Catherine Sullivan

CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 27 Jan 2007


LA-based artist Catherine Sullivan’s films attempts to reveal the psychic glue that holds the subject together and binds it to society. By re-staging a highly charged traumatic event in her film ‘Ice Floes of Franz Joseph Land’, 2003, she manages to make art out of an explosive political situation, where the cast and audience of a Moscow theatre were taken hostage during a production of the musical Nord-Orst. By restaging this event (originally ‘directed’ by Chechen rebels), Sullivan demonstrates that both participants in the spectacle of the social world (the person who observes and the observed) are always dominated and acted upon by the larger ideological forces. The actor and the audience enact roles that impotently dramatise a political stand-off; the real action is usually elsewhere.

By bringing this power struggle into the theatre, guns and all, the rebels broke the illusory glass wall between the audience and the actors. Sullivan uses these shards to create a fragmented narrative, and presents characters from the original source book (Kaverin’s Two Captains, 1942). The actors become automata, their usually fluid actions informed by a believable character’s inner volition are disjointed. The supposedly natural order of things is de-naturalised.

These themes continue in ‘The Resuscitation of Uplifting’, where actors play stereotypical characters from 20th century American culture: the secretary, the muscleman, the management executive, etc. Sullivan orchestrates these fictional characters emotional ‘realities’, giving them a score of feelings to act out. You can act as the ‘gallery goer’.

Post a comment