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Friday, 14 October 2011

Why The Lion Roars | Anri Sala | Serpentine Gallery | London.


Text by Daniel Potts

Anri Sala (b. 1974, Tirana) is a leading contemporary artist who, since dealing with personal experience as a reflection of social and political change in his native Albania in his early videos and films, has come to attach a growing importance to sound in relation to the image. Sala’s long-standing interest in performance is connected with this development, a connection which is evident in his current exhibition at Serpentine Gallery, in which most of the works use live performance as their starting point, or could lead to live performance in the future. Conceived as a cycle, or loop, the exhibition is structured around pairs of works that echo each other, therefore it would be a mistake to examine individual works in isolation. The sense of the general unity of the exhibition as a whole is achieved successfully in the use of half-light throughout, which, depending on the mood of the viewer, is either conducive to the anodyne or mild distress. Either state might be suitable for a rewarding interaction with these interrelated, bipartite works; however, the tranquilly disposed would gain more immediate benefit. Reflecting the way in which the exhibition is conceived as a cycle, the space loops round back to the beginning; thus, Serpentine Gallery is an ideal space in this regard.

Answer Me (2008) is a film set in the abandoned dome of a Buckminster Fuller-designed surveillance station in which the architecture of the structure is used to examine the effect of space on the production of sound. An echo sounds out, continues and is amplified in the dome by a man playing a snare drum in the empty space. This sound drowns out the dialogue of a woman talking, excepting the words included in the title of the film. The drum played by the man in the film appears in the first work encountered as one enters the exhibition, Doldrum (2008). Here, the same snare drum is activated by apparently self-operating drumsticks, working, in fact, as a reflective function of the low frequencies of the film’s soundtrack. In this way, an element of the former work is echoed in the latter, in this case, a mathematically abstracted sonic element. The unsynchronised, apparently unaided, self-operation of the drumsticks in tandem with the sound disconcerts the viewer, and is an arresting, though mild, assault on the senses with which to be greeted on entering.

Two recent films made by Sala deconstruct and reconfigure the song, Should I Stay or Should I Go, by The Clash. In the case of Le Clash (2010), individuals play their own versions of the song through a music box and a barrel organ outside a disused concert hall in Bordeaux. In Tlatelolco Clash (2011), individuals insert, at random, the fragments of a musical score into a barrel organ resulting in a disjointed version of the song, among the ruins of the Tlatelolco site in Mexico City. The films are played simultaneously, the disjointedness of the double sonic element conveying and compounding a sense of the general awkwardness in human manipulation of the unfamiliar. This sense is elementally abstracted in the piece, Title Suspended (Sky Blue) (2008). In this sculpture, two rubber gloves rotate slowly, assuming, for a brief period during the rotation, the shape of a complete pair of hands. This mirrors the hands feeding the score into the barrel organ in Tlatelolco Clash, along with the ruptured melody in the way the hands continually collapse. Le Clash is accompanied by No Window No Cry (2011): a window in which one finds a music box held in place in the glass adjacent to a an intended aberration. This theme of fenestration is echoed in the multiple windowed buildings shown in the films, and the piece, Score (2011), where the perforated score used in the barrel organ is carved through the walls covering the windows of the exhibition space. The sense of regularity in this echoing abstraction of a formal element compounds the anodyne nature of the half-light with glimpses of the source of that light, and introduces a greater sense of place with corpuscles of the outside environment.

It's easy to become caught up and seduced by the echoing, elementally abstracted associations between the pieces as you make progress through the cycle. The exhibition can be seen as a lesson in a soothing sort of déjà vu. It is only after the exhibition that the visitor has a chance to reflect upon the intention of exploring sound in relation to image because of this thorough on-going seduction. Sala reminds us also, that, perhaps, the general tendency to present abstracted elements from the films along with them has a broader resonance in relation to originality and the creative process – reminding us of the way in which artists study and observe what becomes generalised as the rules of previous or contemporary masters, and break some of them formally, thus forming their own rules, or abstracted elements. That the exhibition is presented in the general form of a loop might suggest that such rules are inexhaustible.

Anri Sala continues at Serpentine Gallery, London until 20 November.

serpentinegallery.org

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoy reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Anri Sala
Title Suspended 2008
Resin hands, nitrile gloves, motor on wood
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris
© 2011 Anri Sala

A Romantic Date with a Serial Killer | Aesthetica Short Film Festival | Online Exclusives | Phillip Berg | The Romantic Killer


Incorporating creative programming and alternative venues, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is the latest addition to the film festival circuit. To celebrate the launch of ASFF, we are running a series of interviews with the filmmakers throughout October. Here you can find out more about what motivates our filmmakers, and ASFF will give you the opportunity to experience their short films first hand. To watch these films, visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) website to purchase your ticket. Don't miss your opportunity to experience short film in the historic city of York.

Phillip Berg, Director, Producer & Writer of The Romantic Killer spoke to us about his expectations of the festival, and his disinterest in kitchen sink drama. Set in Copenhagen, The Romantic Killer follows a serial killer on a romantic date. The plan is like always - to seduce and kill the victim. But perhaps this time it will turn out differently?

