Seen-Frieze: The Artists’ Cinema
Screened at FACT, 31st January 2006

Reviewed by Helen Grey

“The fantastic cinema interprets metamorphosis as a fable, the experimental cinema interprets it as a form, the scientific as fact. Painters and sculptors of the Renaissance and of the classical age found in Ovid’s stories a wide iconographic repertory from which to draw the elements of a mythological history of nature. In cinema, metamorphosis takes an additional meaning: it invites us to see figuration not as an expression of permanence or stability, but as a constant flow of unsettled qualities.”
Philippe-Alain Michuad, curator.

Much like Philippe-Alain’s words, I have to be honest and say I really did not understand the collection of short films screened at FACT. The five films - which were originally shown during the Frieze Art Fair in October - were I think meant to explore the concept of metamorphosis in cinema. What I saw was a short French nature documentary about a bat that drank the blood of a guinea pig, some very old footage of African dancers in the 1920s and two cartoons starring Felix the Cat. I did feel privileged to have the opportunity of watching some extremely old footage that wouldn’t normally be available to the public, and watching some of the films on a 16mm projector was exciting. As for understanding what the whole thing was about, I left the screening non-the wiser. Maybe some of the art students had a better idea but from the resounding silence when asked if there were any questions, maybe not.

There will be another four screenings as part of the Frieze season at FACT.

1st February 6.30pm Somewhere Beyond the Sea curated by Berta Sichel
A programme of films investigating ideas of space and place in light of the increased ease of travel and technological progress. Includes work by Joan Jonas, Bill Viola and Dominique Gonzalez-Forester.

7th February 6.30pm Land of Hope and Glory curated by Chrissie Iles
Introduced by Ian White, The Artists' Cinema Co-ordinator
A reflection of Thatcher's Britain through the eyes of some of its key artists, including Derek Jarman, John Maybury and Daniel Landin.

7th February 8.00pm Schadenfreude curated by Tirdad Zolghadr
Introduced by Ian White, The Artists' Cinema Co-ordinator
An exploration of violence, military expressionism and the dilemma in contemporary political art, including artists Christoph Buchel and Miguel Calderon.

8th February 6.30pm Still curated by Cerith Wyn Evans
This screening places the contemporary films of Ulla von Brandenburg with those of Kurt Kren and Andy Warhol, reclaiming the cinema as a radical and increasingly queer space for contemplation.

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