Past Screenings

Ian Bourn

Self Portraits and Other Fictions

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27 June – 8 July

 

Image courtesy of the Artist

Lenny’s Documentary

1978, 45mins, black and white, Umatic video

Ian Bourn on Lenny: “[He is] a mixture of all the friends I hung about with and people I met on the streets of Leytonstone. But he was also a possible version of myself, expressing things I’d never been able to before. The objectivity it allowed me meant I could mix humour and seriousness in what was an incredibly bleak vision of the world.” (quoted in Felicity Sparrow’s essay for Lux Online)

 

 

Image courtesy of the Artist

Black White and Green

2003, 7mins, colour, DVCam/DigiBeta

Set amidst the etched glass, well-worn marble tables and polished tiles of a traditional East-End London eel and pie shop, Black White and Green is at once a meditation on the aesthetics of pie and mash and an excursion into memory, fantasy and places best forgotten.

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Selected Writing

The Work Programme – published in The Fortnightly Review, November 2016.

“Today is bright and cloudless in the Uplands B Business Park, which overlooks the Lea Valley and its sunlit reservoirs. I lock my bicycle to some railings near the rubbish bins in the car park of Landmark House. I could have come by bus, but I’m trying to keep fit…[continues here]”

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Subjective Interfaces – published by Piece Of Paper Press in September 2016 as a limited, numbered edition of 200. Each book is made from a single A4 piece of paper.

“My WS1 book is taken and tossed to one side as if it were unimportant by Ms. M, who today is temporarily standing in for K, my usual advisor. M is all the time giving me an “I’m not going to stand for any nonsense” look. “What kind of work is it you are looking for Mr. Burden-on-the-taxpayer.?” “Anything in the arts sector. Anything connected with art, video art in particular. That’s my background. That’s what I’ve always been involved with. I have a degree—” “And have you any other skills? I’m saying this because what you are suggesting is a rather narrow area with limited opportunities. We need to widen the range of your job-search. Would you be interested in cleaning work for example?” “I don’t think I could do that.” “Would you consider training to become a cleaner?” “Well, I don’t think—” “Mr. Bone-idle, you need to consider making changes to your work plan, and to your profile. It is no use waiting for a job ‘making films’ when the chances of that are highly unlikely…[continues here]”

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Subjective Interfaces and The Work Programme form part of Ian Bourn’s ongoing project Placement. Developed from diary notes, the project creates a portrait of an artist working without supplementary income or savings, trying to survive on state benefits, and residing in a country which itself is supposedly living beyond its means.

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Ian Bourn on his films: “Visions of my life as someone else.”

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John Wood and Paul Harrison: the men inside my television – published by Carroll/Fletcher, February 2015.

“TVs today are not pieces of furniture like they used to be. They are flat rectangles and have no depth.

“The world outside my kitchen window is grey and uninteresting. The view is limited. Beyond the glass, a low bramble hedge is vibrating vigorously in a stubborn and prolonged battle with a persistent crosswind. Snug behind the hedge is a drab wood slat fence with concrete pillars, its strong horizontal line cutting off vision at a height of six feet. Peeping over this barrier, but in reality about half a mile away, are the dark grey triangular tops of a row of pitched roofs, descending in size because of the angle of the street where they stand.

“A few spiky trees poke up here and there and just fidget slightly instead of sway, their leaves having fallen off months ago. Likewise the spindly prongs of TV antennae bend only slightly in resistance to the blast apparently coming from an off-stage industrial wind machine.

“This low-lying arrangement of flat shapes, tucked one behind the other gives the scene a theatrical quality. The world feels hunkered down as a long procession of small blotchy clouds speed across from right to left, through the middle of an otherwise empty sky.

“There is a moment in The Only Other Point (2005) by John Wood and Paul Harrison when the camera, on its slow endless track, left to right, through grey simplified sets suggestive of interior or exterior landscapes, reveals what looks like a courtyard or city garden. A smallish tree with plain green leaves growing in a square black pot comes into view. This is followed by a dozen bright green balls in a loose grouping, mysteriously hanging in space at roughly the same height as the tree. As the camera moves across and the relative positioning of everything changes with perspective, a moment arrives when the group of balls becomes perfectly aligned with the tree and, as though it were their sole reason for being (which it is), the balls temporarily become the fruit of the tree. The camera moves on, the alignments untangle, we pass through a dividing wall and all is forgotten as the next new ambiguous space is revealed.

“As I look from my window, I feel a similar sense of sadness at the passage of time, of things coming together and then falling apart…[continues here].