You can see The Romantic Killer in the following venues during ASFF:
Friday 4 November: City Screen Basement Bar 11:00 - 12:00
Saturday 5 November: City Screen Basement Bar 16:00 - 17:00
Sunday 6 November: City Screen Basement Bar 16:00 - 17:00

Firstly, congratulations on being in the Official ASFF Selection! What impact do you think this screening will have on your career?

Thank you very much. I am honoured. Hopefully the screening will have an impact on the audience and leave them with the feeling of having seen something unique and interesting. Making this film really have given me the drive to continue my career as a film maker, and hopefully this screening will have an impact and give new possibilities for networking. I am always intrigued to meet other talented film makers ambitions.

How do you describe your work? Do you see it falling into the genre of Thriller?

I'm not sure. I would like to think that my approach to film-making is unique. I am not interested in what you call 'kitchen-sink drama', nor am I interested in social realism. I am a genre director with a love for mysteries and 'whodunits'. This is a genre geared towards the audience, placing them in side a puzzle and forcing them to guess how the story will end before it finishes. The key to these films is that the end must be a surprise whilst also remaining inevitable, a delicate but fun balance to create. For me, the genre is directly linked to literature from writers like Raymond Chandler and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Could you tell me a little about the film and how it came about?

For years I had the idea that it could be interesting do do a film with a serial killer on a romantic date. I imagined that it would create good tension, and combined with great imagery it would make for a fun cocktail. The only thing that was not clear for me was the ending, so years passed by and nothing happened. Then one day a light-bulb flashed inside my head and I got the idea for the ending. A day after I had written the script and started development.

What were some of the challenges involved in making the film?

Since there wasn't really a budget and I paid for the whole thing myself, it was quite a challenge to put the whole thing together and gather a crew. The timing and location scouting were the biggest challenges, beacause when there is no budget we had to find days where people could get off their normal day job and meet for the shooting. There was a three month gap between the casting and the first shot.

The film is shot in Denmark on various locations around the Copenhagen area and to find a house or apartment in the Copenhagen area with the personality we needed for this film proved to be really difficult. I discovered that almost all Danish people apparently live in white walled Ikea furnished homes, and that was not what we were looking for at all! After the shooting I waited two months on a Editor that had promised to edit the film. I finally got tired of waiting and edited it myself, even though I believe that Directors should never edit their own films.

All in all these obstacles is the reason why the film was a year in the making from script to finished result.

What is your all time favourite short?

That's a hard questions as I have a lot of favourites. It all depends on my mood. One of my favourites is an animated short film by Tim Burton called Vincent that he directed back in 1982. It is narrated by Vincent Price.

What are you working on next?

I am currently developing a horror short film in cooperation with a very talented script writer (Darin Mercado). The story is based in the mid 1800s and is a “whodunit”. A man wakes up in his bed that is covered in blood and his beloved wife is gone. A blood trail is dragged through the hallways of the dark castle and meanwhile he follows the trail he tries to overcome his immense fear of what he might find on the other end of the trail. The film is called: The Trail.

romantickiller.com
asff.co.uk

ASFF
The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is the first film festival ever to be hosted in the historic city of York. The festival is a celebration of independent film from across the world with 150 films being screened from 30 countries. ASFF opens 3 November and continues until 6 November. For tickets and further information visit the website www.asff.co.uk or call (+44) (0) 1904 629 137.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Portrait of a Serial Killer | Aesthetica Short Film Festival | Online Exclusives | Caroline Burns Cooke | Myra


Incorporating creative programming and alternative venues, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is the latest addition to the film festival circuit. To celebrate the launch of ASFF, we are running a series of interviews with the filmmakers throughout October. Here you can find out more about what motivates our filmmakers, and ASFF will give you the opportunity to experience their short films first hand. To watch these films, visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) website to purchase your ticket. Don't miss your opportunity to experience short film in the historic city of York!

Experimental short, Myra, adapted for the screen by Dan Smyth and Caroline Burns Cooke from Caroline's award winning stage piece, Suffer Little Children, was inspired by an article written by Myra Hindley in The Guardian in 1995. We spoke to Caroline about her part in this lyrical memoir to Britain's most reviled woman and the challenges of making a zero-budget short with only two other crew members.

You can see Myra in the following venues during ASFF:
Friday 4 November: Barley Hall 10:00 - 17:00 and According to McGee, at various intervals from 11:00 - 17:00.
Saturday 5 November: Barley Hall 10:00 - 17:00 and According to McGee, at various intervals from 11:00 - 17:00.
Sunday 6 November: Barley Hall 10:00 - 17:00

Firstly, congratulations on being in the Official ASFF Selection! What impact do you think this screening will have on your career?

And thank you so much for selecting us. Without being cringingly sycophantic this is the festival I wanted to get into more than any other and Dan Smyth (Director) rushed to get Myra finished in time. In terms of career, I’m not interested in the material side of the industry as much as getting my work seen by people who share my sensibilities and having read and enjoyed Aesthetica magazine I knew that ASFF would be right for our film and prayed we would be right for you! Whether making drama or comedy as an actress and writer I always aim for a serious exploration of both the depths and transcendent heights of the human spirit…depths in the case of Myra! My desire was to bring an experimental approach to the subject matter which I believe I did as the writer in the original theatre piece and found a director who could support that visually. So to finally answer your question, I would love to win of course ad get the pass to other festivals but to be distributed on the DVD is the dream (very x-factor) as I want the film to be seen by people who value art and art films as I do- and this is the Aesthetica readership of course. And attending the festival will be the perfect opportunity for meeting other filmmakers who may share our approach. As both actor and writer I would love my career to benefit from potential these collaborations.

