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Catherine Elwes
Elwes featured her son in the work Sleep, which is an eight-minute videotape comprised of a close-up of the sleeping infant.

In this video Elwes wanted to show the intense scrutiny of the mother's gaze. At the time she was having trouble sleeping for fear that her child might stop breathing. Sleep illustrates the fragility of the infant, with its quick patterns of breathing and gurgling. For Elwes, the duration was key to her piece, even though it was only eight minutes long. She has noted that the length of the tape was modest in comparison to the invisible investment of time that a mother makes in her children - often her whole life.

Two of her shortest works are also indicative of the artist's investigation into the role of video as a personal and performative medium. Grown Up and Introduction to the Summer are both short pieces made in the early 1990s. In Grown Up we see and hear a thigh being slapped repeatedly and rhythmically. As the camera pans down the leg, a recent wound, complete with stitches, is revealed to the viewer. A child's hand caresses the knee and we briefly see his face come into the shot. The shot slowly dissolves into the same view of the knee some months later with the wound healed to a thin scar, and the child's hand seemingly incorporated into the mother's body. Here Elwes appreciates the 'trick quality' of the medium of video, where time could be condensed and the healing of the scar appears to be linked to the child's agency.

Introduction to the Summer (1993) is a one-shot video that lasts only one minute. It features a female hand, palm facing up, on a plain white background. The accompanying sound of a tennis match is the score that complements a simple action: a male hand caresses and eventually clasps the female hand. Applause is heard on the soundtrack, suggesting the climax of their interaction. The sound then switches to distant seagulls and rolling surf as the male unclasps, and then slips away, leaving the female hand on its own. Introduction to the Summer tells the entire story of a summer romance and the eventual parting at the end of the season, managing to convey romance, sex and loss in just over sixty seconds. For Elwes, it is the ultimate wordless piece. Like Sleep, the use of close-up shots play a central role in the work, as well as video's ability to convey notions of touch and contact.

Still from introduction to Summer by Catherine Elwes, 1991
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