Near Real Time is the first major solo exhibition in France by British artist Gail Pickering. It presents a new body of work based on research that led her to uncover a series of historical analogue videotape reels, the only remaining recordings of live broadcasts by the Vidéogazette, a 1970’s community television channel based within a social housing complex in Villeneuve, France.
This social experiment incorporated a key period of militant filmmaking, wherein a community produced an image of itself. On its demise this same community suggested that the activists had taken over and the broadcasts in which they had participated did not represent them.
This source of social realism provides an antagonistic space for Pickering to address the subjectivity of the televisual image itself, goading and pressing its surface materiality as much as its content to construct new narrative spaces and image turns, to question what a community might look like as much as to produce an imaginary of the collective.
Installed across six rooms of the art centre, the multi-screen moving image ricochets and reverberates around the spaces, impersonating the logic of a video image that has seen multiple erasure, an afterimage punctuated by blackouts and interruptions. This spatial delay is guided by a single voice through which all the screen characters instinctively mouth a shared monologue. Their collective voice, shifting between narrator and protagonist, addresses the physicality of the projected image as much as the space in which they find themselves. Near Real Time reminds us that the instantaneity of a live transmission will always have the drag of a body which desires it.
Gail Pickering’s practice is primarily time-based, including performance, moving image and text. A key element of the work is the use of historical material, not just in its literal appropriation but in its appearance as staged through voice, mimicry, illegibility, interruption and through the various accomplices and protagonists with whom she has previously worked in her video and performances.
A second iteration of Near Real Time will be presented at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK in October 2014.