100 x 116 cm
Photographic Print from Negative
100 x 116 cm
Photographic Print from Negative
100 x 113 cm
Photographic Print from Negative
Stages of Mourning VIII
Photographic print from negative
2013, 16mm b/w, sound, 75min
Magic Mirror combines a re-staging of the French Surrealist artist Claude Cahun’s black and white photographs with selected extracts from her book Aveux non avenus (1930, Confessions Denied). In Surrealist kaleidoscopic fashion the film creates a weave between image and word, exploring the links between Cahun’s photographs and writing as well as between those of the films of Sarah Pucill, as both artists share similar iconography and concerns.
Cahun’s multi-subjectivity as expressed in both her book and photographs, set the scene for the film, where she dresses and makes her face up in so many different ways, swapping identities between gender, age and the inanimate. Three women masquerade as Cahun’s characters: often it is hard to tell them apart. The splitting of identity appears as a double which persists throughout; as a literal double (through super-imposition), as shadow, imprints in sand, reflections in water, mirror or distorting glass. Likewise the voice is split between differently dressed voices, which sometimes speak at the same time and sometimes in dialogue. Part essay, part film poem, Magic Mirror translates the startling force of Cahun’s poetic language into a choreographed series of Vivantes Tableaux, intermixed with stagings from her writing.
Selected text from Aveux Non Avenus (Confessions Denied), Claude Cahun, 1928. Translated by Rachel Gomme
2013 22 April, Premier Screening, Tate Modern, 6.30pm
2013 21 July, Glasgow Film Theatre, 8.20pm
2013 11 August, Norsk Film Institute ‘The Dream That Kicks’ August
2013 7 November, Screening with Q+A Institute of Contemporary Art, London, 6.45pm
2013 13 November, Screening Cork Film Festival, 11.30am
2013 19 November, Union Theatre, Milwaukee, USA
2013 21 November, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, 6pm
2013 7+8 December, Institute of Contemporary Art, London
2014 15 January, Paula Mendersohn Becher Musuem, Bremen, Germany, curated by Christine Ruffert
2014 16 January, London Art Fair Panel screening and discussion on The Muse with Anthony Penrose (Lee Miller’s son) and Sue Steward
2014 3 February, Dance Pavillion, Bournemouth, curated by Selina Robertson
2014 28 February, Edinburgh Filmhouse,
2014 8 April, Freedman Gallery, Albright College, Reading, PA, USA, curated by Erin Riley-Lopez ‘International Film Series’
2014 9 April, Cinemarges Film Festival, Bordeaux
2014 26 April, La Cinemateque de Toulouse
2014 31 August, Seoul International New Media Film Festival, International Competition
2014 9 November, Pink Screen Film Festival, Brussels
2014 10 December, Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
2015 April, Alchemy Film Festival, Hawick, Scotland.
2015 17 April- 14 June ‘Magic Mirror: Claude Cahun and Sarah Pucill, The Nunnery Gallery, London
2015 6 October, Screening, Ecoles des beaux arts de Nantes curated by Marion Chaine
2015 16 October, Birkbeck University, Screening organised by Birkbeck Institute For The Moving Image Seminar Series convened by Muriel Temple
2015 8 October-5 December, staged exhibition of Magic Mirror in ‘Radical Gestures: Uncanny Feminism”, curated by Bae Myung Ji, Coreana Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea
2016 30 September, Screening of Magic Mirror and presentation,
Cambridge University, Corpus Christi College, Public Seminar:
Film and the Other Arts, Intermediality, Medium Specificity, Creativity, International Research Network.
2017 18 November Photofilm: Sampling the Archive,
GUGA (Center of Architecture, a venue that is in opposition to the hungarian government), in co-operation with the Metropolitcan University, Budapest, Hungary.
IQMF Festival Screening and Discussion with Sudeep Dasgupta + Aynouk Tan, 13 December 2020.
2021 The Museum of Photography, Berlin. Part of Sampling the Archive Photofilm Event.
2018 “Coming To Life” and Intermediality in the films Confessions to the Mirror (2016) and Magic Mirror(2013) by Sarah Pucill In Experimental Film and Expanded Animation: New Perspectives and Practices. Ed V Smith, N Hamlyn, 2018. Winner 2018-19 Norman McLaren/Evelyn Lambart Award for Best Scholarly Book in Animation.
2016 “Feminisms, Mirrors: Claude Cahun and Sarah Pucill – a dialogue” by Dr M Sprio, MIRAJ Magazine, Issue 4, 2+1, Spring 2016
2015 April, Magic Mirror Exhibition booklet (Published by the Nunnery Gallery) texts by Liena Vayzman, Sarah Pucill, Louise Downie.
2015 May, Sight and Sound Magazine, Review of ‘Magic Mirror- Claude Cahun and Sarah Pucill’ at The Nunnery Gallery, London, by Frances Morgan
2015 May, Time Out Magazine, Review of ‘Magic Mirror- Claude Cahun and Sarah Pucill’ at the Nunnery Gallery, London
2014 “Between Mirrors”, Helena Reckitt, Lux DVD
2014 “Stepping Aside to Enter”, Sarah Ibrahim, Lux DVD
2014 September 30, Photomonitor Magazine, Interview with Anna McNay
2014 July DIVA Magazine, feature by Anna McNay
2013 Mnemoscape Interview with A Ferrini and E Adami on Magic Mirror Part 2
2013 Mnemoscape Interview with A Ferrini and E Adami on Magic Mirror Part 1
2012Vertigo Magazine Issue 31 Winter In Conversation – At Least I Will Know My Face
“Into the Mothlight” Podcast interview with and produced by Jason Moyes on my 16mm films over 3 decades, in light of the the recent publication of the LUX Blu Ray of Confessions to the Mirror. Published September 2021
February 2020 Televised documentary in France (ARTE) and Germany (ZDF) “Masquerade and Games – The Female Artists of Surrealism”, Dir Maria Tappeiner. Televised date: France and Germany 16 February 2020. By the German public broadcaster ZDF in cooperation with the French/German public broadcaster ARTE. Directed by Maria Tappeiner.
