Apparent Positions A discussion and screening with Beatrice Gibson

Artist and filmmaker Beatrice Gibson discusses her work in the context of the Apparent Positions series at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. The event includes a screening of Gibson’s earlier film A Necessary Music.

A Necessary Music
Beatrice Gibson UK/USA 2009 28’
HD video, colour, sound

A Necessary Music is a science fiction film about modernist social housing. A musically conceived piece, referencing the video operas of Robert Ashley, the film explores the social imaginary of a utopian landscape through directed attention to the voices that inhabit it. Roosevelt Island is a small sliver of land situated between Manhattan and Queens, intersected by the Queensborough Bridge. Formally known as Welfare Island and originally home to New York’s largest insane asylum, a smallpox hospital, and a range of other 19th century municipal facilities for incarceration, it now houses one of the city’s most visible, yet little-known Modernist social housing projects.

The subject of several architectural competitions during the 1960s that employed the island as a laboratory site, its current status is the result of the winning entry of Philip Johnson. Johnson’s master plan proposed a mixed-income, enclosed utopian community; a bucolic concrete enclave, divided into three residential developments.

Treating the medium of film as both a musical proposition and a proposal for collective production, A Necessary Music employs the resident of New York’s Roosevelt Island as its authors and actors, gathering together texts written by them and using them to construct a script for the film. Casting seventeen residents to enact these lines accompanied by a fictional narration taken from Adolfo Bioy Casares’ 1941 science fiction novel The Invention of Morel, the film deploys fiction as a tool to frame and activate its site. Self-consciously dissolving from attempted realism to imagined narrative,
what begins as a process concerned with sociality becomes instead an ethnographic fiction about place and community, and an investigation into representation itself.

Watch A Necessary Music on ubuweb

For more information about the artist, see here

N.B. This event takes place after hours at the Sainsbury Centre in the Lower Gallery: please enter via Crescent Wing ramp