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Response 38 - Home Movies


Dear Marie,

Sorry it’s late, but here’s the home movie I made in response to your task.


As requested, I have created a scrap book of the house in Jespersvej which we had to leave at the end of last week. Moving home recalls all the other homes you have to leave in a life, and I name and describe some of these in the intertitles and the (irritating) voiceover of the film (I would love to have had more time to get this right). I don’t want, melodramatically, to speak of grief, but we did have a conversation this week about the emotional lag that attends the end of a stay in a place, at least one that has meant as much as Jespersvej has for our family.

I haven’t managed to do two of the things your task asked me to do. The theme of status and equality is hardly present in the film, though images of packing and housework might raise questions of the division of domestic labour. I also wasn’t able to impose a satisfying formal or parametric approach like the one I found, and which you like, for Response 28, even if the model I had in mind for my film, Peter Greenaway’s beautiful early short entitled H Is For House, offers just such a solution. Greenaway juxtaposes the different registers of the home movie and the alphabetical list (plus surrealist narration and Vivaldi) to poetic and absurd effect. I wish I could have made something as lyrical and precise as Greenaway’s film, but surfeit has triumphed over precision. It would have taken more time than I had to make a simpler and better film.

One of the things that Greenaway does with his juxtaposition of registers is to ironize the sentimentality of the home movie mode. I have not tried to evade sentimentality; and, as you instructed, I have not tried to avoid being ‘cringe-making’. The ‘proximate mode’ employed is very obvious, and named in the title of the film. The white borders that frame the moving images are intended to suggest a (haphazardly curated) family photo album.

You ask how life lived can reveal new constraints for the artwork. I’m don’t know the answer to this question, but I think I might begin to think about it by dwelling on those elements of the film that recall previous tasks and responses. Why have these elements persisted, or suggested themselves as the filters of the life lived over the duration of the project? I will won’t list or analyse such elements here, but I will return to do so, and to this question, another time.

See here for next task.