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Rachel Garfield: The struggle

  • 2 out of 5 stars
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Time Out Says

2 out of 5 stars

Contrary to the exhibition's resolute title 'The Struggle', new film 'The Straggle' (sic) is not particularly compelling. Shown in the gallery's formidable archway space, this 20-minute video is the first in a series of films exploring the personal impacts of politicised familial interactions. This work-in-progress that will develop during the artist's Beaconsfield residency, will continue with films on the effects of growing up in military and religious, environments. Covering state, army and church, the spurious nature of this research project's thesis is comical almost to the point of farce.

Grainily shot to suit its degraded archive footage, 'The Straggle' splices together interviews with people who grew up in left-wing families, with clips from movies and some rather pedestrian cabaret by 'socialist magician' Ian Saville. Although the performer's inclusion is promising – he proposes 'a dialectically opposite way of performing' the usual tricks – his role within the film is never resolved. What's more, the sound quality is poor, making it difficult to follow the narrative.

More successful is Garfield's 2009 collaborative work with filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin, discussing the role of the artist. With unfortunate prescience, here Garfield notes her fatigue with making art that no one wants to look at. Melding anecdote with historical account can be a successful, artistic approach. But lacking both factual clout and artistic craft, these works seem diminutive in a landscape dominated by consummate documentary practices.

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