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Sunday Shorts: Windows

Updated: May 17, 2020

To tie in with the release of our second zine, around the theme of windows we are focusing this week’s Sunday Shorts all around the theme of windows.

At a time when many of us are stuck indoors, windows offer both a connection to the outside world and a barrier to it.

We start with the Peter Greenaway’s short film Windows (1975). A director probably most well-known for his feature length works, The Draughtsman's Contract (1982) and The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989). The film was inspired after Greenaway became interested in news coming from South Africa during apartheid, especially around reports of political prisoners being killed via defenestration (thrown out of a window). He was unable to make a documentary about such events, so made Windows as a metaphor for what was happening. The film features a series of images of windows, alongside a narrative of fictional people typically associated with windows through their jobs and created a number of situations whereby they fall out of windows, in their attempts to fly. What on the surface might appear to be a surrealist film, is tinged with a political undertone, due to its South African influence.

The next film has the same title as Greenaway’s work, and is Jason Allen Lee’s Windows, (2018). The film takes inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window (1954) to explore the way that in our current age we are perpetually or passively looking at strangers, just as we are equally being observed/looked at. The windows shown in the film act as a mirror to the small ‘windows’ we hold in our hand. The filmmaker comments, ‘There's something very cinematic about windows, where the eye is drawn to them in a sea of dark building façades. An open window becomes an invitation to look inside—but who is watching? In the digital world, our private lives are being shared with others, and it's not always being shared voluntarily.’

Kevin McGloughlin, film Repetition, (2019) was made in collaboration with musician Max Cooper, and was commissioned as part of the project Yearning for the Infinite, by the Barbican, London. It uses architecture, to convey the importance of human’s endless desire towards development and growth, through a use of dizzying, overwhelming and repetitive imagery.

Morgane Polanski’s, La Caresse/The Stroke (2017) is a silent film that follows a young man who is trapped in his agoraphobic world, where he cleans and tidies obsessively. This is all fine and uninterrupted until a black cat appears and stares at him through his window, and his world begins to change. This small animal appearance in his window highlights how small chance encounters can radically affect our way of thinking/acting.

In Steven Claydon, Grid & Spike, (2015), the idea of the window switches to the digital/virtual/abstract. Here a black and white grid, that is reminiscent of a television test card takes up the full screen, as the bust of a figure appears/disappears in the opening/window within the test card. The film as the artist comments deals with ideas of replica, duplication and visibility.

The last work in focus is Your Views (2006) by Gillian Wearing. This was a project, that was intended ‘to be a unique, global, collective filmmaking experience from the artist Gillian Wearing and intends to capture snapshots of views from people’s homes all over the world.’ The simple premise of the work involved people sending in a very short clip of their curtains/blinds being opened to reveal a view from their window, with the idea of the ‘view being revealed like a curtain going back on a stage or at a cinema.’ The work had a global reach with a great many contributors and views, the short clip linked below shows some windows from England, China, Iraq and more.

In the current state under lockdown from Covid-19 the work is more appropriate and pertinent than ever, something for which Wearing has also clearly recognised with a recent post restarting submissions and stating:

On Twitter: @Yourviews are looking for filmed views from your window during the lockdown. To mark the changes in views that we already were sent but also to see new views during lockdown for the first time. You can upload your view at the website.

Links to Films:

Peter Greenaway, Windows, (1975), 3.35:

Jason Allen Lee, Windows, (2018), 4.37:

Kevin McGloughlin, Repetition, (2019), 5.56:

Morgane Polanski, La Caresse/The Stroke", (2017), 9.31:

Steven Claydon, Grid & Spike,(2015), 2.58:

Gillian Wearing, Your View, (2016), ongoing:

Link to Your View:

words by Martha Cattell

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