How do you describe your work? Do you see it falling into the genre of Art/Experimental?

I would say I’ve answered that in some part-the film is a serious look at the concept of culpability, childhood abuse and labelling transgressive people (in this case a notorious child killer) as “monsters” as an easy way to avoid exploring the why. It’s experimental in approach, although it would usually be labelled as drama. The challenge was to make a monologue both cinematic and visually compelling.

Could you tell me a little about the film and how it came about?

I wrote the 20 minute monologue, then called Suffer Little Children, several years ago which won the ICA New Blood Award for writing and performing. I performed it in a 3 week run in a Fringe theatre in London. I’d always wanted to film it but it wasn’t until I met Dan Smyth, a Mancunian, on my MA course in Screenwriting that I found the perfect collaborator. Dan’s films are more realist, Mike Leigh influenced, and when he expressed an interest in trying something more experimental I knew it would work. He has a connection to the subject that many younger people would not and access to the actual locations- Saddleworth Moors and Hindley’s home, Gorton. He also had the secret weapon of his Dads’ working man’s cub, now sadly demised.

What were some of the challenges involved in making the film?

The challenge lay not in the filming which was a 2 day delight with just me, Dan and Matthew the sound guy but in taking a monologue and finding the appropriate visuals to complement and replace the words. We filmed the whole piece but in the edit Dan had to cut and re-order a great deal of material, which was hard for me as a performer and writer- always feeling your “best bits” have gone. It had to become a film, not a play anymore so my more dramatic elements needed to be ruthlessly expunged too! Ultimately I had to give over control to the filmmaker and I’m very happy with the result.

What is your all time favourite short?

I like Andrea Arnold's Wasp and a gay short I just saw called Fuckbuddies - terrible title, funny film. But I’m a features fan- The Dardenne Brothers, Carlos Reygadas, Haneke, Bruno Dumont, Lynch…all the usual suspects.

What are you working on next?

I’m working as an actor, have just done an Edinburgh Fest play and have returned from the Iris Film Prize where I helped promote the film The Adored which was up for Best Film. I have a full length screenplay ready to find producers (about an abused woman who believes she gave birth to the Son of God, no less!) and Dan has finished his short film with support from the Green Shoots scheme, Manchester- Every Good Boy Deserves Fun. He also has a feature script under consideration with the BFI.

ASFF
The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is the first film festival ever to be hosted in the historic city of York. The festival is a celebration of independent film from across the world with 150 films being screened from 30 countries. ASFF opens 3 November and continues until 6 November. For tickets and further information visit the website www.asff.co.uk or call (+44) (0) 1904 629 137.

Guy Sherwin | Movements in Light | Siobhan Davies Studios | London


Text by Laura Bushell

The profile of artists working in moving image has been elevated in recent years by those who’ve made the leap into cinema – Steve McQueen, Sam Taylor-Wood, Gillian Wearing - and those taking over leading gallery spaces - Tacita Dean at Tate Modern, Pipilotti Rist at The Hayward. From ancillary practice to fine art media in its own right, it seems moving image is in the ascendant as a powerful, relevant and consumable context for visual art practice.

Things weren’t quite so rosy for the art form when Guy Sherwin first switched from painting to video in the 1960s; it’s taken time for this embrace to take hold. But this profile elevation for the form has prompted a renewal of interest in the work of pioneers of the 1960s and 70s. So Sherwin’s continued commitment to exploring the rendering of imagery on film and the process involved in doing so bestows great value to his work in the field.

This new exhibition at Siobhan Davies Studios, curated by Charles Danby, combines historical works with a new three-screen installation made especially for the space. Staircase (2011) embodies the synthesis between Sherwin’s work and this dance studio setting perfectly by recapitulating the actual staircase in the building into shadowy images projected onto another wall. So one blank architectural surface becomes a ‘screen’ for a digital rendering of another architectural feature, a ghostly duplicate with figures (one assumes dancers) spiraling down it. With this the solid becomes intangible, but the dancers still dance, as shadows this time.

Other works originally made on film have been transferred to DVD in order to be shown on monitors around the building. Cycle (1978) is another work concerned with movement; this time the action of a bicycle being ridden in a circle, the journey round which takes it through a puddle, thus building line upon line of water marks on the pavement as it goes. Sherwin is interested in the perceptual and the material, both of which come through in this film. The duration of the piece is marked by each additional line drawn upon the pavement by the bike. By turn, the making of the mark by the tyre and puddle water is subtly echoed as its traces are captured by the chemical process fixing their image on film.

Sherwin’s Tree Reflection works are also observational pieces that use modified projectors and a manipulated print to add an uncanny element to an otherwise familiar image – a tree-lined river. By printing the film then superimposing the same image again, only flipped the other way up, the reflection and the ‘real’ image merge on the film and both in fact play in opposite directions. This is presented as an ongoing loop which runs through two interlocked projectors, shining on opposite walls. It makes much more sense to see it in action, which took place at the Studios last weekend, when more spaces in the Studios were opened up to screen Sherwin’s work.