Bio

Ian Bourn (b. 1953) was educated at Ealing School of Art and the Royal College of Art, London. As a video artist, his screenings include Hayward Gallery, Tate Modern, National Film Theatre and Raven Row (London); The Kitchen (New York); Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam); and Image Forum (Tokyo).

Bourn was co-founder of HOUSEWATCH Artists’ Collective (1985 – 1992), whose site-specific film/performance projects included Conservatory (Lux/BFI, 1997), Paperhouse/Imaginary Opera (British Council tour of Japan, 1992 and Meltdown Festival, Southbank, London 1994), Little Big Horn (Southbank Centre, London, 1992), Night Assembly (Scottish Arts Council/Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh, 1987) and Cinematic Architecture for Pedestrians (Artangel, 1986).

Recent solo and group exhibitions and screenings include INSULA (London Gallery West, 2017), The Horizontal Within/The Horizontal Without (Lubomirov/Angus Hughes, London, 2017), Microcinema (Cambridge Film Festival, 2016), Subjective Interfaces (Piece of Paper Press and Peer Gallery, London, 2016), Experimenta: LFMC 50 (BFI Southbank, London, 2016), Contact Festival of New Experimental Film & Video (Apiary Studios, London, 2016), Video Room: Ian Bourn and Mark Dean (Museum Bojimans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2014, and Interior Domestic: Early Works by Ian Bourn 1979 – 1988 (Five Years, London, 2014).

 

 

They Are Here

We Help Each Other Grow

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23 May – 26 June

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We Help Each Other Grow

2017, 4mins

Video shot on thermal imaging camera.
Music: We’ve Helped Each Other Grow composed and performed by Mx World.
Performed by and co-choreographed with Thiru Seelan.

Commissioned by and screened in collaboration with Furtherfield.

“I had to go because I needed to save my life. I wasn’t myself. Just bone and flesh. I didn’t have a soul or anything.” Thiru Seelan, Global Citizen Interview, 20.02.17.

Thiru, a Tamil refugee dances on an East London roof looking towards the skyline of Canary Wharf. His movement is inspired by the dance form Bharatanatyam, traditionally only performed by women and taught to Thiru in secret by his younger sister.

When Thiru came to the UK in 2010, following a six month detention in which he was tortured for his political affiliations by police authorities, Canary Wharf was his first home.

His movement is recorded by a heat sensitive camera more conventionally used as surveillance technology and deployed to monitor borders and crossing points, where bodies may be recorded and captured through their thermal signature.

The song We’ve Helped Each Other Grow composed and performed by London based Mx World was chosen with Thiru. Mx is a prefix that does not indicate gender. In the UK, it can be used on many ‘official’ documents – including passports. The repeated refrain, ‘We’ve helped each other grow’ suggests a communal vision for self and social development.

We Help Each Other Grow was part of They Are Here’s exhibition Please Identify Yourself at Furtherfield 18 March – 2 April, 2017.

 

They Are Here (f.2006) is a collaborative practice steered by Helen Walker and Harun Morrison. They are currently based in London and on the River Lea. Their work can be read as a series of context specific games. The entry, invitation or participation can be as significant as the game’s conditions and structure. Through these games, they seek to create ephemeral systems and temporary, micro-communities that offer an alternate means of engaging with a situation, history or ideology. In parallel, they initiate multi-year socially engaged projects that become generative spaces for further works. They Are Here work across media and types of site, particularly civic spaces. Institutions they have developed or presented work include: CCA Glasgow, Furtherfield, Grand Union, Konsthall C (Stockholm), Southbank Centre, South London Gallery, Studio Voltaire STUK (Leuven, Belgium) and Tate Modern.

www.theyarehere.net

 

William Raban

Making Films Politically?

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“The problem is not to make political films, but to make films politically.” Jean-Luc Godard.

On 18 May Close-Up and Carroll/Fletcher present the second part of Making Films Politically?, a short season of William Raban’s films. The programme features Civil Disobedience and Thames Film – two films exploring transient aspects of our natural and built environments to expose layers of historical, political and mythological meaning. The screening will be followed by a q&a with the director. Tickets are available here. Ahead of Part Two Carroll/Fletcher Onscreen presents two films included in Part One – London Republic and Available Light – and a short episodic reflection on Thames Film.

London Republic

In April 2016, two months before the UK referendum on membership of the EU, Raban uploaded London Republic to Vimeo.  Originally conceived as a political provocation that invited the audience to guess the outcome of the vote to decide London’s fate within Europe, London Republic has proved to be startlingly prescient of the UK’s vote to leave the EU and, perhaps, of the ultimate consequences…

 

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Available Light

Partly as a reaction to the political climate in 2016 and partly as an exercise in film-making within strict formal constraints, in Available Light Raban filmed himself using ‘natural’ light to read Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. Shot over six days, Raban used time-lapse to compress the film to nine minutes. The images are offset by David Cunningham’s score, which is composed solely from the two words of the book’s title.

