4 minutes, 35mm (1.37), sound, 2006
made with the support of lift & the
new directions in cinema series 2006
An unstable community leads to accusations and panic.
Re-considering the Salem witch trials of 1692. Then doesn’t
always seem so far off from now.
In hysteria, Christina Battle refers more obliquely to the
contemporary political climate using schoolbook illustrations
of the Salem witch trials. She works the surface of the film
in distinctive ways, lifting the emulsion to add new wrinkles
to the image one frame at a time.- Chris Gehman & Andréa
Picard (tiff 2006)
Like nostalgia (april 2001 to present), this film is made up
entirely of drawings. They show a house from the past century,
the cartoonish figure of a man, a woman’s uplifted face
praying, and then another. They are lent movement through the
act of hand processing, a hail of scratches and blemishes course
through the picture, reminding us that we are watching a loop
of emulsion unspool. The image turns briefly and occasionally
from positive to negative, the likely result of “flashing” the
film in the development process, quickly exposing it to light “prematurely.” This
technique emphasizes the dual nature of the chemical image.
Typically negatives are printed to create a positive for viewing.
By showing us both at the same time, the artist remarks upon
the usually hidden “dual” nature of the picture—and
it is hardly a coincidence that these technical namings (negative
versus positive) carry distinct moral implications.
A Puritan woman points at another in a gesture of accusation
while a crowd looks on, an arm points at a woman praying in
front of a tribunal. Near the two minute mark the cartoonish
figure of a man returns, this time emulsion lifted, flickering
and shaking in an agitated dance. Dark figures in distress
slide through the frame, there is a hanging, and then the emulsion
lift frenzy is over. The silhouette of a hanged woman stands
clear, a reminder of witch hunts past and present, the easy
seduction of surfaces, and the migrations of names to these
surfaces. Kike, polack, fairy, nigger, witch. [Mike Hoolboom,