19 May 2003 – 1 April 2004
The use of film and video by artists in Britain over the past decade has attracted much attention. However, artists have worked with film and video in this country from the beginning of the twentieth century and now, for the first time, Tate Britain aims to explore this history.
An ambitious series of display of 170 works by 130 artists aims to reveal the full range, variety and originality of this history, from films made close to the cinemas birth in the 1890s to work realised at the start of the twenty-first century. Many of the works have not been seen before in a gallery context, and some have not been seen publicly since their first screenings. The displays bring together a wide span of artists from early filmmakers such as Humphrey Jennings and Norman Mclaren to recent Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen, and key conceptual and structural filmmakers of the 70s, scratch video artists and super8mm romantics inspired by Derek Jarman in the 80s.
The first of four day-long sequences will start at Tate Britain on 19 May. Each programme will be shown at Tate Britain for a period of three months (Prog 1: 19 May - 10 August 2003,
Prog 2: 11 August - 2 November 2003, Prog 3: 3 November - 25 January 2003 Prog 4: 26 January - 16 April 2004) and a related series of longer films by British artists will be shown on Sundays in the Clore auditorium.
Within each day-long programme the films and videos have been clustered in shorter thematic and historical groups which suggest continuities of interest and approach across generations: films ability to encapsulate the everyday and to mimic memory; the challenges of portraiture and the creation of visual music. Other groupings reflect the ways in which artists have explored video and film at particular moments: the early 1970s, when conceptual filmmaking emerged and, in parallel, artists at the London Filmmakers Co-op focused on the materials of their medium; the 1930s, when a committed avant-garde worked on the margins of the mainstream industry; and the early 1990s, as artists began to respond to the possibilities of digital editing.
A Century of Artists Film in Britain has been curated by David Curtis and is an Illuminations production for Tate, with the support of Central St Martins, the AHRB Centre for British Film & Television Studies, the LUX and the British Film Institute.