“When I set out to shoot Available Light I thought the film should be 8 minutes long. I therefore timed myself reading 2 pages of the book and calculated that by filming at the time-lapse rate of 1 frame every 2 seconds, the 858 pages would last 8 minutes. I shot the film over 6 days though some days when I was going to work I only filmed for 2 hours. The ‘rule’ was simple. I set up the book under a window and only filmed in available daylight. I started reading at 07.00 when there was just sufficient light to see but not sufficient to fully expose the image on camera and continued filming until it got too dark at evening twilight to read anymore. It was February and freezing cold in my studio so I had to take regular breaks to make myself a cup of tea, have a cigarette or take a quick lunch break. At those points where I took a short break, I put a bookmark between the pages, closed the book and stopped the camera. So you can see that in the case of that film human agency impinges significantly on the pre-planned systematic structure. Also, the film ended up being 9 minutes long because I hadn’t reckoned on some passages being difficult to understand therefore taking longer to read so that is another example of human disruption to the pre-planned system.” William Raban in an interview with Federico Windhausen (courtesy of LUX, full interview here).

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“Another example, more minimal in its form but which recuperates time-lapse, is Available Light (2016).  The proposal is simple: while natural light is available, presumably the director himself – with only his hands seen – reads from beginning to end Das Capital by Karl Marx.  To this seemingly simple premise is added a fundamental soundtrack.  By means of little defined noises, David Cunningham’s music turns into a sound speech and represents what could be the awareness of whoever reads this masterpiece on political economy.  At first the sounds advance autonomously against the movement of the hands that turn the pages.  Little by little, music and movements are mimicked, until a near complete connection is almost complete. In time, one intuits that the word is ‘capital’ that is ringing, only in fragments but each time becoming clearer, although it never quite does so completely.  In short, in its entirety, it functions as a birth – a word game with the title – a political claim, a grain of sand that sets out to change the world.” William Raban Retrospectiva: Politica y Sociedad a ritmo de Time-lapse, Iago Paris, 6 June 2016.

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Thames Film

“When I make a new work, the thing I find myself striving for is to make an object of both truth and beauty. But of course truth is beauty so maybe the sole object should be to make an object of truth?”

William Raban.

Thames Film col

“Making films is about showing people things, not telling them how to interpret the world.”

William Raban.

“This is a vision of the dark Thames, of ‘Old Father Thames’ as an awful god of power akin to William Blake’s Nobodaddy; and, in Blake’s poem, Jerusalem, ‘Thames is drunk with blood’. In this film there is something fearful about the river, something monstrous, recalling Conrad’s line in Heart of Darkness that ‘…this also has been one of the dark places of the earth.’ Walking along the banks of the Thames, downriver, approaching the estuary, it is possible to feel great fear. One of the possible derivations of the word Thames itself is tamasa meaning ‘dark river’; the word is pre-Celtic in origin, so we have the vision of an ancient, almost primeval, time. And yet there is beauty and sublimity in terror. Raban has learned something from the great artists of the river, such as Turner and Whistler, and portrayed the Thames as clothed in wonder.” Peter Ackroyd on Thames Film.

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“The way my films look seems to be determined more by the necessities and conditions of their construction rather than by going out of my way to make beautiful images.”

William Raban.

By filming from the low freeboard of a small boat, Raban attempts to capture the point of view of the river itself, tracing the 50 mile journey from the heart of London to the open sea. Interspersed with images from Breugel The Elder’s painting the Triumph of Death, this contemporary view is set in an historical context through use of archive film and the words of the travel writer Thomas Pennant, who followed exactly the same route in 1787.

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“[In Thames Film] Modernity is put on trial: Pennant’s links between British imperialism, technological advances and the Thames are juxtaposed with derelict British imperialism, technological advances and pompous voiceovers from post-war newsreels anticipating the collapse not just of the Empire but also the ideals which supported it.” Gareth Buckell, review on William Raban DVD release (BFI 2005).

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“These examples of using camera movements to link particular ideas, are part of the larger project to determine the extent to which it is possible to construct political meaning by image and sound alone without dependence upon commentary or text. This has been the methodology that I had developed in Sundial (1992), A13 (1994), Island Race (1996) and MM (2002).”

William Raban.

“I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river

Is a strong brown god – sullen, untamed and intractable.

Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;

Useful, untrustworthy as a conveyor of commerce;

Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.

