Ellie Rees - Velociraptor At Salford University Chapman Gallery

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 05 January 2006
black and white video still showing a snarling woman casting a monstrous shadow on the wall

Courtesy Chapman Gallery

Human idiosyncrasies and dichotomies within the self are the subject of video artist Ellie Rees’ new exhibition at the Chapman Gallery, Salford, running from January 9 to 26 2007.

The show, entitled Velociraptor, is a collection of works featuring sophisticated and meticulously choreographed performances that evoke feelings of solitude and loss, as well as exposing a tension between the live and recorded spectacle. In Velociraptor, this tension is used to echo the internal struggles and desires of relationships, in particular with reference to female expectations.

Rees rejects the usual process of video editing, whereby the end piece is made perfect in the studio rather than in front of the camera. Instead, she favours strict rehearsal – a practice that has more in common with a classical musician than a filmmaker.

Describing her work as ‘vignettes of extreme domesticity’, the artist often undertakes mundane tasks in her videos, using them repeatedly in a way that exposes them as absurd and adding a humorous edge to them.

black and white video still showing a woman casting a monstrous shadow on the wall

Courtesy Chapman Gallery

For example, in the title piece, Rees recites clichés about relationship failures over a blank screen. Suddenly, she appears on the screen as a velociraptor, questioning the ultimate sacrifice for love in a visual reference to Murnau’s Nosferatu and Berkoff’s Metamorphosis.

A diptych format is used in three other works, to highlight the dichotomies within the performer, while the search for perfection in live performance is indicated by music from Handel.

The piece Making Time takes loneliness as its theme, showing a bored girl sitting on a sofa, who switches a light on and off in rhythmic regularity. Four seconds of darkness punctuates the light every eight seconds. Each time it comes back on, it illuminates a new, faceless pose in a test of physical endurance lasting nearly four minutes.

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