Posted on March 28, 2018
Caroline Williams, Director of Now Is The Time To Say Nothing, interviewed by The Ministry of Counterculture (extract)
MoC: Your director's note states that you wanted to analyse “the semantics of the news and our relationship to screens…”
CW: The history of the photograph and moving image is something that's always fascinated me. They’re an inherent part of modern culture – what effect do they have on that culture? What does it mean to be able to capture an instance of drama or pain? Does it distance us when we watch those images outside of their context?
Dennis Potter said that TV was the first form of “democratic art”. It was beamed into people's homes and there is something incredibly intimate and powerful about that. Before there were a million channels, the TV could be a tool for true social engagement. If everyone in an entire country watched the same programme and discussed it the next day, how wonderful would that be? Perhaps that's why I love Gogglebox so much!
I wanted to use screens as a poetic tool to show the audience something intimate and unexpected. Once I saw Reem Karssli’s film Every Day, Every Day, and she agreed to collaborate with us, I knew this would be possible.
MoC: For some people in war-torn areas, art is the last thing on their minds. But, taking into account your experience here, how important is it as a healing and informative tool?
CW: There were times when Reem felt unable to be involved because the experience felt too alienated from what she was experiencing in her own life. We were meant to end the show with a live Skype, but Reem pulled out of it exactly because at that moment, art didn't feel important or real compared to the crises her life was in. Reem talks about it in the show, saying, “If I can't connect with myself how can I connect with other people?” I would go on to say if you can't connect with yourself, how can you connect with art? You can't. But that can pass when things get a little easier and then art can remind us of what we love, as well as challenge us.
Thankfully this has happened for Reem. Now living in Berlin, she told me recently, “I'm not an activist or a politician but I can make art.” Against very difficult odds, she has found a way to do that – that's what makes this piece special.
Now Is The Time To Say Nothing
Fri 11 – Sun 20 May