By SAMUEL GRAYDON
I recently went to Amsterdam for the Holland Festival (which runs until June 26). It advertises itself as “showing innovation in art”; it was to my surprise, then, that all of what I saw insisted, in a variety of ways, on retrospection.
Looking back does not necessarily mean that innovation is lacking, of course, as was shown by Mark Cousins’s film about atomic power, Atomic: Living in dread and promise, compiled from public-service broadcasts, stills, documentaries and interviews. An informative work that dragged you into a mindset of the past, it made you reconfigure your understanding of its subject. The film was perhaps not as strong in narrative as Cousins suggested in a discussion before the screening of the film, but it was offhandedly threatening, thanks partly to Mogwai – the Scottish post-rock band; they were commissioned to write the soundtrack to the film, and performed it live. Their ambient and droning music nicely complemented the film's explorations of the devastating and the healing potential of the atom.