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Sarah Pucill
In encountering Sarah Pucill's work, two impressions remain in the imagination.

First, that in their formal quality her films evoke a history of images in painting. Secondly, that there is a relationship in her work to Surrealism. These impressions lead one to ask what place her films have in the gallery, and within the traditions of artists' film. But they also create ways of reading the films together, as a sequence, to allow a view of their relationship to the audience and their internal dynamics and complexities.

Pucill's work is more complex than it at first appears. While her early films seem to inherit the classical conventions of painting and photography, and at the same time to critique them, it emerges through the later films that there is a stronger dynamic in relation to Surrealism. Pucill herself qualifies this link. But it can be seen in her use of a key surrealist principle, as understood from the Manifestoes of Andre Breton: the disruption of rational values in order to access the power of the unconscious in image-making. Pucill enacts this in all her films as part of her enquiry into the construction of images at a psychic level; and the disruption Surrealism advocates allows her to access and animate figures of thought.

Starting with a still image, Pucill's first films explore the legacies of traditional still-life painting and related images in photography. The formal values of both classical and modernist still-life composition underpin an exploration of female self-portraiture and a meditation on the use of woman as image. This is at the same time an exploration of stillness and movement, of the monochrome image and of colour, and of silence and speech. In her first film You Be Mother (1990) Pucill's projected, still self-image is superimposed upon a subtly-rendered, grainy and beautifully framed and lit composition of objects in a table setting. Movements of slight but overt animation bring the two aspects of the combined image together; and the addition of sound suggests moments of psychic as well as physical disturbance, or of thought.

Still from You Be Mother by Sarah Pucill, 1990
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