Fabulina

Jimmy Nuttall


3 - 31st March 2020

with text by Aodhan Madden





Performed by Brian Fuata, Mick Klepner Roe, Kate Meakin, Jimmy Nuttall, Luigi Vescio, Megan Payne, Astrid Connelly, Ella Sowinska, Callan Bradley Hales, Ellen Davies, Rosie Isaac, Alice Quinn, Danielle Reynolds, Alice Heywood and Lydia Connolly-Hiyatt

Musical composition - Jono Nash and Jimmy Nuttall
Director of Photography - Ella Sowinska
Camera and sound operator - Elle Marsh
Sound recording - Liam Barton
Harmonica - Bonnie Cummings
Additional sound support - Brian Fuata, Agatha Gothe-Snape and Alex Cuffe
Make up - Georgia Robenstone
Drone operator - Oscar Ascencio




Fabula, -ae f. what the city speaks about, ‘conversations’,
community through poetry, the general and ephemeral sense of
‘us’ despite ‘ourselves’, the Latin word for myth.



This is a short note on Fabulina, and what this short film might
have to do with this mode of telling the world. Or more
particularly on how this film, through its aesthetic of both
disjunction and disappointment, might ask us to forget
ourselves
, without telling us in which way it might mean these
words.


For example, the structure. Fabulina is unequally split in two:
there is the narrative arc of the film with its supposed climax
(the preparation and performance of a song) and the ‘troubling
blankness’ that invades from the outside in (the fleeting topless
figure in ‘nature’, anonymous as the paddocks before them).
Seemingly disjointed, these two ‘realities’ come together at the
end when the song dies down, when we witness an unsettling
event that the film doesn’t explain, the characters mysteriously
drawn into the closing sequences of harmonica and landscape.


This seeming incoherence could simply mark time passing,
indicating that the ritual goes for days, or rather the passing into
a different kind of time, the time of myth. As such, the narrative
dimension of the whole film changes. The final scene becomes
not just a demented concert among ‘creatives’ but rather a
contemporary reimagining of the poet drinking at the fountain
of Mount Parnassus, a Bacchic orgy with the Muses. The song
itself becomes ‘epic’, both the material and means to ‘come
together as one’, an attempt to return to a divine nature.


Yet this reading is inherently troubled. Fabulina subtly tells us
so. For who or what would this ‘one’ be? In whose name would
this myth be rewritten? The film ‘offers’ three possible options:
queer, Australian, artist. However, none survive the
disappointment and disjunction, and the questions that follow.


For if ‘queer’ ‘identity’ (a logical impossibility in itself) is
structured precisely around the negation of normative
(heterosexual) values, wouldn’t it thereby exclude itself from
the possibility of an all-inclusive, decidedly ‘epic’ text, seeking
out other forms of narrative belonging?


Equally couldn’t one argue that the ongoing and official denial
of genocide that took place at the ‘foundation’ of ‘Australia’
belies the possibility of ‘myth’ in this country? Or that this
wilful disavowal makes settler Australians not only mythless,
but actively (even if subconsciously) against any such
reckoning with a national, unifying story?


And as for artists, as the kind of model of the late-capitalist
creative, if we return to the drunken poet asleep at the fountain
of myth, hasn’t ‘inspiration’ just turned into ‘good
management’? Where you do pilates, learn a foreign language
and make friends, hoping that the almighty social algorithm
might make you a star, or even give you enough work to
survive?


These questions lace the joints of this film, the characters and
their desires, and make this ‘troubling blankness’ into a trap.
And so, we watch the characters of Fabulina, disappointed, turn
to fabulina like they would any other habitual drug. Euphoria at
the price of pain, before and after. The pain of an individualism
that is itself the myth of Western modernity. Loneliness,
alienation, ambition, as well the desire to be rid of such a
reality.


Fabulina is thus the parody of this desire, proposing neither a
new myth, nor a new anthem, but rather tells the world that is
the everyday nauseating impossibility of both those things, their
failure. And yet, we wonder why ‘we’ still want to drink the
stuff, our tops off, ecstatic on the floor, never sure whether the
menace, within and without ourselves, is something ‘natural’, or
not.