Film Poems: Artists’ Films from Iran and UK

Peter Todd, Sebastian Buerkner, Stephen Sutcliffe, Mohsen Mousavi, Margaret Salmon, Tara Goudarzi, Nooshin Naficy, Amir Azar, Fereshteh Alamshah, Elika Zarei

19 December 2015

19 December 2015

Films Screening Starts at 1pm

  • BOOKSHOP
    Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
    City Library and Arts Centre
    Fawcett Street
    Sunderland
    SR1 1RE
  • Free

This screening brings together films by artists from Britain and Iran. The films have been selected by Mohsen Mousavi – a member of CIRCA Projects 2015 ‘Network’ and an artist currently studying his MA in Fine Art at University of Sunderland. Two recent films made by Mohsen Mousavi feature within the screening in connection to the work of other artists.

No film is longer than 5 minutes in length – encouraging a fluid viewing experience. The running order has been picked based upon themes and content rather than the origin of the artwork – enabling a slippage between cultural contexts. The screening borrows its name ‘Film Poems’, from a series of screenings curated by artist Peter Todd (whose film Room, Sea, Window, Sky – 2014, has been selected for this screening). A number of Todd’s programme notes from this series of screenings (which ran from 1998-2003) including essays, artist notes and texts on seminal ‘film poems’ have been reprinted and are available to read in the bookshop.

Films from Iran are chosen from the online platform ‘VideoArtist’, a database and viewing platform set-up in connection to the annual VideoArtist festival in Isfahan (first edition held in 2012), which brings together new films made by artists from across Iran. The British films are all chosen from the LUX Collection – an international arts agency, supporting the promotion of artists’ moving image practice, formed in 2002 out of the ashes of previous London-based independent film organisations The London Filmmakers Co-operative, London Video Arts and The Lux Centre.

CIRCA Projects’ ‘Network’ is a mentoring programme, this year working with students and graduates from Art courses at University of Sunderland. In connection to Ceolfrith Bookshop’s strong connections with students from Sunderland Polytechnic, 4 of the BOOKSHOP’s Saturday events, will be co-curated with University of Sunderland graduates and final year students Danni Harper, Kathryn Barnett, Mohsen Mousavi and Stacey Davidson. On Saturday 16 January Stacey Davidson will be producing a new zine in response to Instagram and Twitter residencies by artists Olivia Dunbar and Samuel Blackwood.

Elika Zarei: Daily Reading (2008, 3mins)

Zarei’s film – with its continuous torrents of media, fast moving images, great piles of words, things and signs surrounding us – tries to lay stress on a particular state. Its combination of English and Persian language creates a tangling of voices and communication.

Nooshin Naficy: The Remaining Scent (2015, 5mins)

Spices are a recurring motif in Nooshin Naficy’s practice. Naficy works across sculpture, painting, video, performance and installation. In this film ambiguous figurative imagery is drawn in the Iranian desert – a fleeting and sensuous experience. As the artist describes, ‘Rose petals, fennel, oregano mint, citrus, red pepper, turmeric, nigella, cinnamon, marjoram and thyme – they rise from the earth and go with the wind. Nothing but their pleasant aroma remains with us. Like the scent of a person who has passed you by’.

Nooshin Naficy was born in 1957 in Isfahan, Iran. She has had numerous solo exhibitions and group exhibitions in Iran, China, Syria, Italy, Finland, Germany and South Korea.

Sebastian Buerkner: Album Matter (2010, 2mins)

Having developed his creative practice from a painting background, Sebastian Buerkner experiments with animation, combining cutting-edge digital technology with layered, abstract imagery. Album Matter was commissioned to explore and experiment with the aesthetics and limitations of the computer screen, referencing net art, cinema and 20th Century electronic music album art – but ultimately creating a highly subjective experience for the viewer.

Tara Goudarzi: Chador (2008, 2mins)

A Chador is a large piece of cloth, worn especially by Muslim women, that is wrapped around the head and upper body leaving only the face exposed. In Tara Goudarzi’s video, a slowly focussing camera creates the illusion of a candle burning – which transforms into a short animation or gif of a person wearing a changing series of chador designs. Traditionally different designs or colour chador are used for certain aspects or occasions in life. The film touches on the personal and political symbolism of this item of clothing. As the artist notes, ‘in the “Chador”, I put on my veil. We have been together, since I was 9 – sometimes out of divine love and sometimes out of hatred’.

