THREE DUETS (2003)
A three screen video installation with sound work and objects made for gallery spaces. On film Robert Pacitti performs three separate duets, one each with Sheila Ghelani, Juliet Robson and octogenarian Angela Rodaway.
With Sheila the pair enact a series of unusual rituals in adjacent identical hallways, seemingly suspended somewhere between the institutional and the intimately personal. Through the creation of this very formal space the viewer begins to witness the gymnastics of two minds unfolding – making manifest strings of random thoughts as if trying to trick their way out of the unbearable wait in an hospital corridor.
Juliet and Robert appear durationally in a succession of static outdoor shots to camera. Dressed in a variety of quietly outlandish costumes they present themselves repeatedly as a series of couples, her always seated in a large 1970’s wicker chair, he always stood next to her, his feet obscured from view. These tableaux are gently subversive – they belie truths about the physical and sexual identity of each performer – and as such these innocent faux family portraits become highly volatile games.
The third duet presents fragments of story and memory, shared between Angela and Robert, as text. Working from audio recordings Angela’s voice is turned into a series of pulses which present her narratives – a single written word at a time – in line with her speech pattern. This embodying of tales through the (re)presentation of text is a deliberate attempt to describe a friendship that exists between the younger man and older woman based not on difference but on shared politics, activism and belief.
Three Duets is a game of looking which challenges assumptions around difference. That the three film pieces are shown at the same time, alongside a deteriorated aged puppet theatre standing on a plinth, subtly begins to patchwork together musings on life, death, sex and transformation.
“The most ‘entertaining’ installation I have seen in a while”
Live Art Magazine 2003
An Arnolfini Breathing Space commission. Premiered in Gallery 1 of the Arnolfini Bristol as part of the 2003 InBetweenTime Festival. Also shown in the former Castle Fields Gallery, Manchester, England.