a LIFE LESS ORDINARY (sh*ll*w gr*v*)

Morag Keil, a LIFE LESS ORDINARY (sh*ll*w gr*v*) (2021)

a LIFE LESS ORDINARY (sh*ll*w gr*v*)
Morag Keil
7th November – 19th December 2021

This show started as an idea to make a video of flatmate interviews for shared housing. I had a memory of the interview scene in Shallow Grave, the 1993 Danny Boyle film which is based on ‘The Pardoner’s Tale,’ one of The Canterbury Tales: a story of morals, greed and consequences. 

My interest in the flat interview process was because it is a moment where we try to in a supposedly fair way judge someone’s ability to live with us, or we present ourselves as someone with the ability to live with these others. The process has extreme power dynamics in it. There are the people who have a home and the person who needs a home. I was interested in the questions we ask and what we see as i­mportant, or what might help someone expose themselves to us.

I used the structure of the Shallow Grave’s intro, copying it shot-by-shot. The questions in the interviews are taken from actual questions people ask in interviews at a housing co-op in London.

The whole film is presented in an Ames room, an illusionistic space that makes one person seem much bigger than they are and the other much smaller. The illusion only works from a single position and in a photograph. 

The film also mimics the skewed perspective of the Ames room, using Dutch angles. This was something I first saw in Hal Hartley’s film A Girl From Monday, a low-budget sci-fi. To make things look futuristic they filmed it on a tilt.

The title a Life Less Ordinary is taken from another Ewan McGregor film from the same era. It just seemed a more fitting title than Shallow Grave.

Morag Keil

Photography: Patrick Jameson