Lyrical Flight From Reality: Playfulness and Humour in Experimental Film, camden arts centre (2016)
Inspired by the show Franciszka & Stefan Themerson: Books, Camera, Ubu (Camden Arts Centre, 24 March - 5 June 2016), I was commissioned to curate an accompanying screening of experimental films. I have written part of my PhD thesis on the work of the Themersons, who were partners and creative collaborators from 1929 until their deaths in 1988. Their art included painting, photography, film, theatre, literature, concrete poetry, book design, and drawing. Back in Poland I grew up with their playfully illustrated books. Books, Camera, Ubu exhibition focuses on three main areas of their creative oeuvre: their experimental film work, their independent publishing house, Gaberbocchus Press alongside their own books, Franciszka’s stage design, puppets and a comic strip, all based on Alfred Jarry’s anarchic play, Ubu Roi.
I met Maarit Suomi-Väänänen at Experiments in Cinema film festival in 2015 where I was showing Rehearsal (2015) and where she attended one of my lectures at the University of New Mexico. Väänänen is an award winning media artist whose short films ponder social and emotional themes related to identity and communication. Her works have toured over 40 countries and presented in galleries, institutions, festivals and broadcast, including the Museum of Modern Art Kiasma in Helsinki, YLE Finnish Broadcasting Company and IDFA in Amsterdam. 2016 Maarit will work in the Gleis70 residency in Zurich.
RHT is described as a visual argument for sensible shoes. Images have been appropriated from William Wilder’s 1953 film Roman Holiday featuring Audrey Hepburn’s feet. Sounds have been excerpted from The Residents/Rinaldo and the Loaf’s song The Shoe Salesman. Konefsky is a conceptual filmmaker and the Founder and Artistic Director of Experiments in Cinema in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Heidi Kilpeläinen’s latest film is in dialogue with Hito Steyerl’s In Defense of the Poor Image: ‘The poor image is a copy in motion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. […] It mocks the promises of digital technology.’ :D is an absurd exaggeration and acceleration of online imagery (‘the debris of audiovisual production’), ranging from bad quality TV and news footage, to telephone screens and emoticons, which constitute an ever-present part of contemporary (non)human communication. Typically of Kilpeläinen’s work, this piece is composed to repetitive and hypnotizing rhythm. Kilpeläinen (often working under her persona HK119) lives and works in London, UK. A graduate of Central St Martins, she her works explore crossovers between visual art and music through film, installation and performance. Kilpeläinen has exhibited and performed worldwide: Los Angeles Center for Digital Arts, Beaconsfield Gallery, London Performa 07, New York, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki.
Michael Brooke and I both worked for the British Film Institute and he is one of my co-conspirators in many film-related adventures. Our talk was about the role of playfulness in experimental film tradition. The Themersons’ ‘irrational humoresque’, Adventures of a Good Citizen (1937) served as a starting point for this illustrated discussion in which we debated ways in which artists and filmmakers have used humour as a subversive tool. Brooke is a freelance writer specialising in British and central/eastern European cinema. A regular contributor to Sight & Sound magazine, he spent nearly a decade at the BFI (2002-11), where he helped create BFI Screenonline and BFI InView, produced the BFI’s internationally acclaimed DVD compilations of short films by the Quay Brothers and Jan Svankmajer and co-produced the Blu-ray edition of Svankmajer’s Alice. He has written numerous booklet essays for BFI DVD Publishing, Second Run and Arrow Academy, and chapters for various books.
Max Eastley is an internationally recognised artist who combines kinetic sculpture and sound into a unique art form. His sculptures exist on the border between the natural environment
and human intervention and use the driving forces of electricity, wind, water and ice. He has exhibited both interior and exterior works internationally. His work is represented in the permanent collection of the Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany and private collections. Max is an artist in residence with the Cape Farewell Climate Change Project. From 2010 to 2013 he was an Arts and Humanities Research Council Senior Researcher at Oxford Brookes University, investigating Aeolian phenomena through artistic practice and historical research. In 2014 he was City Sound Artist in Bonn, Germany and in 2017 he was a guest of the DAAD in Berlin, Germany. Pamela Maare is a set and costume designer who composed costumes for Whirled Music (Max Eastley, David Toop, Paul Burwell, and Steve Beresford) presented here as part of Lyrical Flight From Reality: Playfulness and Humour in Experimental Film programme. Fpr a detailed line up of the programme, visit Curating page.