Dark is the Night — Jordan Baseman

Artvehicle 40/Review

21st February 2009 — 5th April 2009

Playing the Game"

Jordan Baseman is currently showing three film works at ArtSway with "Dark is the Night"" possibly the most poignant. The main gallery space is taken over by the projection in darkness which adds to the mystery of the backdrop of interviewees speaking about one of London's most glamorous and notorious areas, Soho.

In "Dark is the Night", we are presented with the sound of "Lucy", a transsexual prostitute giving a no-holds barred account of her life on the street and "playing the game". Juxtaposed with her account are photographic flashes of Soho by night similar to the luminous beauty of a Rut Blees Luxemburg, Bridget Smith or Catherine Yass print. Images synonymous with the area of sleaze, deprivation, drugs and, sex are counterbalanced by neon flashes of optimism and hope. Lucy comes with her baggage, but as her story unfolds, in amongst her descriptions of her clients to how she came into this underworld "a side that Mr Joe Bloggs doesn't see", no one could deny the humility and at times subtlety within her voice as she speaks. The sound perfectly subverts the sexy beauty of the images. Areas of danger, areas of nothingness, areas of slime, areas of shine, images of disturbance, images of body, images of death, all in a day's work.

Lucy knows what she wants and knows what she likes. She doesn't "do" black men they feature all too heavily in the prostitution insider's guide to purveyors of sexual diseases. Lucy doesn't do Indians as they want condom-less sex or want to eat her shit. She also thinks that those in this game should get a regular health check. That's just one thing to do in what she refers to as "a cool privileged lifestyle" away from suburban bored tedium. Oh and she doesn't do French guys as the French kill our cows. She knows what she is and what she's not. "Happy to say I'm bi (sexual)". Lucy's world and occupation may seem perverse to some but "we are all prostitutes" she announces and gives the analogy that we are all selling our bodies just as a builder is selling his hands. This cold, harsh reality of those wanting more than what she refers to as "ordinary sex", "those who want three women in a bed or two cocks up a man's arse", those who say "I'm not gay" as they have a cock down their throat, is quite normal for lady luck. Get your money and move on even if the person on the receiving end is an ugly cunt. You are providing a service and you are part of a "cool privileged lifestyle". Lucy has a master plan, to earn her money so she can tour being a drag act (without the sex). She has her future mapped out and she is an optimistic gal. Let's not forget her married-dom and being a parent. Her kids are taken to all the nicest restaurants with her earnings. At the end of the account she says how she would be more than happy to embrace her child's decision if they wanted to follow in her footsteps, of working in a dog chamber...

Baseman has created in this video a wonderful interplay between what is heard and seen, playing on our perceptions and concerns of such a narrative. Each component subverts the other to arresting effect. The harsh, dirty beauty of Soho is the perfect metaphor for our innermost insecurities, hopes and dreams and translates regardless of environment. Walking outside the installation into the serenity of the Art Sway's New Forest location was a fitting exemplar.

Lee Campbell

Station Road
Sway SO41 6BA

Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-5pm

Dark is the Night — Jordan Baseman — Jordan Baseman, production stills from Dark is the Night, 2009. Images courtesy of the artist/Matt’s Gallery, London.

Jordan Baseman, production stills from Dark is the Night, 2009. Images courtesy of the artist/Matt’s Gallery, London.