Don't Look At The Finger
Director: Hetain Patel
Producer: Sophie Neave
Exec. Producer: Steven Bode, FVU
Production Company: Film and Video Umbrella
Don’t Look at the Finger is a major new moving-image work by artist Hetain Patel. The film follows a ceremonial ‘fight’ between two protagonists, a man and a woman, in the grand architectural setting of a church. The way the characters communicate is a feat of choreography that combines Kung Fu with signed languages to express a ritualistic coming together.
Any gesture, extravagant or small, can be open to misinterpretation, however – and it is this potential for confusion that lurks behind apparently familiar signifiers that Patel brings to the fore. As if mimicking a magician’s sleight of hand in conjuring a bird from within deceptive folds of silk, Patel uses the shape-shifting swirl of his characters’ robes to kick the performance to a different level – the wedding garb miraculously metamorphosing into full-blown kung fu costume; the marital tableau now suddenly striking a martial pose. All is fair in love and war, as the saying goes; and it may be that the couple’s hand-to-hand combat infers both the ever-shifting power struggles of an archetypal battle of the sexes as well as the passionate exchanges of the conjugal bed. This may indeed be where Patel is pointing, but, then again, possibly not. Under the cover of the near-universal ritual of a couple joining together in marriage, we are also witnessing the sight of symbols and icons from the so-called margins joining together, freely and uninhibitedly, in the cultural mainstream – and how this, too, is a cause for celebration.
Don't Look at the Finger premiered in simultaneous solo exhibitions at QUAD, Derby and Manchester Art Gallery, where it was installed alongside Patel's 2015 film The Jump.