Also screening during this weekend was Sound Cuts, an example of Sherwin’s signature optical sound method performed with Lynn Loo. With it, Sherwin manipulates the optical sound track on a strip of celluloid, cutting by hand and rejoining the film to create rhythm within both the resulting imagery and sounds produced by this re-jigged strip of film.

Trying to describe Sherwin’s work is at odds with the seeming simplicity of it when viewed in person. There is technical playfulness at work in his pieces that reveals and questions the act of committing recording the world in moving image that becomes much more complex when put into words. The only solution is to go and see it.

Guy Sherwin: Movements in Light, Curated by Charles Danby, continues until 25 November at Siobhan Davies Studios.

siobhandavies.com

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoy reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Courtesy the artist

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Aesthetica Short Film Festival | Exclusive Online Interview with Alex Sufit and Taster of Gentlemen in Squalor

'Gentlemen in Squalor' Top Shelf Jazz from Lexitricity on Vimeo.


Incorporating creative programming and alternative venues, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is the latest addition to the film festival circuit. To celebrate the launch of ASFF, we are running a series of interviews with the filmmakers throughout October. Here you can find out more about what motivates our filmmakers, and ASFF will give you the opportunity to experience their short films first hand. To watch these films, visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) website to purchase your ticket. Don't miss your opportunity to experience short film in the historic city of York.

Alex Sufit, Director & Producer of Gentlemen in Squalor (2011) spoke to us about her expectations of the festival, and her all time favourite short. Set in the prohibition era, Gentlemen in Squalor is the video for filthy swing band Top Self Jazz and features actor Dexter Fletcher, a troupe of professional swing dancers and a bunch of kids running riot in vintage costume! Shot on Super 16mm on location in East London.

You can see Gentlemen in Squalor in the following fantastic venues during ASFF:
Friday 4 November: Bar Lane Studios at 11:00 - 17:30
Saturday 5 November: Bar Lane Studios at 11:00 - 17:30

Firstly, congratulations on being in the Official ASFF Selection! What impact do you think this screening will have on your career?

I’m really delighted to be part of the inaugural ASFF and judging by the programme, it looks set to be a great line-up. As a filmmaker, the opportunity to screen your work is always welcome. I don’t just make films for the sake of it: it’s about sharing your work with a wider audience, whatever their reaction may be! Otherwise, no matter how much talent and creativity you pack into a piece, it just ends up gathering dust on the shelf. In terms of career, hopefully I’ll make some good contacts for the future, which is what festivals are all about. You never know who you might bump into: a talented DoP or editor, and in my case I am really open to speaking to producers who want to collaborate in future. I’ve produced a lot of my own work, out of pure necessity, so I really want to step up my game and start working with larger production companies and hopefully find representation.

How do you describe your work?

Quirky, a little eclectic perhaps, with a dose of humour added to the mix. For music videos, I like to have some kind of narrative, however loose it may be. My previous video Bad Penny is set in the East End, with the band and actors decked out in Dickensian costume. The video Gentlemen in Squalor, which is screening at ASFF, is set in the prohibition era and pays homage to Bugsy Malone and Oliver Twist, so I guess you could say I am going through a retro phase. I am very into the 1920s and 30s at the moment, but to be honest now that is becoming more mainstream I will be turning my attention elsewhere. That’s the fun of music videos: it is perhaps the last bastion of creative freedom for a director, where you can truly experiment with ideas.

Could you tell me a little about the film and how it came about?

Gentlemen in Squalor is set in the prohibition era and draws inspiration from Bugsy Malone and Oliver Twist. It stars Dexter Fletcher who played Babyface in the original Bugsy Malone film as a kid, together with a troupe of professional swing dancers and children aged 7-11 who were picked from local schools. They had no previous experience of acting on screen so this was a monumental experience for them. Dexter was a brilliant sport to take part. I was speaking to a friend ‘who knew someone who knew his agent’. It was all pretty random and I never thought much would come of it but I fired off an email anyway, and much to my surprise a very familiar voice was on the end of the line a few weeks later. He had watched my Budding Director film festival trailer and agreed to take part after being ruthlessly bribed with bacon sarnies.

What were some of the challenges involved in making the film?

Trying to re-create the prohibition jazz era on a small budget. Once you get an art department involved and get all ambitious with costumes and set design, it stars adding up pretty quickly. To make matters worse I was determined to shoot on S16mm film. That we managed it all is nothing short of a miracle. I have a lot of people to thank for that. Rushes, and in particular Joe Bateman, helped us out and Denny Cooper did a fantastic job on the grade. Jerry at Fuji supplied us with a couple of extra rolls and everyone mucked in to pull in the favours. The list is very long. The crew and cast were first rate and very professional, without them it just would not have been possible. At the end of the day, it is all down to the team, they really are the ones who make your vision as a director come to life, without them you’re just a conductor with a baton but no orchestra!

What is your all time favourite short?

One of my favourite shorts is the French film Argent Comptant by Philippe Dussol, which apparently took two years to complete; it’s a thrill of a ride. I remember watching What Goes Up (Must Come Down) on repeat a few years back, although that is a hybrid short / music video. It’s well acted and brilliantly funny. Charlie Creed-Miles: this is an open invitation to feature in my films. I also enjoyed The Black Hole directed by Phil and Olly. It’s a simple and clever concept that holds together from start to finish. Which is what a shot should be: rather than a fragment of something larger, I really believe a short should be a self-contained piece of work.

