Socialism: a family film

May 19th, 2016

Anna 4

Anna 3Anna 2Anna1

25–27 March 2016

A number of spurs (including the loss of a great aunt who had fled Czechoslovakia the day before the Nazi invasion) conflated, with the realisation that there are great gaps in my knowledge of socialism. My practice is social: concerned with others, how we communicate with and care for each other. It seemed vital to set an informed foundation for my work, to further educate myself and look at how these ideologies might be discussed with younger people. I put forward a project examining socialism – its history, key figures and relevance in modern life. This would be used by us to make a short film: a rare opportunity to conduct a family residency.
Tolpuddle Martyr’s Museum is not too far from Powerstock, so we called in to find out more about this early example of attempts at an agricultural trade union. We found this village to be a hub of activity, hoping to return for the festival in the summer.
We arrived at Copse Barn in the bright sunshine, with a big wave from Anna. I had brought her some cooked red cabbage, a recipe of my great aunt’s. The one room would house us as we intensively worked on the initial stages of the film. I had been researching and planning for a month, with a list of episodic projects I thought might be absorbing and manageable. The stove was stoked and kettle put on the hob. As the temperature rose in the caravan, ladybirds spluttered from behind cupboards: red dots punctuating every surface. We also migrated around the interior. Flip-book construction on the sofa, slogans on stickers at the bedside table and a roll of lining paper stretched across the width of the kitchen worktop at the front of the caravan. Standing, we traced portraits of socialists, using carbon paper. The large windows, on most walls, encircled us with light and and a vantage point for the activities of Copse Barn and the weather. Wind and rain rocked the shell of the Traveller’s Buccaneer. Daffodils leaned in the gusts and the conifer under which the caravan sits, thrashed and squeaked. We were acutely aware of our domestic preoccupations, our negotiations with each other in this pared-down scenario and the attempts at order against the backdrop of the elements. In bright spells, we dashed out to film, running past the goose in her bathtub with a red flag. Anna’s welcome, her openness to sharing her space and her home, made this explorative venture – where making and playing, living and thinking were not compartmentalised – alive, flexible and possible.

Watch Socialism: a family film.

Part of  The Mothership artist residencies, hosted by Anna Best of unincorporated collaborations.