I gave my love a cherry that had no stone

Emily Wardill

This video is no longer available

Emily Wardill, I gave my love a cherry that had no stone (still), 2016.

Artist Cinemas presents I gave my love a cherry that had no stone
Emily Wardill

8 Minutes

Artist Cinemas
Week #6

December 7–14, 2020 (EST)

Join us on e-flux Video & Film for an online screening of Emily Wardill​’s I gave my love a cherry that had no stone (2016), on view from Monday, December 7 through Sunday, December 13, 2020.

Holding in her mind Dorothea Tanning’s painting Some Roses and their Phantoms (1952) and its sickening presentation of objects as between states of being, Wardill made a film that also hovers between definitions. The architecture of the Gulbenkian auditorium in Lisbon, its colors and sense of being lost in time accompany us through a loop where a man wanders the building at night, followed by something that is not human. Through the care and paranoia with which she approaches the digital image, the artist investigates the haunting of the present by the past and the remnants of textures longing to be touched.

I gave my love a cherry that had no stone is the sixth and final installment of Here is where we are, a program of films, texts, and interviews convened by Laure Prouvost, and comprising the fourth cycle of Artist Cinemas, a long-term, online series of film programs curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film. It is presented here alongside an interview with the filmmaker by Raimundas Malašauskas.

Here is where we are will run for six weeks from October 24 through December 14, 2020, screening a new film each week accompanied by a text or an interview with the filmmaker(s) by Prouvost and invited guests.

A repeat of all six films featured in Here is where are will be available for 24 hours on the program’s last day—on Monday, December 14, 2020 from 12:00 am till 1:59 pm EST.

Emily Wardill in conversation with Raimundas Malašauskas

Raimundas Malašauskas (RM):
What are you doing today?

Emily Wardill (EW):
Today I am visiting a sound studio in Marvila and then reading a case study on recovering from early blindness.

How do you usually speak about I gave my love a cherry that had no stone (2016) to people who you think would benefit from seeing it?

The last time I gave an artist talk in person at Malmö Art Acdemy, I showed it on loop as the students were coming in. I find it calms them. Also, it is good to let the work speak first.

Do you ever think in terms of “benefitting” then?

I think if you care about images enough it will always benefit someone, but it is hard to quantify how that happens. When I think of other artworks that have “benefitted” me— it’s hard to say how. Sometimes it is solace, sometimes it breaks you out of routine. It can make you want to move your body, it can feel like you’re being seen for the first time. It can empty your mind, or help you understand something that was confusing. Sometimes it is just a cold wave that makes everything new.

How did the vision of this film first emerge?

When I set out to make the film I started out with sketches, trying to think of this space —the GulbenkianMuseum—that is like the past imagining the future. I was thinking of a person being in that space, who is part of it; a person who is part animal, part synthetic, perhaps human, but mostly—and importantly—an image.

How do you find it when you watch it today? How has your experience of this film been changing in time?

I think it is probably closest to the work I would like to make next—so I have been thinking about it while thinking into images, or directly from images and performance. I have also been having dreams about bodies of people I love being drained of themselves but still being “animated”—and “going through the motions” with them as though they were “the real them.” We have all been surrounded with a collective fear of death lately. But I have also been relating that to the way someone’s eyes go dead when they stop loving you, and thinking of ways to relate it to the difference between the living and the dead body of someone you have known intimately.

Being drained of themselves? Do you mean depersonalized? Is that something you are going to explore in your next work? Can you tell us more about it?

I suppose it’s the old question of what it is exactly that has left a body when it stops being the person you know and starts to be a corpse. But also: What is it that has left two eyes that used to love you and now do not? It’s still early days for the new work, but yes, I think I want to explore this relationship by working with three bodies that are the same person at different stages in their life, confronting and remembering each other.

How fascinating. I love these types of multiplications. Chiara Vecchiarelli recently told me she had a dream where she was in the same photograph twice. Actually, the hologram I showed in Lisbon when you and I met for the first time was based on a theater play—Photo Finish (1962) by Peter Ustinov—where four actors play the same character at different stages of his life.

Who is in the hologram?

There is Sam, the protagonist from Photo Finish. He is married to Stella. Elvyra who played Stella joins the three actors who played Sam at different stages of his life in a 1982 production of the play, in a mirror I am holding up decades later. This mirror changes its shape as you move: the shape outlined by Rosalind Nashashibi morphs into a shape devised by Gintaras Didziapetris. Two of the actors passed away recently. But in the hologram they are both dead and alive—as the medium of hologram is so good at evoking. And in our state of being dead and alive as human beings, we are holograms.