The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten

By the dwellers in cities – ever, however, implacable,

Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder

Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated

By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting”

From The Dry Salvages, T.S. Eliot

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Breugel, The Triumph of Death, c.1562. ‘In this setting, legions of skeletons advance on the living, who either flee in terror or try in vain to fight back. In the foreground, skeletons haul a wagon full of skulls; in the upper left corner, others ring the bell that signifies the death knell of the world. A fool plays the lute while a lady sings; behind both of them a skeleton plays along; a starving dog nibbles at the face of a child; a cross sits in the centre of the painting. People are herded into a coffin shaped trap decorated with crosses, while a skeleton on horseback kills people with a scythe. The painting depicts people of different social backgrounds – from peasants and soldiers to nobles as well as a king and a cardinal – being taken by death indiscriminately.’

“It seems to be easier for us to imagine the thoroughgoing deterioration of the earth and nature than the breakdown of late capitalism; perhaps that is due to some weakness in our imagination.” Fredric Jameson, Seeds of Time, 1994.

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Two reflections on Thames Film: Peter Ackroyd and Michael Chanan. Much of Raban’s interview with Jonathan P Watts discusses Thames Film.

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William Raban on film-making

“Whilst I think my work has changed substantially over the past 45 years, the films I am now making are still informed by a structural film approach. It is especially evident in About Now MMX (2010), which uses grid-like camera movements to create a cinematic map of the city of London. Perhaps it is less obvious with films like the Houseless Shadow (2011) and Time and the Wave (2013), but nevertheless I see the methodology of using straight cuts and no special effects as linked back to minimalist principles. When making a film now I am always asking ‘what is the simplest and most direct way to achieve the desired affect?’”

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“Four principles of political filmmaking:

(1) reflexivity: active audience participation rather than passive spectatorship;

(2) reflexivity: revealing the modes of production rather than concealing them;

(3) reflexivity: as understood in the social sciences – the effect that the researcher [film-maker] has on their subjects [content and audience];

(4) an ethical dimension of aesthetics – appearance determined by material conditions of production, it is not the pursuit of style.”

William Raban, Sequence, Winter 2012.

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“The notion of the ‘picturesque’ suggests landscape to me, especially when you consider ‘issues of land ownership’. I see many of my films as ‘political’ but this acknowledges the pertinent observation by Jean-Luc Godard ‘The problem is not to make political films, but to make films politically.’ I digress from landscape. I used to be irritated by the generic term ‘landscape film’. I was suspicious of where people were coming from who used it. Given that there is an accepted tradition of English landscape painting, I thought it was an attempt to legitimate film as a fine art practice. Partly with that in mind, I started making urban landscape films with Moonshine (1975) and Autumn Scenes (1978) and of course, it includes my more recent London films as well. I have always seen LS Lowry’s paintings of the industrial northeast as landscape paintings and I think there is work to be done to reclaim the term ‘landscape’ to include the city as well as so-called natural landscapes.” William Raban.

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Pallavi Paul

Pallavi Paul

3 March – 27 March

A Trilogy

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Pallavi Paul, Shabdkosh, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.

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Introduction

Over the three weeks from the 7th to the 27th of March, Carroll/Fletcher Onscreen is showing Pallavi Paul’s trilogy of films – Nayi Kheti/New Harvest (2013), Shabdkosh/A Dictionary (2013) and Long Hair, Short Ideas (2014). Central to the trilogy is the revolutionary poet Vidrohi (the rebel), who began writing in the 1970s as India was witnessing a time of great political turbulence and  violence from both the state and far-left groups. However, as Paul notes in her preface to the first film in the trilogy, Nayi Kheti, “the films are not about the persona of Vidrohi, rather I attempt to use his poems as a kind of laboratory to test the tensile strength of resistance as a material of life.” In Nayi Kheti, the poems act as a witness to a relentless stream of images and sounds as the protagonists engage in a dizzying exchange of ‘metaphysical, scientific and aesthetic ideas’. In contrast, Shabdkosh/A Dictionary, the second film in the trilogy, occurs in the silences between poems; a contemplation of the need to be heard against the imperatives of forgetting. The final film, Long Hair, Short Ideas, is constructed around Vidrohi’s wife, her relationship to the radical movement of the 1970s in India, and her intimate experiences of domesticity, sexuality and labour. Throughout the trilogy, as Paul explores the contours of fantasy, resistance, politics and history she extricates the political from a language of nostalgia or mourning to get to the heart of resistance.

