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Darren Green Click here to Print this Page
William Raban
One of the pleasures of the trilogy is that each part has its own intrinsic qualities, allowing them to be viewed separately or has a whole without diminishing their power.

Another strength is that, although recognisably different from the formal approaches of earlier work, there is a consistency of tone that suggests a line can be traced back to Thames Film (and beyond) through to his latest piece MM (2002).

The primary focus for MM is the Millennium Dome in Greenwich and, as Canary Wharf can be coded as a comment on Thatcherism, the Dome is used as a visual metaphor to critique New Labour. The piece again refuses easy didactics and collapses together old black and white shots of the building of the Blackwall Tunnel, footage that Raban took in 1987 of the blowing up of the power station where the Dome now stands, film of the 1999 Eclipse, Millennium celebrations and a light show from the first New Year after Canary was built in 1992. The film conveys the inherent strangeness of the Dome as a monument in its particular space and time and also as a cipher for attempts at constructing a national ideal. Echoing the poetic dimension, MM is subtitled 'a film poem in eight stanzas' and acts as a kind of coda, extending themes developed in Thames Film and the trilogy and re-framing them in the context of the Millennium.

As his most recent works, MM, After Duchamp and the works in progress Wild Sea and The Straits of Dover show, two strands of Raban remain constant - a commitment to formal experimentation whilst at the same time being unafraid of revisiting thematic and conceptual ground. Different facets - landscape, narrative, documentary, experiments with process and duration - can be teased from his films at any point and in many combinations. In terms of consistency, it is in his exploration of gaps and spaces, be they between the organic and mechanistic, image, object and representation, painting and film, race and identity, historical and present. His work continues, asking questions and lifting traces.

Darren Green
Still from MM by William Raban, 2002
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