Filthy Words & Phrases

Created 1998

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A lone woman stands at a blackboard in a deserted school hall. The list of words she writes on it is a catalogue of slang obscenity, sex acts, body parts and bodily functions: from LOVE GUN and HAND JOB to CLIT, KNOB and LICKETY SPLIT.

Shot in one continuous seven-hour take using three cameras and a live vision mix, Filthy Words… watches the performer on a journey through fascination, boredom, mild hysteria and near exhaustion in her task. The camerawork and vision mixing are also subject to the decays and mistakes inherent in the long duration of the work, creating a sense of ‘real time’ unfolding.

A wry and comical sex film without action, Filthy Words & Phrases shows the hard work of language. Written in chalk on blackboard, the ‘normally’ unsayable, unwriteable and illegitimate is here framed as part of some exhaustive vocabulary-lesson-gone-wrong. The list runs from the silly, the archaic and the simply offensive to the hopelessly euphemistic and the incomprehensible. The text shows language at the very edges of its ability (and desire) to find names for bodies, substances and actions.

7-hour video installation.


Hugo Glendinning / Tim Etchells and Forced Entertainment.