From Beyond (1995)
Single screen video with sound
5 mins 29 secs
An assembly of ‘extras’ who appeared in Ken Russell “The Devils” (1971): Lee Fyles, Helene Jefferies, Myra Sands, Annette Jones, Doremy Vernon, Patrick Cleary, Louise Taylor and Jean Reeve.
From Beyond : Vimeo version (at low resolution)
Adam Chodzko’s exploration of existing cultural spaces that blur fiction and reality, the process of retrieval, memory and an attention that intentionally overlooks what is presented, foregrounded and valued in order to look awry – into the periphery, ‘in the wrong place,’ – as well as the creation of small ephemeral communities all occur in From Beyond. In 1995, through research and advertising, Chodzko attempted to track down the cast of extras who appeared in The Devils, (1971) a film by director, Ken Russell. Often casually employed, low paid ‘extras’ are required in order to stage convincing crowd scenes – to make them appear real – through an accumulation of bodies in the background. Chodzko, uninterested in the starring actors, wanted to focus on the position of ‘extras,’ towards the back and edges, within the cinematic space. Equally, he was interested in their experience of participation as more casual performers and their looser relationship with illusion within the film’s central narrative yet still leaving their trace within that cultural artefact.
The crowd scenes in The Devils are particularly orgiastic, chaotic and disturbing. The memory of watching this film as a child became Chodzko’s incentive to return to it 24 years later as reassurance that everything within that fiction was really only ‘just a film’ and had not somehow leaked into the real, despite lingering uncomfortably in personal memory.
The recording took place in a local community hall to where Chodzko lived in Brixton, London. Through interviewing a small group of these gathered extras, now 24 years older than their appearance within The Devils (mostly as demonically possessed nuns), they announce their moment of visibility before walking away from the film, screened behind them, and towards the camera. The effect is one of both returning and turning – almost as though an object – rotating the space of the cinematic frame so that those in the background are now in the foreground and vice versa. It is a relationship to the original film which situates it to include its consumption and handling at home in very compressed and compromised visual form via VHS rental tapes rather than a cinema auditorium project on film.
As with Chodzko’s Product Recall (1994) it is a process of recovery but also loss; ‘looking in the wrong place’ from where our attention is intended to be focussed and replacing it with an attention that is ‘too late’; 24 years is not long to trace those in starring roles, but a long interval to try to track down those whose relationship with the film was so loose, fleeting, pragmatic and peripheral. This state of instability, of mixing up the usual order of things to demonstrate how precariously constructed they are, is a key concern of Chodzko’s practice.
Excerpt from Andrew Wilson, Proxigean Tide, Tate St Ives, 2008
“Given Chodzko’s attention to those areas of life that might otherwise go unremarked or remain unregarded, even forgotten, and also given his weaving of narrative into these areas (symbolic, whether actual and real or fictional and constructed) it is telling that he organised a reunion of extras from Ken Russell’s film The Devils (From Beyond 1995) as well as reunions of those children who appeared in Fellini’s City of Women (The Return from The City of Women 1996) and in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film Salò (Reunion; Salò 1998).”
Transcript of speech in From Beyond
A ‘Haywain’ Moment (2014)
In culo alla balena! [“Into the ass of a whale!” ] (2012)
Meetings of people with stammers to describe a fire (1999 – ongoing)
Product Recall (1994)
We love you here, even though you are there (2012)
Secretors (1993 – )
Sleepers. Hole (2012 – )
The God Look-Alike Contest (1991-1992)
The Pickers (2009)
Reunion; Salò (1998)