Twenty Second Hold Synopsis



Single screen projection. Duration 9 minutes 26”

‘Twenty Second Hold’ is filmed in a corridor situated to one side of the main concourse of a run down Parisian shopping mall.  The mirrored passageway becomes the setting for an encounter between the film’s two young protagonists. Closely based on observations of young people’s real life behaviour in public spaces, the film records fragments of social scenarios in which a couple meet, become intimate and break apart. In the film, the mall becomes a stage for playing out scenes of intimacy and disengagement.

Raw and experimental, ‘Twenty Second Hold’ was shot using non-professional actor/models who are filmed rehearsing and performing a series of durational stills. These are not freeze frames but poses held in real time for 20 seconds or more. We see the actors bodies sway or twitch slightly with the effort of holding their pose. A silent film, the work uses enacted stills, similar to tableau vivant, to focus on gesture and image. Like some of Dobai’s other works this film draws parallels between the shopping mall and the film set, both constructed spaces geared for display in which everyday behaviours easily become forms of enactment.

Critically ‘Twenty Second Hold’ relies on footage shot between enactments where the actors come out of their still poses and rest but remain on set.  In cutting back and forth between heavily rehearsed enactments and short sections of vérité footage of the actors shot ‘between takes’, the status of what is enacted and what is spontaneous becomes hard to determine. This is especially poignant in passages where the actors have become intimate with one another, where an embrace between them seems to shift from genuine tenderness to performed artifice and back again.

The juxtaposition of the drawn out fiction of the static poses with the staccato sections of the verité footage shot aims to pull the audience into a timeless reverie and then to break it, sharply reminding them of the conditions of the shoot and the constructed quality of the filmed image itself.