Magazine article Art Monthly

Rosalind Nashashibi

Magazine article Art Monthly

Rosalind Nashashibi

Article excerpt

Rosalind Nashashibi Chisenhale Gallery London April 13 to May 27

'This lovely light', says Ahab in a bravura passage of Moby-Dick, 'it lights not me.' Rosalind Nashashibi's new film refuses the drama of Herman Melville's extraordinary novel but retains a kernel of the theatricality that speeds the Pequod across the pages. The dusky evening sea seen from inside the ship's dark interior; the decks lit by floodlights in the dark--the cargo ship of Nashashibi's Bachelor Machines Part I, 2007, is a contained, floating stage set for a maritime drama in which no narrative unfolds.

The 16mm film chronicles the vessel's journey from Italy to Spain, setting the ship among others in Nashashibi's growing examination of spaces marked by shared activity and the passage of idle time--cafes, flea markets, museums, galleries, leisure centres. Bachelor Machines literalises one of the most common descriptions of the London-based artist's practice--her films' 'drifting' nature--but manifests a more explicit formal structure than previous works have. Running a half hour in length, it is Nashashibi's longest film to date, and is broken down into a prologue and 25 scenes, each of which is signalled by a fade to black and an intertitle displaying the number of the scene. The intertitles function as breaths in the pace of the film, giving relief to the ship's claustrophobia but also pushing forward a sense of doubly imposed artificiality. Being unjustified by the film's internal logic or action, they suggest a shift in Nashashibi's intuitive and content-led practice towards a foregrounding of film's construction.

The 'scenes' allude to Marcel Broodthaers' short film A Voyage on the North Sea, 1973-74, which the Belgian artist cut into with 15 intertitles marking out different 'pages' (he exhibited the film alongside a book of the same name). While Nashashibi nods to Broodthaers' investigation into the difference between the still and the moving image--she inserts a painting of a seascape near the film's end--the key distinctions here are between film and theatre. (The film's theatricality was compounded by scaffolding resembling the backstage of a theatre set, which the artist Enrico David constructed in the cavernous Chisenhale space.) The film seeks to mediate between dramatic conventions and essential reportage, placing--with a degree of self-consciousness but also of disavowal--the role of filmmaker as that of a conduit between the scenes that unfurl regardless of her, and her representation of them for a future audience. …

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