Obeying Durations @ 16 Nicholson Street

Obeying Durations is a diverse three-person show that considers various implications of presence, time and collectivity

Review by Adam Benmakhlouf | 26 Jul 2018

A performer leans on two loose wooden posts in a darkened hallway in Leah Capaldi’s Overlay. On approach, the performer does not move, her craned neck angled dramatically forward. In this gentle discomfort, each moment spent looking around the gallery can be clocked as another few seconds of subtle strain.

While watching the languid slow motion of Ross Little’s film, the performance is contextualised by proximity to Little’s ideas about how bodies move through space, and the radical ways people can coagulate and clog through collective occupation. Little juxtaposes the peaks and troughs of political energy, with documentary footage of celebration following a revolution in Armenia, then the descriptions of exhaustion by the protesting inhabitants of the Faslane peace camp. Finally, the two narratives merge hopefully as a Faslane protester fondly describes the mutual respect they're building in the camp, as the Armenian revolutionaries energetically and joyously dance.

On the top floor, Ani Schulze’s video begins with an atmospheric landscape of wet leaves – looking like the skinflakes of Ridley Scott's Alien. The film seems to trace a journey to a wheat field, set in a tone of unresolved menace. Ambiguous suggestiveness adds intrigue to both the video and the oil drawing on the hanging scroll of acetate. Illustrations of gloved hands, farm animals, leaves and syringes overlay and intermingle, and with the film's drone footage of farmlands are suggestive of the anomie of out-of-sight industrial farming, and the invisibility of technicised violence.

At one point, Capaldi’s performers' swap and change position. What seems at first like a difficult solo effort is a more comfortable relay. Looking again to the performer, now in the corner of the top floor, her feet nevertheless have come down at the heel, where they were arched before. The slump is slow, and the act of bare presence itself is acknowledged as tiring. Capaldi's minimal work holds its own while acting as a poignant via media for Schulze's and Little's distinctive takes on bearing witness and politicised presence. 

Run ended