Extracts from Magic Mirror and Confessions to the Mirror appear alongside an interview with me in my studio. The focus is on my work with Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore in Magic Mirror and Confessions to the Mirror. Documentary includes Lee Miller, Leonor Fini, Leonora Carrington, and Meret Oppenheim.
April 2013 Resonance FM Half Hour Radio Interview with Diana Mavrolean, ‘I’m ready for my Close-up’, on Magic Mirror
July 29, 2013 The Skinny, Review by Helen Wright
August 2013 TenMag, Spannish Fashion and Culture Magazine, Ana Himes
October 2016 BFI Southbank London Film Festival Salon, Interview with Helen de Witt and Ruth Maclennan, speaking about the films Magic Mirror and Confessions To The Mirror
2010, 16mm, b/w, 19min
Distinctive in its stark use of black and white and reminiscent of early silent cinema, this film is composed of a series of theatrical side-show ‘magic’ acts. Three women stage tricks of appearance and disappearance, punctuated by trumpet, cello and drums.Interchanging between the roles of magician, nude and filmmaker, they perform the preparation of an image and the prepared or completed image, drawing on iconic paintings. 16mm camera techniques as well as performance techniques with props – such as cloaks, drapery, curtains, wigs, mirrors, frames, wands and lighting – determine what is visible or absent in the film frame.With its surrealist sensibilities of artifice and reality and insistence on doubling and substitution, Phantom Rhapsody probes the notion of identity as surface that can be worn or shed and which can extend beyond the boundary of the skin, into the light in the room, the set and the props.
2009, 16mm, col, 18min
Fall in Frame opens with the image of a young woman looking at herself and her camera in the mirror, each revealed as she unwraps a sheet to uncover the lens. She sets up the filming space by staging both set and camera and manipulates the light by handling the blind, each action weighted with its sound. Filming herself falling asleep and awakening, in and out of consciousness, the woman switches the camera on and off. Deliberation and indifference at once determine her actions as she sits at the table pouring tea, impassively combs strands of long hair or lounges on a bed. Meticulously constructing her own confinement, she repeatedly checks herself in mirror and camera, all the while moving in and out of frame. With an even paced performance the woman proceeds to stitch her apron to the tablecloth with her hair. As she stands, the crockery comes crashing down. Gathered together into her dress, the debris is then thrown out of the window. Outside, in the garden, objects and camera are piled onto the cloth that becomes a trail as it is attached to her dress. From suburban street to sea-shore, camera and trail follow her. In Fall in Frame the materiality of the filmmaking process is explored within a constrained performance that blurs the split between the physical and consciousness. The film ends where it starts with the sheet around the camera, shutting out the image.
Fall in Frame is a single screen which can be looped for gallery staging to be shown on 16mm or DVD
Directed and Produced: Sarah Pucill
Funded: Arts Council of England
Camera, Text and Edit: Sarah Pucill
Performance: Lucy Pratt
Sound, Mix and Dub: Konrad Welz
2007, 16mm, col, 22min
Blind Light is filmed in the artist’s London loft. The presence of camera, studio and artist/performer are registered through image and sound, the loss of the former filling out the presence of the latter. In this way the physicality of object, space and subject as well as their inferiority is fleshed out, mapping out a space that is at once material and psychical. Controlling the light she allows into the frame, the artist lifts the blinds or pulls them shut, applies or removes lens filters, opens wide the aperture or closes it. Each performance or action threatens the image as it shifts in and out of ‘proper’ exposure until it disappears completely. Focusing either on the window or the sky, the artist narrates her camera operation whilst also describing what she sees; intermixing receptive and projective vision. ‘I can’t look’, she says, ‘the clouds are coming in’, ‘there’s been no rain for weeks’, ‘the eye burns, swells, looses focus and disappears in a stream’. Between aperture, eyeball, sun and moon, source and projection swap place. The film journeys from the grounded reality of the here and now – audibly represented through footsteps, birds and traffic, to a psychical space expressed through voice and abstraction. Blind Light explores the fold between the materiality of film, the psyche and the body.
Francesca Rusalen + Francesco Cazzin, text in “No Fest Experimental Film Festival”
2006, 16mm, b&w, sound, 35min
I’m not aware of you taking my skin’, says the artist’s mother to the camera as it zooms in on her eye as close as the lens will allow. Taking My Skin tracks a dialogue between the artist and her mother. Their exchange ranges from narrating the filming process ‘in the moment’ to relations in an earlier time – ‘how long do you think it takes for a child to become separate?’ Throughout the journey film spaces continuously dissolve and collapse only to separate again. Sometimes the artist is behind the camera, sometimes the mother, sometimes both simultaneously behind and in front, or neither. Both perform, film, and alternately instruct, position and direct the other. Formally and thematically, the film is an exploration of closeness, of synching, and the threat this poses to the self.
2007 Marion McMahon Award, Images Festival, Toronto, Canada
2007 Directors Citation, Black Maria Film Festival, New Jersey, US