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To the Ends of the Fingertips [Roswitha Chesher, UK, 2016]

What does freedom really mean? If one were to be truly free, how would the time be spent? Indeed, can we ever truly be free? These are the questions that many great minds before us have pondered, and will continue to plague mankind for the rest of time. In Roswitha Chesher’s surreal dance film, we are given pause to contemplate this. There is of course no easy solution to the burning philosophical conundrums that have tormented even the most gifted thinkers for millennia, and so here these ideas are posed through physically abstracted representations.

The two performers – Sophie Arstall and Elizabeth Barker of Average Height Ladies – concoct a frenzied and jittery routine that cleverly depicts the extent to which our obsessions with life, death and freedom can actually cause fear, anxiety and a sense of mental imprisonment. It is an existential dilemma which is eerily interpreted through images of dusty brick interiors, barren wintry woodlands, and taxidermied foxes and crow sculptures. The sound design is equally caustic and brittle – the noise of shoes knocking and scraping against hard floors, the scrunching and shuffling of paper, and the crunching of sticks are heightened to an unsettling degree.

To the Ends of the Fingertips is ultimately a loose experimentation with the moving image, with the interpretative dance performance providing most of the film’s weight. There are nice visual flourishes with sequences juxtaposing high and low frame rates, adding to the idea that time inevitably plays the most crucial role in the dance of life.

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