Cal Mac, 'Agony to Ecstasy', 2020

Part of ONE WORK

12 minutes, 51 seconds
Cal Mac, 'Agony to Ecstasy', 2020. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella as part of BEYOND

1 — 31 May 2022


For the next online screening in the ONE WORK series we present Cal Mac’s film Agony to Ecstasy’ (2020), which is available to view for the month of May. Cal Mac will join Public Programme Manager, David Upton, for an online discussion on the work on Thursday, 19 May, at 7:30pm. Book your place here.

Agony to Ecstasy’ looks at the scope of the socio-addictive condition within Scottish people. It focuses on the relationship between pain and pleasure, between stress and relief and between entrapment and escape. The film is a dissection of two spaces – euphoric clubbing and silent Scottish nature, offering a perspective on our need for salvation within both. Neurologically, there is very little difference between the brain addicted to something, as to when falling in love. As a result, the film fluctuates between these neurological and personal perspectives on addiction and connection – where their conflating and often paradoxical relationship is compared.

The film is made with reflection as its key focus. Made during the middle of the first lockdown, the film uses the collective state of withdrawal and loneliness to remember multitudes within clubs. A slow-motion strobe follows the film throughout, as a visual dissection of the joy, yet ghostly inhibition of the people in the shots. Vulnerability was key in Dej’s recollections – his words occupy the emotional worlds of mental health, stigma and the euphoria in clubbing, without having a particular stance or opinion. Ultimately the film looks beyond fixed stereotypes of addicts, and into the dependencies, shame and love within Scottish people.

Image description: A black and white image of two arms holding each other.

Image credit: Cal Mac, Agony to Ecstasy’, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

Cal Mac

Cal Mac is a visual artist working and living in Glasgow. Working between sculpture, sound print and video, he explores themes of belonging and addiction through sociological, scientific and visual dialogues. His work often looks at clubbing and natural environments, enquiring into our current emotional condition and need for connection. His work has been screened at Atlas Arts (skye), The Royal Scottish Academy (Edinburgh), Limerick Institute of Technology, and online for Lift off Festival, and Film and Video Umbrella. Following his first commission from Film and Video Umbrella in 2020, Mac has done residencies at Cove Park and Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop. In 2021 Mac was shortlisted for the Royal Scottish Academy Morton Award.

Part of ONE WORK

ONE WORK is a series of online events that focus closely on a single work. These generous discussions provide an opportunity for an artist to present a recent work and talk through how the work came into being. Each work is available as a month-long online screening, followed by a specially commissioned written response that serves as documentation of both the work and the discussion.

Learn more