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Lindsay Sorell
Anna Hawkins at Untitled Art Society
March 01, 2018

A structure sits in the middle of Untitled Art Society’s main room: the standalone projection screen built for Anna Hawkins’ video work Fall Fell Felt for her solo exhibition of the same name. Blinds fill the screen and locks of hair weave their way through the slats. Behind the screen, similar blinds cover the gallery’s front window; its straight horizontal lines run parallel to those in the video. The structure, a similar size and dimension to the window, becomes invisible as I imagine it is the window itself.

Anna Hawkins, Fall Fell Felt, 2018, video installation

A collage of screams, beats, and shrill laughter provides the aural landscape to spliced found video and stills. Instances of feminine pain have been collected and represented with fetishized body parts – the pointed toes of a woman falling off a car, the leg of a woman who has fallen off a trampoline and lays face down. One leg is extracted and manipulated, scaled large, and then morphed into the legs of someone falling off a car, screaming.

Keyed-out images and masked backgrounds taken from female fail videos are interwoven with the artist’s re-enactment of those moments or body parts. Experiences of falling are re-created, eyelashes blink over the footage, as if the viewer inhabits the sight of the female failure. The viewer becomes the blurry midriff moving in and out of focus, the butt cut out of its original video dancing on its own. The screen, now black, a tear of light comes through it. Fingers begin to reach through until hands emerge, tearing the rip even wider, something like the violence of birth, the tearing of woman’s body.

Hawkins’s two-channel video How To Chop An Onion, a seemingly converse meditation on care, plays downstairs. The artist’s hands are keyed out and overlaid over instructional videos – how to chop an onion, how to blow dry your hair, tie a tie, do a French braid, massage your face, work with clay – all to the sinister, clownish sounds of snare and hi-hat. The artist’s hands touch the hands of their tutor, stroke their hair, massage their face, inadvertently caring for them. The hands reach out to connect, to feel, but receive no sensation. As in Fall Fell Felt, the empathy depicted has an underlying terror, a helplessness in the face of representations of the female body. The desire to feel lies crestfallen.

Anna Hawkins: Fall Fell Felt continues until March 29.
Untitled Art Society:
The gallery is partially accessible.

Lindsay Sorell is an artist and writer who recently collaborated with the Advanced Toastmasters of Calgary for the IKG Live 1 performance festival and completed two solo exhibitions of new work: Exercises in Healing at Contemporary Calgary and Buddha, Why Am I Alone? at AVALANCHE! Institute of Contemporary Art. She is currently working on a large-scale watercolour painting of food and is the editor of Luma Quarterly. She is Akimblog's Calgary correspondent and can be followed on Instagram.



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