Artist and filmmaker Ben Rivers was born in Somerset in 1972 and is now based in London. He studied Fine Art at Falmouth School of Art, initially in the sculpture department before moving into photography and super-8 filmmaking. Since completing his degree, he has worked mainly with hand-processed 16mm film and is largely self-taught in this regard. In 1996, he co-founded the Brighton Cinemathèque, which he co-programmed until its demise in 2006.
His practice as a filmmaker treads the line between documentary and fiction. Often filming people who have in some way separated themselves from society, Rivers uses this raw footage as a starting point to construct oblique narratives that imagine alternative existences in marginal worlds.
He has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Tiger Award for Short Film, International Film Festival Rotterdam (2015 & 2008); FIPRESCI International Critics’ Award, 68th Venice Film Festival (2011); Baloise Art Prize, Art Basel (2011) and Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists (2010). Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at Camden Arts Centre, London (2015); BBC Television Centre, London as part of an Artangel Open Commission (2015); Temporary Gallery, Cologne (2014); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2013); Hepworth Wakefield (2012) and Hayward Gallery, London (2011). He recently curated the exhibition Edgelands (2015) at Camden Arts Centre and is currently a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard University.
Ben Rivers, What Means Something, 2015, 16mm film
Image courtesy the artist and Camden Arts Centre.
Ben Rivers, A Distant Episode, 2015, 16mm film
Image courtesy the artist and LUX
LUX is a UK-based agency that supports and promotes artists working with the moving image. LUX exists to provide access to, and develop audiences for, artists’ moving image work; to provide professional development support for artists working with the moving image; and to contribute to discourse around practice. Founded in 2002, it builds on a lineage of predecessor organisations, including The London Filmmakers Co-operative, London Video Arts and The Lux Centre, with a history stretching back to the 1960s.
LUX is the only organisation of its kind in the UK, representing the country’s only significant collection of artists’ film and video. It is the largest distributor of such work in Europe (representing over 7,000 works by approximately 1,500 artists from the 1920s to the present day). In addition to distribution, LUX’s activities include organising screenings and exhibitions, touring projects, commissioning new work, publishing, delivering educational and professional development initiatives, and providing research support and resources for curators, academics and arts professionals. LUX is a registered charity and receives regular revenue funding from Arts Council England.
Eleven participants were selected from the open submission: Richard Broomhall, Allister Gall, Maud Hewlings, Ben James, Mark Jenkin, Jacqui Knight, Anya Lewin, Elizabeth Masterton, Abigail Reynolds, Marcy Saude and Melanie Stidolph.
Richard Broomhall is an artist and filmmaker based at Spike Island in Bristol. He works on both solo and collaborative projects creating immersive environments with video, audio and sculpture, single screen video works and photographic series. His work seeks to engage with the feedback spirals between technology, culture and landscape, with specific focus on exploring the mythology of digital immateriality and how the infrastructure of sub-oceanic fibre optic networks (the spine of the internet) inscribe the intertwined politics of corporate and state power into the coastal waters and landscapes around the UK.
Allister Gall is a filmmaker, artist and educator based in Plymouth, England. Working across a range of media, his work often explores film as a participatory practice. His PhD, Towards a Cinema of Imperfection: Participatory Film as Research, is an interrogation of the emancipatory potential of the idea of imperfection. He co-directs and facilitates Imperfect Cinema, an open-access micro-cinema collective, which navigates the intersection between socially engaged artistic practice, cinema and do-it-yourself ‘punk’. This interplay, between the contested idea of ‘punk’ and its inherent activism, with the democratic implications of new media technologies, is seen as an exemplary site for examining and dismantling the boundaries between disciplines. Recent work explores live environments and screen/sound collaborations.
Allister is a lecturer of Film at Plymouth College of Art, Dramatic Writing and Media Arts at Plymouth University. He is also a musician, in the bands Damerels and WYFOFBATH.
Maud Hewlings grew up in the Fens and in Cornwall where her grandfather built the family home near Rame Head. She studied Fine Art at Kingston University and after completing her BA worked making period costumes at Sands Films in Rotherhithe and then as the senior stylist at The World of Interiors magazine, where she mainly designed sets and sourced locations. In 2012, she received a scholarship to study on The Drawing Year at the Royal Drawing School in London. Since then, she has lived and made work (predominantly drawing, painting and animating) in rural Cambridgeshire, Ireland and Romania. She now lives and works in Glasgow and visits Cornwall as much as possible.
Ben James is a film maker and photographer whose work explores the process of technological advancement and the preservation of that which is left behind.
