Images courtesy of lucybeech.com
How do we celebrate success in the business of death? Are women better equipped to work in the funeral business than men? Lucy Beech’s new film ‘Me and Mine’ explores death, celebration, professionalism and femininity.
Whether or not you’re a fan of art films, the Tetley’s current exhibition by Lucy Beech makes for an intriguing visit. The centrepiece is ‘Me and Mine’, a short film chronicling a day in the life of a funeral director as she travels to an annual awards event. What’s most striking is the naturalism of the characters on screen and it’s unclear as to whether we are witnessing a real event – interspersed with actors – or whether the ceremony is entirely staged. This mystery only serves to highlight the falsity that underlies much human communication.
As pleasantries are exchanged and congratulations are bestowed, you feel like a true outsider to human life, witnessing the pristine surface level of middle-class British interaction. Fitting with the business these women work in, there is no life in this celebration. The film’s perpetually glum protagonist sits alongside the viewer, a brooding outsider, and it’s only in a hungover morning-after conversation that we see a glimpse of true humanity.
With no admission cost and a 30 minute running time, there’s a lot to gain and little to lose in going to see this film – and you can follow up your screening with a beer in the Tetley’s lovely bar downstairs. As the film plays on a loop, it’s difficult to know when to enter the screening room, but it’s recommended to treat this as a feature film and not an ‘art film’. By dipping in for a few minutes before moving on, you’d be losing the sense of sequence that makes the film so interesting.
In addition to ‘Me and Mine’, this exhibition features two of Beech’s earlier films, which explore similar themes. Both ‘Cannibals’ and ‘Buried Alive’ follow a group of women working together for professional success. The more startling of the two is ‘Cannibals’, which shows us a semi-spiritual meeting in which women are appointed different courses of a meal, one woman becomes ‘appetiser’ while another is ‘dessert’. It’s difficult to know what Lucy Beech is striving for here, but you do sense a push-and-pull of solitude and solidarity – are these women working together or are they each on their own journey? Beech shows us this bizarre ritual with a non-sceptical eye, allowing the viewer to draw their own conclusions.
The three films make an intriguing trio and aren’t too ‘arty’ to befuddle. See the films, enjoy a drink and plan your next visit to the Tetley.
‘Me and Mine’ is playing at the Tetley until 27th September. Lucy Beech will be in conversation at 18.00 on 9th September. This is a free event and you can book your tickets here.