Having visited all of the cinemas on the island, there was one last place to visit, where a projection screen had been hung long ago by soldiers deep under water. As we descended below the surface, an 8-Ball our only physical memento, we realised that the cinemas we had visited during the day might no longer exist, that our submarine had not descended but that the water level had risen, flooding the island and its cinemas so that celluloid and other projection paraphernalia is carried around the streets by the flow, wrapping itself entangled on lamp posts, car wheels, blocking drains and choking birds and small children. Eventually the water, and the silty detritus that its calm but powerful flow carries, has clogged up the equipment and ruined the seats, damaging the images beyond repair. By the time we surface, we have already taken pleasure in the fact that it is too late, and that we have already drowned.
– Excerpt from Pleasure Through Drowning (HD Video), Kihlberg & Henry, 2015
In this new film by Kihlberg & Henry, the bizarre reconditioning of the 32 cinemas of Portsea Island provides an apt location for a work that exists between fantasy and authentic reportage. For the filmmakers, this seemingly pre-existing slippage between the real and the constructed was further activated by an episode of teenage vandalism, which left the local archive flooded beyond use.
Subsequently a narrative lead by dérives musters a hauntological terrain. Existing tethers to reality remain secured only to unfettered anecdotal local aural history and sparse footage collected on the island in 2011. Images are notable by their absence; the few that exist are provoked to expose their fissures. An incessant pace flows, driven by a desire for an ideological placelessness; for a geography where the flood of images has not yet saturated, a desire that is subsumed under the infliction of the itinerants relentless thirst for images.
Pleasure Through Drowning references Kihlberg & Henry’s earlier film Afterimage, which was commissioned by Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, 2011
Karin Kihlberg and Reuben Henry in conversation with Sophie J Williamson Wednesday 1 July 7pm