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> > > Unlimited 2014: The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) by Juan delGado

17 July 2014

Spanish artist Juan delGado and creator of The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) met the film’s editor Juan Soto in a dimly lit room at the Geffrye Museum in East London. A conversation about how the artistic processes were led by their intentions in the making of the film, was transcribed and edited here by Manuel Angel Macia

photo of artist Juan delGado, film-maker Juan Soto and editor Manuel Angel Macia sat around a table within the confines of a gallery room in the Geffrye Museum

Manuel Angel Macia facilitates a conversation between Juan Soto and Juan delGado in the Geffrye Museum

The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) is an award winning three-channel installation filmed at the Corabastos market in Bogotá. It explores the diverse journeys of produce, from its arrival before dawn up to its consumption. The work will showcase at the Southbank Centre, London in September, 2014 as part of the Unlimited 2014 Festival.

The topic of light, in this enigmatic gloomy setting in which we find ourselves today, serves as our introduction to the film, The Flickering Darkness (Revisited). Light could be said to be crucial, in a general way, given that it is the material constitution of the moving image. Light can be said to be the ‘matter’ of film itself…

The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) consists of textural lighting. The film sets out to pose an enigmatic invitation to think about effects and atmospheres. The title is interesting: it holds a paradoxical duality. A casual spectator could think of flickering lights. Here, the invitation seems to suggest the opposite: a flickering darkness, with a surrounding and sombre obscurity.

One of the first encounters when arriving in Colombia is precisely facing an acknowledged expectation of fear. The title underscores this notion in a way different from that which one would normally expect. The dark allure of the film hints at the question: “fear of what?”

The fact that it is a guiding question has been important for the artistic process and for the film itself… since fear is an undeniable surrounding effect: omnipresent in the sharp social divisions of the Colombian internal conflict. Fear is visible everywhere in Bogotá. But, it seems that in an artistic investigation, the question “fear of what?” lets one tackle a more complex situation: a way of ‘walking into trouble’, a mode of allowing accidental encounters that can become productive...

Night view of Corabastos, Bogotá showing market traders with large bags of vegetables over their shoulder

Night view of Corabastos, Bogotá. Image (c) Juan delGado

Lorena Luengas, the Assistant Producer on the film was already working on a project, based on the idea of fear. So the idea was uppermost in our initial conversations with her: how could we allow the film to suggest new possibilities, a state of being open to new encounters, an understanding that accidents can be enlightening…

So by insisting on walking, it became inevitable to use that mode in the process of making the work. Walking is a way to allow those unexpected crossings, which are so common in The Flickering Darkness

Walking in: it is a metaphor for shifting how one understands fear, instead of treating it as a sort of primal feeling. Transforming fear also means asking: “what is one afraid of?” The failure of finding a meaningful answer to this question, in a place like Bogotá, leaves one in an uncanny state of not knowing. But this condition can be thought of as an open space for possibilities. It is here when one begins to understand the richness of walking into unknown regions. Landing into the open food market of Corabastos – a region unknown even to most of the people who live in Bogotá – led to the joyful outcome of producing this work…

The film intentionally travels a path of lingering uncertainty. It became a productive aspect of the artistic process, with an emphasis on the accidental – of literally walking into new spaces, accidentally. Corabastos is remarkable because of that. All of a sudden one is being led by the smell of thousands of fruits, by the organic shapes of piles of amassed potatoes, by the figures of policemen patrolling ‘chaotic’ spaces of exchange… By realising one is in the middle of a dark labyrinthine space, where hundreds of people gather to feed an entire city…

The Flickering Darkness could be described as an inquiry into a ‘productive choreography’, where the film portrays the conditions where accidental events are able to come together, inviting the spectator to follow those accidents and continuities. This is how the film operates: by chasing events, which present a wide range of possibilities: minimal, discontinuous flows of exchange… The market of Corabastos is the place where they come into being…

The spectator is then invited to follow their own modes of linking these flows and of being affected by them… following the slow impressions of anonymous productive bodies… In that way, the film is an invitation to become attentive to new combinations, to follow the lures of circulation; an aesthetic seduction to accept accidents and their organic connections, fragile as those connections are.

The film then allows the viewer to witness an unsettling way of perceiving movement and exchange. The open market, serves as the gathering zone, the space of arrival. It is also an allegory of a flickering darkness, the motif that brought us here together in the first place, on this rainy summer day in London.

The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) is being shown in the White Room, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre from 2-7 September

The Flickering Darkness (Revisited) is supported by Unlimited; celebrating the work of disabled artists, using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and Creative Scotland. 

Visit The Flickering Darkness page on FB for information on exhibitions and events around the work.

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