Eternal Youth

Al and Al
FACT Centre, Wood Street (18th April - 8th June 2008)

Reviewed by Alison Cornmell

Between 18th April and 8th June, FACT is giving visitors Eternal Youth. No the holy grail hasn’t been discovered (though I doubt that’s what you thought!) but FACT is exhibiting the work of Al and Al and Eternal Youth. This is an exhibition that takes over two floors of the centre. The bottom floor has a blue screen and editing equipment allowing you to take an real interactive role in the exhibition. There is also the opportunity to see screenings of a film by the duo, however both the blue screen and the screenings have allotted times so phone ahead to really be part of their work.

Upstairs the exhibition can be wandered around without time slots, perfect for my hour lunch break. As you walk in the light is dark blue, and you are immediately faced with some kind of larvae playing on mud, something I didn’t dwell as I had just eaten my sandwich. I groped my way along the dark corridor to the first screen showing Perpetual Motion in the Land of Milk and Honey, a strange film with evocations of paradise, death, hell, consumerism and industrialisation. We watch two hooded figures that follow the story of an old man who it seems is passing through to another life. We - the voyeurs - look on and become a third party in this voyeurism.

Interstella Stella asks questions such as celebrity, what is it? how do you get it? and what do we now hold sacred? The paparazzi and the act of photographing our celebrities is explored, how paradoxically they can make you a star but can be responsible for your downfall. The protagonist (a rather slimy character) at times holds a camera, other times holds a gun; are these two interchangeable? A car crash attracts media attention - perhaps a reference to Princess Diana and the part the media have been accused of playing in her death.

Both these films were visually spectacular, with the sheer scale of the large screen sucking you in and holding my attention. The themes and ideas presented are something that resonates with very modern culture. It struck me as I watched and also stayed with me long after I left the dimmed corridor, provoking debate and questions. So although my chances of remaining young forever are slim I would still recommend seeing this exhibition.

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