Time And Space
London BFI Southbank
Sunday 19 July 2009, at 6:10pm
These three films, made within two years of the Apollo 11 landing, by artists who were pioneers in the development of conceptual art in Britain, capture a contemporary fascination on the part of artists and public with the events and imagery of space exploration. At the same time, they continually return to the concerns of everyday life on earth. The films will be introduced by curators Nicholas Alfrey and Joy Sleeman, who will be joined by artist David Lamelas.
Ian Breakwell & Mike Leggett, UK, 1971/2003, video, b/w, sound, 15 min
ONE documents a performance by Breakwell at the Angela Flowers Gallery, celebrating the gallery’s first anniversary and coinciding with the Apollo 14 manned mission to the moon in February 1971. Throughout an eight-hour ‘working day’, a group of labourers shovel dirt in a room on the second floor of the gallery. This activity was simultaneously broadcast via CCTV to a monitor in the gallery’s street level window. As the day went on and the original piles became a layer of mud on the gallery floor, the live footage struck a striking resemblance to that being fed back from the moon, drawing the attention, and confusion, of passers by.
A Study Of Relationships Between Inner And Outer Space
David Lamelas, UK, 1969, 16mm, b/w, sound, 20 min
A STUDY OF RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN INNER AND OUTER SPACE begins with an analytical investigation of the architecture of one of the galleries at the Camden Arts Centre, where the film was originally shown, along with interviews with gallery staff - a gallery manager, a guard, a clerk - revealing some of the structure and hierarchies within the institution. In the second part of the film, the focus shifts to the environment outside the gallery, the city and its infrastructure, its transport and weather systems. Finally, these ever increasing circles take us out onto the street, where passers by are quizzed about ‘the most important subject according to the mass media of information, on the 21st May, between 5 and 7 pm, time when the interviews were filmed.’ That subject happens to be the Apollo 10 lunar probe, the final ‘rehearsal’ for the moon landing in July.
John Latham, UK, 1971, 16mm, colour, sound, 25 min
A visual countdown of the age of the universe, through time and space, to the surface of the earth. Latham was fascinated by the photographs of the earth that were being returned from the first space missions.
From their great distance, these images described the perspective which Latham felt was necessary to perceive our temporary habitation of the planet in relation to what he called the ‘whole event’, the Universe. Periods of silent black space are punctuated by momentary glimpses of the earth, getting closer as the film rolls. As the camera zooms in, there is a change of pace when an entire volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica flickers past, frame-by-frame. In the final frames of Erth a blurred figure is seen in the landscape, a representative of the “brilliant streptococcus organism for which no antidote exists” (JL).
"Time and Space" is a satellite event of the exhibition "Earth-Moon-Earth" (Djanogly Gallery, University of Nottingham, until 9 August) and the third in a series of screenings organised by John Latham's Flat Time House in Peckham. The event is presented at the BFI in collaboration with Flat Time House, and the Djanogly Gallery.
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