“I wanted her body to embrace the compartment of the car. In my mind I pressed her moist vulva against every exposed panel and fascia, I crushed her breasts gently against the door pillars and quarter windows, moved her anus in a slow spiral against the vinyl seat covers… the complex of an immensely perverse act waited upon her like a coronation.” J.G. Ballard, Crash (1973)
Four Chambers’ newest film Crash is stunning homage to Ballard’s controversial story of car-crash fetishists. Two lovers (performers Crow and Velvet) embrace each other in the wreckage of a smashed car. They caress and lick the cold, hard metal as they writhe and lick each other. With their soft, fragile flesh presses against the shattered bonnet, they are living the fantasy of Ballard’s protagonist. Languid close-ups and metallic blue lighting recall the style of David Croenenberg’s 1996 film adaptation, merging human and industry, making everything part of the same twisted machine. Their slow movements savor the experience, overlaid with an 80s synth soundtrack by Augustus Muller – the music of misty nights, lost highways, stilettos, red nails, and smoke.
Crow and Velvet appear as hybrids of the film’s seductive mistresses – Holly Hunter’s business woman and Rosanna Arquette’s scarred, half-cyborg siren – clad in crisp suits, black lace, PVC. they are already converted to the allure of the destruction around them. They close their eyes and fantasize about bonnets crumpling, rag-doll crash dummies, dark moody highways, gripping the torn upholstery and ripping each other’s clothes off. Their writhing bodies and serene faces are framed by shattered glass and broken metal. A cigarette passes between them as they lie in the wreckage of a car, embracing the destruction, taking the memory of the experience with them to their own bed to ignite the passion again.
That which is bad is not hidden here. As Four Chambers Filmmaker Vex Ashley writes in her accompanying text:
“Much like a car crash, this year has been, in many ways, an atrocity exhibition that we couldn’t look away from”.
2020 has forced us all to see and accept that which is dangerous, unsettling, and morbid. Scars on the performer’s bodies are adored, licked, made erogenous. That which is painful is recognized as something tender, raw and worthy of attention. Ballard’s book and Cronenberg’s film have always been controversial because they face an uncomfortable reality, that destruction can lead to passion.
We are living in a car crash. Some may need to ignore it, others may need to look optimistically beyond it. Others, however, may need to face it head-on, and find what pleasure and connection they can while in the midst of it. There’s beauty to be found in the carnage.
Crash is available at afourchamberedheart.com