Whilst being at the forefront of exploring new media, artists increasingly also find themselves as guardians of threatened technologies, defining their future through continued use and reinterpretation. Working primarily with film, Ben’s practice explores the ever-evolving intersection between analogue and digital processes.
Alongside his own practice, Ben co-founded the arts organisation South Kiosk (www.southkiosk.com) in order to engage with a broad range of artists exploring the impact of rapid technological evolution. South Kiosk exists through a gallery programme, workshops and print publication.
Mark is a filmmaker and film artist working out of a studio in the far west of Cornwall. He divides his time working narratively and non-narratively, whilst embracing experimental techniques and utilising obsolete technologies in a contemporary context. He is the author of the SILENT LANDSCAPE DANCING GRAIN 13 film manifesto, which promotes the aesthetic and practical benefits of handmade celluloid work in a digital world. His work Bronco’s House, a contemporary moral tale, is currently playing the festival circuit. At the time of this workshop, he was in pre-production for a feature film entitled Bait, with Bristol-based production company Early Day Films.
Jacqui Knight MA is Marie Curie (ITN) Research Fellow with the Cognition Institute, and contributing researcher at Transtechnology Research, Plymouth University. As a practising artist and doctoral researcher she is concerned with the simultaneity of experiences as a ‘generative moment’ that bring an artefact into existence and results in the emergence of artistic forms. Her research uses photography and film as a tool to understand the conditions of these generative processes and their affective implications.
Jacqui lectures across various institutions in the South West of England and is co-founder of the film cooperative Cinestar based in Cornwall, dedicated to supporting creative work with analogue film through experimental workshops, screening events and education. She has exhibited and co-curated numerous group exhibitions throughout the UK and has had a solo show at Nancy Victor Gallery, London. Her work has been published in numerous specialist art journals.
Anya Lewin is an American artist based in the UK where she is a Reader in Art and Moving Image at Plymouth University. Prior to working in academia she had jobs in diverse fields ranging from shepherding (she never lost a sheep) to robotics (sorting robot parts in a basement) to art and community education. Her work often reflects her own personal history, which includes stories of immigration, translations from multiple languages, and fictional connections to real events.
Elizabeth Masterton is a Cornwall-based artist. Her fascinations with fallibility, memory and decay are explored through research-led projects which are often place-specific, collaborative or interdisciplinary. She studied Printmaking at the RCA before moving to Cornwall and was a part-time tutor at Falmouth University from 2001 to 2014. During 2007-10, she was co-director of ‘Happidrome’, producing a series of events at a ruined Cornish radar base. Recent collaborations include Goonhilly Village Green, a public event exploring a rich narrative of place, funded by Arts Council England, and Tanks & Tablecloths at Plymouth Arts Centre, an exhibition uniting naval artefacts with new responsive artworks.
Abigail Reynolds has been based in St Just in the far west of Cornwall for the past decade. She received Arts Council England funding for a film titled The Mother’s Bones sited in Dean Quarry on the Lizard, in collaboration with St Keverne Band. She was awarded the BMW Art Journey prize at Art Basel and visited lost libraries along the Silk Road through 2016 and 2017. Her collages and sculpture are often composed of found photographs spliced to reveal narrative threads. A consideration of time is a principle of her work. Her works are owned by the Government Art Collection, Yale University, and New York Public Library. She is represented by Galerie Raum mit Licht in Vienna and ROKEBY in London.
Marcy da Silva Saude is an American artist filmmaker currently based in Plymouth, UK. Her practice focuses on subjects including marginal histories, the landscape, counterculture, radical politics, and text(s), and has been presented in film festivals, galleries, and artist-run project spaces internationally. She is a member of BEEF (Bristol Experimental and Expanded Film) and the Filmwerkplaats collective analogue film lab in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She received an MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder and is currently undertaking practice-led research at the Temporal Image Research Open Laboratory at Plymouth University.
Melanie Stidolph graduated with an MA in Fine Art from the University of British Columbia, Canada in 1996, under the tutelage of Jeff Wall. Solo shows include: The Fall at Campbell Works, London; Interior Life at The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland; and Shallows at Kamloops Art Gallery, Canada. Group shows include: Eventually Everything Connects at Solent Showcase, Southampton; Album2 at Five Years, London; Curious Nature at Newlyn Art Gallery; and Lilith at MOT International. She curated the group show Except The Mirror for FORMAT photography festival in Derby. She is currently Learning Curator at Tate St Ives.
