Banner image: still from 'Welter' (2021) by Victoria Gray, image courtesy of artist. Image description: A person with dark long hair is leant forward to reveal their spine and shoulder blades. They wear a grey loose fitting top and the backdrop behind is dark. A light above highlights the person.

'Inside this migrainous welter, I feel a dark delay. A hole opens in the back of my head, and all of the tacit connections that ground a body in space-time, that galvanise a sense of self, fall out of that hole. Gravity works on me diagonally. With every movement, shift of eyeline, and change in light, I multiply in the turbulence, zig-zagging backwards out of my body, like driving over a poorly surfaced road or the uncanny echo in the legs when stepping off an escalator.'

Read or listen to a description of the film's audio and visuals

Victoria Gray’s ‘Welter’ (2021), made in collaboration with Sam Williams, is the conclusion of many months of artist development with Shape Arts and is premiered today across Shape channels, though the work itself - defying expected parameters of what an artwork ‘is’ - has been in production since 2017, supported by an Artsadmin Artists’ Bursary.

‘Welter’ (2021) deliberately exploits ambiguity; of language, form, and meaning. Welter - both verb and noun - is a slippery and tense concept, evoking imagery of a writhing, messy, distress. In contrast, the term ‘autism’ appears as a tidy linguistic and diagnostic tool. Beneath the surface, however, much like the language (both verbal and somatic) that Victoria has developed within her practice, this simplicity obscures the complex and diverse sensory encounters that autistic people experience. 

Through this deeply personal and evocative work, Victoria is looking to reflect on the ways in which autistic sensory experience can enrich - and conflict with - contemporary performance and visual arts practice, as well as, more abstractly, reflect on the power and limitations of traditional linguistic communication. 

Film Description

This film, titled Welter, by Victoria Gray, shows Victoria’s solo performance in a studio space. It is shot in colour in video format, and has a duration of nine minutes.
Throughout the film, Victoria is filmed in a series of close up shots in subdued light. Victoria is lean, with straight brown hair that hangs down over a face that remains out of view. The opening sequence sets the tone for the rest of the piece, with Victoria hunched so far forward that the only part of her on show is the smooth nobbles of her upper spine above the textured grey sleeveless top she wears. She moves restlessly, her posture striking in its rigidity even as she sways and shifts about, her legs straight and her hands outstretched before her lowered head and the pairs of splayed lean fingers almost touching together.
Informed by lived experience of stimming movements, Victoria repeats patterns of motions and postures that at times are rhythmic and wavelike and at others sharper, more staccato. At various points we find her hands set in a curled grip that is almost mannequin-like, yet her pose is far from lifeless as she shuffles and turns and leans and strains away from the camera, her head down, hanging at times in this relentless and highly constrained ballet.
The end credits, on a black backdrop, read: A film by Victoria Gray and Sam Williams.

Want to know more about 'Welter'? Our Creative Producer, Elinor Hayes, chatted with Victoria for an extended Q+A about her work, practice, and neurodivergent identity. Listen or read to the conversation now.

Visit Victoria's artist profile Read more on Victoria's website