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Jayne Parker
With the exception of En Route (1986) - 'a video about transition and trying to find the right track' (JP) - she then returned to 16mm film for a series of short, intense films that make up a trilogy; (K. 1989, The Pool, 1991, Cold Jazz, 1993). Each contains acts and objects that evoke the fluids and forms of the body. Stark and literalist black-and-white cinematography depicts in K. the knitting of a garment from guts that seem to have been disgorged by the naked performer. Blood splashes from the naked protagonist's nose in The Pool and drips down her torso as she stands in an empty swimming pool. A graphic dance sequence with a male partner leads to the graceful movement of a fish in an aquarium, and to a final scene of release in which the performer swims in a pool now full of water. Cold Jazz contrasts an older woman slowly coaxing a tune from a saxophone while a younger woman cracks oysters to drink their juice and 'removes small stones from her body, washed there by the sea' (JP).

In these 'chamber' works Jayne Parker plays the central role in front of the camera, working with a small team on camera and sound (including Belinda Parsons, Anna Campion, Patrick Duval, Peter Scoones), and with Pat Fogarty as associate producer until her untimely death in 1999. The films also included the dancer Donald MacLeary (The Pool) and the jazz musician Kathy Stobart (Cold Jazz). The intense themes and imaging of the 'trilogy' were expanded along with other collaborations in the longer and more cyclic film Crystal Aquarium (1995). Evoking music hall stunts as well as contemporary art, this film includes a drummer, a swimmer and an ice-skater. Jayne Parker herself performs underwater tricks and is the subject of a muted drama, seen in fragments, in which she visits a room and finally sits on a bed that has been set alight. Although the performers are never seen together, 'they are inextricably bound up by their actions' (JP).

The implied narrative of Crystal Aquarium, which follows a series of shorter films in which protagonists hover on the verge of action and gesture towards freedom, is similarly about performance achieved over doubt and risk. These themes are evoked as visual concepts or signs. The drummer frowns in sharp-etched close-up as she thinks and listens, the skater digs her heels in ice, the swimmer's body creates abstract space, and Parker defeats gravity to eat and drink underwater, as in a circus act. At the same time, the room sequences which punctuate these events, repeated from different angles and focal planes, assert a literal figure of 'the interior', in which melting ice, empty space and unexplained fires are disturbing and perhaps melancholic emblems.

Still from The Pool by Jayne Parker, 1991
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