Critical Writing Index

Embedded Aggression Implied or Enacted

by Grahame Weinbren

Millennium Film Journal, Spring 2013, no. 57, pp. 64-72

Author and cinema artist Grahame Weinbren explores two video works by Catherine Elwes and David Critchley from 1984 and 1979, respectively. The essay is a product of Weinbrein's research for the book, REWIND: British Artists' Video in the 1970s and 1980s. The author describes the 2006 Rewind Project to recognize and preserve this generation of British video works, with which the book is associated. The two video works are tied together for their representations of aggression and violence, albeit characterized very differently. Weinbren notes that the subjects explored in these works were taboo at their time of production, and to a large extend remain taboo today.

Elwes' There is a Myth, explores the myth of sons' murderous aggression toward their mothers, based on the belief and fear that one who can create life can also destroy life. The concept is represented by an infant's hand on his mother's breast as he feeds from the other outside of the frame. The mother's aggression toward her child is also suggested, effectively conveying feelings difficult to express and admit.

Critchley's Pieces I never Did is a composition of works by the artist, both imagined and realized, which he calmly purports to have envisioned but never made. Inserted as short interruptions throughout the work, the artist appears, anxious and frustrated, shouting SHUT UP! in a hopeless and childish manner. The sense is given that the animosity of the shouter is directed at the calm and collected artist shown in other frames. Weinbren reads this as a critique of the self-confidence ingrained in the work of many artists of the period.

ITEM 2013.153 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

There is A MythCatherine Elwes

Pieces I Never DidDavid Critchley