curated screening presented at Contemporary Art Centre (CAC), Vilnius, 26.11.2016
co-presented by Rupert
The appearance of a weathered VHS copy of Hellraiser atop a bus shelter on Old Kent Road in South London became a kind of urban legend, or at least a puzzle. Since this first occurrence in 2012 there have been other instances, other portals opening, visible from the upper level of double-decker buses; countless more VHS tapes placed upon a roof. Copycats aside, the content of the bleached VHS case, Clive Barker’s 1987 film, has at its core a puzzle box, grandly titled the ‘Lament Configuration’. This box, when solved, can suture dimensions. From the other side of a portal the ‘Cenobites’, demonic in appearance, claim the clever individual who solved the ‘Lament Configuration’ for a suturing of another kind; between pleasure and pain. A pop mystery, the VHS tape in its odd placement—now a different sort of analog puzzle box—offers a detour on a routine commute. Portals, mundane or not, need a here and there, a clever body to pass through.
In Notes on the Occult Media Eugene Thacker writes: “…the magic circle serves an important function as medium between the natural and the supernatural. Such boundary-management addresses both anthropological divisions (e.g., between players and spectators) and more importantly, metaphysical divisions (e.g., between life and death, earthly and divine, known and unknown).” The magic circle offers the potential of a gateway if its rules are followed. As players, it’s conceivable that the human element may disobey through misuse or misinterpretation. Another possibility: the magic circle may be a tool of visibility, a decoding device. As Thacker contends: “…we are already bathed in the invisible viscous world of the supernatural…” channeling H.P. Lovecraft’s concept of ‘cosmic horror’ wherein our lived world is overlapped by unknown worlds and forces beyond our conscious understanding. Perhaps then the tools of ‘the beyond’, differently ordered magic circles—portals—may appear to us in a myriad of ways, ascribing us as players in a game with unknowable rules.
Portal Atop a Bus Stop is a screening of international artists’ films and videos (im)materializing in various constellations for a multitude of sites. This is its second incarnation. Presented while in residence at Rupert, November 2016.
Skip, Katie Hare, 2015, 7:48
Successive Approximations to the Goal, Beth Block, 2015, 14:11
Nocturnal Doubling, Daniel Cockburn, 2004, 4:07
Beyond the Usual Limits: Part 1, Deirdre Logue, 2005, 2:55
GIF Cat GIF, Claire Davies, 2016, 7:51
A Tale of a Ziggurat, Emily Furneaux, 2014, 6:41
Most Fabulous Place, Maha Maamoun, 2008, 1:11
In Mere Spaces All Things Are Side By Side I, Morehshin Allahyari, 2014, 4:25
L*a*b, Paul Simon Richards, 2016, 15:31
And The Sun Flowers, Mary Helena Clark, 2012, 4:47
Return of the Black Tower, Jennet Thomas, 2007, 15:46
Mad Ladders, Michael Robinson, 2015, 9:45
*Programme notes available here.
*Poster available here.