Retrospectre was installed in the BFI Gallery to accompany a film season by the Armenian director Sergei Parajanov.
Collishaw combined various film footage shot in Armenia with studio set-ups and Youtube clips. They were back projected onto a screen made up of antique altarpieces, old doors and windows discarded in a skip. Each aperture contained a surveillance mirror onto which the film was projected. The mirror gave the projections a holographic appearance (not easily apparent in the documentary footage).
The clips chosen were scenes that would not look out of place in a Parajanov film, whilst also being motifs that Collishaw had used in his own work.
The work has no narrative but is a collage of images, including birds of prey, burning water, smoke, frightened horses and slaughtered animals; elemental forces that appear in Parajanov’s films to symbolise a mood or indicate a moment of ritual or religious reverence.
Each image appears as a ghost through a humble window-frame or an ostentatious altarpiece; architectural constructs that feebly attempt to contain the primal vigour of nature.
The work reflects on the way modern media tries to harness, assimilate and manipulate potent imagery in a similar way to ritual and religion in the past.
This was partly inspired by Collishaw’s experience of the twin towers falling on September the 11th. He watched events unfold in an electrical shop, witnessing the collapse on around 60 different screens simultaneously. The illusion of slow motion as the buildings fell, coupled with seeing it multiplied over so many screens, gave it an overwhelming, almost devotional power.
- The audio is intrinsic to the work.
- The man in the white shirt walking across the work at the beginning is not part of the film but a reflexion of Collishaw in the mirrors.