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Nayi Kheti

“In the piece Nayi Kheti (New Harvest) I have tried to create three impossible, unfeasible conversations. In the anarchic text After Lorca, poet Jack Spicer writes to Federico Garcia Lorca nearly twenty years after Lorca’s death. Unlike in the book, in the video, amidst the relentless velocity of images and sounds, Lorca has to write back. Simultaneously, Poul Henningson, credited with the invention of the pH lamp, speaks about the desire of the scientist to reverse the rhythm of the day and the night, and reflects on how that dream lacks creativity, because ordained laws of creation too must be challenged. Caught within this question of light and darkness is the image of cinema itself. It has now been scratched out, cut open and remade to the extent that what now exists is only a trail of what we recognised as the filmic. Located as a witness to all these metaphysical, scientific and aesthetic exchanges are the poems of Vidrohi, a vagabond political poet. Nayi Kheti, is not about the persona of Vidrohi, rather I attempt to use his poems as a kind of laboratory to test the tensile strength of resistance as a material of life.” Pallavi Paul.

Camera- Bhamati Sivapalan, Pallavi Paul
Research- Uday Shankar
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Pallavi Paul, Nayi Kheti, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.
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Shabdkosh

Shabdkosh (A Dictionary) occurs in the silences between poems. A contemplation of the need to be heard against the imperatives of forgetting. Many forms of ‘last records’ are conjured to create ‘deceased time’. A time that is not simply un-alive but has a force much beyond the world of the living. Salvador Allende’s haunting last speech hangs in the air mingling with Vidrohi’s obsession with being recorded, while images of hunters and the hunted slowing trickle in. All these together form the skin of the question that Spicer asks of Lorca- ‘What did you want to do with a poem once it was over?’ Should ‘silence’ and ‘records’ always be placed antithetically, or can a new imagination of practice emerge from the world of the forgotten and the
misplaced?” Pallavi Paul.

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Pallavi Paul, Shabdkosh, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.

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Long Hair, Short Ideas

The film Long Hair, Short Ideas (2014) attempts to create a conversation between the pressures of excavating a political moment and the elasticity of the documentary form. Starting from the desire to look at the women’s movement, the artist found herself immersed in the viscosity of struggles. The inability to find perspectival stability started to become the very site from which possibilities sprouted. The film is constructed around Vidrohi’s (the revolutionary poet) wife. Her relationship to the radical movement is traced via the turbulent political history of India in the 1970s (Emergency and the gagging of free press and civil liberties) and her intimate experiences around domesticity, sexuality and labour. In revisiting her abandonment by her husband and the choices that she had to make as a result, Paul not only recasts the traditionally absent figure of the ‘revolutionary’s wife’ but also pushes us to rethink the orders of ‘silence’ and ‘absence’ within new precincts.

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Pallavi Paul, Long Hair, Short Ideas, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai.

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Vidrohi

Ramashankar Yadav (3 December 1957 – 8 December 2015), also known as Vidrohi (‘The Rebel’), was an Indian poet and social activist. Vidrohi was expelled from his PhD studies at Jawaharal Nehru University (JNU) for his involvement in student politics. Until his death during a student protest in 2015, he continued to live on or around the JNU campus – the trees of JNU, the corners of its hostels, the benches of its dhabas and the office of its student union his home. Vidrohi’s life was devoid of almost any material possessions. His clothes, in most cases bought by others, being the only exception. He did not seek money, fame or power. Vidrohi did not write down his poems; he recited them from memory – whatever work of his we see in written form is the result of the efforts of his admirers.

Courtesy wikipedia.

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Bio

Pallavi Paul works primarily with video and installation. Using the disruption between ‘reality image’ and ‘documentary’ as a starting point, she attempts to create a laboratory of possibilities which test the contours of fantasy, resistance, politics and history. Paul’s works have been shown at BALTIC 39 as part of the 2016 AV Festival, Newcastle; the Edinburgh Festival; the Mumbai Film Festival; Tate Modern; and in the exhibition Hundred Years of Experimentation (1913 – 2013) a retrospective of Indian Cinema and Video, Experimenta Film Festival, Bangalore. She is included in the forthcoming, Contour Biennale 8 in Mechelen. Paul currently lives and works in New Delhi. She is represented by Project 88 in Mumbai.

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Filmography

Nayi Kheti/New Harvest (2013) – 11′ 02″, HD, colour, sound, 16:9
Shabdkosh/A Dictionary (2013) – 19′ 16″, HD, colour, sound, 16:9
Long Hair, Short Ideas (2014) – 24′ 42″, HD, colour, sound, 16:9
The Common Task (2016)
The Dreams of Cynthia (2017) (three channel, commissioned by Contour Biennale 8 and the AV Festival)
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Links

Artist’s Profile at Project 88

“[Her videos] are not making simple connections between reality and documentary… [For Paul] documentary means resistance, possibility, a second horizon on which things can happen.” Profile of Pallavi Paul in July 2016 issue of Art Asia Pacific by Kerstin Winking.

