Jamie Crewe
Pastoral Drama
2018, 30m 

Pastoral Drama comprises two simultaneously played videos that use allegory and animation to think about what might constitute “progress”. Drawing from the ancient Greek myth of Eurydice and from Agostino Agazzari’s Eumelio—a 17th-century opera in which the titular male character stands in for Eurydice, and achieves a different fate—, the video work emphasises the cleft between boy and woman, and envisions the collapse of a mythic past.

Filmed chronologically over the course of a year, Pastoral Drama uses intricate drawings, speckled clay, encrusted plasticine, agglomerations of lichen and glitter, and weeping ink to construct the parallel narratives of Eurydice and Eumelio. Both of their characteristics are modeled on those of the artist at the age of 21, with masculine or feminine attributes exaggerated respectively, while other characters are modeled on classical statuary.

Informed by months of shifting thought over the course of the work’s production, themes of rule-setting, documentary ethics, abominable half-people, the body as hell, transgender subjectivity, gay exile and representational ambivalence churn through the work’s double narrative. Upon reaching the end of their tales, one story fades to black, while the other lurches into nonsense and disaster.

Pastoral Drama explores forms of vision and knowledge that trigger disaster or the erasure of a vulnerable subject. But at its most hopeful, the work also tests how a vulnerable and delicate thing might move forward, into the future.

 

About the artist

Jamie Crewe is a beautiful bronze figure with a polished cocotte’s head who grew up in the Peak District and is now settled in Glasgow. She graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2009 with a BA in Contemporary Fine Art, and later from Glasgow School of Art in 2015 with a Master of Fine Art. She has presented several solo exhibitions: Solidarity & Love, Humber Street Gallery, Hull (2020); Love & Solidarity, Grand Union, Birmingham (2020); Pastoral Drama, Tramway, Glasgow (2018); Female Executioner, Gasworks, London (2017); and But what was most awful was a girl who was singing, Transmission, Glasgow (2016). In 2019 the artist was the tenth Margaret Tait Award with the resulting commissioned work Ashley premiering at Glasgow Film Festival in March 2020.

Flourescent yellow paper inscribed with handrawn texts of different styles and scales. "hell & repression" is writen across the centre of the image, and is surrounded with ornately handpainted profiles of human heads.

Jamie Crewe, Sketchbook photocopies and ephemera from Suzan Pitt, 2018. Installation view of the exhibition KW Production Series, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin, 2018. Courtesy: the artist. Collection: Museum Abteiberg. Photo: Frank Sperling.

Online talk: Jamie Crewe on Pastoral Drama, 19 May 2021

 
Speaking with Mason Leaver-Yap three years since the making of Pastoral Drama, artist Jamie Crewe revisits her inspirations and motivations behind the work. She reflects upon what it might mean to recuperate mythic acts of withdrawal, show the limits of homosociality, and representations of progress. (Duration: 45m)
Black text on white paper, in Times New Roman serif font, fully capitalised: "TERMS I AM NOT A MAN. DO NOT ADDRESS ME AS A MAN, OR REFER TO ME AS ‘HE’, ‘HIM’, ‘LAD’, ‘BOY’ OR ANY OTHER MASCULINE SIGNIFIER. REFERRING TO ME IN THIS WAY WILL RESULT IN TOTAL WITHDRAWAL. IF FAMILY MEMBERS REFER TO ME AS ‘HIM’ ‘HE’, ETC., YOU MUST CORRECT OR CHALLENGE THEM. THE CONSEQUENCE OF FAILING TO DO SO IS MY TOTAL WITHDRAWAL. IF I ALLOW YOU TO TOUCH MY BODY IN ANY WAY, YOU ARE NOT TOUCHING A MALE BODY. I DO NOT CONSENT TO GAY SEX. IF YOU HAVE GAY SEX WITH ME I WILL KNOW AND I WILL WITHDRAW TOTALLY. IF YOU, AT ANY TIME, UNDERSTOOD ME AS A MAN (OR ‘BOY’, ‘LAD’, ETC.) YOU WERE MISTAKEN. IF YOU MANIPULATED ME INTO SEX OR A RELATIONSHIP BASED ON YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF ME AS, FOR EXAMPLE, A GAY PUNK, OR A CHUBBY TEENAGED BOY, YOU WERE MISTAKEN. UPDATE YOUR RECORDS ACCORDINGLY AND RETURN TO ME MY POSSESSIONS. NOTHING I DO IS SYMPTOMATIC OF ANY FORM OF FLAMBOYANT MALENESS YOU MAY HAVE ENCOUNTERED OR IMAGINED. REGARDING ME AS MALE FOR ANY REASON, INCLUDING IN THIS WAY, REPRESENTS A FATAL BREACH OF OUR ENGAGEMENT AND WILL SEND ME FLEEING INTO THE GORSE. IF I HAVE HAD CAUSE TO, FOR EXAMPLE, HIDE UNDER A SLEEPING BAG AT YOUR APPROACH, OR RUN BAREFOOT INTO A LOCAL CEMETERY WHEN YOU WALK THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR, YOU ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO SEE ME, YOU ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO TALK TO ME, I WANT YOU TO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ME. IF I FIND THAT YOU HAVE SEEN ME OR KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ME, AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU EVER TRY TO TALK TO ME, I WILL RETREAT INTO HELL."

Jamie Crewe, Terms, 2018. Courtesy: the artist.

Lichtspiele: Bucolic Coda at Pogo Bar, KW, 1 November 2018

 

Folded A5 cover of b/w photocopied program notes, inset with an ornately hand-painted abstract watery image at the centre of the page. Times New Roman text reads: BUCOLIC CODA / Films and readings, programmed by Jamie Crewe, that have informed 'Pastoral Drama', their new moving image work / 21:00–22:00 / November 1st 2018 / Pogo Bar / KW Institute for Contemporary Art / Auguststrasse 69 / 10117 Berlin

 

Bucolic Coda was a special evening of animation, film, and reading programmed by KW Production Series artist Jamie Crewe. Comprising an eclectic body of materials that informed Crewe’s commissioned film Pastoral Drama, 2018, this evening presented journeys, returns, violent changes and disenfranchisement, united by an interest in experimental animation. Work includes films by Margaret Tait, Suzan Pitt, Jim Blashfield, Eugene Salandra, and Curtis Harrington, and writing by Marie NDiaye. [Read full programme notes]

 

Partners

Jamie Crewe’s Pastoral Drama is a co-commission by KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin; and Tramway, Glasgow; with support from Julia Stoschek Collection and Outset Germany_Switzerland.