Catherine Sullivan

  • The List
  • 6 December 2006

An exhibition of two new works by LA-based artist Catherine Sullivan uses film to turn art, subjectivity and politics into a kaleidoscope of conflicting psychic states.


Alexander Kennedy Could you tell us about the work on show at the CCA?

Catherine Sullivan ‘Ice Floes of Franz Joseph Land’ (2003), which is a five channel projection work short on 16mm film and shown on video, and ‘The Resuscitation of Uplifting’, a single channel projection shot on 16mm film, and is a component from a recent project ‘The Chittendens’ (2005) which consists of six projections.

AK Does your film in any way refer to the political situation that precipitated the 2002 Russian hostage situation, which your film ‘Ice Floes . . .’ takes as its subject matter? Is there an overt ‘political message’ in your work?

CS The Moscow event isn’t so much the subject of ‘Ice Floes . . .’. It functions more as an apparatus, which generates the occasion to animate issues of cultural assimilation and regimentation.

AK Your work also seems to rely on a postmodern concept of ‘performativity’ (in relation to subjectivity), and how those performing subjects are understood or act as stereotypes. Could you tell us more about this, in relation to the second piece that will be installed, ‘The Resuscitation of Uplifting’?

CS I think it has more to do with the ways in which the performers engage with socially recognizable forms; it has more to do with transformation as a form of assimilation, and assimilation as a means of ascendance, transcendence, or survival. In ‘Resuscitation . . .’ the actors engage with very set choreographies which they can or can’t assimilate.

AK In relation to this idea of performance, your work also seems to be about orchestrating chance, altering the seemingly obvious meaning or volition behind an act or event. How did you arrive at this technique?

CS The method for each project is different. I’ve always felt that the work has to be interpreted very much through the desires of the actors that carry it out. I’ve always found it more dangerous and therefore exciting to work with the artifice that the actors affirm rather than to try to repress it or find actors that I feel comfortable with. Actors are interesting cultural subjects because they reanimate what they absorb. It’s a question of what methodology will produce the right effect for the content.

CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 27 Jan 2007.

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