LOOKING GOOD ongoing

The film ‘Looking Good’ aims to establish a new kind of storytelling showing how a real experience can be depicted using highly stylised body, performance, and (importantly) dress and set.

The story is the true story of the first woman in Westminster who whilst suspected of child abuse, was able to prevent the immediate removal of her 4 week old baby girl by Social Services by agreeing to 24 hours surveillance in her home. This took the form of a resident maternity nurse. A nurse lived in her small apartment until settlement of the court case 9 months later. The agreement being that the (breastfed) baby would never be left alone with her mother (or father) until the cause of her injuries had been determined by the court. This meant no free movement within a small flat: for example the nanny would sit next to the bath (1.5 square meter space) overseeing how the mother was washing the baby and herself. Numerous professionals would repeatedly visit the small flat to determine her ‘parenting skills’.

The story becomes a case study of trauma – dressed and performed. The film charters new territory – an experience (more often experienced by the under privileged in our society) is written from the point of view of a victim of society’s punitive infrastructure – usually without a voice.

The sound is a voice over: The mother herself reading from her script, a diary of what happened. The nature of the text is a combination of fashion theory (her professional voice) and fragmented diary notes (personal), and reminds us that the project participates at both levels, i.e. her professional persona asking the question: how can one dress for trauma?

The film explores the rhythmic, repetitive choreography of the account of this very particular type of surveillance, the story lived and re-lived. Throughout the film, the same performer, Anna-Nicole Ziesche, describes through movement and dress three different stages ‘Idealised Motherhood’, ‘Surveillance Re-lived’ and ‘Power Regained’ fromdifferent periods of the mother’s predicament. For example the dress for ‘power’ (clothes worn to the High Court) will have elements of what we interpret traditionally as strong, such as large often padded shoulders, stiff collar etc. simultaneously it will be digitally translucent illustrating the strength of being ‘undisguised’.

Written by Judith Clark