What is read and what is real?
The joke is that you can’t find a television in Fitzroy. The joke is that the arts scene doesn’t know what Delta wore on The Voice last week, or who won the Masterchef finale. So it seems most amusing that we have Transmission, Ryan Trecartin and Tracey Moffat’s Art Calls showing at the moment, and that you can’t get through your pale ale without someone recounting the latest Amy Schumer interview or sketch they’ve seen. We are all watching films on our laptops, and there are laws against it.
In Olivier Assayas’ 2015 film, Clouds of Sils Maria, Juliette Binoche plays an ageing actress, and the narrative begins to fold in on itself when she is asked to play a corporate boss who has a disastrous affair with a manipulative young woman working for her. The crisis for Binoche’s character Maria is that, as a younger woman, she played the ingenue. Several stories are nested within the film, and the snakey clouds of the Maloja serve as a suffocating metaphor.
There are a series of scenes where Binoche’s character Maria reads lines with her assistant Valentine. Rehearsing scenes of seduction force a stranglehold, and the result is that Binoche is either amazing or terrible. I can’t be sure.
“I am big; it’s the pictures that got small”. In Billie Wilder’s 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, silent film star Norma Desmond (played by Gloria Swanson, herself a former Queen of the Screen) is an actress whose celebrity faded with the advent of talkies. Joe Gillis, a washed-up screenwriter, rouses Desmond from reclusivity, and for a time lives in her gigantic LA mansion, becoming absorbed in her delusional comeback through their ‘young’ romance. The film is a collage of fact and fiction, and Swanson’s ability to play a self-knowing caricature feels incredibly contemporary. These types of mise-en-abyme ricochet around women and film, perhaps because it makes for the perfect tragedy.
Art calls is made for the smallest silver screen of all – the computer screen. Originally made for the ABC website, the black and white work plays well on the wall at CCP. Moffat is warm, witty and knowingly ‘fabulous’. Billed as her ‘homecoming’, the work has her skyping with established artist Destiny Deacon, emerging artist Adul Abdullah, filmmaker Janina Harding, and designer Jenny Kee to name a few. A tone is set with the opening Dadaist sequence, these too are nested narratives and faux-intimate interplay. The interview mimics the studio visit, but we are aware both interviewer and interviewee are playing to the gallery.
Tracey Moffatt, Art calls, CCP, Melbourne, 3 July – 6 September 2015.