“Pallavi Paul: “In the old days there were several ways of murdering a book,” he said. One of them was to publish it, but ensure that no one got a copy. It had to be known that there was a paper object somewhere, but not anyone who could claim to have seen it. Soon a real thing would become a rumour, a misplaced claim. Cynthia lives inside one such rumour. Even though she is the tragic heroine of a murdered book, the death of the book is hardly a tragedy. This is because books do not die like people, but, like people, different books do die differently. An infinite horizon of relay and hysteresis, such books mutate to become not un-alive but to have a force beyond the world of the living. Like salamanders, they regrow lost parts—some willingly surrendered. We watch Cynthia watching—the theatre of a dead book reconstituting itself.” Paul’s latest project, The Dreams of Cynthia – a three channel film installation, opens on 10 March 2017 at the Contour 8 biennial in Mechelen, Belgium. The work is a co-commission of Contour 8 and the 2018 AV Festival, Newcastle, UK. The accompanying text, written with Anish Ahluwalia (the author of the poem the work is based on), can be found here.

Contour 8 Biennale.

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Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood

4 October – 31 October

For Cultural Purposes Only

2009, 8’16”

 

 

To coincide with Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme’s multi-media installation, And yet my mask is powerful (2016), in our Eastcastle St. space, the final film in Carroll / Fletcher Onscreen’s short season of Sarah Wood’s films is For Cultural Purposes Only (2009) (courtesy of the Artist and Animate Projects).

In an age dominated by the moving image what would it feel like to never see an image of the place that you came from?

The Palestinian Film Archive contained over 100 films showing the daily life and struggle of the Palestinian people. It was lost in the Israeli siege of Beirut in 1982. Here interviewees describe from memory key moments from the history of Palestinian cinema. These scenes are drawn and animated. Where film survives, the artist’s impressions are corroborated.

“When you say to someone ‘you’re history’ it doesn’t mean that you’re part of it; it means that you’re obliterated. That’s what history means.” From For Cultural Purposes Only.

“‘For cultural purposes only, no commercial value’ is the phrase that is written on customs forms when films prints are sent internationally. The declaration is intended to speed a film’s journey through the customs process. Some time ago, I came across an article that the filmmaker Annemarie Jacir had written about her experience of curating a festival of Palestinian film in New York. In the article she talked about the practicalities of curating, and the difficulties of physically getting material across the world to screen in the US. Films sent from Palestine were simply going missing in transit. One film lost in the post might seem like a mistake but after a little detective work she realised films that she was certain had been sent from Palestine weren’t making it through Israeli customs. She realised that what singled the missing films out was their customs declaration. Instead of being something that facilitated movement, the simple statement ‘for cultural purposes only’ was being read and used as a means of gauging the content of the package and preventing their movement out of the country. I was very struck by this story, not only for the inhibition of the movement of art but also the added layer of meaning that the phrase had gathered. One of the striking things about the conflict between Israel and Palestine is the use of language by both sides to blur understanding and control the narrative of the conflict. I’m thinking, for instance, of the use by Israeli officialdom of ‘targeted killing’ to mean an assassination, or the use of ‘martyr’ by Palestinians to describe the same event. Both are euphemisms, both are used to control the effect of the act. Seeing the phrases ‘for cultural purposes only’ reinterpreted in this conflict made me question how hard it would be to create any art in the context of this double-think… [more here]” Sarah Wood (courtesy Dazed Digital).

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Sarah Wood discussing For Cultural Purposes Only in The Guardian

“I am an artist who works with found footage, making films from other people’s films – an act of reclamation and reinterpretation. In the west, this footage is ubiquitous. It wouldn’t be hard for me, for instance, to find an image of the place I come from to show to a stranger; I just have to know where to look. So imagine what it would be like if every image of 1960s London, or of pre-war France, or Soviet Russia, vanished overnight. Imagine there was no footage of your home town. In an age dominated by the moving image, how would that vanishing act make you feel?…”

The full article can be read here.

Courtesy The Guardian.

A 2009 update: Drawing Reality

I’m sitting indoors, looking out of the window at the whited-out world. A sudden snowfall has shocked Britain to a standstill. Everyone’s complaining. Trains don’t work, buses don’t work, things are going wrong. Commentators are scandalized on television as it’s revealed that Britain is running out of salt to grit the roads. More salt will have to be mined! Standstill!

Outside the snow world looks still and calm. Sound is muffled by the snow. Outside sounds like a thud. The language of TV panic seems entirely at odds with this stillness.

