Response 43 – Taking Form

Dear Alan,

Thanks for Task 43 – The Banality of Pregnancy Task 43 – The Banality of Pregnancy. Inspired by your excellent and satisfying Response 42 – Studies for a Self-portrait executed in our bubble-gum green chair, I made the response you can see further below.

The process

I have really enjoyed your transparency in how you construct your responses, taking the viewer/reader through thought processes that inspired you to achieve your final product. I want to try and do the same.

I thought perhaps I would be able to arrive at a ‘simple and satisfying form’ for my response by employing a similar tactic that I used in the pregnancy film I made for my MA film module back in 2013 (which you already referred to in a recent task: the aim was for the film itself to be a grotesque body rather than make it about the grotesque body). What might a response look like if was to translate my banal experience of pregnancy into a form? You asked me to express the banal details of my experience of pregnancy so I had to consider what these might be. What would I talk about or share if I didn’t feel this sense of embarrassment that I might overshare, be a bore or, worse, not get sympathy for my situation?

Here is a list of my banal experiences of pregnancy:

• Tiredness and the need to lie down
• Emotional (over)reaction to situations
• Short temper
• Short attention span
• Having to make a big effort to concentrate on jobs and conversations that involves non-domestic and pregnancy issues
• The need to nest
• Buying baby related items like bed, pram, clothes etc
• Endless browsing on Reshopper
• Constantly putting my hands on my belly
• Flatulence
• Pain in my pelvis and groin every time I get out of bed or up from sitting
• The inability to stand for a long time
• Being mostly interested in myself and my own body
• Having to stand still when I cough or sneeze to avoid incontinence
• Shortness of breath
• Inability to walk fast or run
• Thinking of birth
• Spreading my legs when I sit
• Waddling
• Reading about and re-reading what this week of pregnancy has in store for me and how the baby develops
• Decreasing interest in the news, art, work

This list was meant to give me an indication of how to take the work further. What ideas or images would come from this? Unfortunately nothing happened. At this point in my process you posted your Response 42 and I got inspired by your use of the green chair. The chair we bought especially for me to sit in towards the end of my pregnancy and for breastfeeding the baby when that time comes. The chair had a kind of ‘banal meaningfulness’ to me! With this item as my only lifeline for my response I decided to repeat your activities, placing myself on the chair. The result forms the basis of the film. I decided that the titles would describe, not so much the banalities from the list above, as how those experiences inhibited my way of engaging with the task.

Admission

I was having a particularly tough time with this task. Not because the task was not interesting or gave me plenty to work with but because, I think, it brought to the surface the weakness in my creative work: form. This (problematic) dichotomy between form and content – process and product – is one we have discussed since the beginning of the project. I have been defending the process of making and in many of my responses I have rejected your requests to think more formally. Including this response. I ignored your instruction to use my Notes Plus app because it didn’t feel right, but then I did not manage to find an adequate alternative. And I realised how unsatisfying the film was both first to make and now to watch. There is no context and no ‘handle’ for the viewer to hang on to. The result is an indecisive and formless response. It is a video which puts my vulnerable body at the centre but where no rules have been applied to the production of text, editing of film material or the capturing of footage. I feel somewhat embarrassed about the creative quality of this video. Partly because it reveals the state of slight apathy I currently go through… well, I guess this would be precisely the most successful aspect of this video: it is true to this experience as it does leave me with a sense of apathy!

The video can’t be embedded for some obscure reason, but can be watched here

As a result, I have come to appreciate that applying form and clear parameters to how I create, might be the way forward to feel more ‘happily creative’. It gives formally satisfying and clear outcomes and actually makes the process easier as it limits ways in which one can work. I guess I have yet to discover what my aesthetics and approach to form might be. Perhaps this admission is taking me one step closer to discovering this.

See here for next task.