What are you working on next?

I have made a couple of short films but I’ve been stacking up music videos over the past few years and more recently commercials. I absolutely love music videos, it is the combination of two of my favourite art forms: music and film. If I could work with better known artists and bigger labels, and actually make a living out of promos, that would be amazing. I feel I have gone as far as I can as a solo director, so hopefully I will get representation soon so I can focus on more ambitious projects. I got a good break in commercials recently and just shot a series of broadcast ads for Belfast with one of the leading production companies and ad agencies over there. Who knows what the future may bring, but getting signed is top of the list, either represented for music videos or ads, preferably both. Longer term, I am setting my sights on a feature and have been working on a script for a road movie. I just need some kind soul to hand over a couple of million and we’ll be all set!

asff.co.uk
lexitricity.com

ASFF
The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is the first film festival ever to be hosted in the historic city of York. The festival is a celebration of independent film from across the world with 150 films being screened from 30 countries. ASFF opens 3 November and continues until 6 November. For tickets and further information visit the website www.asff.co.uk or call (+44) (0) 1904 629 137.

Opening Tomorrow | Moving Image | Contemporary Video Art Fair | October 13 - 16 | London


Text by Bethany Rex

For its inaugural exhibition in London, Moving Image presents works by 28 artists represented by 28 galleries and non-profit institutions from South America, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Presenting 19 single-channel videos and 9 larger-scale video sculptures/installations, Moving Image has been conceived to offer a viewing experience with the excitement and vitality of a fair, while allowing moving-image-based artworks to be understood and appreciated on their own terms. Taking place in the Bargehouse, a raw, four-storey warehouse space behind the OXO Wharf Tower, conveniently located within walking distance from both the Tate Modern and the Southbank Centre along the Thames, Moving Image represents a broad survey of artists invited by an international committee of curatorial advisors.

Aesthetica caught up with Ed Winkleman, co-founder for Moving Image, to discuss the increase in interest in video art and the possibilities of the medium.

Could you tell us a bit about how the fair started?

Moving Image began as an idea after Murat and I traveled to Los Angeles for the California Video (15 March – 8 June 2008) exhibition at the Getty Center. We were very impressed with the installation design, as it permitted a great deal of moving-image-based work to be presented in relatively small space, while still presenting the works on their own terms. We came away from that exhibition feeling that 1) video as shown in most art fairs is too often compromised, and 2) it wouldn't require a terribly gigantic space to present a solid survey of video in a venue and still present it well.

The space the New York version took place in (the Waterfront Tunnel) is right next to our gallery, as well. We had been thinking for a while about producing a video exhibition in there. A member of our first curatorial advisory committee convinced us we would do better to turn it into a fair instead.

How do you translate moving image into the language of an art fair?

We are very careful to ensure the energy and vitality of a fair is preserved in how we install the Moving Image fair. It's important that visitors should be able to see each other and talk to each other. It's important too that they can sit and chat about what they saw...as well as sit and spend time with the videos they wish to. We took a page from the Getty's installation playbook to arrive at a modular approach to showing the single-channel works in the fair, permitting visitors to gravitate toward the works that jumped out at them, but continue to pass by the ones that don't. Once they choose one, the can sink into viewing it, taking a seat, putting on headphones, etc. but not losing sight of the actions around them. It worked very well in New York. We'll see in London.

Referring to the title of the fair ‘An Art Fair of Contemporary Video Art’ – would you not say that all video art is contemporary?

Good point. I would agree. We did shorten it recently to just "Contemporary Video Art Fair" and I think it will remain that, even though, you're right that there's no such thing as non-contemporary video. I think the phrase is aesthetically more pleasing than just "Video Art Fair," but I'll ask the next Curatorial Advisory Committee...see what you've started!

What is the Curatorial Advisory Committee’s role and how do they come to a decision?

The Curatorial Advisory Committee recommend 10-15 artists each that they feel are doing strong work in video. Moving Image then contacts those artists' galleries (or non-profit institutions working with them if they don't have galleries) and invites them to participate. It takes several months of conversations to find just the right balance, but our committee members have all been amazing and very helpful.

Coming on to the display, the minimal exhibition design is a great way to include a large number of works in the space without it being overbearing. How will the work be displayed in the London show and what were your thoughts behind this set up?

The Bargehouse has 12 rooms that we will use for various types of installations. A few will be small cinemas. Others will be more like a biennial style installation. Our production team came up with an elegant monitor stand made from recycled wooden shipping palettes. This fits the raw industrial aesthetic of the Bargehouse perfectly, and is a nice way to be a bit green in the process. Most rooms will have 2-3 works maximum giving each enough space to be viewed without crowding or overlapping audios.

Video art is such a broad term. What was the selection process like? Was there a conscious decision to choose work that would be easy to ‘’sell’’?

