Saturday, 25 January 2014

Artistic diversions...

at Somerset House Inigo Rooms, 23 Jan-9 Mar

With few press screenings this week (no idea why), I was able to take in a couple of press launches in the art world. First was the Derek Jarman exhibition at Somerset House - a collection of films, sketchbooks, paintings and other things to celebrate the life of the iconic artist and filmmaker who died in 1994. The focus is on his years as a student at Kings College, which hosts the Inigo Rooms.

Included were the short films Studio Bankside (1970-72 7m), a kind of witty visual scrapbook taking in scenes of his work studio along the river, his friends and London architecture and landmarks; Death Dance (1973 15m), a mythical drama shot on grainy, slow Super 8 in which four naked men have a freaky encounter with death himself; and Garden of Luxor playfully layers Egyptian postcard images and performance, all drenched in lurid colours.

Around these were drawings, posters, photos, sketches (including his colourfully striking designs for the Royal Ballet production of Jazz Calendar), and other items from his life. Finally, there's a rather audacious installation that projects his kaleidoscopic 1988 film The Last of England onto five screens (at different points in the film) with the soundtrack piped in over it. The effect is a bit pushy on a conceptual level, but it's also engulfing and hypnotic as the film's themes echo off each other.


CROSSOVERS: DVD series launch
Hackney Picturehouse Attic, 23 Jan 

Crossovers is a series of six DVDs addressing various aspects of performance art, and the launch event featured the filmmakers speaking about their work while showing clips from the films they've made. Some of this was rather dry and academic - exploring the nature of human expression - but other elements were lively and provocative. 

I had seen Gavin Butt and Ben Walters' documentary This Is Not a Dream already [the Shadows review is HERE], and it was interesting to hear them talk about the ideas in it. The other one that couldn't help but catch the audience's attention was Mel Brimfield's mock doc TV series This Is Performance Art, which cleverly - and hilariously - presents outrageous art as if it were firmly mainstream.

The other discs are Oreet Ashery's collage-style Party for Freedom, and three brainy, conversational documentaries by Andrew Heathfield: Writing Not Yet Thought with Helene Cixous, Transfigured Night with Alphonso Lingis and No Such Thing as Rest with Brian Massumi.

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