Jessica Sarah Rinland's conceptual yet poetic pieces shot on 16mm film expose the tactile, visual, and aural relationship between art, the artist, and the viewer, exploring how we perceive art as well as how it perceives us. Garage Screen presents two works by Rinland, the short Expression of the Sightless and her full-length debut Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another, the latter awarded a special mention at the 73rd Locarno International Film Festival.
Expression of the Sightless follows the hands of a blind man, whose face is hidden from viewers behind the screen frame, that explore through touch a multi-figured statue, trying to form an idea of it. The protagonist (and the viewer together with him) gradually brings together the classical story of Hylas, the beloved of Hercules, whom the nymphs dragged into the sea depths, spellbound by his beauty. Rinland's sensual and tactile film endows the spectator a double identity: having no direct access to the sculpture, the viewer associates themselves both with the man touching it—and with the nymphs gazing lustfully at Hylas and aiming to take possession of him.
With Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another, Rinland sneaks behind the scenes of several archeological, ethnological, natural history, and applied arts museums, including the V&A and the British Museum, documenting various conservation and restoration processes. Throughout the film, the viewer is accompanied by the hands of multiple museum staff involved in all kinds of processes, from modeling ceramics on a pottery wheel and casting using special molds to measuring patterns on vases and reconstructing jewelry boxes.
Concealed from visitors, the labor of museum conservators develops into a genuine choreographic score, in the form of an exciting and poetic ballet made of movements and sounds produced by hands. The hands of a woman with a bright pink nail varnish appear on the screen most often: this is Jessica Sarah Rinland herself, making a ceramic replica of an elephant's tusk. Using ivory tusks as her example, she traces the complete process of creating imitations of natural objects to pose the perennial question: how much can a copy that reproduces the shape, color, and texture of the original repeat or even outshine it? Which one is more authentic? And is it possible at all to distinguish one from the other?
The film is screened in English, Spanish and Portuguese with Russian subtitles.
Those That, at a Distance, Resemble Another
Dir. Jessica Sarah Rinland
UK, Argentina, Spain, 2019. 67 min. 18+
The film is screened in English with Russian subtitles.
Expression of the Sightless
Dir. Jessica Sarah Rinland
UK, 2016. 7 min. 18+