The Watershow Extravaganza

2016
Michael, Sophie

Sophie Michael’s films explore ideas around abstraction, nostalgia and Britishness. The Watershow Extravaganza (2016) records the eponymous water-music-light attraction, which has been in operation at Watermouth Castle theme park in North Devon since the early 1980s. Installed in a child-sized theatre, the performance synchronises a 1920’s Mighty Mortier Organ with a water tray exhibited at the Festival of Britain in 1951. Filmed just before its laborious annual service, both the organ’s paper roll music and tired water jets fail to hit the top notes and positions. Today this kind of performance of innocence seems absurd and nostalgic, though not entirely innocuous. The Watershow persists, like the out-of-date format it is captured on, struggling to exist in the contemporary world. Multiple exposures mix neon colours and shots alternate between dark and light, until the show is rewoven into the fabric of the film. Exhausted and hysterical, the film’s patriotic climax is rendered at once pathetic, spectacular and slippery. Text courtesy of the artist and Seventeen, London.

  • Artwork Details: running time: 10 minutes 30seconds
  • Edition: 1 of 5 + 1 AP
  • Material description: 16mm film with optical sound
  • Credit line:
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC31/2016

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