Portmanteau Diary: Moving image vs art film - Sean Rogg and The Wolf at the Wapping Project


Image courtesy of PurpleCloud on flickr
I'm ashamed to have to admit to have to introduce a new portmanteau in order to explain the condition of my brain when it comes to names, aka The Failure of Brain Cells which Remember Names, becoming Brellrenail. I quite like the uglyness of that word as it expresses the failure and incapacity for said brain cells to hold in information that has not been written down or remotely visualized, particularly names that they cannot clearly connect with a facial visual. It sounds like the name of a dragon to be conquered by the strength of determination.

You may have noticed I tend to speak of my brain cells in third person format when I am ashamed and do not want to take responsibility, much like children do. I shall try to avoid that. But not this time.

Brellrenail never fails to fail me

This is why I can't remember artists or writer unless I have actually stalked them a bit and bothered reading up on their life on Wikipedia or the beloved 16 volumes thesaurus that used to be in my possession. To cut a long story short and avoid further musings on the capacity of my brain cells et al, I shall swiftly move from my least favourite subject that is Biology to a slightly more interesting subject.


The Wapping Project and .. um...

It was quite a while ago that I was invited by Bert, the designer of Yorkshire Pearls, to see the opening of "Between the Dog and the Wolf" - an installation by Sean Rogg. I had heard of the Wapping Project before but due to aforementioned Brellrenail I am ashamed to say I had not remembered Sean Rogg despite the fact that I have a lurking hunch that I have seen his work before even though I do not remember where or whether it was just something similar - a by-product of being schlepped from gallery to gallery and exhibition to exhibition throughout my life. It gets a bit blurred when you're a teenager who is more interested in stretching and dazing like a lion in the sun. However, I do appreciate that blatant overexposure to the art world now, as it seemed to have lodged itself somewhere in my brain - without names, of course.


Bert of Yorkshire Pearl and two lovely ladies - one wearing a Missoni dress, and Laura Bettinson


Laura Bettinson of the music group Dimbleby & Capper is wearing a beautiful Yorkshire Pearl
bracelet and an awesome bag by Toft Alpaca.

Lira Leirner the Portmanteau is wearing a Givenchy headscarf and black Yorkshire Pearl bracelet, a blue Fiorelli satchel and blue- green leather pumps, black silk Zara cardigan, green H&M top and black layered linen skirt.


Boundaries of media and art

Some of the bigger issues that has always been present in the discussions of my household of yonder were the boundaries of the usage of certain medium to classify as art. This was one step away from the obvious and typical, almost tedious bickering about what constitutes an art object (I'll get back to that - my view is very simple). I was lucky enough to be around when my mother was exploring the merging and cross usage of different media in her art work (one of her awesome films was shown at the Tate Modern Photo Film program earlier this year), and my first job in the UK whilst studying was that of being an assistant to a film art curator (Manuel Saiz). It will therefore, I'm sure, come to no surprise to you that I must point out I am quite biased and partial to a show of film installations, especially when they are as grand and penetrating as Sean Rogg's installation at the immense industrial cellar of the Wapping Project was.

Moving image vs film art

An issue I have personally always had with film art was the separation of "moving image", which to me is essentially a painting with a strong sense of time and action, from that of an "art film", which is closer in its categorization to being a directed and dramatized piece, which involves manipulation and purpose to a greater extent than the former. The latter certainly has a greater entertainment value and is ever so slightly favored by me since I studied film among other subjects and have no qualms with admitting I like being entertained and admitting that I respect it to be an admirable form of creation to be able to know how to entertain well. This does not mean I don't value the former, as I do as long as it doesn't go on for too long without a certain degree of change (yes, I'm sorry, I am from THAT generation).



Image taken from Sean Rogg's website

Sean Rogg, between the Dog and the Wolf

Sean Rogg, interestingly enough, provided one of each. There was the moving image piece "WOOD", which is portrayed in the brochure as follows:

"[WOOD] tests the audience's belief that in certain parts of rural Sweden an old traditional law still stands. If a child under the age of 18 commits a serious offence and is convicted of the crime, he or she is NOT sent to a correctional facility. Instead, state firemen show up at the child's home and ceremonially burn the house to the ground. It is hoped that by being made an example, other parents will keep control of their children's behaviours. The system seems to work as a house is only burned once every 12 to 15 years."

The essential Criminologists' point of view
Being interested in criminology as I am I of course immediately considered the real reasons for the immense dark figure (meaning non reported but still very much happening) in this - first of all, it's only for "serious" crimes, which excludes pretty much everything except from murder, manslaughter and grievous bodily harm. Secondly, this rule only applies if the child is CONVICTED, which will most likely happen even less when taking into account the rule applies in rural areas only where everybody knows each other and liked parents are most likely given the benefit of a doubt, leaving a minuscule percentage of witch hunting style conviction which probably only takes place when the family itself is actually taken to have been responsible for bad parenting.

I do have to say that it seemed to be strange paradox to observe a group of firemen working WITH the fire, working on CREATING and ENHANCING the flame beast, fighting with it against the house that they were bringing down in joint force.


Image taken from Sean Rogg's website

The second film called WOLF was my favourite. In the film two children play off each other in ever accelerating, stoic competition of violence and destruction of materiality. It creeped me out and certainly continued where The Village of the Damned (shudder) had left off in cementing my fear of children who stare at me too much and my general dislike of children anyway, but as a piece I had to say it was intriguing, poignant, wonderfully awkward and truly, truly beautifully shot to an extent that it reminded me of the camera work of Chris Doyle when he collaborates with Wong Kar Wei (on none other than each and single one of his pieces) - that's about as high a compliment any cinematographer can receive from me, by the way. Once again, for a portion of the film, there was a fascination with the burning down of a wooden house after the stoic destruction of interior possessions, which seemed to be a preparation, enjoyment but also futile.

The third was most like a moving painting and I didn't see the entire film as I got bored (sorry). Here's what the brochure says about it, clearly disagreeing with me on which was the best (and most austere) film.

"In the most austere of the three films [hmm I don't think so], WONDERLAND, the filmic sense of foreboding is focused on wind ripping through trees. Rogg taunts his viewer with the promise of a tornado while he seems to sit at the eye of the storm."

The Wapping Project Space

On my way in to view the pieces I got asked to do an interview about the space and exhibition for a TV show on a Korean Channel called KBS (once I get the link for the actual coverage I'll let you know), which was pretty cool. The highly finished modern space in which heavy and industrial machinery were placed was right up my alley as they managed to perfectly balance the raw and soft finish of the place. I wasn't impressed with being asked to pay £3 for a tiny slice of cake at a stand (which didn't belong to the restaurant) and pretty much told them to f- off especially because I really fancied that slice of cake and had been eying it up over two hours. As so often before, it wasn't about me not being able to afford it, it was the principle of standing my ground against ridiculous pricing and rip offs. Outside the building itself there was a wonderful glasshouse which served as the book sale in the middle of a greenery, which I really loved. There were also some very funky bird nesting houses scattered upon the height of a massive tree, making it very difficult to take a decent picture.



I will try to take a couple of tools and tackle the mountain that is my brain in order to ensure the victory of Sean Rogg's name in the battle against the dragon Brellrenail and create a tunnel that leads through it to reach the oasis of long term memory, the Oasory because his work is certainly worthy of having a spot there.