Yellow is a film that came about from myself an Amanda Coogan collaborating together over the last few years. We worked on a few projects where I would document a performance for an exhibition or other event, generally this would involve me shooting a bunch of video and then editing it down to a short video of ten minutes or so. This was fine but there was an element where we were both unsatisfied with the process of turning her durational performances into 'best of' videos, the first thing to go was the most important, the durational nature of it.
With this project we changed that and made the duration the core of it, I shot the whole six performances in one four hour take while I was free to roam around the performance area. The real editing work was in the sound, we used the six separate soundtracks as a vehicle to guide the viewer around the six performances subtly bringing in the different soundtracks at different points.
The film had its first outing at the Dublin International Film Festival and we were really delighted with the audience response, people found it hypnotic to see the performances from six nights side by side with the subtle soundtrack running below. We allowed for people to come and go throughout the performance but most people gave it many hours.
Buried deep in the market area off Dublin’s Capel Street, almost underground, is the historic Irish abbey, St. Mary’s. Here, in this hallowed space, six women dressed in yellow come, one by one and night after night, to wash and re-wash the long garment they are wearing. The act of repeatedly submerging and scrubbing the cloth becomes an act of cleansing and rebirth, their raw knuckles scraping, increasingly violently, against the fabric. The grunts and groans of their efforts become haunting cries echoing throughout the chamber. Their bodies twist and contort, becoming harbingers of an almost talismanic energy; an energy that can be felt like breath on your face, an energy that collectively becomes a triumph of the spirit.
This film of that event has as its premise that to endure is to live and finally to triumph. It engages with the shamanist ritual of healing. These six extraordinary performances filmed in a series of epic takes is an Irish film unlike any other you’ll see this year. The film unfolds over four hours, following the durational nature of the original performances. Paddy Cahill and Amanda Coogan’s film presents concurrently on a single canvas the six performances.