Until the Cinema of Transgression, the film movement on which the exhibition is based, the really dark aspects of society were not really developed in the film industry, especially not in such a realistic and shocking way. As I went deeper into the darkness of the first ever exhibition of these works at the KW institute I became less comfortable and less sane! The intensity and confusion of the exhibition increases the higher you go so that from the top, the rape, suicide and blood on the ground floor seem almost tame. At times my mind seemed to be shouting at me…IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING!?! This is cinema to shock, shake and disturb even the least squeamish of viewers. Being quite squeamish I didn’t stand a chance and my state of mind became more chaotic. At first it was possible to stay detached, the first room was focused showing individual screenings one after the other. Thereafter the films’ proximity to one another closed in, their atmospheres blended and I got more and more sucked in to the darkness.
Is This What Hate Sounds Like?
The violent noises are stuck in my head. I can still hear the screams of a woman burning in the fire and the repetitive swearing and hate reeling out at me. I can even still hear the woman having her labia sewn together gasping in pain. The films became harder to watch and the images that accompany these noises seem ingrained in my eyelids! Even higher up even these images start to blend. I am trying to focus on a film, but I can hear a troubled teenager murdering her family on the other side of the room and out of the corner of my eye I can see a rat being cut open and its insides pulled out. Behind me flashing lights from other films are fighting for my attention.
Photo: Frances Cragg, Courtesy of the KW Institute. Have you ever heard a burning woman scream?
A Troubling Truth
It was not just the films themselves but how they were presented that made this experience unforgettable. The KW institute has really captured the feel of the films and created an exhibition space that reflects them. The darkness of the rooms with their blacked out windows, violent green backgrounds and flashing strobe lights in the stairwells all seem like a horrible nightmare and give the feeling of being trapped in a horror film. The scariest thing about this horror film: It’s so real. The images you are seeing are not so far from the truth. This is humankind at its most troubled.
After so many hours of mental, visual and emotional disturbance I couldn’t take anymore and needed to get out. But what about the guards at the exhibition? The people who are exposed to this darkness all day. If I had to sit in this heavy atmosphere all day, I may turn psychotic! I spoke to a guard who highlighted the importance of protecting yourself from the harsh acoustic atmosphere and reflecting on what you see and hear. I feel exhausted by what I have experienced. I need to reflect and recuperate, so to get away from the darkness I go to the lightest place possible: Bravo, a café made of glass right next to the KW Institute!
- KW Institute for Contemporary Art, “YOU KILLED ME FIRST – The Cinema of Transgression”, February 19th – April 9th 2012 Tue-Sun: 12pm – 7pm, Thu: 12pm – 9pm