Screening: "Trouble" by Mariah Garnett
In Trouble, Mariah Garnett ties research into her own family history with fictional scenes, diaristic recordings and historical footage about the conflict in Northern Ireland. The film begins in Vienna, where the artist meets her father, who had to leave Belfast in the 1970s for political reasons. She confronts him with a BBC report from that period, which made use of his identity for a controversial love story, which resulted in devastating consequences. The television footage develops into the central premise for Garnett’s cinematic investigation of documentation, narration, and the way history is represented. In this, she takes a queer-feminist approach: questioning constructions of “truth” and unambiguous identities, revealing the relation to her own positionality, refusing to ascribe to a particular cinematic format, and ultimately implicating herself.
The filmmaker travels to Belfast to explore the city through her father’s stories, seeking out the places and people described in his memories and documenting her own experiences. Garnett conducts interviews with former comrades-in-arms of the civil rights movement, makes phone calls to relatives, traverses hostile neighborhoods with their residents, and promptly finds herself in the structural aftermath of the conflict. The ideological parades, militant riots and huge bonfires around the 12th of July bring the impact of toxic masculinity and white supremacist fantasies to the fore. These are contrasted with perspectives from a different community: footage of a queer stage show parodying nationalist, militaristic slogans and right-wing identity markers to masterful effect.
The remarkable collaboration with the performers from Garnett’s chosen family and the careful consideration of something akin to a problem of truth also shines through at another point, when she adopts the format of the historical BBC broadcast about her father, bringing a deliberate fake moment into the film. The artist stages herself as her own father on the streets and in bars. In her reiteration of the story, she takes the opportunity to alter the ingrained social roles and clichés, consciously addressing their limitations and dismantling them. In the role of the girlfriend she casts trans-woman Robyn, who in a sense portrays herself as a Catholic-educated, Belfast woman with a Protestant boyfriend. Against the backdrop of the city, Mariah Garnett mimes to a pre-recording of her father’s narrated memories in stylized, seventies attire, creating a tragicomic version of a large dysfunctional family’s shared narrative(s).
Mariah Garnett lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work has been shown at Commonwealth and Council, SF MoMA, Metropolitan Arts Centre/ Belfast UK (Tate Network), The New Museum, Hammer Museum, NYFF, and Sundance Film Festival, among others. She was named a Guggenheim fellow in Film & Video in 2019.
Mariah Garnett, Trouble, US/GB 2019, 83 min
Poster Trouble © Mariah Garnett
Text von Kathrin Wojtowicz
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