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Stephen Sutcliffe - Outwork


Tramway, Glasgow until June 30th
4 stars
One only has to look at the names on the spines of the books projected on the two large side-screens that flank a central one in Stephen Sutcliffe's large-scale film installation to get where he's coming from. Philosopher Jacques Derrida, semiotician Roland Barthes, a book of Christopher Logue poems and even a DVD of Shelagh Delaney-scripted, Albert Finney starring 1960s Brit-curio 'Charlie Bubbles' are all in there in a mash-up of post-modern pop cultural ephemera.

Drawn from Sutcliffe's personal archive of sound, broadcast and spoken-word recordings dating back to a childhood in which he clearly didn't get out much, Outwork was inspired by sociologist Erving Goffman's book, 'Frame Analysis' and was originally produced for the Margaret Tait Award. Beginning with hummed snatches of 'The Internationale' and ending with the opening guitar riff of 'Gloria', Sutcliffe juxtaposes little documentary glimpses of iconic figures including absurdist playwright Eugene Ionesco, and a grainy kidnap narrative seen through security cameras with plummy-vowelled voice-overs, snoring noises off and even an appearance by Sutcliffe himself.

The projected captions for each brief section of this extended cut-up lend a further Brechtian distancing effect to a series of unreliable narratives akin to the sort of hobbyist tape recording clubs that embraced lo-fi technology in the 1960s. The result of such a line of performance-based inquiry is a haunting meditation on how the familiar can be reimagined in a fair to middling world where beginnings have no end.

The List, May 2013

ends

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