UK / Duration 12m 9s /2012
Sara Brannan’s work is about gendered spectatorship and female identification in cinema. Using films in the public domain Brannan identifies and singles out the female ‘lead’ character. Only footage of the female alone in the frame is used, the rest of the film is removed and the images are edited together to run consecutively, following the chronological order of the original film. All sound is removed apart from the character’s voice.
This re-editing interrupts the patriarchal narrative structure and makes visible the usually invisible editing that is demanded by realism.
The presence of woman is an indispensable element of spectacle in normal narrative film, yet her visual presence tends to works against the development of a story line. The woman is on display, to be looked at and to provoke rather than represent. She functions as an erotic object on two levels: for the characters within the screen story, and for the spectator within the auditorium, with a shifting tension between the looks on either side of the film.
By removing the male protagonist Brannan transfers the gaze solely to the spectator, which intensifies our own scopohilic position. The female character is left looking passive, vulnerable and unstable.