Natasha Lall on using sci-fi to explore queer visibility

We interviewed Glasgow-based artist and filmmaker Natasha Lall about her film Pink Excavation.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work as an artist and filmmaker.

Hello, I’m Natasha (or Nat, whatever) Lall and i’m a multimedia artist. I’m QTIPOC, disabled and gender non-conforming. My pronouns are she/they. I don’t have a particular medium of preference right now but I have a background in sound art. I branched out to other mediums, particularly film, as I felt it was more widely accessible. Queer films are such a big part of how I found the language and mannerisms to live out my ‘queerhood’ and I believe I share that finding with a lot of other people. And by ‘people’ I don’t mean cool artists/musicians necessarily… I mean everyday people and friends.

Pink Excavation imagines the preservation of queer histories in Glasgow, 2518. Where did the idea for the film come from?

I spend a lot of time indoors, being shy and fantasising about exciting queer worlds. I’m not ‘out’ in a lot of ways or to a lot of people and being queer is still quite a fantasy, thus my obsession with dykey sci-fi. I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone, spend all my money or suggest that others should have to so I had the idea of making a local, homemade film. I set the film in the future because I am curious to see what, if anything, will ever change for queer people. Queers older and younger than me seem to be going through pretty similar struggles and none of us have a safe or effective answer of how to escape this. I play out my skepticisms with local queer pals in the film.

Why did you choose to use sci-fi to explore queer ideas?

As I briefly mentioned in the previous question, sci-fi is a form of escapism. Queer sci-fi is such a therapy, I have so much fun daydreaming and think it should be considered an essential part of queer self-care… The technological sci-fi style some of my recent films explore (Pink Excavation, obviously, but also The 16mb, Future Sounds and A Mini City) comes a lot from being a millenial. I am admittedly obsessed with technology and that obsession manifests itself in obsessive fears as well as fun daydreams. I wouldn’t have had access to the queer theory, lit, films or community I do without my laptop and internet. But I am also very aware that my personal data is being logged and if it gets into the wrong hands (which it has before) things can become pretty unsafe. So, I use sci-fi to explore both the pros and cons of my techy daydreams.

Pink Excavation contemplates the pros and cons of queer visibility. Did making the film influence your views on visibility and whether it’s a good thing or not?

Yes, I used the filmmaking process to explore my take on queer visibility. I felt more confident in being a shy queer… which sounds silly… but what I mean is that the process helped me legitimise how much I don’t share and how much is not documented. I love archives and totally value looking back on secret histories that had to be hidden in the past for the survival of the generations they documented. Similarly, there are things that I have hidden for years and might even hide till the end of my own life or the til the death of those I fear. But, I think future queers would really get a lot from these secrets of how much fun homo stuff we got away with under the radar. I don’t need to be proud and out to everyone right now, it’s not safe and I hate when it is treated like a responsibility. Sometimes I even get worried about interviews like this or showing my films. But a lot of the references in the films are coded and straight folk won’t get them so hey, I’ll be alright. Taking a few risks is manageable and worth it for the sake of living a life that seems natural or right.

Pink Excavation screens on Saturday 8 December, 6.30pm at CCA. For more info and tickets, click here.

Photo of Natasha Lall performing Scores for Sissy Bois at the ICA by Robin Buckley.

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