Rebecca Salvadori explores London raves in The Sun Has No Shadow
An evocative portrait of the intermediate spaces of the city, within which it is possible to extract oneself from an implacable urban malaise, suspended in transit from one time and place to another, in a process of psychological and spiritual transformation.
In one of the opening scenes of The Sun Has No Shadow, a modulated voice quotes art critic and media theorist Boris Groys, suggesting that: “openness to exteriority and its influences is a characteristic essential to another feature of the modernist heritage, which is to reveal the Other in oneself, to become Other. Under the gaze of experimental filmmaker and videographer Rebecca Salvadori, refurbished factories and warehouses, industrial parks, dimly lit underpasses and forests adjacent to highways are produced not only as hedonistic spaces, the still untapped real estate on which London’s clubs and free parties can find a home too often temporary, but as liminal sites of transformative potential, in which one is suspended in fleeting moments of intimacy and community connection. Cutting between non-linear documentary and abstract editing in a dissociative assemblage of image, sound and text, The Sun Has No Shadow navigates vital shared territory between moving image and sound and live performance, pinning footage from the institution of Canning Town FOLD and its beloved Sunday Rave unfolds alongside testimonials from ecstatic ravers and Salvadori’s own friends. “I’ve always been drawn to environments and situations that felt transient, open, not completely finished,” says Salvadori. “I think it may be because these contexts allow you to exist in a less mechanical way. They are more layered and have a space of possibility within them. When a space has been designed for a specific need, everything seems more compressed and mechanical.The edges of a city are in-between spaces, areas where the intentionality of urbanization becomes transitory and almost left to itself.
FOLD, perched on the edge of an E16 industrial zone, thus takes on the wild aura of the “edgelands”, separated from the relentlessness of the city and tinged with the ephemeral energy of wild nature, charged with a potential for transformation. . In the excerpt from Salvadori’s film featured above, the filmmaker’s passage through these liminal environments serves as both a record of navigating the complex confines of London and a prescient diagnosis of a contemporary condition. Flashes of high-vis trousers illuminate the ghosts of the second summer of love that haunt Salvadori’s frame, mapping the distance between London’s rave scenes past and present. Night vision loops of Salvadori’s friends at an after party repeat as an unseen speaker recounts the experience of watching himself on screen, the visual repeats taking on the steady rhythm of a four on the floor. These vignettes, displaced from discernible space and time, seem to grapple with the psychic difficulty presented by the commercial and corporate intensities of urban life, analyzing the tension between a desire and a supposed need for various kinds of dissociation, whether emotional, political or narcotic. These liminal spaces provide an opportunity for escape from the city, but whether it is an escape from an overwhelming web of automation and commodification or an escape into a do-it-yourself formation of community is left intentionally vague by the filmmaker, an inscrutability underlined by facial blurring, voice modulation and detached subtitles. “Some time ago I received a message from someone I don’t know,” Salvadori recalls. They said: In your work, everything happens in its exact time, I felt like I was not watching a video, just being in myself, part of an ongoing life of something. It was a really weird feeling. »
Salvadori continues, “Just as can happen in very noisy and crowded environments, connections are started, broken, lost, and remade; we come across conversations only to abandon them again. Its deft cuts between FOLD’s exoskeleton, industrial fan and red LED light framed in the cold gray of an early London morning, and the documentation on the wall of the club’s inhabitants evoke the exquisite disorientation of the club’s space. , capturing a very particular sensory overload. Soundtracked with distorted recordings of the booming club, this montage is inscribed with the disembodied words of an unknown raver. Wrapped in a breathy recording of machinic techno churn, the cacophony of sights, sounds and text approximates the experience of hearing something beautiful from a stranger dancing beside you, rising above smoke and noise for a moment. “Subtitles, often sharing personal thoughts, sentences cut from context, or simple statements, add to this ever-changing layered complexity that I find fascinating, this undefined flow of something,” says Salvadori. “Face blurring and voice modulation are choices born out of a combination of the club’s privacy policies and a reaction to my attitude towards portraying close friends. With The Sun Has No Shadow, I felt the need to detach myself; for the first time, those depicted are not fully themselves, my friends, but rather vehicles for a specific symbolic moment.
This dissociation in symbolism manifests itself literally in the climax of the excerpt, where the haze and blur of the crowd dissolve into the abstract rupture of what Salvadori calls “eurovid”, an evolving graphic language composed of combinations changing animated shapes and colors. “When I started filming, I had no sense of limits; myself, the camera and what was being filmed seemed equally important, to the point where I found myself disappearing behind the camera,” says Salvadori. “I had to stop and subvert the flow of trajectories: instead of filming everything I saw, I isolated and started doing abstract animations. Simple animated geometries have always represented my desire for silence and emptiness. Then years after my first experiences, “Eurovid” became a portal for new dogmatic messages. In The Sun Has No Shadow, the graphic language is no longer silent; it is an invitation both for me and for those watching to find and follow that light that never fades. By disrupting the linear techniques of film editing, Salvadori formally subverts the momentum of his own frame, re-inscribing the transitional liminality of his subject on screen. The collage of ever-changing forms takes an inward turn, emphasizing the voice and text that are woven into the texture of the frame, another modulated voice relating their experience of being lost in the dance. “I like it because it’s like looking through a lens,” they claim, “a way of condensing information as the body goes through a process, that constant feeling that nothing belongs to you.”
Presented with a desubjectivated procession of abstract images in progress, the momentum of the sequence preceding it is revealed, a recording of transformation in liminal spaces that implements another process of transformation, once suppressed, in its relationship with the viewer. This displacement of perspective, a rupture of the subjective gaze by abstract projection, opens The Sun Has No Shadow to the viewer. The ephemeral intimacy between strangers, captured in a way dissociated from linear time and conventional space, summons a community in the making, constantly fluctuating, changing form as soon as a recognizable group is formed. “Where we thought we were alone, we will be with everyone.”
For more information about Rebecca Salvadori and her work, you can follow her on Instagram. The Sun Has No Shadow was commissioned by curator Adriana Leanza for the hybrid show Synchronous Errors, which took place at FOLD earlier this year and will be presented at Futur Shock, curated by Karolina Magnusson Murray, at FOLD on June 9.
Then watch: Zoë McPherson moves through a healing dub elixir in I Expect Nothing (Straight)