Kate Blackmore with Vea McBride, Jessica Burns, Brittany Tutton & Taylor Dern
Dual Screen Video Installation
High Definition Video, 16:9, PAL, Sound
Cinematographer: Bonnie Elliott
Editor: Kate Blackmore
Sound Recordist: Nathan Codner
Sound Design: Fred Rodrigues
Review by Pedro de Almeida
CACSA Broadsheet, 43(4)
Bullying, violence, suicide, sexism, the demoralising expediency of authority figures, who serve their own interests with little care or concern for young people: just some of the subjects broached by fourteen-year olds Brittany, Jessica, Vea and Taylor in Kate Blackmore’s peerless video work, ‘Girls’ (2014). Opening with a shopping trolley sitting idly in a field of grass, ‘Girls’ began its dual monologue confessions with the wistful preamble; “When I was young…”, which more than anything signals the sobering realities of growing up fast in Claymore. As a suburb with a decades-old reputation for severe disadvantage in all of the social and economic measures that matter, in purely demographic terms Claymore is more than anything a community of young people.
The fact that children in this patch of Sydney’s suburban fringe continue to be marginalised is no unforseen misfortune of class struggle. Nor is it an unfounded corollary of the endemic failures of a built environment designed as landscaping solution to ideological renovations of the social contract. Seemingly trapped in a demonstrably deteriorated public housing estate that is a monument to nothing more than the scandalous reverberation of almost four decades of State government neglect—that’s changing, but not nearly fast enough—the girls in ‘Girls’ understand the all too human motivations that inculcate this state of affairs: “No offence, but it’s kinda selfish”, they say of teachers whom they accuse of neglecting the welfare of students.
That Blackmore’s art beautifully intimated the presence of mutual recognition and trust between artist and subjects, as to what might be achieved by such an enterprise, was nowhere more evident than in the naturalism of the girls’ presentation to camera. This quality was elevated further by the sensitive handling of the more formal concerns of light and shade, figure and ground, time and sound, which resonated in every dual-channel sequence of ‘Girls’, especially in the closing scene of a violet gloaming, the girls atop a highway overpass trying to attract a horn-blow reaction from the speeding drivers below as they disappear into the horizon on their way to somewhere else before darkness falls.
Girls was commissioned by Campbelltown Art Centre as part of ‘The List’, an exhibition curated by Megan Monte.