Participants in previous Cornwall Workshops emphasised the value of working with international colleagues, to extend the range of art practices and exhibition models discussed, increase international connectedness and provide opportunities for networking.
A small number of international participants were invited to participate in the Workshop, with the support of their own institutions and of overseas cultural agencies: Łukasz Mojsak, Roberto Scalmana, Laura Simpson, Kate Strain and Raluca Voinea.
Łukasz Mojsak is an art historian and linguist, and a curator at the Museum of Modern Art and the Arton Foundation in Warsaw, focused mainly on research and propagation of artists’ moving image. He has curated film screenings, art projects and exhibitions, including: Propaganda Projector (Gdynia, 2013); Across Realities. Films by Wojciech Bruszewski (London, 2013); Wojciech Bąkowski’s Profile screening at Internationale Kurzfilmtage Oberhausen in 2014; Out of the Black Room (co-curator, Katowice, 2015); and Ludmiła Popiel (Warsaw, 2016). Łukasz has also translated many books and texts on art, philosophy and culture, including the Polish edition of Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich, 2010.
Roberto Scalmana is a researcher and curator based in Milan, Italy. Recently, he was assistant curator for the symposium ‘Workshop on Workshops’ and the exhibition Textilities… and Roses, both held at Fondazione Antonio Ratti in Como. He has worked as junior researcher for the Observatory on Contemporary Art at ASK Research Centre, where he carried out his own research interests on the social theory of the art system and the institutional theory of art. He has also worked as a lecturer at the Brera Academy and at the Bocconi University in Milan. Roberto has co-curated and organised several other projects and seminars for the Research Centre, in particular, The State of the Art during the Weekend Specials of Monditalia at the XIV Venice Architecture Biennial. Roberto is also contributing editor for the-arts-markets.com.
Laura Simpson is the Programme Manager at Hospitalfield, Arbroath, Scotland running residencies, events and commissions since 2013. Hospitalfield organised Graham Fagen’s exhibition as Scotland’s presentation within the Venice Biennale (2015). At Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee, Laura worked across several spaces including Cooper Gallery and offsite with Nine Trades of Dundee (2009). She has also worked independently, for example You blink at the plughole, M.E.X.I.C.O., Leeds (2013). She presented on artists’ film at RCA (2013) and on residencies at V&A Sackler Centre (2011) and is on the panel for the Margaret Tait Award. She has published writing within Gnommero and 2HB. Her artist background is increasingly integrating with art history, partly prompted by the extraordinary historic context of Hospitalfield.
Kate Strain is a Dublin-based curator researching the overlap between performance and performativity in visual arts practice. Throughout 2016, she is the curator-in-residence at Cow House Studios, Rathnure, County Wexford. She has worked in a curatorial capacity at Project Arts Centre, Dublin; Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, and independently. She has also lectured for MA Art in the Contemporary World at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin. Strain holds an MA in Visual Arts Practice, Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, and a BA in the History of Art and Architecture, and History, Trinity College Dublin. She was a participant of the Young Curators Residency Programme at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Torino (IT) in 2015, and of de Appel Curatorial Programme, Amsterdam (NL) in 2013/14.
Current curatorial projects include On Curating Histories; The Centre For Dying On Stage; and the Department of Ultimology at Trinity College Dublin in collaboration with Fiona Hallinan. Strain also makes up one half of the paired curatorial practice RGKSKSRG working alongside Rachael Gilbourne to commission and contextualise contemporary art. Recent exhibitions include The Re-appropriation of Sensuality, a solo exhibition by Emma Haugh at NCAD Gallery, Dublin, and the related live production This is Public and Sexy, at St Andrews Community Centre, Rialto, Dublin. RGKSKSRG worked with Cow House Studios to curate I like to eat with my hands, the international residency and exhibition at Wexford Arts Centre.
Raluca Voinea is a curator and art critic, based in Bucharest, Romania. She was a founding member of tranzit and has been co-director of tranzit.ro since 2012, running the institution’s space in Bucharest. Since 2008 she has also been co-editor of IDEA. Arts + Society magazine. Recent exhibitions include: Austeria (co-curated with Anna Smolak) at BWA Sokol, Nowy Sacz, Poland; Twilled Connections (co-curated with Iulia Toma); and Une autre cité, at tranzit.ro/ Bucharest – all in 2015. She is co-author, with Alexandra Pirici, of the Manifesto for the Gynecene. Sketch of a New Geological Era (January 2015) and curated the Romanian Pavilion in Venice in 2013 (with the project An Immaterial Retrospective of the Venice Biennale by artists Alexandra Pirici and Manuel Pelmus).