Film installation with wadded and quilted surround, hardwood sculptural frame (treated with yakisugi), and textile components.

Flatland, commissioned by Tate Liverpool, is centred around a film installation, which uses set design, choreography, and costume to depict flattened hierarchies within a close-knit community of women. This is accompanied by a second film that focuses on a single performer, signing a text written by author Eley Williams in British Sign Language.

Text by Tamar Hemmes from Tate Liverpool website:

The work is inspired by Edwin Abbott’s 1884 novella, Flatland, where all existence is limited to two dimensions. In this society men may have any number of sides depending on their status. Women, on the other hand, are thin, straight lines who are at the bottom of the hierarchy. As their pointed ends are considered to be dangerous, they are restricted to separate entrances and must paint one end of their line-body orange as well as swaying continuously to alert others to their presence. A satire of Victorian society and the role of women within it, the book poses provocative questions about perception, reality and metaphysics and has influenced and inspired artists and scientists alike.

Echoing Abbott’s novella, the performers in Speed’s film begin line-like and rigid before working together and unfolding to create more colourful, layered and complex shapes through increasingly vibrant movement. This evolution is also realised through costume. The performers wear functional housework garments, such as aprons and tabards that contain hidden elements relating to the set design.

Audio description of the Flatland film

Text by Eley Williams, read by Alice Gilmour