Moving Image is about selling the work. That's why, despite its curatorial bent (there are intentionally historical works that anchor the more recent pieces, and intentionally a wide international spectrum to serve as a snapshot or survey from around the world), we still call it an "art fair." We know how expensive video is to produce, we know its market remains in its infancy, and we believe that the work needed to convince collectors that video is an extremely important part of the work contemporary artists are making is time well spent as that market stands to follow photography and become huge in the next decade. All the participating galleries are conscious of this, but they also understand that we're working to present the videos on their own terms, so while they're working for sales, they're not having to compromise (too much) in presenting the work.

The Curatorial Advisory Committee selected the artists that appeal to them. The galleries most likely did consider sales in finalizing what to present, but, again, within a context that is designed to ask viewers to slow down and consider the work for what it is.

Could you talk us through your personal highlights in the show?

We are thrilled to have works from the 1970s by Dara Birnbaum and Hannah Wilke in the fair. These pioneers of video art are both receiving a fresh look by museums and galleries alike, and they help anchor the newer works in the show. We're also very happy to have works from nearly every quarter of the world: Asia, South America, the Middle East, Europe, North America. The breadth of the exhibition is, to my mind, impressive and we're very grateful to the Curatorial Advisory Committee for making it so.

How does the London fair differ from the New York edition?

One of the ideas for each fair is to respond to the architecture of the space. In New York we had one long hall. In London we have a four-story warehouse. We'll have a few more installations in London than in New York, and as I noted above, a few mini-cinemas. We're also presenting in collaborations with Film Co Lab, a Bring Your Own Beamer performance (in lieu of a panel discussion).

Moving Image is brand new (literally, only about 6 months old). We're learning as we move forward!

Moving Image will take place October 13-16, 2011, during Frieze Art Fair in London and within short walking distance of the Tate Modern. Located in the Bargehouse in the Oxo Tower Wharf on the South Bank, Moving Image will be free to the public and open Thursday - Saturday, October 13 - 16, 11 am - 7 pm, and on Sunday, October 16, 11 am - 6 pm.

moving-image.info

Aesthetica Magazine
We hope you enjoy reading the Aesthetica Blog, if you want to explore more of the best in contemporary arts and culture you should read us in print too. You can buy it today by calling +44(0)1904 479 168. Even better, subscribe to Aesthetica and save 20%. Go on, enjoy!

Image:
Chen Shaoxiong
Ink History 2010
Video 3:00 minutes
Courtesy of Pékin Fine Arts Bejing,
China

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Last Week | Indecipherable Evangelical Messages | ALTAR | Platform Arts Belfast


Text by Angela Darby

From it’s recent inception Platform Arts has garnered a reputation for challenging and innovative projects and according to its mission statement: the organisation actively promotes the creation, presentation and access to contemporary art practice in Northern Ireland. With such an impressive track record the latest exhibition ALTAR curated by one of Platform’s members, an emerging and talented artist Miguel Martin, has a high standard to measure up to.

In Martin’s own practice, he 'permeates his subject matter with chaotic overtones of horror and violence’ and this fascination is apparent throughout the exhibition. Additionally the subject matter here references the relationship between horror and religious iconography, which extends to the small booklet published to accompany the exhibition that resembles an evangelical tract. The work of Brendan O’ Neill and Phillip McCrilly feature symbols that are ubiquitous in Ireland’s North and South religious cultural history.

O’Neill’s vermillion coloured print, Untitled Blur (Repent ye and believe in the Gospel) has been mounted to the gallery’s ceiling and is highlighted by a single beam of white light. The artist has characteristically blurred text from an evangelical message, the type of which can be seen adorning trees along rural roads within Northern Ireland. The phrase’s meaning has been left indecipherable and attempts are made by the gallery visitors to try to make some sense of O’Neill’s adaption. The conclusion might be that, with the perceptual restrictions of our limited senses, only a fuzzy knowledge of the eternal can be achieved. McCrilly’s light-box image, which is exceptionally captivating, depicts a statue of the Virgin Mary decked out with silver Christmas tinsel. This ‘shrine’ we learn has been untouched for the past seventeen years and is dedicated to the memory of the artist’s grandfather. The image glows in the darkened space like an afterimage shimmering on the retina.

Indeed the way spotlighting has been utilised throughout the gallery creates an expansive space in which each of the works inhabit their own little microcosm. To the opposite side of the gallery Belfast-based artist Ben Craig has installed Mummy’s boy (A Shrine to the death of my childhood). The artist offers up the ephemera and residual objects that he has collected obsessively throughout his boyhood constructed into fetishist and totemic objects. In a cathartic attempt to relinquish his ties with the past Craig presents his audience with a reflective ‘self portrait’, one that is treated openly with reverence and appreciation.

An oil painting of five small children wearing masks, presumably for a Halloween night’s fun of trick or treat, is extremely compelling. Sunderland-based artist Ryan O’Neill’s piece entitled Aerodrum has captured the very essence of Martin’s curatorial theme. It is as children that we are introduced to the concept of good and evil and calendar based events such as Halloween provide the mechanism through which these concepts are reinforced. Equally compelling are Alexander Binder’s collection of photographs which the artist shot using old soviet cameras and lenses created from children’s toys to gain a dream-like effect. Binder’s body of work touches upon the occult, astrology and the ceremonial magik prevalent in the life of Aleister Crowley.