It’s only a few weeks ago since I watched Tzipi Livni announce on TV that Israel was to ‘change the reality’ of Gaza. As suddenly as this snowfall altered Britain, the lives and landscape of Gaza were altered by military action. Reality was ‘changed’. The snow has now nudged Gaza off the headlines. TV landscape has been whited out too.

The full update can be read here

Courtesy Animate Projects.

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Bio

Sarah Wood works with the found object, particularly the still and moving image, as an act of reclamation and re-interrogation. She works mainly with the documentary image to interrogate the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory.  Recently she’s been focusing on the meaning of the archive, in particular the politics of memory, asking not only why some objects are preserved while others are ignored but also why preservation is made at certain historical moments.  Wood also work with artists’ film as a curator.  With Selina Robertson she co-founded Club des Femmes,  a positive female space for the re-examination of ideas through women’s art.

Filmography

Athos, 2016

Boat People, 2016

Murmuration x 10, 2015

I Am A Spy, 2014

Three Minute Warning, 2012

For Cultural Purposes Only, 2009

The Angel of History, 2008

The Book of Love, 2008

I Want To Be A Secretary, 2006

Surrender, 2005

Manifesto For Love, 2003

Living Space, 2003

More details here.

Links

Sarah Wood’s website

BFI article discussing I Am A Spy, Three Minute Warning and Murmuration x 10

“I am writing these notes during a time of war, in a country that’s at war, unofficially. Britain did not declare war on Afghanistan under the Taliban in 2001 or Iraq under Saddam Hussein in 2003. It has not officially declared war on another country since the 1940s. War, it would seem, has shifted from a state of legality to a state of being: a kind of banally ubiquitous constant as Orwell describes above in the fiction of Nineteen Eighty-four… [read more here].”  From Sarah Wood’s unpublished artist’s notes on I Am A Spy and other recent works (courtesy The Essay Film Festival).

“For my part, I am concerned with retracing the steps that led to our current visual framing and to express the near-hidden history that used the experience of British birdlife and its habitat as a frame for the way British surveillance has been conducted in the century just past, and how it is still conducted in the 21st century. With its own ironic inversion, this project is also a questioning of how we, as a surveilled society, behave when we ourselves watch the freed-up movement of birds… [read more here].”  Sarah Wood (courtesy of Resurgence & Ecologist).

Dazed Digital Interview 

Sight & Sound article 

Animate interview discussing For Cultural Purposes Only

Animate – For Cultural Purposes Only film page 

Credits

Director – Sarah Wood

Illustration – Woodrow Phoenix

Animation – Kate Anderson

Photography  -Ruanne Abou-Rahme

Cartography – Simon Deeves

Soundtrack – Basel Abbas

Editor – Lucy Harris

Research – Kate Daniels

Camera – Campbell

Online Editor – Sue Giovanni

Sound – Andy Coles

Executive Producers Jacqui Davies & Gary Thomas

Extract from Children Nevertheless © Khadijeh Habashneh

Extract from Far From the Homeland © Kais Al-Zubaidi

Extract from Leaving Jerusalem by Railway (Louis Lumiere, 1897), Courtesy of the Prelinger Archive, (www.archive.org)

Extract from Screen Traveller: Damscus and Jerusalem (1926), Courtesy of the Prelinger Archive, (www.archive.org)

Text – Mustafa Abu Ali, Palestinian Cinema Group Manifesto, Edward Said

Title – Courtesy of Annemarie Jacir taken from her essay of the same name

Thank you: Mustafa Abu Ali, Abigail Addison, Sonia Bridge, Nick Denes, Nicky Haire, Bridget Hannigan, Shadia Nasralla, Idit Nathan, On Sight, Judy Price, Ali Smith

Courtesy: Animate Projects

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Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood

Three Minute Warning

2012, 3′

27 September – 3 October

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The parallel histories of cinema and aviation re-shaped the twentieth century, generating irresistible fantasies of freedom and control. Three Minute Warning is a fast-forward history of the real impact of blue-sky thinking. You’ve had your three minute warning: now is it time to resist?

 

Credits

Director: Sarah Wood

Editor: Lucy Harris

Online editor: Sue Giovanni

Commissioned by Jacqui Davies for FACT for Channel 4’s Random Acts series.

 

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Bio

Sarah Wood works with the found object, particularly the still and moving image, as an act of reclamation and re-interrogation. She works mainly with the documentary image to interrogate the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory.  Recently she’s been focusing on the meaning of the archive, in particular the politics of memory, asking not only why some objects are preserved while others are ignored but also why preservation is made at certain historical moments.  Wood also work with artists’ film as a curator.  With Selina Robertson she co-founded Club des Femmes,  a positive female space for the re-examination of ideas through women’s art.

