Tate Modern Film

TV as Material 1: Artists and Archive at the BBC

Stephen Sutcliffe The Hidden God

Alia Syed, Points of Departure, 2014, video still

Kate Davis, Weight, 2014, video still

Kathryn Elkin, Michael's Theme, 2014, video still

Luke Fowler, Depositions, 2014, film still

The London premiere of a series of new moving image works produced as part of the BBC Arts and LUX Artists and Archive residency which offers artists unprecedented access to the facilities and archives of the BBC.

This event showcases a diverse range of artists’ approaches both to television and the archive, including new works by Kate Davis, Kathryn Elkin, Luke Fowler, Torsten Lauschmann, Stephen Sutcliffe and Alia Syed, followed by a discussion with a selection of the artists chaired by Melissa Gronlund, co-editor of Afterall.

Programme outline

Weight, Kate Davis, UK 2014, HD Cam, black and white and colour, sound, 11 min

Taking a 1961 BBC documentary about artist Barbara Hepworth as its starting point, Weight explores how televised depictions of creativity have constructed our understanding of artistic production and other forms of labour. Weight re-imagines the value systems that this documentary is predicated upon and proposes an alternative vision.
Kate Davis

Michael’s Theme, Kathryn Elkin, UK 2014, HD Cam, colour, sound, 7 min

Michael’s Theme uses previously unbroadcast fragments from the opening and closing of several episodes in the first two series of Parkinson from the 1970s. The work explores the talk-show convention of revealing the mechanisms of television-making, as well as the notion of improvisation within the ‘recorded-as-live’ TV format and within the repeated live renditions of the jazz theme tune in those earlier episodes. These excerpts and the theme  tune for the programme are used as a point of departure to consider the relationship of a live studio audience, crew and talk show host to each other, and how their complicit relationship anticipates the audience who will watch the deferred broadcast.
Kathryn Elkin

Depositions, Luke Fowler, UK 2014, HD Cam, black and white and colour, sound, 24 min 

Luke Fowler’s films dwell on potentiality: what might be, what might have been, what might still be if the world were to turn in a different direction? But film time runs in many directions, as do arguments. Film made only recently can be easily confused with the archival vintage of washed-out or saturated tones and blurred edges. Only the disjunction between sounds that live close within the ear and rich voices from a fading past distinguish archive from present. Gradually the pieces converge: our nostalgia for ancient folkways, traditional song and the romance of freedom, all undercut by scientific rationalism and the pressures of normativity bringing law to bear on lives resistant to conformity. What is an archive if not a collection of letters to ourselves?’
David Toop, August 2014

The Hidden God, Stephen Sutcliffe, UK 2014, HD Cam, colour, sound, 5 min 

A reworking of the BBC television programme The Hidden God: Alain Robbe-Grillet using methods appropriated from Pasolini’s trailer for his 1969 film Medea

Crazy Paving, Torsten Lauschmann, UK 2014, HD Cam, black and white and colour, sound, 17 min

Crazy Paving is a philosophical journey into human understanding, exploring how we derive and construct meaning from objects, belief systems and the culture that surrounds us. It attempts to find meaning though connecting such diverse phenomena as Art, the Placebo effect and Spoon bending.
Torsten Lauschmann 

Points of Departure, Alia Syed, UK 2014, HD Cam, black and white and colour, sound, 16 min 

The objects and places we cannot leave behind create the tapestry that is Points of Departure. Exploring themes of personal and collective memory through my relationship to the city of Glasgow, a voice over describes a tablecloth I retrieved whilst clearing my elderly father’s house. The film attempts to unravel the threads of memory held within this mundane item and to find an image within the BBC archive that relates to my memories of growing up in Glasgow. 

My father’s unrehearsed attempts to translate an Urdu Ghazal discovered in the archive, a poetic expression of the beauty of love and the pain of loss exposes a process of translation that becomes the key allowing a path through the labyrinth of both my own memory and the BBC archive.
Alia Syed 

Artist Biographies

Kate Davis

Davis was born in New Zealand and lives and works in Glasgow. Questioning how to bear witness to the complexities of the past, Davis's artwork is an attempt to reconsider, reclaim and reinvent what certain histories could look, sound and feel like. Informed by successive waves of feminist art and theory, Davis works across a range of media, including drawing, installation, bookworks and film/video.

Kathryn Elkin

Kathryn Elkin works predominantly in performance, video and writing. She is a graduate of Glasgow School of Art, Goldsmiths College and participated in the LUX Associate Artists Programme 2012/13. Her work concerns a comparison of the way in which we experience art to the ways and means it is understood culturally.

Luke Fowler

Fowler (born 1978) is an artist, filmmaker, and musician based in Glasgow. He collaborates regularly with Richard Youngs, Eric La Casa, Toshiya Tsunoda and Lee Patterson. Fowler was awarded the inaugural Derek Jarman Award in 2008 and, in 2012, he was shortlisted for the Turner Prize. His latest film, The Poor Stockinger, The Luddite Cropper And The Deluded Followers Of Joanna Southcott won awards at the Mexico and Lima film festivals.

Torsten Lauschmann

Lauschmann's diverse practice continually shifts and plays with expectations of images and the interpretation of meaning. He is concerned with both the aesthetic content of images and the 'decoding' of meaning and narrative. Since moving to Glasgow in 1993 to study Fine Art Photography at Glasgow School of Art, Lauschmann has been exhibiting, screening and performing his work throughout theUK and internationally.

Alia Syed

Syed is an experimental filmmaker and artist. She grew up in Glasgow, moving to London at 17. She earned a Bachelors in Fine Arts from University of East London in 1987 and a Postgraduate degree in Mixed Media from Slade School of Fine Art in 1992. Syed’s work has been screened and exhibited in museums, galleries, and festivals worldwide, including at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid, Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA) in London, and the Talwar Gallery, which has represented her for over a decade, in New York and in New Delhi.

Stephen Sutcliffe

Sutcliffe (born 1968, Harrogate) lives and works in Glasgow. Recent solo exhibitions include Tramway, Glasgow (2013) Rob Tufnell, London (2012), Stills, Edinburgh (2011), Whitechapel Auditorium (2010), Cubitt, London (2009), Galerie Micky Schubert, Berlin (2008) and Art Now, Light Box, Tate Britain (2005). Group exhibitions include: Frieze Projects, Project 35, Independent Curators International, touring to various venues in the United States (2010), The Associates, Dundee Contemporary Arts (2009) and Nought to Sixty 2008 and Talk Show 2009 at the ICA, London. 

Artists and Archive: Artists' Moving Image at the BBC is supported by BBC Scotland, LUX and Creative Scotland. The new works will be available to view online on the BBC ARTS website from Monday 29 September 2014.

Tate Modern

Starr Cinema

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London SE1 9TG
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Date & Time

26 September 2014 at 19.00–21.00