A gift for fans of languid, contemplative minimalism and torture those who enjoy CGI explosions and kinetic car chases, this gorgeous study of labour and loneliness from American photographer and video artist Sharon Lockhart comprises of two single, static 45-minute shots of a woman picking clams in the squelchy silt of a Maine shoreline. The first shot is at dawn, allowing us to witness the thick morning fog lifting to reveal a quaint, tree-line front, and the second is at dusk, allowing us to see the pastel reds and oranges of the evening sun reflecting off the wet sand. The woman’s face is hidden under a sports cap and she goes about her gruelling business at a significant remove from the camera, and Lockhart does nothing that might influence our feelings about her or manufacture undue drama. Yet, still we find ourselves drawn to her, asking questions about the context of her secluded, backbreaking efforts and her life outside the frame. Very little happens, inviting you to soak up background detail like the consoling fog horn of an unseen freighter, or the faint outline of a seabird on the horizon. And like Chantal Ackerman’s 1975 masterpiece ‘Jeanne Dielman’, it’s a film that creates hypnotic rhythms from observing a person repeating a single activity while simultaneously daring us to consider the thoughts that may be floating around her head.
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