11 December 2010 to 22 January 2011
Cushy Number starts and ends with a letter. There is this letter that you are
reading now, perhaps in advance of your visit or towards its end, and another
letter that you will have already written as you watch Oliver Husain’s film installed
in the main gallery.
In this film, you may recognize the definitive characteristics of Husain’s work.
His props and staging are amalgams of borrowed tropes from cinema, pop, and
queer culture. His visual cues are disarming yet also critical in his examination
of their seductive power. His projections expand into staged environments to
suggest that you, the viewer, are implicated in the narratives he creates.
Perhaps you were not expecting to be charmed by Husain’s film. This is not to
suggest that Husain is a magician or a hypnotist (though he has been known to
employ parlour tricks in the past.) Of course you have to watch the film in order
for this to happen, and we must acknowledge the possibility that you might avert
your eyes when you step into the gallery. You might, but we are betting you won’t.
In this film, Husain might be pondering the question, “How can one parse the
collective experience of cinema into a relativistic, individual experience?” Film has
the reputed ability to synthesize universal emotion while speaking to you, and only
you, among the crowd. As the subject of a film stirs our innate emotions, do we not
respond in turn? We are already implicated in a cinematic narrative by the act of
watching cinema—seduced by a string of illuminated images—but more specifically
here as the subject returns your stare through a semi-porous boundary that separates
real space from screen space. As suggested in Husain’s film, could this narrative of
desire in some way be akin to writing an unrequited love letter? No matter the source,
as we read—or look, for that matter—we write.