The coherent use of light plays a role in the beautiful sculptural installation Birdchurch by Berlin based artist Karolin Reichardt. An old, rickety and deteriorating Gothic church near the artist’s family home in Germany has been scaled down to the size of a bird box and presented on a wooden church pedestal. Abandoned and forsaken long ago by it’s congregation the building now serves only as an aviary. Constructed from materials found inside the original church the artist captures the buildings fragility perfectly in this miniature replica. There is a sense of melancholic eeriness to Reichardt’s installation established by a flickering beam of light enigmatically projecting the small church’s larger shadow onto a neighbouring wall.

Three small intriguing, humorous pencil drawings entitled The Goal are positioned close by to Ben Craig’s towering installation. Winnipeg based artist, Ben Clarkson offers the viewer a snapshot to experiments in procreation and eugenics. In one drawing a doctor stands, arms outstretched as he proudly displays a row of babies that look disconcertingly identical to him. Brooklyn based artist, Matt Allison’s sculpture entitled Oh the Humanity is reminiscent of a scene from David Lynch’s iconic black and white film Eraserhead (1977). Placed in the corner of the gallery we are beckoned over by a small torchlight revealing a shiny black, glistening object. On closer inspection one finds that it is a dental casting of a pair of teeth grinning at the viewer.

Forming an introduction and conclusion to ALTAR is the hypnotic video work Allucinazione by Cosmotropia de Xiam projected onto Platform’s stairwell to be viewed both entering and leaving this entrancing exhibition. Miguel Martin has curated a coherent collection of individual responses that deserve viewing.

ALTAR: Platform Arts Belfast continues until 15th October

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Image:
Karolin Reichardt Birdchurch 2011
Photograph: Catherine Devlin

Aesthetica Short Film Festival | Online Exclusives | James Keaton | Lost Connection


Incorporating creative programming and alternative venues, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is the latest addition to the film festival circuit. To celebrate the launch of ASFF, we are running a series of interviews with the filmmakers throughout October. Here you can find out more about what motivates our filmmakers, and ASFF will give you the opportunity to experience their short films first hand. To watch these films, visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) website to purchase your ticket. We have a limited number of Early-Bird weekend tickets available for £15. Don't miss your opportunity to experience short film in the historic city of York.

James Keaton, Producer of Lost Connection, a film about a young man who obsesses over a Hollywood star during the build-up to his father's funeral, spoke to Aesthetica about the challenges of making a short film and his future projects. You can see Lost Connection for yourself at the following venues:

Friday 4 November at Mansion House at 16:30
Saturday 5 November at Mansion House at 16:30
Sunday 6 November at 1331 at 16:30

Firstly, congratulations on being in the Official ASFF Selection! What impact do you think this screening will have on your career?

Thank you. That's not really a question I can answer yet. I think that a lot of success stories in the film industry are serendipitous. If the right person sees the right film under the right circumstances then that's when careers are born. All I can say is that I am forever optimistic and realistic about my chances.

How do you describe your work? Do you see it falling into the genre of Drama?

I feel that I am still at an early stage of my film career and I am trying to do different things and try different styles. You learn so much by making films that I hope my technique will evolve and grow and therefore improve with every new project that I take on. I like to think that my films so far are thoughtful and have heart.

Could you tell me a little about your film Lost Connection and how it came about?

The film is about a young man who becomes obsessed with a Hollywood star during the build-up to his father's funeral. I had been a runner in the film industry and due to me taking one job, another passed me by, and an opportunity that may have changed the course of my career was now just a memory. A 'what if' moment if you like. I thought about that a lot and ended up turning that idea into a half hour script. I wanted to make a longer form drama to prove to myself (and others) that I could.

What were some of the challenges involved in making the film?

Oh God, what wasn't a challenge more like! First of all I spent several months on the phone to a Hollywood agent, pitching him the idea and trying to get permission from his client. When that fell through, I did a little re-write on the script and had to pay for a lawyer to give the script the once over. After that I applied for funding, when that fell through, it was a case of trying to figure out how to shoot the film with the money I had. My idea was to shoot the film in little chunks. I had a half hour script, multiple locations, a named cast, and an 8 day shooting schedule, so it couldn't possibly be done in one go. We also had an accident with the camera on the day that Stephen Fry came to film his segment, and we didn't complete all the shots I'd had planned - which was very painful. I ended up fully-funding the film myself and the debt that I am still in is quite debilitating. And then the post-production problems as well... Don't get me started.

What is your all time favourite short?

A short film which won some prize on the BBC back in 1998. It's called I Just Want To Kiss You and is directed by Jamie Thraves. I was utterly mesmerised by the performance of the lead actor who played it edgily and comically, and I thought about how I'd love to work with him. I ended up following his career; from a Pot Noodle commercial, to a late night BBC2 sketch show, and as a rapist in an ITV drama, but his big break was in a sitcom called The Office. It was Martin Freeman and he is now the Hobbit. And I did end up working with him; he was the voice of a talking soft-toy pig that gives dating advice in my second independent short film, Lonely Hearts.

What are you working on next?

I have three feature scripts I'm working on. One is very dark but could actually be shot with a fairly low budget. The second is more of an exercise at an adaptation and the third, I'm about to start researching and is ridiculously ambitious. I also have some other ideas for low-budget shorts but my biggest project at the moment is trying to pay off the credit cards that enabled me to make the last one!

