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Exhibition (2013)

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It’s all in the title, really. A drama – so inert and contained it can barely be described as such – about a married fiftysomething bohemian pair of artist types living in a rectilinear modernist cube, somewhere in Kensington/Chelsea, whose lives intersect with their working practice in their home offices. H (artist Liam Gillick) communicates with D (musician and TV director Viv Albertine) through the intercom when he wants to break up the day with sex. She squirms masturbatory-style against the huge windows presumably working out some performance art. Their barrister friends constantly discuss their children so she fakes a collapse to get out of dinner. The hum of city noise provides the soundscape. He’s more comfortable outside than she is but throws a tantrum when someone parks in his space. An ambulance siren disrupts her window masturbation and she runs out to see what’s going on. He submerges himself in the bath regularly. There’s an undeniable tension between them. They are selling the house, we don’t know why. They tell estate agent Tom Hiddleston it is not to be knocked down. It might be sold to a family with young children if it’s deemed suitable. They have no children. He discusses the spiral staircase that breaks  up the space where you have to take  off your shoes. He points to the circular window above which he deems the building’s only flaw. (It was designed by James Melvin, who died in 2011 and the film is dedicated to him.) She masturbates when he’s sleeping. When she finally leaves the house alone it triggers a fantasy in which he interviews her in public and it proves freeing. The sex is astonishingly intimate and these non-actors expose themselves in every way. This got horrible reviews and perhaps you have to be invested in Hogg’s aesthetic but it is utterly, horribly compelling to watch this marriage of unequals unfurl in this box, which is exquisitely photographed by Ed Rutherford.

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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