OCTOBER 27
Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)

        (tickets)
                ica.art



















































                (previous event)
Programme 4 (1985-92)
With JOHN SMITH and CAROL MORLEY live in conversation

Om (1986, 4m. HD video from 16mm)
"This four minute film explores our response to stereotypes -  aural, visual and ideological.  Smith signals these stereotypes to the viewer through a chiefly associational system, which deftly manipulates the path of our expectations. The structure is stunningly simple and deceptively subtle.  We are taken on a journey from one concrete stereotype to its diametric opposite, as images transform and juxtapose to, ultimately, invert our interpretation of what we see and hear."
    - Gary Davis
"This is hardcore cinema."
    - Peter Kubelka

The Black Tower (1985-7, 23m. HD video from 16mm) "Smith’s 'accidental horror' film wears its constructivist tricks as a primary-coloured cloak around the barest of wireframe figures. That Smith dismisses the plot as secondary to the film itself reveals more about his artistic leanings than any supposed embracing of genre, and the fractured realism and creeping terror of the story plays out despite and because of them. Enchanting and good-humoured (as with almost all of Smith’s films), The Black Tower tells a singular story of architectural horror and madness worthy of the ungovernable geographies of Machen, Welles, or Lovecraft, situating itself firmly in the quotidian grit of Thatcher’s Britain. Constantly pointing to its own telling, as well as the mode and method of that telling, Smith’s film questions the viewer’s own certainty even as the narrator loses theirs — at the same time challenging not only the veracity of the film but also the viewer’s complacency watching it."
    - Thogdin Ripley

Dungeness (1987, 3m. SD video from 16mm [silent])
This film was originally made for Dungeness: The Desert in the Garden, a multi-media theatre production directed by Graeme Miller. Through selectively framing and alternating monochrome fields within the Dungeness landscape the film creates a series of abstract rhythms. Incidentally, and unbeknown to the artist until years after filming, Dungeness features a guest appearance from Derek Jarman’s then recently acquired Prospect Cottage.   

Slow Glass (1988-91, 40m. HD video from 16mm)
"The film begins with a shout in the street and a smashed pane, and ends with a bricked-up window. Between these literal images of opening and closing, Slow Glass spins immaculately shot puns and paradoxes that play on reflection and speculation – words that refer both to acts of seeing and of mind. Glass is the key, as a narrator’s running commentary sketches the glassmaker’s art, splicing a history lesson with a quasi-autobiography. The cutting of glass is matched to the editing of film, and the camera’s lens to the surface which it captures.  Through the pub-talk and the downing of glasses, other themes emerge; among them is the constancy of change, as the face of London alters and the past becomes present (conveyed in jump-cuts showing streets and shops changing over time and season, and in a gently ironized evocation of a 50’s childhood).  The flowing Thames echoes the theme of flux, but also underscores the renewed attacks on East London life in the age of the property war – another kind of speculation.  Slow Glass suggests that the living past has been turned into capitalized ‘Heritage’, that the British Documentarists’ noble craftsman only survives as a museum piece, and that reality in film is itself a fiction.  In this film, the fiction is a crafted illusion that always has a human face."  
    - A L Rees

Gargantuan (1992, 1m. HD video from 16mm)
“A gigantic reptile fills the frame as Smith begins to sing. The manipulative power of script and framing in film and video is sharply yet playfully highlighted in a single shot.”

    - Helen Legg

TRT 71 mins
Mark





In celebration of John Smith’s 50 years of filmmaking, purge.xxx presents the most extensive survey of his work to date: screening 50 films by Smith, organised into 10 weekly programmes, every Thursday from October to December at 8pm, at Close-Up Film Centre and Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London.

Smith’s INTROSPECTIVE launches with a special, one-off music-focussed programme at the ICA (Saturday 1 October at 6:30pm) marking the vinyl release of BLIGHT, the soundtrack from Smith’s film with music by Jocelyn Pook. Smith and Pook will be present and in conversation, with rarely seen films including commissions for Charles Hayward and Echo & the Bunnymen screening on the night.

The weekly programmes are arranged chronologically, combining rarely screened works with well-known favourites.

For tickets please book events individually*, using the links listed along with the events.




JOHN SMITH: INTROSPECTIVE (1972–2022) is organised by Stanley Schtinter. For more information and to book tickets for events visit closeupfilmcentre.com and ica.art. For more information and to buy the Blight soundtrack visit purge.xxx. For Smith’s work: johnsmithfilms.com. To order a copy of the printed programme, *enquire about season passes, or for anything else: info (at) purge (dot) xxx




Mark