Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Brian Catling

Looking up some references for my MA class, I came across Brian Catling, whose work I have only read in the form of The Blindings, a series of text / image 'happenings'. I remember greatly enjoying the work, feeling gratified at the power it gave and demanded of me not solely as a reader, but in my capacity as a reader to imagine, to fill in the gaps, to wonder whether any of the bizarre events ever happened, even in embryonic form.

In Catling's own words (from his departmental website):

I am obsessively engaged in the collision of separate activities that sometimes fuse together in a hybrid event - they being the writing of poetry, the constructing of sculptural installation and the action of performance. Most recently they have fetched up as video works.

Perhaps it is the hybrid event which, being clearly (or is it?) unlikely as actual event, is nonetheless richer in the mind of the reader for being so. Gaps are filled in with imagination, the level of ambiguity promoting a participation by the reader to connect the dots with actual, real reality. The photographs imply an event taking place specifically at that point then!, but only offer a snapshot of what might have happened either side of that instance the shutter was released. It reminds me of reading Lyn Hejinian whilst having images of Cindy Sherman's film stills projected into my eyes. That really happened, by the way.

I recall seeing one of Catling's films at a conference. This, like The Blindings, hit me in a strange way in which the clearly comical effect of the performance - literal on film and imagined on the page - was laced with a kind of sadness which I can't account for. There is something empowering in the ability and encouragement to use one's imagination as part of the storytelling. But I think there is also - as in Sherman's stills - something abjectly sad or chilling about a knowledge of un-reality, when faced with supposed documentation to the contrary.

I think this largely has something to do with the fact that most of us know what role documentation ought to fulfil - the coverage of fact. The simultaneous paradox of evidence and contrary evidence is not easy to reconcile, unless you enjoy (and implicitly create) the fiction which at least you can be satisfied must exist. Which, I suspect, brings it into being.


Post a Comment

<< Home