Mark Aerial Waller
Films that move across science fiction, Greek tragedy and documentary, unveiling fantastical narratives.
Mark Aerial Waller (born High Wycombe, 1969, lives in London) makes videos and installations that pay homage to the experimental techniques of the avant-garde – from Surrealism to New German Cinema – within his idiosyncratic narrative frameworks. Indeed, Waller shows a cheerful disregard for linearity, leaping across time zones and genres from classical mythology to science fiction, and collaging sequences from forgotten films and classical plays with his own footage. In addition to his art practice, he uses his film salon The Wayward Canon – and Taverna Especial, a sister salon set up with Giles Round – to provide a platform for 'wayward' re-presentations of little-screened films.
For Nought to Sixty, Waller gives his own newly completed film cycle, Resistance Domination Secret (2007-08), the 'wayward' treatment, presenting a one-off film screening with live action.
Waller's trilogy is based loosely on the Oresteia, Aeschylus's trilogy of Greek tragedies centring on the murder of Trojan war hero Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra. The first film, also called Resistance Domination Secret, visualises the murdered Agamemnon as a disembodied golden mask hovering ominously over hellish flames and chastising his wife from beyond the grave: "You treat me like a woman...". Waller's homemade mythological drama is spliced with clips from Les Visiteurs du Soir (1942), a film made by Marcel Carné during the French occupation, about a pair of 15th-century envoys sent by the devil to disrupt a wedding feast by seducing the bride and groom. Their evil plan goes wrong when one falls in love with his prey, prompting the heroine to muse on the irony of two torturers with no one left to torture. Some 2,000 years divide these two wartime dramas, but both seek to allegorise the violent rupture of a moral order, whether by bloodthirsty ancient warriors or the Nazis.
Waller's second film, The Flipside of Darkness (2007), roughly corresponds to The Libation Bearers, the second of Aeschylus's plays. The setting has shifted to Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science, creating a link between the brutality of the Stalinist regime and that of ancient Greece. As with all Waller's videos, the actors could be considered woefully ill-suited to their roles, but paradoxically come across as charmingly sincere: Clytemnestra's thick Polish accent seems to contradict her claims to be a BBC actress; while her murderous son, Orestes, speaks with Michael Caine-style intonation. Waller strips out all the gore from the original play and focuses on the psychological drama of incestuous scheming and paranoia, which he represents symbolically by kaleidoscopic visuals set to a disorientating, sci-fi soundtrack by the band Romvelope.
Waller's final film, premiering at Nought to Sixty, mirrors The Eumenides, the third play of the Oresteia, where darkness is turned into light, physical conflict becomes religious combat and primitive ritual evolves into civilised institution. The screening is being set to live military drumming by virtuoso percussionist " " [sic] TIM GOLDIE; and features a striking finale in which Athena, in the form of an owl, swoops down to capture Agamemnon's golden mask – before the trilogy begins again.