Juliette Blightman b. 1980
Marcelle, are you feeling bored with life? (2005)
This takes place through a process of transmission that becomes apparent in her early film works and her handling of language, in which the artist imposes her intimate sphere on the viewer and allows a space in the generality of her pictures to bring in other perspectives, which underlines the violence and the eros of this dynamic. In 2005, Blightman made “Marcelle, are you feeling bored with life?”, her first 16mm film – two shots, no people, no action.

“I went to visit my father,” she says. “The first time I was 11 or 12 years old and I remembered the many plants my stepmother had. I wasn’t well at 24, my mother was out of town and she told my father not to let me out of his sight. I was frustrated, but it was my own fault. I sat in the house and filmed the plants. Like all of the 16mm films, I filmed this one at 3pm, a time of nothing when it’s too late and too early.”

The title of the work is borrowed from Jean Paul Sartre’s L’âge de raison. Somewhere in the novel the protagonist Marcelle is asked about her remorse, to which she replies: “I regret the life I could have had.” The negation of what could have happened if she had lived another life and would regret that one instead of real life affirms real life and emphasizes its existential hopelessness. In “Marcelle, are you feeling bored with life?” Blightman shows the hopelessness of existence, which takes place inside and outside in two settings. In the first image, she holds the camera on a window that sits in the darkness of an interior, the silhouette of a lampshade is visible, but the light comes from outside. The mise-en-scène concentrates in the window as if one camera were in front of the other. The exclusion of life from the outside reflects the human experience, which life must translate into the darkness of inner emotional and sensual processes in order to make it tangible.

Through the window you can see plants, domestic objects, a mobile that moves imperceptibly, and behind it a wall and above it a roof; the outside is fenced in; the view is fenced in. The gaze from the unfathomability of the dark interior into the hopelessness of the outside creates an uneasiness that makes clear the inherent horror of the cinematic and links it to the violence inherent in the lust of indifferent contemplation. The second picture is filmed outside and it speaks of invisible adolescence: In front of a wall are potted succulents that glow in the changing sunlight. “I was attracted to the solitude of plants. I grew up in a big family and shared a room until I was sixteen years old. These plants stood alone and proud. Later I found a quote from Simone de Beauvoir: ‘I admired the proud isolation of the oak tree and felt sorry for the communal blades of grass.’ That was the confusion of motherhood, it’s the opposite. You take responsibility for another life that I have learned to love.

-- Tenzing Barshee

"Ten Women Who Use Film" curated by Jennifer Higgie