Rain/Pain - video still

Video editing or video installation for 1 video-projector, glass screen and crystal pendaloques.
1 video editing, 9 mn 40.

This montage features a series of variations based around Pablo Picasso’s Weeping Woman. Made up of various excerpts from Laura, pasted over each other through a variety of super-imposition effects, it is structured around an extended shot lingering on Bessie Clary, Laura’s housekeeper played by Dorothy Adams in Otto Preminger’s film.

Bessie’s pain finds expression through various means within the montage. The motif of Dora Maar’s tears is elaborated through a series of substituted motifs, such as torrential rainfall bathing a landscape by night, forks of lightning illuminating a country road, tree branches lashing the housekeeper’s face or metal marbles colliding with each other within the image frame. During these representations, the actress’s face is distorted by various metamorphoses. Covered over by Gene Tierney’s hair, which repeatedly appears on the screen, it takes on an animal appearance at times, creating simultaneous analogies to the creatures played by Jean Marais in La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast) (1945) and Dr Zira (Kim Hunter) in Planet of the Apes (1968). Should we see this identity shift as representing the effects of a regression brought on by the grief experienced by the montage’s central character, or more simply as a path towards a degree of humanity in line with the paths followed by the similar characters in Jean Cocteau and Franklin J. Schaffner’s films?

The film’s plot structure is utterly disrupted as a result. The clearly identifiable framework provided by the scene featuring Dorothy Adams comes to be overlain by various episodes from Laura so as to insert unrelated narrative excerpts, each appearing to function according to its own logic. This process evokes a host of memories which the montage weaves together into a narrative whose constituent threads the weeping woman alone appears able to reconcile. Repeatedly introduced into the montage, certain extracts from the film create the effect of brooding on the past, which, while attempting to endlessly re-enact it, re-dealing the cards of fate, eventually divest the narrative of all comprehensibility.

Unlike many of the exhibition’s montages, this piece has a clearly defined beginning and end; its global structure nonetheless speaks of a gradual consolation of the central character. Once shed, Bessie’s tears eventually dissipate, allowing the housekeeper to finally gain the perspective she had been lacking, or even a degree of clairvoyance (suggested by the exaggerated enlargement of her eyes on the screen). With Dorothy Adams’s scene corresponding to the exact moment when, in Preminger’s film, Bessie learns, contrary to what she had concluded some days before, that Laura is still alive, we may see the entire montage as a comment on that revelation, an interpretation of its implications for that character.

A few minutes into the projection, the camera retreats from the tear-stained face, apparently responding to the logic of that revelation. Losing its compassionate perspective and voyeuristic impulsions, it pulls back in a manner similar to the characters around Bessie in the film.

A final super-imposition effect envelops the character’s body in a woman’s hair functioning like a fox fur. Elegantly lain across her shoulders, it speaks of the healing and warmth provided by her consolation.

The work can be shown in the form of a basic projection, but also exists in a more complex form employing a glass screen and crystal pendaloques.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet