I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic
Artists are supposed to have to suffer for their work, but occasionally audiences have to endure a certain amount of discomfort too. Like today, when viewing composer Michael Nyman’s short films at the Brickworks in St Peters involved sitting in a cold, damp vault in the current brass monkey weather sweeping Sydney.
It was worth it – sort of. In the dank room friend Zoe and I picked five films were on rotation. The first (in the order we saw them) was Silent Fado, a bizarre progression round a sterile flat, following a Milla Jovovich-lookalike singing (presumably) a fado song from a sheet – but with no soundtrack. The second combined a Nyman score with the sights and sounds of a textile factory. Zoe noticed the effects of the shifts in sound between the music and the rattling of the machinery; I was mainly too busy feeling seasick from the visuals.
Films 3 and 4 were a little disappointing. Entitled Witness 1 & 2, they were moving – because anyone who isn’t moved by the images of French and Polish Jews, of their dates of birth and death and the concentration camps where they died has something wrong with them. But aside from some nicely done visuals, there was little to differentiate these films from the reels of images of Holocaust victims which often close films or documentaries on Nazi Germany.
The final film, Cine Opera, which also gives its name to the entire ensemble, was perhaps the most interesting and attractive for me. A rolling score of violin and cello was paired with footage of a dilapidated old cinema, its roof falling in and its seats in disarray. Rays of sunlight penetrate the ceiling and rubble litters the floor. Aside from some irritating Paul-Greengrass-style shakeycam, the film was a beautiful and melancholy portrait of one of the many gorgeous, opulent old cinemas across Britain and no doubt further afield which are being allowed to fall into disrepair.
On until June 13th, 10am-5pm daily details here.