Image courtesy the Photographers' Gallery.
Trannies, dandies and sexual adventures in a dingy Soho basement? How could we resist? The underground screening room of The Photographers' Gallery couldn’t be a better setting for viewing the latest work by Jordan Bateman; a series of short films interviewing Soho residents, commissioned by the gallery and ArtSway. The small room becomes even more intimate as the darkness closes around you and the screen counts down to the first of three films.
'Nasty Piece of Stuff’ quite literally flashes before your eyes in a fast moving pastiche of Soho scenes interspersed with complete darkness which provides the backdrop to the disturbing tale of activist Alan Wakeman’s first sexual experience.
Transexual prostitute Lucy talks you through the second slower paced titular film. Her open and frank discussions of life servicing the men of Soho is full of contradiction from one moment to the next but despite displaying her own prejudices throughout (she won’t entertain French men because DeGaulle claimed liberation of France when actually, it was really Britain that did the deed) she challenges the prejudices faced by those working as prostitutes.
Last film ‘The Dandy Doctrine (A Delightful Illusion)’ interviews Sebastian Horley, self-described Dandy and all round amusing character. He can’t quite decide how he feels about much, concluding at one point that suicide is a great ending to existence but only if done with joy!
Bateman’s work reinforces the boundary pushing, evolutionary narrative of Soho and as you emerge an hour later only streets away from the action you get that gloriously smug Londoner feeling.
Dark is the Night, until 14th June 2009, The Photographers' Gallery.
By Claire Gibbs