But, Emily, to go back to your film: I loved it! I feel I identified both with the man I saw on the screen, and also, with the lens encountering him there. What about you? Are you the lens or the man in the film? Or neither?

I think I am the artist in the work. I also think that the idea of self is not so complete. Often “characters” in films are an amalgamation of ourselves, other people we have met, and works we have seen, just as we ourselves are—constantly in process. Kerstin Stakemeier just wrote a text for the exhibition catalogue we made at Secession and she used a beautiful quote from Ernst Mach: “what we fear so much in death, the destruction of permanence, already occurs in life in abundance.’”

If you were to design a special effect, what would it be?

I really loved this thing that Amiri Baraka once said on a podcast I heard years ago, that if you don’t think there are any problems with the representation of black people on TV, swap all the black people for white people and see how you feel then. I think I would like a special effect that could do that.

If you were a special effect, what would you be?

Nice question! Some people are like special effects. I would like to be a mind-expanding special effect that expands empathy and allows you to travel through different people’s bodies and experience their experiences.

Whose body do we see stuttering and multiplying in the Gulbenkian space?

The dancer is called David Marques. I auditioned people. I asked them to imagine that there was something in the room that they were afraid of. Most people did the same thing: a sort of cowering, as though the walls were encroaching on them. But David had this thing, an imaginary thing, that he sort of sparred with in a false arrogance. It was nuanced, and it felt like something we do sometimes when we flirt with that which we fear, or even seek it out repeatedly and play with it.

I did assume David was a dancer—his moves are so vivid, sharp, and eye-stealing. Do you say “eye-stealing” in English?

He trained in classical ballet. I think it is ”eye-catching”? Eye-stealing is also great.

Why does his eye pop out then?

I don’t like to think too much about humor. I even find those rare people who don’t have a sense of humor charming. But humor is the tightrope, too. And I wonder, What can we balance on this rope that is imaginary but seems more real than reality?

How did you cast the camera?

It is hard to use a drone of the size we had in an enclosed space. It creates air movement that destablilzes the machine itself. The director of photography, Luís Branquinho, and I decided in the end that it should be half-drone and half-cameraman-pretending-to-be-a-drone. Which conceptually fit the piece for obvious reasons.

What was the last thing you did in the production of this film before adding the credits?

The color grading.

Actually, where are the credits?!

So the piece is usually only ever shown as an installation and this is very important to me, because the installation is very much a part of the work. It is projected onto a screen that leans in on the viewer, destabilizing them as well as the character in the film. I have been asked a lot to show the film in cinemas and online (I think mostly because of its length—it fits into screening programs) and I always said no. I said yes this time because it is just for one week and this is such an extraordinary year—but honestly it was a bit of a tough decision. Being an installation, it doesn’t have credits on it, in the same way that you wouldn’t put credits on a sculpture—we put them in the catalogue or exhibition flyer.

Here they are:

David Marques

Anže Peršin

Director of Photography
Luís Branquinho, a.i.p.

Gaffer & Light Equipment
Sérgio Pontes

Production Assistant
Gonçalo Gama Pinto

Digital Image Transfer
Ricardo Lameiras

Drone Equipment
Skyeye, Lisbon

Drone Operators
André Mattosinho
João Torres

Best Boy
Afonso Santos

Pedro Ricardo

Bikini, Lisbon

Post-Production Coordinator
Eugénio Marques

Rodolfo Pereira

3D Animation
Ricardo Fernandes
João Garcia

Paulo Américo

Shot at Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon

Gulbenkian Museum Liaison
Paulo Madruga

Produced by
Stenar Projects

A production of the Centre d’art Contemporain Geneve for the Biennale de l’image em Mouvement 2016 , with the support of the FMAC and FCAC, Faena Art, In Between Art Film and HEAD–Geneve.

Courtesy of the artist.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Theater, Architecture, Painting, Dance
Death, Love, Video Art
Return to Here is where we are
Return to Artist Cinemas

Emily Wardill (b. 1977) lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal and Malmö, Sweden. Wardill’s work has been and will be exhibited in solo shows including Secession (2020 upcoming); Kohta (2019); Bergen Kunsthall (2017); Gulbenkian Project Spaces (2017); INDEX, Stockholm (2014); National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen (2012); de Appel Arts Center, Amsterdam (2012); and Contemporary Art Museum St Louis (2011) among other venues. Her work was awarded the Jarman Award in 2010 and the Leverhulme Award in 2011. She participated in the 54th Venice Biennale (2011) and the 19th Sydney Bienalle (2014). Wardill currently works as a professor at Malmo Art Academy, Sweden and as a visiting tutor at Maumaus, Lisbon.


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