Tara Goudarzi was born in Khorramabad, Iran. She is a member of the Open 5 Group, Low art Group, WEAD, and YATOO International Group. In 2010, Tara Goudarzi was the Director of the 30th Environmental Art Festival in Shoushtar, Iran.

Margaret Salmon: Housework (2014, 5mins)

In Housework, Margaret Salmon captures the uncanny, beautiful and at times hysterical moments in an alternative domestic cosmos. Highlighting the current state of female domestic roles as well as the status of women in larger society and referencing techniques from screen classics as varied as Hans Richter’s Ghosts Before Breakfast and Mary Poppins, amongst others. Salmon’s film portrays daily household chores being completed without human interaction, as supernatural phenomenon.

Margaret Salmon lives and works between Kent and New York. She creates filmic portraits that weave together poetry and ethnography. Focusing on individuals in their everyday habitats, her films capture the minutiae of daily life and infuse them with gentle grandeur, touching upon universal human themes. Margaret Salmon won the first Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2006 and in 2015 was nominated for the inaugural Jules Wright Cinematography Prize.

Mohsen Mousavi: Voyage Series #1 Bandaranzali (2013, 2mins)

The on-going voyage series records passing moments within specific geographical locations, the footage is slowed down and degraded in image quality – simultaneously giving and taking away information, the film’s aim is to create a lyrical connection between work and viewer.

Peter Todd: Room, Window, Sea, Sky (2014, 3mins)

‘When to pick up the camera, when to look through the viewfinder, when to decide to press the button to film. Being in the moment of filming, deciding when to let go of the button, and the film to stop in the camera, waiting for the next time, for the decision or the thought to film. Thinking with the camera. Winding the clockwork spring, to be ready. And always aware of being somewhere in the timeline of the 100ft of 16mm film. Like passing through a wood, or over a lake. Aware of a film emerging. And all of life lived until this time. Intuition. Nothing can be erased; the choices made are those recorded at the time’.

Peter Todd’s work includes films as well as curated and collaborative projects. These include the programmes ‘Film Poems’ and ‘Basement, Basement’, which presented works by artists involved with Ayton Basement, an influential space, co-ran by Todd from 1976 in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Amir Azar: The Wind & Taar (2013, 2mins)

Amir Azar’s film creates the illusion of a patterned scarf dancing in the wind. As a slow zoom out reveals a women with a bald head sat in a wheelchair we are left wondering what her story is and whether the act of not covering her scalp with hijab could also be interpreted as an act of rebellion or liberation as well as a poignant detail.

Fereshteh Alamshah: Jonah’s Fish (2009, 5mins)

Jonah’s fish instigates and documents a performance by citizens of Varzaneh in Iran. The performance happens in a drought affected lake, Gavkhooni pond. Iran’s on-going situation around water shortages, often linked to irresponsible industrial and agricultural actions, is juxtaposed by the artist with the story of Jonah being enslaved in the belly of a fish. The masks worn by the citizens reveal they are participating in a silent protest at the exploitation of resources and the draining of the Zayandeh-Rood, the largest river in Iran.

Fereshteh Alamshah is a filmmaker working in Isfahan, Iran. She is the founder and manager of the annual Videoartist festival also in Isfahan.

Mohsen Mousavi: Voyage Series #2 London (2013, 5mins)

‘The notion of silent video intrigues me. Silence is customary in painting and sculpture. These static art forms are able to engage their viewers and capture their attention and I believe that making silent videos can create a more intense, visual experience, which could be described as video poetry’.

Stephen Sutcliffe: Said The Poet To The Analyst (2009, 2mins)

In ‘Said The Poet To The Analyst’ a reading of Anne Sexton’s poem provides a meeting between two people who interpret words for a living. Sutcliffe’s film gradually reveals a place in which to contemplate this.

Glasgow based artist Stephen Sutcliffe (1968, Harrogate) creates film collages from an extensive archive of British television, film sound, broadcast images and spoken word recordings which he has been collecting since childhood. Often reflecting on aspects of British culture and identity, the results are melancholic, poetic and satirical amalgams which subtly tease out and critique ideas of class-consciousness and cultural authority.

19 December 2015

Films Screening Starts at 1pm

  • BOOKSHOP
    Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art
    City Library and Arts Centre
    Fawcett Street
    Sunderland
    SR1 1RE
  • Free