‘A History of Irritated Material’ includes Group Material, Inspection Medical Hermeneutics, Sture Johannesson, Ad Reinhardt, and Lygia Clark, from Object to Event, produced by Suely Rolnik. Activist films from Disobedience, an ongoing video archive will also be shown.
The exhibition samples art’s relation to politics and the archive, using examples from each decade since the Second World War. The archive of the New York artists' collective Group Material has been made available for the very first time to record four of their radical exhibitions from the eighties and early nineties. Sture Johannesson’s Cannabis Gallery from Malmö in the sixties is revived, and the exhibition will also include two installations by Inspection Medical Hermeneutics (a collective from Moscow of the ‘Glasnost’ years), as well as both the abstract and graphic political work of Ad Reinhardt. Significantly, Raven Row has commissioned the translation of part of Suely Rolnik’s compendious research on Lygia Clark, Lygia Clark, from Object to Event, which documents the otherwise invisible culmination of Clark’s life-art project. Sections of this video archive are shown for the first time in English.
Alongside these positions, a selection of activist films from Disobedience, an ongoing video archive, is shown within a structure designed by Xabier Salaberría, and political films made by collectives in the UK from the seventies and eighties are screened and discussed in a programme of events during the course of the exhibition.
Usually an archive draws its value from being placed in chronological relation with a past event. What, then, characterises these archives, with their unruly documents that are more concerned with activation in the present? The positions in this exhibition are borderline or subterranean, sitting at the edge of art history, or at the boundary of art proper. The title of the exhibition refers to the charged relationship plotted here between art and psychological and social reality. Art that criticises and confronts problems in the social world, but is also sceptical towards itself, can appear anxious and volatile as well as positively critical.
The exhibition is designed by John Morgan studio, Gorka Eizagirre and Xabier Salaberría, and curated by Lars Bang Larsen, with Petra Bauer, Dan Kidner, Alex Sainsbury, and Marco Scotini.
Artists, activists and filmmakers included in Disobedience at Raven Row are: Atelier d’Architecture Autogérée, Gianfranco Baruchello, Bernadette Corporation, Chto Delat?/What is to be done?, Critical Art Ensemble, Department of Space and Land Reclamation, Dodo Brothers, Etcétera, Marcelo Expósito, Harun Farocki and Andrei Ujica, Alberto Grifi, Grupo de Arte Callejero, Ashley Hunt, Laboratorio di Comunicazione Militante, Park Fiction, Oliver Ressler and Zanny Begg, Mariette Schiltz and Bert Theis, Eyal Sivan, Hito Steyerl, and Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas.
Monday 8 March, 7pm
Night Cleaners (1975) by Berwick Street Film Collective
Screening and discussion with Humphry Trevelyan.
Tuesday 9 March, 7pm
Edinburgh International Film Festival in the 1970s: A Panel Discussion
With Esther Leslie (chair), Paul Willemen, Colin MacCabe, Margaret Dickinson, Noreen MacDowell and Felicity Sparrow.
Wednesday 17 March, 7pm
Deux Fois (1969) by Jackie Raynal
Screening and discussion with Marina Vishmidt and Nina Power.
Wednesday 21 April, 7pm
London Women’s Film Group
Screening of Women of the Rhondda (1973, 20 minutes) by Mary Capps, Margaret Dickinson, Mary Kelly, Esther Ronay, Brigid Segrave and Humphry Trevelyan, and The Amazing Equal Pay Show (1974, 48 minutes) by London Women’s Film Group. Discussion with Julia Knight.
The London Women’s Film Group formed in January 1972 with two aims: to disseminate the ideas of the Women’s Liberation movement and to give women access to the skills and facilities denied them by the film industry. They distributed and screened their own films, and those of others. Women of the Rhondda, which follows the lives of four women in a South Welsh mining village, was distributed by the Group, and the critical discussions around it informed their own film The Amazing Equal Pay Show, which adopted a more didactic approach in order to ‘provide an analysis of sexism within capitalist society’. Described as a ‘political burlesque in seven tableaux’, The Amazing Equal Pay Show examines the questions of equal pay, women’s roles within the unions, and the status of women’s work. The screenings will be followed by a conversation with Julia Knight about the London Women’s Film Group, with a focus on how their films were distributed and presented.
Saturday 24 April, 3pm
Screenings and conversation between Steve Sprung, former member of Cinema Action and co-director of Year of the Beaver, and Alex Sainsbury.
3pm So That You Can Live (1982, 83 minutes) by Cinema Action.
4.30pm Year of the Beaver (1985, 77 minutes) by Steve Sprung/Poster Collective.
6pm Steve Sprung and Alex Sainsbury in conversation.
So That You Can Live follows five years in the life of the Butts family from South Wales. It developed from Cinema Action’s project The Social Contract which began in the mid 70s and through which the collective met Shirley Butts, who was then leading a strike for equal pay for women at the GEC factory. Year of the Beaver focuses on the strike at the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratory in North London in 1977, and ‘the staged media event’ surrounding it. The screenings will be followed by a discussion with Alex Sainsbury and Steve Sprung.
Wednesday 28 April, 7pm
Peter Osborne and Paul Willemen in conversation
Peter Osborne and Paul Willemen will critically examine the discourses that proliferated within the British film culture of the 1970s, and which informed the film theory that was developed then. The event will consist of short presentations from Paul Willemen who edited the film journal Framework in the 1980s and was on the board of Screen throughout the 1970s, and Peter Osborne, Professor of Modern European Philosophy, Middlesex University. The presentations will be followed by responses from each participant and a wide-ranging discussion.
Programme organised by Petra Bauer and Dan Kidner
‘Me, You, Us, Them’ a project by Petra Bauer will be at Focal Point Gallery from 27 March to 8 May 2010. www.focalpoint.org.uk/