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Multiple Worlds in a Single House

Multiple Worlds in a Single House

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After 18 years in their modernist London house, an artist couple, D. and H. (Viv Albertine, founder of the band The Slits, and Liam Gillick, of Relational Art fame, both excellent) decide to sell. This decision reverberates through Joanna Hogg’s gorgeously photographed study of intimacy, Exhibition, a film that places multiple worlds of top of the other and observes their overlappings and contradictions in a mature, focused manner. Their alternately tense and loving interactions are themselves a function of the living space, with H.’s office, where he types away on his computer, up the spiral staircase, hers, where D. develops a kind of exhibitionist performance art, on the lower floor, looking onto the street—they communicate, at times rather comically, via intercom. Though most of the film transpires in the house, Hogg uses sound to establish the danger that encroaches from outside. Yet she also dissolves the boundaries between exterior and interior: we hear the construction plowing the streets, a police siren, and at the same time D. brushing her teeth.

Sometimes the curtains are drawn, sometimes they are left open, also serving as a metaphor for how both artists exist as permanently exposed to the public world. The couple fights, with his moodiness and her insecurity often coming to the fore—he wants to move, she is more reluctant— but is this how they have always interacted? Is it evidence of a new strain in their relationship? Is the house haunting them, or vice versa?

Mark Peranson
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