You might as well dance

Beatrice Gibson’s film I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead (2018) opens with jerky, smudged shots from the underground. A voice-over makes confessions about feeling a sense of panic; suddenly the barely recognisable underground is replaced with footage of street riots and the narrator – one that tells emotions rather than the plot – proclaims they are pulsating, edgeless, struggling to breathe.

With the world grappling to preserve some freedom, how can they face it? How do they stay strong and defiant?

Gibson’s husband and son, with their skins glowing in warm yellow light, bathe and play in a room. It looks like home. As the father lifts the toddler, the scenes change and the film throws us outside, back to the streets, where a policeman handles a little body in a similar way. Big hands around a tiny waist. Tenderness is now a currency of which the society is short. The caress of somebody on your side can feel radically different from the same action performed by police, a competitor, the state: you are safe here, with me, and then for others you are not welcome here.

Breasts are collaged onto a night sky as vast, enigmatic galaxies, ‘doing penance for impetuousness’. Eileen Myles, one of the two poets appearing in the film, recites a poem from which I remember mostly this line: ‘What is comes in boxes, what isn’t comes in waves.’ The voiceover, possibly the artist, addresses hopeful motherly words to her son, taking a moment to nudge him in the direction of free choice, encourage him to form himself without our norms. She has red lipstick smeared around her mouth, she is still nervous and edgeless but she can breathe now . Not long after, Gibson and her son jump and thrash freely to Corona’s ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ in the mirrored corner of a bar that will resurface in the second film.

The way out – the way up high – may just lead through impetuous, disorderly, wavy, t(h)rashy and, above all, loving existence. Reinvent the stars in the sky, reinvent the stars down here, too. Do not box in the imagination. We are not interested in what is.

Deux Soeurs Qui Ne Sont Pas Soeurs (Two Sisters Who Aren’t Sisters) is a second film in the exhibition, a film of leaps that do not advance anything. They lead us through variations of the same characters that float in dream logic and meander through time. The women in the film sing, read poetry, tell absurd dreams and look for a lost poodle and appear later as if the former has not happened, although their new thing tangenially, rhizomatically grows from the old .

Their actions seem to be unprompted and causally unconnected because their actual closeness manifests on another level – womanhood, questions of self/identity, physically linked with the futures in their families and countries. They cross each other’s paths at different times, in a web of inconspicuous, yet surreal encounters. How much do they influence each other? How much can they give each other? Is there such a thing as winged solidarity, one that is released from flats, parks and bars where these women live, hope, want better? Like sisters who are not sisters?

The characters in the film act like echoes and reverberations without a solid, foreclosed identity. In the plot, nothing is a problem and nothing is resolved. We stay with their intimate bonds, with their future children, their troubled relations to their lands. We inhabit. We don’t move along. We watch out for street-corner meetings. We wait. We act when it is not our turn. We offer poetry, dreams and tenderness to the unfree world.

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