British director Saam Farahmand’s latest film, which premiered this year during Frieze London, continues the acclaimed video artist’s disruption of gender-specific iconography that has occupied much of his practice to date. Featuring four isolated women drummers who Farahmand encouraged to connect with one another through freeform abstract patterns, the film depicts a succession of ferocious and accelerating beats, as the performances surge into a synchronised wall of discordant noise. “Something I attempt to do is create conditions where the male gaze is hijacked, and stared out. Where elevated femininity mutates” says Farahmand of the piece. “Their stares begin as part of their attempt to connect, but evolve into defiance against my control.”
The drummers, exquisitely dressed in Simone Rocha clothing, are seemingly obedient subjects who first sit—without moving—like artistic models, before subverting the viewer’s expectations about their roles, as the action reaches a crescendo that escapes the artist’s own scrupulous designs.