Talking tools and the life and death of an East London estate are among the highlights of the weird but wonderful work up for this year’s Film London Jarman Award, the winner of which is announced later today.
The prestigious prize for artists using the moving image as their medium is named after iconoclastic director Derek Jarman and always throws up suitably abstract and avant-garde work, but several of this year’s shortlist are surprisingly witty too.
The artists nominated this year — vying for the £10,000 prize and a commission from Channel 4 — are Bedwyr Williams, Adam Chodzko, Gail Pickering, Alia Syed, Andrea Luka Zimmerman and Seamus Harahan. Earlier in the week, we took a look at some of the films that make up each artist’s body of work and were impressed by the sheer variety that the medium of film art seems to encourage.
Perhaps our favourite is Bedwyr Williams whose short film Hotel 70° asks you to imagine your face is the shape of a piece of pie, as it whirls you round a computer-animated holiday resort on a cliff-top in Wales. The building Williams depicts did once exist but has since been demolished, despite being a renowned local landmark, because the majority of its corners were set at awkward acute angles. They were, as the artist remarks, “a nightmare for carpet fitters”. The film is not only good fun, but also beautifully dismantles a snobby couple from London who condescend to visit the place. Here’s an excerpt:
Another work that impresses is Adam Chodzko’s Great Expectations, which employs digital images to depict the life of an 18th century tool chest, handed down from a father to his reluctant apprentice son. The twist here is that the unwanted tools narrate the tale, which leads to some rich philosophical ground through the initial comedy, the spectacle-sucking conclusion being that the tools used the man to make the chest.
We have a suspicion that the more serious work might trump the fun stuff, however. And if that’s the case, then the best of the rest might be Alia Syed. Her film, Points of Departure, explores the dissonance that comes with being a woman of south Asian heritage living in Scotland by using archive audio and video material. Syed tries to construct an approximation of her own identity with this hypnotic collage of urban Glasgow and Hindi singing.
Also worth a mention is Andrea Luka Zimmerman. Her touching film Towards Estate examines a doomed housing estate in Haggerston, two buildings from the 60s named Clarissa and Pamela, which have been earmarked for demolition. The emotional stories of the ex-residents, who Zimmerman filmed over a period of seven years, make for a fascinating slice of London life.
Now in its eighth year, the Film London Jarman Award has a reputation for picking tomorrow’s art stars with several shortlisted artists in recent years going on to be contenders for the Turner Prize too: notably Duncan Campbell, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Luke Fowler, Elizabeth Price and Laure Prouvost.
The 2015 winner will be selected on Monday at a ceremony in the Whitechapel Gallery.