Canary Wharf Screen is an innovative new motion picture screening programme that will launch at Canary Wharf Tube station at the beginning of next month. The project has been initiated and presented by Art on the Underground and will show some of the best artists’ moving image, chosen by four of the UK’s leading film organisations and institutions, including new digital commissions and rarely seen films from the last century.
The inaugural 2012 series will be split into four seasons, programmed in collaboration with Film and Video Umbrella, Animate, LUX and British Film Institute (BFI) respectively. Film and Video Umbrella (FVU) will curate the film season from 1 March – 27 May 2012, presenting The City in the City, a series of films by Marcus Coates, Melanie Manchot, Dryden Goodwin and Suki Chan that have been commissioned by the organisation over the last decade. A new site-specific film commission, Hold Your Ground (2012) by Karen Mirza & Brad Butler will also be premièred. Aesthetica has spoken to the artists about the piece and will publish the full interview online later this month.
The selected works in Season 1 of the programme explore how individuals navigate and occupy urban space. Within the environment of Canary Wharf station, surrounded by commuters, the programme considers the phenomenon of the crowd: as a fact of everyday existence, a source of collective identity and belonging and as a possible force and agent of change.
Aesthetica caught up with Steven Bode, Director of Film and Video Umbrella, to find out more:
A: What first prompted Film and Video Umbrella to become involved in the Art on the Underground project?
SB: Well, we were asked! Extremely nicely, as it happens! I’ve always liked the range and ambition of Art on the Underground’s activities, and we were flattered to be chosen as the organisation that would launch this programme of screenings.
A: Working through your back catalogue of artists’ moving-image commissions must have been some challenge. What was the selection process like?
SB: You’re right. There’s a lot of work to choose from! But we narrowed things down by prioritising pieces that had a conceptual or atmospheric fit with the Canary Wharf site, and that responded to its distinctive architectural and social context – its flow of people, its surges of movement, the presence of the crowd. There were works we’d made that met the brief that were ruled out because of format. But there’s a clear thematic logic to the choices, which comes across, I hope.
A: Do you think that, in relation to other stations, Canary Wharf has a specific character as an exhibition space?
SB: Absolutely. It’s like an epic amphitheatre – hugely cinematic. It’s only a stop or two away from “Metropolis” – very imposing, but full of echoes and associations. It’s arena-sized, and with some of the drawbacks that come with that. But it also resonates in other ways that, I think, genuinely add to the works that we’ve chosen.
A: Do the films have different stories or is it all very similar?
SB: The Film and Video Umbrella programme is called The City in the City – a play on Canary Wharf’s particular place in the capital and, beyond that, a comment on the myriad communities that make up London. Many of the pieces address the phenomenon of the crowd, which, like the city itself, can look, from the outside, like an undifferentiated mass but, when you go closer, reveals an extraordinary complexity. So: there is very much a continuity of theme, but beneath that a diversity of different stories and approaches.
A: What should we expect from FVU in 2012?
SB: More newly commissioned film pieces by artists such as Simon Martin and Luke Fowler; an ongoing initiative for emerging artists, in collaboration with Jerwood Charitable Foundation, called Tomorrow Never Knows, plus some new ways of producing and disseminating work, using social media and other online platforms. Also coming up is Deep State, a longer companion work to Karen Mirza & Brad Butler’s Hold Your Ground, which premieres at Canary Wharf Screen. It’s an ambitious development of Brad and Karen’s ideas that revolves around a script by the author China Mièville. It will be finished in the Spring.
Season 1 will continue from 1 March – 27 May 2012, followed by Season 2 (Animate Projects) launching in June 2012 and Season 3 (LUX) in September 2012. The final season will launch in December 2012 and will see the BFI open up their archive to showcase a rolling programme of films.
All five films can be previewed on the FVU Vimeo page, however, this project is about how the chosen pieces resonate with this unique site so we would recommend you go and see the films for yourself.
Aesthetica in Print
If you only read Aesthetica online, you’re missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art‘s latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.
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