Are You There?

Authors: Sykes, E.L.


In 2014 Lizzie Sykes was awarded an Arts Council residency at Mottisfont, a National Trust property and gardens in Hampshire – a place where artists have met and made work for hundreds of years. ‘Are You There’ is a piece made at that residency inside the house. It’s performed by internationally acclaimed dancer Louise Tanoto, and is a response to how it feels to be alone in the house, to be inescapably linked to it yet private: free from expected codes of physical behavior such a space represents. How we distort and manage time is key in this film: being seen or camouflaged, preserved or edited out. How some slices of history are visible to us over time, and others are quieter, unresolved stories. As visitors, are we part of this shifting flux of presence and interpretation. There is a 900 year old abbey encased within the walls of the building and, if you open a cupboard in the dining room, a key location in the film, you can see an arch of the abbey, completely intact, like a bone in a body. At the time of the residency, contents of cupboards were being cleared out for archiving and curation. All kinds of objects that had been in storage were uncovered: from collections of stuffed animals to teapots. The film is painterly: graded using Chiaroscuro influences, at points it looks like it could be a moving part of the collection. The dancer is the embodiment of this feeling of perpetually performing, or being trapped: a beautiful but unsettling world.

Source: Manual