Thursday, 7 February 2008

Wendy Tilby "Tables of Content" (Four Women, Four Decades - 1980s)

Wendy Tilby's Tables of Content was her graduation film from the Emily Carr College of Art and Design, Vancouver in 1986. The movie transports one into another era, an earlier age of gentility and reticence, set in a rather stuffy restaurant during the day. An old gentleman sits scanning his fellow diners, all of whom seem distracted and unfulfilled, even the party-goers. Muffled words, impossible to distinguish, form a soundtrack. A woman sits bored to distraction, her glass of wine on the table whilst her companion, an older woman, at the other side of table manipulates two ball bearings around a plate. The old gentleman surveys the birthday party for the old lady, an elderly couple, and five men in black as cheerful as a wake. The waiter brings in the plates. Who should eat the dessert? A goldfish swims round and round in its bowl. Beside it on a plate is a larger relative. It’s all lethargy and starched elegance. The waiter peers over the elderly gentleman’s shoulder at crossword and comic strip. In a series of perfectly observed vignettes, usually in shades of black and grey, though with the occasional smidgeon of subdued colour, Wendy exposes an empty affluence to the accompaniment of piano music by Robert Schumann. There are stories here but very internalised, subtly revealed. Unlike with her hugely successful When The Day Breaks, Wendy uses the technique of paint on glass. It might be time-consuming to produce but the effect is liquid and atmospheric. The conclusion is mature beyond a young undergraduate's years: the waiter catches the departing elderly gentleman’s eye. He does not appear to have left a tip. Animation does not come finer than this at degree level or beyond. The YouTube version pointed to in the link is wrongly named and sadly I am unable to discover a DVD for sale. Wendy could well have represented the present decade, so state of the art is her work.

No comments: