Wu Tsang interrogates reality in new commission Under Cinema featuring critically lauded singer Kelela.
The world premiere of Wu Tsang’s Under Cinema project took place at FACT last week.
The film based project that follows genre-melding singer Kelela as she records her first album, Take Me Apart, that was subsequently released on Warp Records to huge acclaim, will remain in its site-specific installation at FACT until February 18th and welcomes visitors for free.
— Planet Slop (@PlanetSlop) October 27, 2017
The film itself follows the creative process of up-and-coming pop star Kelela, exploring the singers fluidity within a industry largely tied down by market constraints and ideas of a fixed racial image, a narrative that in itself makes for interesting, sometimes sombre and sometimes inspirational viewing.
Using the cinematic lens to interrogate reality, Tsang’s work uses performance and magical realism to challenge dominant narratives and representations, experimenting with what is possible in the realm of the unfixed, and the unreal.
The exhibition itself, lasting 15 minutes, questions the reliability of the fixed image, as well as the viewer’s gaze through innovative film-making methodologies and left us engaged with both Tsang’s style and the story of Kelela, whilst somewhat unnerved at the hyper sensitivity and awareness we experienced surrounding our own interaction with the film. The second screen that plays a mostly static continuous shot exudes a sense of being pessimistically watched for our reactions, whilst providing a heightened sense of intimacy with the films subject.
Moving freely between documentary, activism, and fiction, Tsang’s intimate approach and continuous re-interpretation of the roles of history, language, music, and performance creates an immersive other-worldly context for her characters. Her style tends towards the magical realist, and focuses on the increasing importance of imagination in both storytelling and the day-to-day.
Alongside the new commission is the UK premiere of We hold where study (2017), a two-channel projected film which takes a choreographic approach to image-making and mourning. The film enacts a series of duets, both within and between images.
Tsang’s new commission is a co-production between FACT and Warp Records, and is developed with the support of the Goethe-Institut, London.
Photo Credit: Production still, Under Cinema (2017), Film by Wu Tsang. Courtesy of the Artist and Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin.