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Tanya Syed
Delilah (1995) creates a different, complementary, and more anchored sense of the relationship between the figure and their environment.

A number of women perform directly to the camera, one completing a cycle of martial art movements, another sweeping her hair repeatedly away from her face and eyes. The performers are lit while the space around them is in darkness. Their movements are amplified by the sounds of a tabla rhythm and the extended chords of a vocal breath.

These figures pose an explicit challenge to the viewer, both unsettling the viewer's gaze and conveying their own relationship to the environment through a form of movement which creates both an anchor and a temporal flow. This effect is brought out in the film's opening sequence where the camera slowly rises up a vast architectural figure, tracing its illuminated contours to complete a distinct triangular form. Abruptly, this is revealed to be the space between the legs of a performer by a movement of her arms outwards and upwards towards the camera, throwing the space into negative behind the human figure, to reveal the monumental certainty and stillness of her legs poised in motion.

As well as their movements, it is the women's eyes in Delilah that challenge the camera, while this play of ritual movement establishes their autonomy as well as their direct engagement with the viewer. Momentarily, we are equated with the historical Flaneur, as a controlling vision is unsettled and other positions described and offered.

Syed has described the performances in her films as delineating "a play of forces". In Delilah, "this is based on gender, and comes from a dream of invasion … It could be the lover or the enemy. …You project onto it [as you will]." Using gestures which convey "archetypal symbols of power," the performers represent masculine and feminine energies through their movements. One performer's pose takes "a masculine shape [in] the pose of a gun," though this is "just her fists;" and at once combines "the masculine within the feminine". There is "a doubling" as gestures change "from one thing into another." Filmed in extreme chiaroscuro, the dark background creates a symbolic landscape, "a space without, or a space of challenging, boundaries." Within this, Syed says, "a minimal female gesture can be so powerful - a flick of the hair, a look or a turn of the head."

Still from Delilah by Tanya Syed, 1995
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