Film Exposed

Hetain Patel: Don’t Look at the Finger

Monday 8 March – Sat 27 March

Don’t Look at the Finger follows a ceremonial ‘fight’ between 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 language to express a ritualistic coming together.

The two protagonists and a small coterie of companions, all dressed in vibrantly patterned West African robes, gather in a church for a wedding ceremony. Perhaps, judging by the nervous glances traded by the couple, for an arranged marriage. Each gesture – extravagant or small – possesses an intimacy and tactility that seems to both presage and magnify the union that is about to take place.

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. Yet under the cover of the near-universal ritual of a couple joining together in marriage, we witness 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.

Image: Hetain Patel, Don’t Look at the Finger, 2017. Commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella. Courtesy Hetain Patel