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Dissonance and Disturbance

Lis Rhodes

UK, 2012
26 minutes, B&W/colour, Sound, 16:9
Original format: 2 Screen SD video
Available formats: HD Digital file

‘Dissonance and Disturbance, a two-screen installation, brings together Cold Draft (1988) and two films partly shot amid recent protests in London.The narration to the largely abstract Cold Draft is a poetic critique of Eighties economics, which gains a new potency through being shown alongside Rhodes’s video-camera shots from within police kettles as protests raged against the causes and effects of the economic crisis. She also tells the story of a flour mill in Gaza bombed by the Israeli military. Over the years, Rhodes has shifted from abstraction to near-documentary as her anger at governments becomes palpable. Her work is all the more compelling because her eloquence with film matches her political convictions.’ –Ben Luke ‘London Evening Standard’ 26 January 2012‘The notion of the blurring together of different stories seems to be a key technique which she is developing through her latest work, Dissonance and Disturbance : the installation of In the Kettle (2010), Whitehall (2012), and A Cold Draft (1988) displayed together on two screens with a shared soundtrack, a montage of scenes that suggest a dystopia that extends beyond the struggle of any single moment. She makes connections between power wielded and the effects elsewhere in the world, whether it is the student protesting about the cut of the Education Maintenance Allowance, or the ongoing occupation of Palestine.’ –Paul Hardman ‘Aesthetica’ March 2012‘…Rhodes adopts an alternative strategy for display, merging together A Cold Draft (1988), In The Kettle (2010) and Whitehall (2012) within a double screen projection to produce the most compelling installation…Positioning animated watercolour landscapes and photographs of urban communities on the left screen with footage of London riot police, conflicts in Gaza, and kettled protestors on the right, Rhodes’ latest conjunction of films collapses distinctions between global and local acts of resistance, and the political authorities that condition and contain them. The female narrative from A Cold Draft (1988) provides the ‘shared soundtrack’ to the installation, with Rhodes taking the American poet Emily Dickinson as a creative point of departure. In her original poem ‘I Took One Draught Of Life’ (1862) Dickinson writes, ‘I’ll tell you what I paid/ Precisely an existence/ The market price they said’, providing an analogy for Rhodes’ trilogy of films, where governing political rhetoric comes at the price of human experience. Bridging the gap between experimental, documentary and agitprop styles, Lis Rhodes films are mechanisms for interrogating dominant narratives and histories, which give voice to those traditionally without one. While her own voice of dissent is undoubtedly louder in the later films, her ongoing experimentation with the medium testifies to film as an enduring vehicle for female expression and political resistance.’ –This is Tomorrow Contemporary Art Magazine March 2012‘The move towards such febrile transparency in Rhodes’s recent work is, you could say, itself symptomatic. Conflicts like this preclude formal niceties, it says; though there’s still artistry here, with Rhodes at times working a nightmarish syntax of slowed violent footage, disconnected terrified shouts and softly howling winds that, somehow, rarely descends into theatrics. At other times she makes arcing, everything’s-fucked connections, e.g. moving from don’t-attack-Iran protests in London to, say, reports of Israel blowing up a flour mill in Gaza. If the intense topicality and understatement of this work’s formal architecture means it doesn’t feel like art maybe it shouldn’t (and, in any case, one day it will). For now, Rhodes’ art should just feel like what it is, an exemplary little barricade composed of fury, fear and frustration: conscience as form.’ –Martin Herbert ‘frieze’ issue 146 April 2012Screenings/Installation : The Institute of Contemporary Art London 2012 and The Tramway Gallery Glasgow 2012