Falling Into or Against


Screening curated by Shama Khanna as part of the ‘Flatness: Cinema after the Internet’ thematic programme for Oberhausen Short Film Festival 2013. Featuring a new commission by Gil Leung from which the screening takes its title.

'Falling Into or Against' is a meditation on surface and depiction, a collapse into the transformative space between image and text. Surface not depiction, painting not pictures; flatness sought to sustain painting's autonomy by presenting nothing more than its inherent qualities: paint, canvas, structure and form. Such a methodology of elimination, the stripping back and bringing into plain sight, simultaneously acts to draw attention away from the form of the work and onto the context it is placed in. The space left by the absence of depiction is filled up with the presence of contingence. The flattened form makes louder its surroundings, the mediated way in which a work is represented. Depiction, removed from the surface of the work, reappears contextually, literally with text. Alternatively, depiction not surface, or pictures not painting, approaches the issue of autonomy in a different way, through an excess of depiction, signification over and against itself, made ambiguous. Depiction flattened through excess to a many-imaged multiplicative null, aggregated image after aggregated image. The representation of the work posing an additional pictorial category, not just formally but in the expanded and distributed discourse around an image. Painting not pictures or pictures not painting, either way the means of production expand beyond form and content into context, into the movement from one site and time to another. The inherent quality of a work, that which gives it life, breath, does not lie singularly in form, content or context. The life of a work is sustained by its capacity to move us, to shift positions. Flatness here is not just the levelling of pictures or the smoothing of surface but the sheer opacity of that which is presented. Images that move through the seductive pull into something other than self, falling into or against.
– Gil Leung

Play Screening

Magali Reus Background, 2010, video, colour, sound, 7 minutes

Background features six athletic built men whose appearance resemble soldiers, working through a series of choreographed physical tasks set against a surreal desert- like landscape of aggregates. Intensely concentrated and self-absorbed, their movements seem motivated by desires that remain unclear to us, aside from the overarching need to test their own strength and the strength of the group. The camera observes the men in moments of rest, introducing a sense of them contemplating their tasks and their purpose for doing them. The setting of the mountains of sand and gravel is not restricted to being purely a background- they repeatedly are given precedence over the figures- and, as the figures themselves are nothing if not models of masculinity, then an equivalence between the muted landscape and silent crowd of men can be drawn. Interspersed between the shots observing the men is footage of polished metal observed in a similar manner, drawing thus a correspondence between the men and the metal. The whole film becomes a play between the three seemingly generic elements: men, material and landscape, all of which are interacting together. However, it’s undetermined which of these three elements claims most importance, or which is merely acting as background. – Magali Reus

Olga Pedan Girls in Malls, 2009, video, colour, sound, 7 minutes

Girls in Malls is a collage of found videos made in 2009. 'It was as if the sun had travelled into their hands. They had control over its surface. The constant pulses of heating up and cooling down. The balance of solar systems was in their hands and yet they managed to look so relaxed. They knew everyone was watching, yet they pretended to be alone, that was the game that was played. They where goddesses of heat.' – Olga Pedan

Phil Collins how to make a refugee, 1999, video, colour, sound, 12 minutes

how to make a refugee was filmed in 1999, during the conflict in Kosovo, in a refugee camp over the border in Macedonia. Collins follows a crew of journalists as they organise a photo shoot with a family of Kosovan-Albanian refugees. Eschewing the conventions of reportage, how to make a refugee considers a network of incongruity, complicity and shame implicated in the production of images for political and aesthetic consumption.

Leslie Thornton Strange Space, 1993, video, colour, sound, 4 minutes

This collaborative work, created specifically for the 1992 Day Without Art/AIDS Awareness Day, addresses what Thornton terms "the relationship between the medicalization of the body and the personal." While the actor Ron Vawter reads aloud from a poem by Rilke, a doctor is heard discussing Vawter's medical condition. Medical photographs of internal organs and images of the moon's surface create landscapes of inner and outer space. This haunting rumination suggests the disparity between medical interpretations and personal experiences of physicality and mortality.

Gil Leung, Falling Into or Against (Compression Mix), 2013, HD video, colour, sound, 3 minutes 30 seconds

Falling Into or Against is a meditation on surface and depiction, a collapse into the transformative space between image and text. Flatness here is not just the levelling of pictures or the smoothing of surface but the sheer opacity of that which is presented. Images that move through the seductive pull into something other than self, falling into or against.
– Gil Leung

Želimir Žilnik Crni Film (Black Film), 1971, 16mm (transfer to 35 mm), b/w, sound, 14 minutes

One night, Zilnik picks up a group of homeless men from the streets of Novi Sad and takes them home. While they enjoy themselves in his home, the film maker tries to "solve the problem of the homeless" carrying along a film camera as a witness. He speaks to social workers, ordinary people. He even addresses policemen. They all close their eyes in front of the "problem".

shama.khanna@flatness.eu