the zeppelin bend

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abstract

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overview

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practice

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archive

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critical context

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research outcomes

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The Messenger (2008)

3' 10

Narrated by Rose Murphy

 

The Messenger (2008) takes its point of departure from Aristophanes play The Birds.  After undertaking research into various elements

of the play, the ‘cast’ list of names was selected to structure the fictional story around.  Each name from Aristophanes cast appears in order in

each line of the narrative.  The resulting story is semi-abstract but takes influence from historical research into the Athens (Greece) areas

of Psiri and Gazi.  The nostalgic narrative describes the pursuit of two men through Athens in a time when underground gangs control

specific areas of the city and use birds as messengers to signify safe havens.  The imagery references the films source 'The Birds' and is a

collection of British garden bird ornaments purchased from ebay.

  1. Peisthetaerus
  2. Euelpides
  3. The Footbird
  4. Hoopoe
  5. Chorus Leader
  6. A Priest
  7. A ragged Poet
  8. An Oracle man
  9. Meton (the infamous mathematician)
  10. A Statue Seller
  11. An Inspector
  12. First Messenger
  13. Second Messenger
  14. Iris
  15. Third Messenger
  16. A rebellious youth
  17. Cinesias
  18. An informer
  19. Prometheus
  20. Poseidon
  21. Heracles
  22. God of The Triballians
  23. Heavenly Herald

 

'Stansbie’s The Messenger uses the cast list of The Birds, a play by the ancient Athenian Aristophenes, as its starting point. Obliquely

referencing its own origin as well as Stansbie’s geographic location, the visual component of the film is a series of images of British bird

ornaments. The stasis of these artificial birds in their peaceful garden settings contrasts strangely with the action-packed narrative: a

chase sequence through a fictionalised ancient Athens. Stansbie’s films lead us along a series of meandering pathways, forming surreal

or nonsensical connections between disparate words and images. Meaning becomes ambiguous, a to-and-fro between rider and steed.

Strung halfway between fiction and non-fiction, they play with dislocated fragments of data, interrogating language for alternative meanings

and collaging it into tenous new connective webs.'

 

Anna Parlane (2009) Hackamore

 

This work originally stemmed from the archive page here

 

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The Messenger (2008)

By Lisa Stansbie

 

This pursuit began on unsteady ground.  The narrow footpaths were worn so unevenly that as Peisthetaerus and Euelpides ran along them it was

miraculous they didn’t fall.  The Footbird was closing in behind, but his knowledge of the paths meant that his graceful steps were like ballet over stone,

gliding even with his sharp toed Hoopoe boots.

 

The chorus leader was waiting at the ruined church and poised amongst the decaying pillars in his gown he could have been mistaken for the priest. 

Often the citizens gathered at the ruins to hear tales from the ragged poet, who some called an oracle man.  In opposition to the chorus leader on those

dusty Sundays would be Meton, the infamous mathematician, full of reason intended to drive doubt into the ragged poet’s insights. The shop was the

best place to hide, but it would mean negotiating the angry crowds before an unlikely welcome at the statue seller’s emporium.  To disappear here it would

also require an expedition through the square where the inspector would be watchful for potential stone wars….as a route it was just too perilous.

 

So they persisted with the existing course, but confirmation was necessary, so crouching in the doorway of a derelict shop the men released the first

messenger with a sash tied to it. The wait was too long so a second messenger was despatched, with an iris coloured ribbon, shimmering as he took flight. 

When it didn’t return a third messenger was anxiously despatched, and its arrival perching on one of the non-native trees signalled relief and potential

safety for the two men. However, it refused to return to his leathered hand and remained in the tree like a rebellious youth.

 

Purposefully they set out and slowed as they passed the Cinesias Picture House.  Running urgently past the queues outside was unadvisable, an informer

could easily be secreted amongst them. Arriving at the Hill of Prometheus they lurked from afar, watching the chorus leader in turn waiting for them. It was

quick and simple and not at all as they had imagined.  He was instantly crumpled amongst the sea of stone, as if taken by Poseidon.  As Heracles, The God

of The Triballians appeared they knew it was his name that would appear in red on tomorrow’s edition of The Heavenly Herald, and a promise that the

discontent of the underworld might be lifted.

 

Messenger Photographs taken during filming

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Messenger has been shown in the following material sites:

2008 'Multiplicity' lecture and screening event , July 2008, Nanyang Academy of Fine Art, Singapore

2009 Pandemonium 3rd September - 10th October AC Institute, New York

 

and the following online sites

2009 Hackamore Exhibition (solo) 12th March - 10th April, Window University of Auckland (with 'Hackamore' essay by Anna Parlane)

2009 soanyway.org.uk. online publishing project edited by Derek Horton and Lisa Stansbie

 

The Messenger is also discussed and film stills included in the following:

Published essay Connecting the Unconnected by Lisa Stansbie in the 2009 book Telling Stories: Countering Narrative in Art, Theory and Film edited by Jane Tomey

and Gillian Whiteley, Cambridge Scholars Press. ISBN 10 - 1443805327

 

Whitely, G (2009) Pan-demonium Exhibition catalogue Published by AC Institute New York ISBN-13: 978-0984130900