I was intrigued by artist Louise K Wilson’s additions to the 1975 movie Picnic at Hanging Rock. Her new work Missing Scenes: An Evening at Hanging Rock was commissioned by Spacex as part of Topophobia and presented at Exeter Phoenix as a one-off event on 6th July.
Louise K Wilson showed Peter Weir’s (shorter) director’s cut in its entirety, along with various audio and visual interventions, the most prominent of which were snippets of recorded interviews with Devon locals Val Bogan, Joe Loxton and Michael Calver. They talked informally about their impressions of the book by Joan Lindsay, on which the film is based. Wilson also gave a tantalising hint of the contents of the final (missing) chapter, which offers a solution to the mystery at the heart of the story.
I enjoyed seeing this excellent film again, and hearing different views of the novel as we went along (though, as my companion pointed out, it was bit like watching TV when someone else has control of the remote and keeps hitting pause). However, I confess to feeling slightly puzzled about what Louise K Wilson intended by taking on this iconic film for a rework. The event felt like an exploration of mystery and uncertainty, the activities of speculation and explanation, the inevitable blurring of fact and fiction and the multi-layered meanings of texts…
Perhaps it’s only right that I really can’t be sure.
Permission to post this text kindly granted by Gabrielle Hoad
9 July 2012