Part of Summer 2009
Sarah Pucill’s films are psychological chambers that explore both the materiality and mortality of the filmmaking process. The majority of her films take place inside a house, with characters occupying the space alone. Protagonists’ passions simmer in wait as they prepare their explosions and exploits in solitude. The house mirrors the human psyche, and becomes a platform for ideas. The house is the place where noise and silence intersect. It is also the location in Pucill’s films where reality and fiction become intertwined. It is this intersection in her films that enables viewers to lose their bearings and enter another secret realm.
In Swollen Stigma (1998), a woman is haunted by an absent lover. The opening of the kitchen cupboards is layered over the image of a woman’s legs opening. Hairs that are plucked from flesh dissolve into roots being pulled from the ground. Sexual and visceral, the film’s shifting points of view jump between the woman, fantasy spaces and her imaginary lover. In Stages of Mourning (2004) Pucill performs to the camera, placing herself on and through the moving and still images of her deceased lover. She maps the geography of her mourning through layers of celluloid placed on top of each other, creating a haunting and complex journey of loss. Pucill’s most recent work, Fall in Frame (2009), opens with the image of a young woman looking at herself and her camera in the mirror, each revealed as she unwraps a sheet to uncover the lens. She controls the filming space, staging the camera, the lighting and the framing. The woman films in between sleep and consciousness. As she controls the frame, she physically loses control – stitching her apron to the tablecloth as crockery crashes to the ground. She throws the debris out the window and a trail of broken glass follows her to the seashore.
Since completing her MA at the Slade in 1990, Sarah Pucill has made many 16mm films. Her work has been exhibited in museums, film festivals and galleries internationally, and has won awards at festivals in Oberhausen and Atlanta. She has had retrospective screenings at the Tate Britain, Lux and 291 Gallery. The photographic image has always been central to her filmmaking process. Her recent images from Stages of Mourning are included in a publication on women’s photographic self-portraiture (Masquerade, Iris 2004).