship between the musicality in Syed’s films, and the aforementioned correspondence between life and work.
Tony Conrad, Pythagoras, Refusing To Cross The Bean Field At His Back, Is Dispatched By The Democrats, 1995, extract from audio, 3 min 50 sec
Tony Conrad (1940-2016) was an American experimental filmmaker, musician and composer who pioneered both structural film and drone music. From the 1960s he exhibited and performed widely and collaborated with various artists, including Faust in 1972. Solo releases included Early Minimalism Volume 1 and Slapping Pythagoras (both in 1995) and Four Violins (1964) in 1996.
Tanya Syed, Delilah, 1995, 16mm transferred to SD video, 12 min
Located in the darkness, a place of no boundaries, ‘Delilah’ is a ‘meditation on violence’, love and survival. Interchangeable elements weave a ritual, creating a dialogue of forces that shifts boundaries. This conversation of gesture and sound moves through tension and release, power and abandon.
Tanya Syed, Salamander, 1994, 16mm transferred to SD video, 12 min
The film is set in a fast food take-away, at a roundabout where the excess of traffic, light and sound forces us into dream space. Projections of desire and place are carved into this nocturnal city. Moments of convergence and detachment intercut, forming narratives of expectation. Notions of home surface in this place of inherent transience, where only some gestures mark a continuity, where time and people pass through.
Glenn Gould, The Idea of North, 1967, extract from audio (radio), 9 min 44 sec
An extract from Gould’s first ‘contrapuntal radio documentary’ and the first instalment in his ‘Solitude Trilogy’. Originally broadcast in Canada on the CBC Radio in 1967. An anthropologist, sociologist, a nurse, and a surveyor discuss the subjective ‘idea’ and the reality of the North. Montage and voice counterpoint are used to express the antagonism and scope of the country, the loneliness and isolation, the warmth of community living.
Manon de Boer, One, Two, Many, 2012, 16mm transferred to HD video, 22 min
The film ‘One, Two, Many’ is made up of three performances: a flute piece with continuous breathing, a spoken monologue, and a song by four singers in front of an audience. Starting from different audio-visual perspectives, each section explores the existential space of the voice. Connecting the three performances are the central themes of the individual’s body, listening to the other, and finding the right distance for multiple voices in a social space.
Tanya Syed, Chameleon, 1990, 16mm transferred to SD video, 4 min
A woman surfaces within an interior landscape where she is both trapped and contained. From the depths of dream through the ‘thin veils of matter separating the outside from the inside’ where we are either seen or made invisible. Through rhythmic intercutting the film moves silently towards a point of confrontation with the outside world, emphasised by the film’s only sound.
The future, in a choral style is curated by Nick Thomas.
This screening is part of GFT’s Crossing the Line strand.
Image: Tanya Syed, Salamander, 1994. Image courtesy of the artist and LUX.