By Monica Delgado
A short film with a suggestively long name was one of the most successful among those selected for the competition (along with the works of Los ingrávidos, Lior Shamriz, Jan Bujnowski and Dalibor Martinis, which I will comment on in other posts). It grew fur again, lost it, developed scales, lost them (2021), directed by the Danish artist Gotte Villesen, is an essay film that explores two imaginaries that emerged from two works of feminist science fiction. The filmmaker and artist explores terms and characters from Native Tongue (1984) and Earthsong (1993), two novels by American writer Suzette Haden Elgin, and the novel Imago (1989), by fellow American writer Octavia E. Butler.
The name of the film is a quote from a passage in Imago, and alludes to an alien character who is neither male nor female. Butler’s novel is a reflection from gender and the concept of race, or like Haden’s book, a critical analogy of patriarchal societies from gender. However, both science fiction imaginaries are extrapolated by Villesen from an exploration of some certain details such as the mention of Láadan, the language created by feminist linguists in Native Tongue, from a women’s point of view, the mention of the process of ‘audiosynthesis’ involving songs that feed plants, and cites the intersex personals of Imago.
From the use of digital, still photography, texts, and a sound work that allows us to imagine this idea of audiosynthesis, the artist captures a relationship between these worlds of science fiction and the bucolic environment of the fields and lagoons, where no people appear. There is something unreal in the atmospheres that Villesen creates, beyond the conceptualization that he consolidates to establish these relationships between this literary world and the recording of space as part of the tribute to a botanical work of preservation (as part of this fictional landing to a reality sensitive, and somehow reminiscent of the recent Herbaria, by the Argentinian Leandro Listorti). And this correspondence that Villesen achieves between the materiality of cinema (in this case, digital but at the point of very subtle superimpositions on the landscapes that imitate the way in which botanists assemble their archives in herbariums), allows a metaphor on language as constructor of meanings and cosmovisions (such as Láadan’s invention and the possibility of recomposing the world from the vision of women).
At the end of the short film it can be seen that this work belongs to a larger project by Gitte Villesen (1965): an individual exhibition held with the support of Danish entities. Already in previous works, such as the video installation There is an Affinity (2019), Villesen already combined drawings by the Austro-Hungarian botanist Raoul Heinrich Francé (1874–1943), and which also appear in It grew fur again, lost it, developed scales, lost them, along with a quote from Octavia E. Butler’s work. Thus, with this short, we appreciate the creative and conceptual interests of this Danish artist, whose universe has a particular mark, to configure a naturalistic and utopian world.
Competition program 8
Director: Gitte Villesen
Denmark, 2021, 23 min