A marvellous illustration of the temporal, psychological and narrative possibilities of film as art installation, this five-channel peripatetic piece unfolds over three chapters in the basement space at this enterprise dedicated to the facilitation of artistic exchange and development, neatly tucked down a pretty period street close to Victoria Station. In the first part, a fraught car journey finds four individuals in tense confines working through cycles of anxiety and fear-based on a real-life event, this fictionalised account veers wildly into speculative and hallucinatory territory.
All four are (unself-aware) archetypes: a police captain, a politician, a hitman and mysterious woman, who is allowed no space amidst the self-absorbed toxic machismo of the males, who believe her beneath consideration, believing only their personal dramas have any relevance. It’s clear all are in flight from some calamitous incident, perhaps a coup attempt, themselves the perpetrators, pursued by authorities, bedevilled by victims. The road they travel is damned.
The second chapter replays the interior car scene from the perspective of the silenced female, who in increasing amounts of agency, unfurls a furiously assertive voice-over, the interior monologue drowning out the privileged banter and bravado of the male passengers, their babbling voices belittled-she reclaims herself from cliche. Her oral testimony unsparingly implicates the men in the realm of violence and bloodshed, claiming their roles in an inevitable, indefatigable system of male barbarity. This sequence is intercut with a sylvan scene, a woman in a flowing red dress, the folds and hangs of which suggest rivulets of blood, nailing the dress to a tree, only to slowly, determinably rip away from the pressure of the hold, the confinement.
In the final chapter, the men have been entirely sidelined and dismissed-across the respiratively liberating space of three screens, an Eden of women speak confessionally to one another, transcending barriers of time, language and geography in an ecstasy of support and sympathy. The mood is relaxed, thoughtful, unperturbed by turmoil and, unlike the first two sections which were viewed on hard benches, here an audience is encouraged to avail themselves of the soft surrender of provided bean bags. An image of a woman, first glimpsed in chapter 1 evincing an aura of contorted asphyxiation, recurs transformed as a focus of celebration, a release of emancipated breath.
This conclusion posits a spiritual realm of female empowerment that may just save a tired, defeated world. Don’t let the flocked wallpaper in room 1 lull you into a false sense of domesticity, as it is quickly replaced by hanging animal carcasses and stony, institutionalised walls, like sweet, distracting words structured to deceive an individual from fully comprehending the tyranny they conceal suddenly exposed to harsh illumination. Here, in this stunning piece of fractured storytelling, is the true revolution. The Scar runs through 1 December