House of Women

Williams Gamaker, Michelle
Michelle Williams Gamaker works with performance and video assuming fictional as well as documentary modes, to consider the intergenerational effects of colonialism. Her pieces have explored migratory aesthetics, mental health, and the emotional complexities of capitalism and gender ideology. For House of Women (2015), the artist recasts the role of a silent, dancing girl named Kanchi in the film Black Narcissus (1947). The coveted role was played by a seventeen year old Jean Simmons, who as a white English actor wore dark makeup and a jewel in her nose to become the "exotic temptress" of Rumer Godden's novel of the same name. In her video, Williams Gamaker auditions only Indian expat or first generation British Asian women and non-binary individuals living in London. Unlike the original role, in House of Women the Kanchi of the 21st Century speaks. Shot on 16mm film, the four candidates, Krishna Istha, Jasdeep Kandola, Tina Mander and Arunima Rajkumar introduce themselves to an anonymous reader. In the staged conditions of an audition, they feel the glare of the studio lights and the camera's gaze. As a result, the viewer may find themselves empathising with the young hopefuls as they compete for a role.
  • Artwork Details: running time: 14 minutes 5seconds
  • Edition: 1 of 3
  • Material description: 16mm Film transferred to HDV
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme:
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC4/2017



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