Emily Wardill

Emily Wardill, Game Keepers without Game (Excerpt), 2009

Below is excerpted from an interview of the artist by Mike Sperlinger in Afterall:
MS: What is the new film?

EW: It’s called Gamekeepers Without Game, and it’s a melodrama. I wrote a script for a melodrama about a family who had a child, who put the child up for adoption when she’s eight because she’s displaying psychotic tendencies. Later the father decides to bring her back into the family home, but when she comes back into the home she doesn’t understand the objects the house is full of, which are built up as status symbols but then have the status of props and finally of evidence.

I want to shoot it like airline food, so you have this sense that everything is separate and nothing ever touches. At the end when she murders the father, you’re as shocked to see him touching this axe, or this axe touching his head, as you are that he’s died. When the objects get destroyed, you feel like a character’s been destroyed.

MS: This started as a performance too?

EW: Yes, I did this originally as an event at the Serpentine Gallery. I knew that melodrama was really important – the combination of melody and drama – and the soundtrack would be a drumbeat that was like a melody, so the drums provide the rhythm of the actors and the voiceover. I thought it would be useful to work through the script as a live thing with a band and it was good to work with the band Nought too, these math rock musicians.

It’s useful doing performances like that, because you work through your ideas in this way that’s really intimate and social, and you’re forced to embarrass yourself with your ideas before they’re fully formed. I think embarrassment can be quite productive.