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#CASatHome: Spill, by Graham Gussin

29 April 2020 By

This film was online from 12.00, 28 April 2020 to 12.00, 1 May 2020

This week we are very pleased to present Graham Gussin’s Spill, 1999, with thanks to the artist for making it available. The film is screening for 72 hours only and was donated by the CAS to Southampton City Art Gallery through the Special Collections Scheme in 2000.

Spill uses a cinematic device to deal with notions of threshold, appearance and threat. The use of fog has a long tradition in image making videos to evoke feelings of the uncanny and the sublime, from painting, to MTV videos, to the horror and science fiction films of the 1950s.

Fog and mist were, and still are, used in major commercial film productions to denote a shift in aspect – a movement from the natural to the supernatural. In one sense this film is a process piece, we watch as a single material spills into the frame, fills it and then retreats, in another sense it is an hypnotic work, dropping the viewer into a semi-visible location, acting a little like a narcotic. In taking the dry ice and using it so literally it is intended to question the nature of the material and our projections onto it. It is never really clear what it is we are watching.

The film is intended to be seen as a continuous loop in a gallery situation, the viewer entering into the process at any point and leaving at any point. This is an important aspect of the work, as it breaks down the narrative movement and places the viewer in suspense, not knowing whether something has happened or is about to happen.

Commissioned by ArtLab and Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark, where it was first shown, Spill was filmed in a derelict part of the Imperial College of Science & Technology over one night. It was included in New British Art 2000: Intelligence at Tate Britain in 2000 and has been shown extensively both nationally and internationally. As well as Southampton City Art Gallery, it is also held in the collections of Aarhus Kunstmuseum and Tate.