Unfinished Sympathy / Massive Attack / Baillie Walsh / 1991

Unfinished Sympathy / Massive Attack / Baillie Walsh / 1991


Footnotes

“It was quite a frightening experience,” recalls Shara. “But, like I said, Baillie’s got the ability to help you forget what’s going on and to just concentrate on what you’re doing. And, of course, I had these bodyguards behind me. I wasn’t on my own.”
“The bottom line is,” interjects G, “with someone like Baillie Walsh, he can visually put into action what we do with the music.” ➡︎

Leigh Bowery was definitely the most outrageous character, but because we weren't part of that London scene, he tried to dress down and go low-key around us. This basically meant he turned up to the shoot for Unfinished in LA, dressed in this mental outfit, like a faux-Manc casual. Massive parka, a mad pudding-basin wig, big Stone Roses baggies, and dripping with sweat. He was credited as art director, helping out Baillie Walsh's team while we were grilling the cameraman, who was David Lynch's steadicam operator. We did his head in about Blue Velvet; at the end, he was supposed to do an overhead shot of LA while Shara Nelson walked around the corner on these Scorsese-ish mean streets. I think we knackered him out of it. ➡︎

It is a special moment in filmmaking where a particular shot asks for the crew to clear the scene and the Steadicam operator and the artist perform alone during the take. I love the thought of Nelson marching along the West Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, the activity of those around her alive in the evening sun, with Kneece running alongside her, capturing a unique take on film every time. After stopping to let her walk past, the camera allows Nelson to walk out of sight. Through this directorial decision she becomes just another person on the street and we watch her walk away as quietly as she arrived. ➡︎


Extras

▶︎ Unfinished Sympathy on Google Street View / Craig Robinson / 2010

 A partial map of West Pico Boulevard, with the path Nelson takes in the video marked in yellow


Sources

◼︎ War on Pop / Paul Mardles / Rage / 1991

◼︎ Massive Attack's art of darknes / Nosheen Iqbal / The Guardian / 2010

◼︎ Massive Attack’s Unfinished Sympathy chosen by Phoebe Arnstein / Liv Siddall / It's Nice That / 2014


The Towers / William Hale / 1957

The Towers / William Hale / 1957

Artbound Presents The Works: The 60s in the 90s / KCET / 1992

Artbound Presents The Works: The 60s in the 90s / KCET / 1992