ASFF
The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is the first film festival ever to be hosted in the historic city of York. The festival is a celebration of independent film from across the world with 150 films being screened from 30 countries. ASFF opens 3 November and continues until 6 November. For tickets and further information visit the website www.asff.co.uk or call (+44) (0) 1904 629 137.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Aesthetica Short Film Festival | Online Exclusives | Elsa Isoardi | Jour à Jour, J1...


Incorporating creative programming and alternative venues, the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) is the latest addition to the film festival circuit. To celebrate the launch of ASFF, we are running a series of interviews with the filmmakers throughout October. Here you can find out more about what motivates our filmmakers, and ASFF will give you the opportunity to experience their short films first hand. To watch these films, visit the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) website to purchase your ticket. We have a limited number of Early-Bird weekend tickets available for £15. Don't miss your opportunity to experience short film in the historic city of York.

Elsa Isoardi of WeGo Productions spoke to Aesthetica about Jour à Jour, J1... a short film that follows a secretary breaking into the shooting studio to live her princess moments. You can see Jour à Jour, J1... for yourself at Brandy Brown's Little Cinema at 1331 at 4:00pm on Friday 4 and again at 4:00pm on Saturday 5 November, and at Micklegate Bar Museum at 11:45am on Sunday 6 November.

Firstly, congratulations on being in the Official ASFF Selection! What impact do you think this screening will have on your career?

Being selected for ASFF is a real pleasure as it provides recognition for the work of the whole team. This type of screening really brings a project to life. Showing our work on an international stage and being judged by professionals from the industry is a fantastic opportunity. At WeGo we believe that a film is made to be screened, not stored! We are all incredibly grateful to ASFF for this opportunity and are very proud to be involved in the festival.

How do you describe your work? Do you see it falling into the genre of Drama?

Our production company, WeGo Productions, produced the movie Jour à Jour, J1... (Day to Day,D1...), the story is based on the fashion universe and deals with beauty, women and the difficulties they face. It's therefore at the crossroad of different genres: drama, comedy...as well as experimental because the key element of this film is it format in 2D as well as in 3D...it's an artistic and technological challenge in a comedy. Let's say it's a fresh and contemporary film and it's a unique concept.

Could you tell me a little about the film and how it came about?

This movie was directed by Jean-Claude Flaccomio who comes from the advertising and feature world and specialises himself in stereoscopic 3D. His aim was to promote this new format as he noticed that only a few home-made productions dared to use 3D in France - because of the lack of audience awareness. Jean-Claude Flaccomio therefore, took an interesting educational and didactical approach: to shoot the same story simultaneously in 2D and stereoscopic 3D with of course different angles (3D shooting needs a different reflexion for shooting) so the audience would have the choice to see one or both authentic and independent versions as well as to make a comparison by experiencing two different sensations for a unique story.

Although the film will be only screened in 2D in the festival, its parallel in 3D offers a unique comparison between the two formats. This concept is a premiere in France. In addition to this technological challenge, we aimed at showing that 3D could not only accentuate the “circus effect”, felt for example with explosions in action movies, but that used with subtlety it could serve a comedy drama with dignity. Therefore we chose to relate the story of Martine, a Cinderella from the Modern Times, who in a night will transform herself and let all her range of personalities shine through her different dresses.This first short movie is the first chapter from a series of seven short movies.

The film then developed thanks to chance encounters: First of all with our Costume designer, Zelia a famous designer in Paris. As soon as we discovered her work it became obvious that it would perfectly suit and support 3D. Fashion thus plays a major role in our short film, and Zelia’s creations perfectly fit with the need of volume that 3D requires. Each dress has a singular style, its own identity and underlines the multiple aspects of the young woman’s personality. In addition we had the chance to meet fascinating people that agreed to contribute their skills and know-how in this artistic and technological challenge.

What were some of the challenges involved in making the film?

The main challenge for making this film was finding money (as is the case for many short films), because firstly we are a young production company (although our team has experience, the company was launched last year) and then because shooting in 2D and stereoscopic 3D was a daring challenge: Indeed using two cameras means spending more time to move machinery and lighting. As lightening is different in 3D, this required more attention. However as our director is experienced in stereoscopic 3D, he brought many ideas and tricks that make the job considerably easier than expected. Another challenge was time. This challenge is indeed linked to the prior one, because time is money! Because of the solid preparation we had, and the human relation we built for the project, we achieved in shooting the movie in three days! Post-production was a bit longer (especially with the effect and 3D correction required for stereoscopic 3D.)

What is your all time favourite short?

It's hard to give one title because short films are shot everyday and they all have qualities which I love. Shooting short film is one of those areas where there is no real chain of command, so directors can express themselves freely and it gives result with increasing creativity!

What are you working on next?
Actually we are trying to develop the adventures of Martine in the same concept (3D and 2D). Our team is ready to go on with us and we are now waiting for financial support.
We are then working on different projects from documentaries to features. We are not lacking from creativity, now we'll have to meet the main challenge, find the funds!

ASFF
The Aesthetica Short Film Festival is the first film festival ever to be hosted in the historic city of York. The festival is a celebration of independent film from across the world with 150 films being screened from 30 countries. ASFF opens 3 November and continues until 6 November. For tickets and further information visit the website www.asff.co.uk or call (+44) (0) 1904 629 137.

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