Chris Ulutupu premieres a major new moving image work on 4 March at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (UK). The Pleasures of Unbelonging focuses on a Mother and her children walking through various landscapes to seek refuge and clarity.
The work responds to James Baldwin’s text Stranger in a Village from the book Notes from a Native Son (1955) and Ulutupu's own experience of shooting a video work in 2018.
In Baldwin's text the author describes his experience of residing in a small village in the Swiss Alps and the ensuing racial tensions of entering a space that was ‘untouched’ by the presence of Black people (like himself). During the production of Ulutupu's Lelia (2018) for the SCAPE Public Season 2018, Ulutupu encountered similar tensions.
"I had organized for a shoot to happen up at Mt Lyford Ski park in Christchurch with a cast predominately made up of Samoan descent. Each of the cast members traveled to location with their costumes on (to save time), but when we walked into the lodge everyone turned around and stared at us. At first they were looking at our costumes thinking what are they doing here? As time progressed I quickly realized all the glares and remarks seemed to be more about the fact we weren’t the ‘usual’ crowd of regulars that frequent the park. We had occupied a space that was predominantly for the caucasian middle to high class to enjoy recreational ski activities – and as a result, we were not welcomed kindly."
In a series of gentle tableaux The Pleasures of Unbelonging captures this sense of arrival and movement through a new place. Like many of Ulutupu's previous works, it draws heavily on a cast of family and friends. The Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival is one of the most artistically ambitious European platforms for new artists cinema. Located on the border of England and Scotland, BFMAF’s annual festival is a beacon for artists, curators, and critics.
The Pleasures of Unbelonging was commissioned in 2021 as part of CIRCUIT’s Tagata Moana Moving Image Award with support from TAUTAI, Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (BFMAF) and Creative New Zealand. The film will be presented by CIRCUIT in partnership with TAUTAI in late 2023.