Kiss Me Deadly
19 Aug - 29 Sep, 2013
The Hanging Room
The Royal Automobile Club
89 Pall Mall
London SW1Y 5HS
The film opens on a dark Californian highway. A young woman, barefoot, clad only in an ill-fitting raincoat, scampers along the asphalt. Drivers ignore her as she tries to flag them down. Desperate, she runs in front of a handsome roadster…
“Get me to that bus stop and forget you ever saw me. If we don't make it to the bus stop... If we don't, remember me.” Kiss Me Deadly, dir. Robert Aldrich, 1955
Rooted in a queasy mixture of pulp novels and German expressionist cinematography, film noir was the moment when Hollywood raised the thriller from joyful trash to fine art. The gumshoe detective and the femme fatale played their parts, but above all these were films about light and darkness: neon reflected in rain-slicked pavements; cigarette smoke caught in a sodium glare; impenetrable mysteries and blinding revelations.
In Kiss Me Deadly, four artists who studied together at the Royal Academy Schools each build on a theme from film noir. Sinta Tantra walks that tightrope between pop and formalism; Liane Lang’s overripe photography alludes to a civilisation corrupted; Jessica Holmes paints a post-human abstraction of the urban; and Veronica Smirnoff considers a world filled with mysterious signs and symbols.