Critics’ Picks

Anna Zett, Circuit Training, 2015, color, sound, 12 minutes 30 seconds.

Anna Zett, Circuit Training, 2015, color, sound, 12 minutes 30 seconds.


Anna Zett

Banner Repeater
Hackney Downs Network Rail, Dalston Lane, Platform 1
November 13, 2015–January 31, 2016

In Anna Zett’s newly commissioned video Circuit Training, 2015, the viewer is forced into performing a variety of mental gymnastics in order to make lateral connections and create sinuous narratives. The video begins with a Windows screen saver: a neon geometrical shape rotating in a void, accompanied by a female voice guiding us through the inner workings of the cerebellum, with the sound of typing in the distance. We then follow three women in the throes of rigorous physical training. As the women are shot in front of a green screen, the background changes from digitally generated images of a lit-up neural network to found clips of a voyage through the stars, Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square, 1913, an image from Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967), a black-and-white excerpt of a boxing ring with zoopraxiscope imagery of child boxers, and so much more. One of the women wears a headscarf, but this symbol of history and culture gets overwhelmed by all the boxing, a closed-circuit activity where violence is somehow made banal, neutralized. The voice then alludes to the camera as the subject, as if images themselves were its opponents.

The most poignant part of the video contains another screen saver: a picture of a white maze hovering in the ether. The female voice, the artist’s, leads us to the barely discernible shafts of air between each axon terminal in a dendrite. The idea of intricate connections formed without touch—the viewer and the video, the muscular and the mental—consolidates the varied trove of found and filmed images. Materiality is palpable even as it gives way to the digital, and intuition is present even as it solidifies into language.