Filmography

Athos, 2016

Boat People, 2016

Murmuration x 10, 2015

I Am A Spy, 2014

Three Minute Warning, 2012

For Cultural Purposes Only, 2009

The Angel of History, 2008

The Book of Love, 2008

I Want To Be A Secretary, 2006

Surrender, 2005

Manifesto For Love, 2003

Living Space, 2003

More details here.

 

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Links

Sarah Wood’s website

BFI article discussing I Am A Spy, Three Minute Warning and Murmuration x 10

“I am writing these notes during a time of war, in a country that’s at war, unofficially. Britain did not declare war on Afghanistan under the Taliban in 2001 or Iraq under Saddam Hussein in 2003. It has not officially declared war on another country since the 1940s. War, it would seem, has shifted from a state of legality to a state of being: a kind of banally ubiquitous constant as Orwell describes above in the fiction of Nineteen Eighty-four… [read more here].”  From Sarah Wood’s unpublished artist’s notes on I Am A Spy and other recent works (courtesy The Essay Film Festival).

“For my part, I am concerned with retracing the steps that led to our current visual framing and to express the near-hidden history that used the experience of British birdlife and its habitat as a frame for the way British surveillance has been conducted in the century just past, and how it is still conducted in the 21st century. With its own ironic inversion, this project is also a questioning of how we, as a surveilled society, behave when we ourselves watch the freed-up movement of birds… [read more here].”  Sarah Wood (courtesy of Resurgence & Ecologist).

 

“I hadn’t realised how angry I could be.  For the first time I had found out how to resist.  When I remember this I can sleep and this is what I dream…”  From Three Minute Warning.

Sarah Wood

Sarah Wood

I Am A Spy

2014, 23′

20 September – 26 September, 2016

 

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“It was only in the twentieth century we needed papers to have an identity. Kafka’s Joseph K scrabbled in his pocket for something better than a bicycle license to prove who he was in the brave new world where official documents separate those who belong from those who are not allowed to belong. The borders of the new nation state offered frames for subterfuge. What happened on one side of the border had to be understood on the other. In the century when we invented aviation, when we invented cinema, in an age when we can move more and see more than any other point in history why have we become so watchful and so performative? I Am A Spy is a film that observes this watchfulness.” Sarah Wood.

Winner of Jury Prize Signes de Nuit, Lisbon, 2015

Jury declaration: “I am a spy brings us to the important question of the future of data and information, through analogies between nature and the machine, freedom and ownership, in the past and in the present.”

Credits

Director, Writer and Producer: Sarah Wood

Editor: Lucy Harris

 

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Bio

Sarah Wood works with the found object, particularly the still and moving image, as an act of reclamation and re-interrogation. She works mainly with the documentary image to interrogate the relationship between the narrating of history and individual memory.  Recently she’s been focusing on the meaning of the archive, in particular the politics of memory, asking not only why some objects are preserved while others are ignored but also why preservation is made at certain historical moments.  Wood also work with artists’ film as a curator.  With Selina Robertson she co-founded Club des Femmes,  a positive female space for the re-examination of ideas through women’s art.

Filmography

Athos, 2016

Boat People, 2016

Murmuration x 10, 2015

I Am A Spy, 2014

Three Minute Warning, 2012

For Cultural Purposes Only, 2009

The Angel of History, 2008

The Book of Love, 2008

I Want To Be A Secretary, 2006

Surrender, 2005

Manifesto For Love, 2003

Living Space, 2003

More details here.

 

iamaspy5

Links

Sarah Wood’s website

BFI article discussing I Am A Spy, Three Minute Warning and Murmuration x 10

“I am writing these notes during a time of war, in a country that’s at war, unofficially. Britain did not declare war on Afghanistan under the Taliban in 2001 or Iraq under Saddam Hussein in 2003. It has not officially declared war on another country since the 1940s. War, it would seem, has shifted from a state of legality to a state of being: a kind of banally ubiquitous constant as Orwell describes above in the fiction of Nineteen Eighty-four… [read more here].”  From Sarah Wood’s unpublished artist’s notes on I Am A Spy and other recent works (courtesy The Essay Film Festival).

“For my part, I am concerned with retracing the steps that led to our current visual framing and to express the near-hidden history that used the experience of British birdlife and its habitat as a frame for the way British surveillance has been conducted in the century just past, and how it is still conducted in the 21st century. With its own ironic inversion, this project is also a questioning of how we, as a surveilled society, behave when we ourselves watch the freed-up movement of birds… [read more here].”  Sarah Wood (courtesy of Resurgence & Ecologist).

 

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