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Alex Hetherington - Linda fratianne

3:45, 2010, Experimental
‘Linda Fratianne’ is a multi-screen film of a devised performance, which orchestrates complex, often abrasive, materials. It is based on a story by the Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek with references to vaudeville, film noir, theatrical and cinematic styles, performance art and televised sports to explore through gestures, texts and improvised sequences, notions of spectacle/spectatorship, inspection and judgment, violence and failure, glamour and persistence.
DirectorAlex HetheringtonProducerCcaWriterAlex HetheringtonCameraJim RuskEditorAlex HetheringtonCrewRebecca Green, actor
Chris McCann, actor
Karly Robertson, figure skater
Brian Docherty, music
Pauline McCloy, co-director
Lorna Shields, sequins design
Stephen Mcgarry, stills photographer
Kenny Christie, lighting
Finn Hobson, post-production sound

CountryUnited KingdomSubtitlesNoneEdition2011 ScreeningsElectroprojections, Newcastle, Australia, August 2011
Pale Fire, Generator Projects, Dundee, August 2011
Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow UK, 17 October 2010
BBC Pacific Quay, Glasgow UK, 16 October 2010
Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow UK, 14 October 2010

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Interview

Who is Alex Hetherington?
I am a visual artist, with a practice that has included curating and writing previews, reviews and critical surveys on visual art, cinema and performance. I have written about artists like Joan Jonas, Rosemarie Trockel, Kate V Robertson, Darren Banks, Anne Colvin, Ishan Clemenco, Catherine Sullivan, Douglas Gordon, Annette Reunzler, Jimmy Robert. In 2010 I had a solo show with Embassy Gallery in Edinburgh, which combined sonic references from the Canadian band Godspeed! You Black Emperor with the work of Isa Genzken. Prior to that I made a three-screen installation for Edinburgh Art Festival and New Media Scotland based on the works The Chittendens and Triangle of Need by Catherine Sullivan, it was developed during a Creative Lab residency at the CCA and a series of workshops with Franko B. This work, A Million Lies Once and Only Revealed After Death, was also screened at Signal and Noise 10 in Vancouver, Canada. Also in 2010 I made Linda Fratianne for a program of film works at the CCA, Glasgow, commissions for the Commonwealth Games handover from Delhi to Glasgow. The artists commissioned were Calum Stirling, Henry Coombes, Katri Walker, Alex Hetherington, Stina Wirfelt and Clara Ursitti. I was also a program development associate artist with Edinburgh International Festival 2010. Other works in the recent past include a performance residency/installation Heavy Influence for Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop and Mineral Park and Meddle with the Devil at the Park Gallery in Falkirk. I have also made a reenactment of the theatre work House/Lights by The Wooster Group.

What is Linda Fratianne about?
Linda Fratianne is a complex project, it was based on a short story by Elfriede Jelinek, who is a controversial Austrian playwright and novelist and famous agoraphobic. It looks at her interests in sports and art and the work features a couple Mr and Mrs Dempsey who are involved in an intensely violent relationship, Mr Dempsey is obsessed with the figure skater Linda Fratianne, another controversial celebrity sportswoman who introduced glamour to the sport, and who lost out to a Gold Medal during the Montreal Olympics in 1980 in part due to her tremendous freestyle routine. The cast and crew devised the script for the film over an intense series of workshops, filming sequences and rehearsals, where Mrs Dempsey becomes and kind of Cindy Sherman character and Mr Dempsey a character from David Lynch; he also wears a color scheme which alludes to Cremaster 4 by Matthew Barney. We also used A Violent Incident by Bruce Naumand and Pattycake by Sean Griffin as major influences on the development of the work. From this process, which is a collaborative endeavor becomes a multi-screen film or archve of this devised process, and orchestrates complex, often abrasive, materials. It carries on my fascination with the work of Catherine Sullivan.

How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
I started with film in early 2003 when I was commissioned to make a short for Channel 4 television, but had used video and moving image in the development of my work during the 1990s.

Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
My work, which is predominately performance and video-based, but has recently extended to publishing, print-making and sculptural installation, scrutinizes through forms of appropriation art, queer and feminist theory, the postproduction and altermodernism treaties of Nicolas Bourriaud, Hillel Schwartz"s theories on the ’copy" and its culture and Manuel Castells on identity and networked societies, specifically selected pre-existing materials. I maintain a practice which is led by research and forms a continuum and synchronisation of outputs distributed between critical writing, video and performance production, the still image, published materials, curatorial work and collage. I work with the conditions surrounding “sample, capture, imitation and (re)release” and conjoin these ideas with work that investigates gender, behaviour, memory, identity, status and feminism and its connotations, leading me to investigations on artwork made by female artists, which includes Candice Breitz, Isa Genzken, Catherine Sullivan, Trisha Donnelly, Elizabeth le Compte, Joan Jonas, Kate V Robertson, and Rosemarie Trockel among others.
These themes on research, appropriation and writing results in collaborative performance, installation, film and published materials, which mediate on identity and its theft, alter egos, imitation: inhabiting the processes of another, actions on improvisation, re-enactment, and the synchronization of different often abrasive materials, recently art and theatre, the sonic and its resonances, and experimental object-based installation. This process-based practice attempts to engage with the construction and establishment of identity, meaning, memory and knowledge.
What is important to me is to continue to practice in the visual arts with similar creatives during this economically and intellectually horrific period.

How long do you usually work on one project?
I usually have and work to commissions, residencies and professional development projects which have fixed periods and deadlines. I also create a published ephemera project, called Neon John, which allows me to develop new work and collaborations under an alter ego, which I have worked on for a couple of years.

Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
I carefully plan and produce my own work to exacting procedures, which actually allows me to work intuitively, I work with teams of good collaborators who I trust and that makes the working process smoother and we achieve a great deal with limited resources.

How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
Titles are very important, Linda Fratianne for example underscores the significance of the feminine and its connotations in this work. Titles come or appear to me, Levez Vos Skinny Fists Comme Antennas to Heaven isn"t my title its a failed title for the band Godspeed! You Black Emperor"s double album from 2000. My show Heavy Influence draws on notions of influence, plagiarism and the copy in art, and external influences on creativity, like drugs and subcultures. My work A Million Lies Once and Only Revealed After Death came to me when thinking about the psychology of lies and how truths reveal themselves, sometimes tragically. This work references email scams which surround fake narratives, authority figures and individuals where a great deal of money is left after someone has been killed or died; in particular the email scam used in Catherine Sullivan"s Triangle of Need. I recently made a performance about Comme des Garcons, but coulod find no title that would fit the work, so was left Untitled. It did though use a text from Gertrude Stein, so it could have used her title, but I think untitled is more befitting of Comme"s style.

How do you finance your projects (by yourself, sponsors or subsidy)?
I have been very successful in receiving subsidy for all my work from about 2003 onward.

How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
Sound and music is extremely important to me. I use a mix of commissioned soundtracks, sampled and existing sounds from online Creative Common sites. Some of my work uses sound in very confrontational ways, and I like to make sound in my work seems flawed and allude to the live. In performances I use a mix of live sound and pre-recorded materials and often have a live sound mixer helping me.

How would you describe contemporary videoart?
I tend not to look at a great deal of video art, I look at specific artists collections of work, who usually work in film. I like work which is ambitious and complex, Rosemarie Trockel, Catherine Sullivan, Matthew Barney, but I am most interested in work from the 60s and 70s at the moment. I like the work of Jack Smith and Kenneth Anger a great deal. I avoid watching too many things on Vimeo or YouTube, but like the way artists like Candice Breitz work with online material. I don"t care too much for Ryan Trecartin"s work much to my suprise. The best video art I"ve seen is by Pipilotti Rist, some of Douglas Gordon"s work and Bruce Nauman.
I am much more interested in video art that reflects on cinema and theatre conventions.

What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?
If I knew that I would invent it.

Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?
I think most people know my work or have experienced it through the web, but that could be said of most artists. I used to be really hypnotized by the web and its possibilities. Though now I ammore realistic about the platform; it is over saturated and denies real social interaction.

Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?
I am an artist but my greatest love is cinema. There is no difference, it is just about commodity, distribution and audience. If I had more money I would make cinema, since I am poor I make art.

How important is the reaction to your film by the audience?
Not at all. I present what I and my collaborators make.

What is your next project about?
I don"t know. This may be my final work.

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