MAP Screen | Dancing With Myself
Debi Banerjee's programme for MAP Screen concludes with 'The Animated' by Darren Banks
With the record selection, And the mirror's reflection, I'm dancing with myself.
This selection, played out on MAP over recent months, has captured people, most of them untrained, dancing in their own environments to music. All three works are inextricably linked to an expression of the body in space, its response to sound and a love of dance.
Moving to music is an instinctive impulse, a pre-language form of expression. Our infant bodies respond to music, but typically in adolescence take a different, newly self-conscious stance. As adults we are often resourceful and dance when we can—at a class, a party, or in the kitchen, when our home is temporarily transformed into our very own stage, ballroom or nightclub. Whether partnered or alone, the instance of being in our own domestic space, without the judgement of an audience, allows us an impulsive freedom—to improvise, fantasise and to be ourselves.
The concluding film in the current MAP Screen series, presents dance in the form of living room antics. 'The Animated', performed and constructed by Darren Banks, is unrehearsed and filmed in one take.
A masked figure, clad in black, creeps into a room strewn with clutter—questions abound. Who is he? Does he think he is alone? Why set the stage in such an untidy room? The hybrid of a puppeteer, a Kabuki stagehand and the Sorcerer’s apprentice, this character manipulates a procession of familiar and charming domestic objects to a kitsch soundtrack, animating them into life. Banks says, ‘It’s like the event is happening when the owners of the house have left for the night, and the viewer is given an insight to the lives of objects: a kind of badly choreographed magic.’ The illusion never quite works—it is not intended to—but the viewer’s attention does at times momentarily focus on the possibility of magic life.
The charm and humour of Banks’ 'The Animated' compellingly acts out a spontaneous living room performance—the tripping over furniture and objects, the messy setting, the lights full on, the audible outdoor noises, and movements very much improvised on the spot, all conspire to make it look truly an impromptu performance. Shedding his identity, the man in black conjures up a cheeky ad-man, TV-man style relationship to Western consumerism as he plays with the objects of its making.
Darren Banks incorporates found and made film footage into sculpture and installation to explore ideas about domesticity, defunct technologies, cinema and the unknown. The work questions the perception of sculpture in relation to objects, film and memory. Banks is interested in the possibility of film as sculpture. Within his practice sculpture is not just confined to three dimensions, but can exist on and within different platforms and plateaus. A horror film fanatic, he’s intrigued by the aesthetic and structural devices used within that genre. Banks reworks the formal vocabularies of horror by isolating its tropes, use of montage and architecture.
Darren Banks is represented by Workplace Gallery. Recent exhibitions include: The Shape, Generator projects, Dundee, Palace Bandwagon, FIAC , Tuileries's garden, Paris, France; Deep Space, François Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles; Cycling Through, Lux Biennial of Moving Image, Tramway Glasgow; screening at the NYC premiere of V/H/S at Nighthawk Cinema, Brooklyn, New York
Debi Banerjee is an Edinburgh-based artist, curator and educator. She was Programme Fellow at Stills, Edinburgh (2009-11) where she initiated Film Lounge, a moving-image exhibition and resource space. Her most recent projects include (P)layed, 2012, where she worked closely with Laura Edbrook, Ailsa Lochhead & Sarah Smith to edit a film sourced from existing film media, and Square Dance, 2011, which combined film and live performance.
For further texts and information on films in the MAP Screen [One] programme, go to MAP Screen in our Themes search.