The Artists Cinema 2016

Guerrilla-style distribution brings back experimental film in cinemas across UK.

The Artists Cinema invitation
The Artists Cinema invitation

The Artists Cinema, a collaborative project by LUX and the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) returns this year with its unique form of distribution. A selection of five new commissions will be presented with mainstream feature films in cinemas, guerilla-style. The films will be paired up with Dad’s Army, Hail Caesar!, Trumbo and Spotlight and will be playing at ICO programmed independent cinemas as well as the picture house cinema circuit.

The Artists Cinema 2016 is funded by Arts Council England and brings back new and leading contemporary artists on the big screen to engage audiences with experimental films. Previous editions in 2006 and 2010 reached audiences nationwide with works by artists including Palme D’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Turner Prize nominee Phil Collins and widely recognised artist on the international art scene Deimantas Narkevicius.

The five international artists presented this year take a standout cinematic point of view, lyrical with visual tendency, which unfolds the raw evolution of experimental film form in contemporary cinema. They are concerned with realist film not by following an actor around with a handheld camera but by pushing the boundaries with action and sensuality. They are Dora García, winner of the PIAC International Prize of Contemporary Art 2015, Margaret Salmon whose work has been shown widely including Venice (2007) and Berlin Biennale (2010), Guggenheim Fellow Naeem Mohaiemen, winner of the 2010 Locarno Golden Leopard of Tomorrow Gabriel Abrantes, and recipient of the 2014 Max Mara Art Prize for Women Corin Sworn with Tony Romano.

The Coat

Dir:Directors Corin Sworn with Tony Romano | Canada/Italy/UK | 2016 | 5 mins 30 secs

Glasgow-based artist Corin Sworn centres her plot around a father-daughter relationship with a sly commentary on the current politics of migration. Two travelling actors stop on a country road to check on their props only to discover two mystery passengers at the back of their truck. Sworn worked in collaboration with Canadian artist Tony Romano and the film’s bawdy humour is flavoured with its performative megaphone announcement and signalling song of adorable melody.


Dir: Margaret Salmon |UK | 2016 | 4 minutes

American and British based filmmaker-artist Margaret Salmon filmed Bird in the Scottish woodlands for a study of songbird repertoires. Her close-up portraits of birds weave lyricism and reality, introducing a new form of sound-image fusion. Salmon’s film is an orchestration of mimicking and sound holding territory in striking natural mechanisms. Salmon won the first Max Mara Art Prize for Women in 2006.

El helicóptero

Dir: Dora García |Belgium/Spain | 2016 | 6 mins

Spanish artist Dora García re-enacts one of the 1966 Happenings by Argentinian art critic-psychoanalyst of Lacanian influence, Oscar Masotta (1930-1979). To understand El helicóptero, I should probably mention that Masotta’s emblematic work responded to the generation of Argentinian intellectuals from 1955 onwards, which created a social phenomenon of Western Zen-fetishisation in the context of American capitalism and class stratification. These intellectuals were derived from the extended crisis of hegemony that took place in the years between Perón’s fall from power and the return of the military in much bloodier guise in 1976.

The re-enactment in García’s El helicóptero denies the distinction between the audience and performer and they are completely removed from each other. Yet they are bound together in a chiasmic relationship.

Abu Ammar is Coming

Dir: Naeem Mohaiemen |Bangladesh/Lebanon/USA | 2016 | 6 mins
© Chris Steele-Perkins, Magnum Photos
© Chris Steele-Perkins, Magnum Photos

Utopian dreams vanish in the scale of war’s murderous core, like dust in the paradox of time. In search for peace, writer-visual artist Naeem Mohaiemen who works in Dhaka and New York, is surrounded by photographs from the archives of Al-Yom, As-Safir, An-Nahar and the Arab Image Foundation. His short essay film, Abu Ammar is Coming, continues his exploration of the 1970s revolutionary left and Bangladeshi fighters as human beings struggling for survival. Its narration reminiscences our relation between what we see and what we know, which is never settled.

A Brief History of Princess X

Dir: Gabriel Abrantes with Francisco Ciprianni |Portugal/France | 2016 | 6 mins

A unique storytelling that is equally refreshing for its bold point of view in art criticism, North Carolina writer-director Gabriel Abrantes’ film tells the story of sculptor Constantin Brancusi’s vision of simplicity. It had its breakthrough following a commission from princess Marie Bonaparte to make her a portrait. Brancusi’s infamous sculpture ‘Princess X’, 1915-1916, traveled to a series of unfortunate art events, which had their glamour stolen by the works of Marcel Duchamp and Pablo Picasso. But in fact the portrait’s misunderstood meaning lies in Freud’s major 1900 work ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’: the bronze phallus pursues the inner reality of visionary princess Bonaparte, Napoleon’s great grand niece.

The Artists Cinema 2016 launches on 8 February at Tate Britain.

Georgia Korossi is writer and film programmer specialising on experimental cinema and documentary. She is contributor to BFI News and has curated film programmes in partnership with the Athens Ethnographic Film Festival and contemporary artists in UK and Greece. She recently acted as production researcher for John Akomfrah’s film The Airport (2016) – currently showing at Lisson gallery – a three screen film installation which recalls the work of two filmmaking greats: Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) and Theo Angelopolous (1935-2012).

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s