A COLD HAND ON A COLD DAY
5 October - 26 November 2013
For its autumn 2013 exhibition Fabrica was delighted to be working with video artist Jordan Baseman to present a new site-specific film commission, A Cold Hand on a Cold Day. In common with three of his previous films it focused on the people who take care of the deceased person between death and disposal. In examining the funerary rituals, fashions and processes surrounding the body at this time, the film illuminated our attitudes to the one definite fact of life: our death.
The film featured an interview with local funeral director Cara Mair as she explained her relationship with embalming and the traditional methods of body preparation, procedures that have led her to move away from conventional funeral practices towards a more personalised, holistic and less commercial approach to funeral making.
Visually the film was driven by hand-processed colour 16mm time-lapse images of deeply dark skies. In A Cold Hand on a Cold Day, process, narrative, abstraction and nature collided in asking open questions about death.
Two other previously unseen works were also shown as part of the exhibition. The Old Blood(2013) featured Geoff Taylor, who has embalmed 30,000 people over a 40-year career. How to Manage Stillness (2013) looked at attitudes to the deceased person and the various processes the body is subjected to between death and disposal. The film was narrated by Dr Kate Woodthorpe, Centre for Death and Society at the University of Bath.
Jordan Baseman is based in London. His video work and installation pieces have been shown extensively in the UK, and abroad. Recent solo exhibitions include: Deadness (Matt’s Gallery, London), The Most Powerful Weapon in this World, (Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead), Nasty Piece of Stuff (Aberdeen Art Gallery), Green Lady (Modern Art Oxford at Story Museum).
Born in USA, Jordan Baseman studied at Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia and later gained an MA from Goldsmith’s College, University of London (1988). Baseman has recently been appointed Head of Sculpture, Reader in Fine Art, at the Royal College of Art, London. He has taught at many UK institutions most notably, Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London and The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, University of Oxford. In 2003, Baseman was the Henry Moore Sculpture Fellow at the British School at Rome and in 2011 was a Visiting Fellow at St. John’s College, University of Oxford and Artist in Residence at Tokyo Wonder Site, Tokyo.
My most recent work is a synthesis of reportage, portraiture, documentary, creative non-fiction and narrative practices. I work with and record people, in order to produce films that have the interview and editing process at their core. Oral history, first person spoken-word narratives, field recordings and recorded inter-views are all of great interest to me.
My films seek to entertain, to emotionally engage and to challenge audiences. Although the work is placed within a fine art context and positioned within academic research culture, I do not feel that it is restricted to those environments and to those debates alone. It is of the utmost importance to me that my work does not operate exclusively within those realms and solely for those audiences.
Narration, storytelling, personal experience and belief interest me a great deal. The unpredictability of the interview situation excites me. In my films, speculation, opinion, ideas and anecdotes are often interwoven with intimate experiences of empirical, known information.
Visual abstraction, within a moving image context, is something that I have been increasingly interested in trying to manufacture. In addition, I have been hand-processing colour 16mm film, using buckets in a simple but totally blacked-out space, in order to encourage visual breakdown, fragmentation and distortion, and to really push the unpredictable nature of the materiality of film itself at its most fundamental level. This direction in my practice reflects my interest in relinquishing the boundaries of control within a process of image-making: celebrating the collision of representation and abstraction through process.