Akeroyd Collection


Ed Atkins, Happy Birthday!!!, 2014

Happy Birthday!!! is a computer-generated animation in black and white. The central protagonist, seen either walking, in an embrace or submerged in dark fluid, is seemingly preoccupied with timeframes, dates and durations. He may be looking back, recalling a memory, or stating a historical date as much as he may be projecting into future occasions or announcing dates to come. This obsessional behaviour belies his calm, professionalized presentation. He is a smooth orator, dressed smartly, gazing confidently into the viewer with a charismatic affectation. This facade only breaks when he begins to unexpectedly excrete high volumes of liquid from his mouth. During this violent projectile that splatters the screen, we see expressions of shock, struggle, and despair across the face of this man, the liquid slowly consuming him as the frame fills, and he is fully submerged. As Elvis Presley’s Always On My Mind plays, we recall an earlier scene where this same man repeats to camera the cryptic refrain ‘we will, I will, it will, you will, she will, he will, they will’. There are moments of fracture, discord, erasure, rest, and oblivion. Lamenting music plays with eerily distant acoustics as dates are recalled or predicted until the ultimate violence occurs. From an empty bed, the final words of the film ‘from 6 months to a year’ sound, unsettlingly, like a dire prognosis.

MediumHD Film with 5.1 surround sound
Duration5 minutes 55 seconds
Editionof 6 + 3 APs