On the 12th September 2019, a screening of “Sunday Fantasy”, Zoe Williams’ new film, has been held in our Milan offices.
The film was commissioned by Mimosa House (London) and supported by the Arts Council England, with the generous contribution of MMAT. Courtesy the Artist and Antoine Levi, Paris.
Discover more Zoe Williams’ new work and read the artist’s conversation with curator Daria Khan from Mimosa House here below:
Williams’ new film follows a fragmented, dreamlike narrative centred around the character Veronica Malaise, who is played by 4 interchangeable women. The discontented Veronica finds an ancient, glass, scent bottle in the shape of a shell, on a beach near the mouth of the Thames Estuary.
The bottle is possessed by the spirit of its previous owner, a fictional lesbian priestess from the Roman Empire, who used it to distil and realise her erotic fantasies. When rubbed on the nape of the neck or the genitals, the bottle has the power to make real the fantasies of the person possessing it. The film charts the non-linear journey of the Veronicas’ and the rise and demise of their fantasies through the manipulation of the bottle.
The film plays with dissecting current representations of the erotic through an importantly female and queered lens, as well as examining problematised subject/object relations.
Challenging the idea of singular authorship, Williams has worked with her friends and
collaborators; Amy Gwatkin, Deniz Ünal and Nadja Voorham on the construction of the film, inviting them to enact their own and each other’s fantasies within it. The film is co-directed by filmmaker Amy Gwatkin, with a soundtrack by musician David Aird.
Simultaneously, two new acquisitions of MMAT have been presented to the guests:
DK: There is a feeling of trust and the atmosphere of non-judgement for the viewer, a safe space, not only inside the film but also outside of it. The female subjects in the film are really in control of their desire and pleasure, no matter if they choose dominant or submissive roles, besides that it’s much more ambivalent in the narrative, the positions easily switch in between.
DK: You have this reference to an early 90s aesthetics. Does this time represent something specific for you in terms of how eroticism was depicted?
ZW: “Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls”, might not be necessarily politically correct films but the female characters subvert what it means to be palatable females. I am not sure it was a totally conscious choice, but the 90s aesthetic perhaps has something to do with the fact that this was when our fantasy worlds began to build up as children and young adults. Those are some of the images that just stick with you.
DK: Like re-animating it with an imaginary story.
ZW: Yeah with an imaginary, idealised, queered story. It also might have had a really horrible story.
DK: Like used for poison?
ZW: Yeah. It’s about the magical aspect of that. It was about the Veronica Malaise character who is this interchangeable woman that we all inhabit. This frustration you often feel as a woman trying to somehow realise your desires and to have them accepted. It’s like a freeing of that.
DK: Oh great!
ZW: We thought it wasn’t right, that we couldn’t have him.
Zoe Williams (b.1983). Lives and works in London and is represented by Antoine Levi Gallery, Paris. Her practice incorporates a range of mediums including moving image, ceramics, drawing and performance. Through these elements, she is primarily concerned with creating immersive instances and environments which, holding a veneer of seduction, seek to access the cerebral through sensual experience.
The Unruly Glove, The Green Bum and The Sickly Trickle, Antoine Levi Gallery, Paris; Morsa, Studio Amaro, Naples; Pel, Antoine Levi Gallery, Paris; Soft Paste, The Studio Warehouse Gallery, Glasgow; The Flight of O, Spike Island, Bristol.
(X) A Fantasy, group exhibition and performance commission, DRAF, London; Spring/Summer 2015, DCA, Dundee; The Chic and The Borderline, cur. by David Roberts Art Foundation, part of Art International Istanbul; Watch yourself, cur. by David Dale Gallery with Video Art Network Lagos and UK:NG Festival, Rele, Lagos; Mood is Made /Temperature Is Taken, GSS, Glasgow; Chateaux Double Wide, Glasgow International Festival 2016; H Y P E R C O N N E C T E D, MMOMA, part of 5th Moscow International Biennale of Young Artists; Mademoiselle, Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain Occitanie, Sète, France; The Armoury Show 2019, New York; Playful Aggressions, Greengrassi, London; Ruffles, Art Montecarlo 2019; Something soft, Kunstraum, London.