A programme of screenings to accompany the exhibition Conceptual Art in Britain 1964–1979.
This screening is dedicated to the first exhibition in Europe to be devoted to film and video: Prospect 71. Projection 1971, organised by the curator and gallerist Konrad Fischer and the art critic Hans Strelow at the Städtische Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf. Here we present a selection of some of the works that were shown in the original exhibition, including films and videos by Barry Flanagan, John Hilliard, David Lamelas, John Latham, Bruce McLean, Tony Morgan and David Tremlett.
1970, film, Super 8mm, projection, colour, 17 minutes
Tate. Purchased 2012
sand girl 1970 is one of about ten films made by Flanagan in the period 1968–72. At the time, Flanagan was exploring light projection, and this film exemplifies the ways in which he approached film as a play of projected light, an examination of the role of time, and as a way of depicting the processes of sculptural production.
From and to
1971, film, 16 mm, projection, black and white, sound, 4 minutes
Courtesy the artist
Hilliard’s film-making directly extended his photographic works. In From and To 1971, he provided detailed instructions to his two camera operators. One operator was to stand in the middle of a circle and rotate slowly, filming outwards. The other was to film inwards from points on the perimeter of the circle, recording the first. The resulting two films were projected together, and each cameraman gave a verbal account of their actions.
Reading Film From Knots by R.D. Laing
1970, film, 16mm transferred to SD Video, black and white, sound,15 minutes
Courtesy of David Lamelas and LUX, London
In Reading (Knots by R.D. Laing), Lamelas filmed several pages of text from a copy of the book Knots, that the Scottish psychiatrist gave to him when they met in London earlier that year. The book comprises a series of dialogue-scenarios based on real cases but abstracted into paradoxical verbal models that can be read as poems or plays. They describe the ‘knots’ and impasses in various kinds of human relationships. Laing’s method of showing the same situation from different perspectives and with different endings is echoed in Lamelas’s segmentation of the film. The first part of the film shows several pages in succession, each page remaining on screen long enough for viewers to read and understand it. In the second part, a young woman is seen and heard reading the same pages.
1971, film, 16mm, projection, black and white, 6 minutes, 10 seconds
Tate. Presented by Tate Members 2012
In this film, every frame corresponds to a double page spread in the Encyclopedia Britannica. At one frame for each double page, the sum of human knowledge that the Encyclopedia represents is rendered illegible and unreadable. Latham’s intention with his stop-frame animation films was to show an object which did not in itself move, but which nevertheless changed its appearance as time passed. For Latham, film thus defined his key idea of ‘Event Structure’, which he described as proposing ‘a cosmology where the initial entities remain the same but display endless variation and development’.
In the Shadow of Your Smile, Bob
1970, film, 16mm transferred to video, projection, black and white, sound, 23 minutes, 29 seconds
Tate. Purchased 2012
The ‘Bob’ referred to in the title of the work is the American artist Robert Morris (born 1931). McLean and Morris both had work included in curator Harald Szeeman’s landmark exhibition of conceptual art When Attitudes Become Form at the Kunsthalle Bern in 1969. McLean has explained how ‘I was looking through the catalogue for When Attitudes Become Form … and was inspired by the photo of Robert Morris – not smiling, but looking very serious. Brancusi, a hero of mine, had stated that he could not work in the shadow of Rodin and I thought it hard to work in the shadow of Morris … a minor influence.’
1971, film, 16 mm transferred to DVD, black and white, no sound, 8 minutes
Courtesy of Thomas Dane Gallery and Richard Saltoun
In the late 1960s Morgan moved to Düsseldorf where he set up Produkt Cinema a space dedicated to exhibit artists’ films and installations. Morgan made nearly fifty films and videos between 1968 and 1976, including a number of serial portraits of a contemporary arts scene. Chair was shot at the Lisson Gallery on a visit to London. Amongst those who feature in the film are Nicholas Logsdail, Roelof Louw, Guy Brett, Bob Law, John Latham, David Lamelas and Paul Overy.
Non Improvisation I (Piano)
1971, DVD projection, black and white, sound, 7 minutes
Courtesy of the Artist
Tremlett made a small group of films over a short period of time in the early 1970s. Non-Improvisation shows images of a grid-like drawing accompanied by a soundtrack of a piano tuner at work. The drawing was made specifically for the film, and its repetitive structure relates to looped sound tapes the artist had been making. The sound, which was identified and added after filming the drawing, gives the work its sense of purpose. For Tremlett, ‘the film represented a way of thinking, as an object is was less important.’