For the 2023 KW Production Series, artist Emily Wardill (b. 1977, GB) presents Identical, an immersive moving image installation. This new commission deepens the artist’s ongoing enquiry into the ‘imagined image’ – what it is, what it has been used for, and what traces it leaves behind. Wardill’s practice insistently approaches such questions, from her earliest work that looked at stained glass as an early device to communicate with the illiterate, to her recent work that reverses the cinematic technique of ‘day for night’ simulation in order to reflect upon technological vision, performed gender and utopias.
Wardill’s new installation draws aesthetic inspiration from ‘expanded cinema’ – a multimedia form developed by artists in the 1960s and 1970s – while also engaging with the imaginary of ‘expansion’ as it relates to individual consciousness, and to territorial economic growth and domination.
Identical splits the audience’s attention across two video screens whose images loop, split and fold into one another. With reference to iconic cinematic moments of sexual pleasure and physical violence, Identical reflects on the manufactured nature of these moments of abandon, lensing their reconstruction through children and inflatable automata. The accompanying soundtrack runs up and down a central channel in the gallery, weaving an eight-piece choir (whose chorus builds in a Fibonacci pattern) together with sampled tracks, cover songs, and ruminations on ‘splitting’ both as duplicitous and the genesis of life on a cellular level.
In its switching and merging, Identical asks the audience to consider who wove pleasure into domination and why, where does rhyme become reason, and what is the shifting relationship between comedy and tragedy. Amid such binaries, Identical begins to articulate a different space: a polyphonic experience that refuses to become one thing or the other.
KW Production Series is an annual commissioning project dedicated to artists’ moving image works. The project takes inspiration from KW’s founding principles as a place for production, critical exchange, and thoughtful collaboration. Within this ongoing series, KW seeks to identify and serve artists who are at a pivotal moment in their work and career – those who will benefit not only from the financial support and institutional visibility this opportunity provides but also those who will be able to use KW Production Series to significantly contribute towards the depth and rigor of their artistic practice.