Single screen video with sound
9 mins 10 secs
Yet : Low res on Vimeo.
Voice-over (in Finnish, Cantonese and English):
“ It was only early summer… but all the plants were already dying,…
Time had accelerated again.
A small group of IKEA employees go to the local landfill site to try and retrieve some data they had accidentally thrown away.
Instead they found some bags of documents which recorded the history of a place where people met and showed things to each other…Distracted from their original search they took the archive to the editing station in order to look for its questions. But…something bad happened…a disagreement …well, anyway… they fell out…They split up the information in various, but particular ways, each to take it to a separate place for safe-keeping, agreeing to reunite its parts only when they themselves had resolved their differences.
One took it to the ark where everything precious had been stored…
Another chose to entrust it to strangers, offering it to the chalkpit people… And the other took it to the comparison house….And so because of ‘and yet despite all this’ the plants slowly began to recover …..and time….. stood …..still.”
Excerpt from Martin Herbert on Adam Chodzko, 20 March 2012. LUX
“…Call this, then, an art that’s systemically conditional, or whose grammar is full of qualifications – an approach perhaps most strongly signposted in the title of Yet (2005). Here is another sci-fi story, filmed around farmland in East Kent. In this future-world, we’re told, Ikea employees are in charge of managing important data. Having lost some, they try and recover it from a landfill but instead find an archive – magazines and VHS cassettes labelled, in McGuffin-esque fashion, ‘Chodzko’ – that, they feel, pertains to some ecological disaster. As the film unfolds and the clerks split up, dealing with their material in diverse ways, the sense arises that maybe they’ve misinterpreted the film footage, assumedly from the tapes, of withered vines and wind-dried leaves. The clerks are Cantonese and Finnish – another deliberately unresolved reference to hybrid migrant communities – and the film, again, reveals itself pretty strongly as a construct.
After the clerks perform their ministrations, the film’s voiceover gets to the point. ‘Slowly, because of “and yet despite all this”, it says (the nested quotation being true to Chodzko’s script, though not quite audible), ‘the plants slowly began to recover. And time… stood… still.” The yet, as grammatically hard to pin down as it is, is key – and even because of the difficulty. It points to something outside the film that has acted upon events, something concealed from us. We’ll never know what, and that’s the spark of perpetually animating life that animates the art, and something more than it. It’s human nature to want to shut down complex and intractable problems: like, say, how we get along with our differences on this planet. One way to resist their closure, Chodzko’s art infers, is to embed them in artworks that themselves are models of perpetual, hopeful deferral. Are we done? Not yet, not ever.”
Excerpt from Martin Herbert, More Dark in Adam Chodzko Proxigean Tide, Tate St Ives, 2008
“…Much of… Yet (2005) is voiced by the narrators in their own languages, whose geopolitical disconnect from each other reinforces the film’s mood of alienation, its embrace of a parallel present where this consonance of countries makes sense. The musicality of the languages carries the viewer along, just as a dream logic of conundrums and resolutions propels the scant lineaments of narrative. Nevertheless, the whole is eminently collapsible: a solution is found, but the voiceover suggests that the workers might have hindered as much as helped. And actually it’s not clear that there was ever a problem. The Ikea data-clerks, so it might appear from the ‘archive’ material cut into the film (and ominously soundtracked with bursts of BBC Radiophonic Workshop-style static and bleeps), have merely uncovered some vintage footage of an archaeological dig and some photographic documentation of dried plants, and jumped to conclusions. Maybe they simply got the seasons wrong. What they solve, and how, is left tantalisingly unclear in a manner that resonates with the film’s title: for ‘yet’, as a conjunction, implies a persistent, external, conditional aspect to the film, an extra parameter or further qualification. There is often the sense of such a ‘yet’, or a cluster of them, animating Chodzko’s artworks: and, usually, a withholding of precisely what that ‘yet’ is.
Yet is among several of his recent films ghosted by the approximate atmosphere of earthbound science fiction, hitched thereby to an amorphous tradition in which apparently believable normality is tweaked in order that a fabulist story might be convincingly assayed. This not-quite-pantheon admits of a range of practitioners. Chris Marker, whose economical repurposing of photographic stills in La Jetée (1962) resonates strongly with Yet, is one obvious inclusion. But so are exponents of the dystopian English sci-fi tradition such as John Wyndham and JG Ballard, who use the cloying familiarity of the everyday as a counterpoise to root eruptive strangeness. One might also factor in John Smith’s film The Black Tower (1985-7), whose narrator feels himself pursued by a menacing fragment of London’s architecture; Patrick Keiller’s imposition of semi-fictional narratives upon neutral footage of London and suburban England in London (1994) and Robinson in Space (1997); and even artists such as Stanley Spencer, who envisioned resurrections and crucifixions in his Berkshire hometown of Cookham. Chodzko’s filmmaking, of late, has been characterised by a comparable estrangement of environmental familiars: an analogy, perhaps, for the fragile disorder that trembles beneath the supposed solidity and clarity of the social…”
In its use of Kent landscapes set in a dystopian future Yet was also partly developed as Chodzko’s response to Russell Hoban’s novel Riddley Walker (1980), but incorporating its stark themes into the more intimate, immediate, familial environment of the new community that he was getting to know, following his move to Whitstable from London in late 2001.
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