Movements brought together a series of artist film and video by some of the most progressive artists operating within this medium in order to question what dominant interests remain relevant. Turning the NGCA’s project space into a screening room, Movements presented five artists’ films, previously unseen within the region, including the premiere of a new work by local artist Ben Jeans Houghton and a work on paper work by Graham Gussin. Each moving image work was shown on a continuous loop for fourteen days over a ten-week period. Movements also presented Northern Art Prize winner Paul Rooney’s ‘Thin Air’ as a site-specific exhibition at the Reg Vardy Gallery, University of Sunderland. Rooney’s work presented as a scheduled ‘lecture film’, with supporting notes and previously unseen photography, considers the cosmic significance of the events and memories that are embedded within a building’s physical space and in particular – an art school.
Works presented as part of Movements were: Paul Rooney’s ‘Thin Air’ (2011), Jane and Louise Wilson’s ‘Songs for My Mother’ (2010), Ming Wong’s ‘Whoduunit’ (2003), ‘TSU’ by Ben Jeans Houghton (2011), Aurelien Froment’s ‘Pulmo Marina’ (2010), Mark Lewis’ ‘Cinema Museum’ (2008) and ‘Film Poster’ by Graham Gussin (2012).
Notes on Featured Works
Jane and Louise Wilson: Songs for my Mother (2010)
Ben Jeans Houghton: TSU (2010)
TSU is the product of a residency at Wheatley Hill Primary School. The schools basis for learning is an innovative child lead programme, whereby the children create a story at the beginning of the year that acts as a narrative string through which all aspects of the empirical curriculum are delivered. Making all subjects interwoven and relevant to each other. This affords a feeling of ownership and leaving all learnt, open tangible and easily applicable to changing scenarios. After working with all 6 years Ben combined aspects of each classes narrative with prose poems made during his stay to create the following Film. The still images are 35mm Slides found in the back lanes and pre demolition buildings of Newcastle Upon Tyne over the last 10 years. The film was shot on Fuji Super16mm in the School and off site at a Derelict Magnesium processing factory on the east coast. A future spoken in past tense by an omniscient narrator, plays out over a re-imagined history told through disparate images collected in the aftermath of a Tsunami.
Ming Wong: Whodunnit (2007)
Whodunnit? was conceived as a video projection installation for a theatre, featuring a nostalgic am-dram production of a classic middlebrow English drawing-room murder mystery played by a multi-ethnic cast whose accents keep shifting. The artist auditioned actors according to the list of ethnic minority categories found on cultural diversity monitoring forms for Arts Council England funding applications. The final cast comprises a diasporic spectrum of second or third generation British actors of Black African, Black Afro-Caribbean, Asian, East Asian, Middle Eastern, Latin American, Greek Cypriot, Eastern European Jewish and Irish descent, who perform the dialogue using their own constructed versions of foreign accents as well as RP (Received Pronunciation). The suspects’ shifting accents suggest transitions between complicity and hostility amongst themselves as well as with the figure of authority in the middle, the police detective. The identity of the murderer is not the question; the real mystery is, what is the true identity of the individual? At a time when ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘multiculturalism’ have become managerial catchwords, how does such ‘ticking-the-boxes’ categorisation limit the way we identify ourselves and others in terms of ethnicity, race or culture? Whodunnit? was made with the support of a London Artists’ Film & Video Award from Film London.
Aurélien Froment: Pulmo Marina (2010)
The film Pulmo Marina features a Phacellophora camtschatica, more commonly known as the egg-yolk jellyfish, as it drifts and swims behind the glass display of its tank home at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. A voiceover informs the viewer of its baroque but literally brainless anatomy, its voracious cannibalism and its classical forebears. The work consist of a single 5-minute long shot of a jellyfish seen through the window of an aquarium. The jellyfish’s constantly changing forms are enhanced by a blue and yellow contrast between the animal and the artificial plane dark background of the aquarium. A seemingly familiar voice over gives a description of the image borrowing lines from high definition flat screen advertising, zoological guides, mythologies and interviews conducted with the aquarists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium about the specificities of the tank. Shifting from a banal wildlife TV programme about a sea creature towards a description of the physical and architectural conditions of its display in the aquarium, the film looks at how the image pre-exist its own recording, approaching the window of the aquarium as a display device participating in the construction of the notion of the viewer, whose social life would shift from the collective experience of the museum towards the private experience of the computer screen.
Mark Lewis: Cinema Museum (2008)
Mark Lewis’ Cinema Museum, comprises four nine-minute shots of a tour guide leading us around the labyrinthine corridors of a vast private collection of movie ephemera. The guide’s soft, measured voice soothes the ear while our eyes gawp at a teeming archive verging on chaos. The camera sets out with the stealth of a Stanley Kubrick Steadicam shot, but it soon begins to drift. As the guide walks ahead, the camera lingers over drawers marked ‘Gulag Guns’, boxes of fanzine clippings, spare parts for projectors and bits of Art Deco signage.
Graham Gussin: Film Poster (2011)
This work exists as a small printed poster and as a large public or gallery based poster work. It is a list of possible films compiled over a period of a week, each seeming more, or less, viable as an option for making moving images. It is poised between being a manifesto, an instruction, a form of concrete poetry, and a simple list of things to do.