Oona Grimes’ u.e u. is one in a series of film works, born out of her six month Bridget Riley Fellowship at the British School at Rome. Referencing (and intersplicing) scenes from Passolini’s neorealist film Uccellacci e uccellini, the work is a collaged dance between Grimes and the birds, between iphone technology and 16mm film, situated in Rome’s deserted streets. We see Grimes repeat gestures, drawing the acts of birds with her body, drawing herself onto film, until she becomes one of the sparrows.
Birdsong and church bells are the primary sounds of the film, with sound overlayed from Passolini’s original. A man’s sobbing is enacted by Grimes and the blur of Italian speech steams through the work; fragmented conversation heard and then forgotten. The same scenes are repeated in both silence and sound, as though we are submerged in and out of water, or hands have been clasped over our ears. ‘Amore! AMORE’ is the cry that cuts through even the hawk’s screech, and the words appear again in the film’s last shot – hidden amongst the graffitied steps down which Grimes leaves the frame. The work speaks to the dislocation of solitude, the prayer and play that we find within ourselves. Bells chiming, birds singing. Nothing to be done.