Film in Space: Guy Sherwin's selection of Expanded Cinema arrives at Camden Arts Centre

By Richard Moss | 14 December 2012
a film still of abstract blocks of red and blue overlaid to produce oblongs of pink against a black background
William Raban, Diagonal (1973)© William Raban

Exhibition Preview: Film in Space: An exhibition of film and expanded cinema selected by Guy Sherwin, Camden Arts Centre, London, December 15 2012 - February 24 2013

Expanded Cinema may sound like a grand plan to develop the multiplex movie houses of the 1980s, but it is in fact a resolutely independent phenomenon that bypassed anything remotely akin to traditional cinema going. 

Coming to prominence in Britain during the late 1960s and early 1970s under the influence of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative, the movement was led by a group of artist-filmmakers who wanted to exhibit and produce experimental film work that challenged mainstream cinema.

Works of Expanded Cinema were not produced for cinemas or even exhibitions, but were made as live projection events often using multiple 16mm projectors set up in alternative spaces.

One of the men behind this product of sixties hippy social ideals and experimentation was filmmaker Guy Sherwin, who has curated this absorbing selection of celluloid and digital currently flickering across the walls of Camden Art Centre.

Bringing together some classic examples from the period and modern day adherents to the core ethos of using film, light and sound as material to be constantly re-worked and manipulated, the show takes the live performative approach of the period and transplants it into the curated gallery setting.

It's a rare chance to get a handle on a heady period of experimentation and see some seminal pieces from the ad hoc group Filmaktion, which included Malcolm Le Grice, Gill Eatherley, William Raban and Annabel Nicolson. There are also installations by Steve Farrer and Chris Welsby.

In Gallery 3, Sherwin brings together a number of contemporary pieces which involve objects (Denise Hawrysio) and paintings (Dan Hays) as well as film and video. Two site-specific commissions, one by filmmaker and writer Lucy Reynolds and one by video artist Simon Payne, complete the sense of cinematic immersion.

The mix of cyclical installations and art-film archive may have some Expanded Cinema purists arching an eyebrow or stroking a beard or two, but the spirit of innovation is not entirely lost as Sherwin’s programme changes throughout and live performances take place on Wednesday evenings in the Artists’ Studio.


There will be a changeover of films during the exhibition:

Gallery 1: 15 Dec - 13 Jan: Steve Farrer, Good Night Ladies, 1999
              15 Jan - 3 Feb: Gill Eatherley, Pan Film, 1972
              5 - 24 Feb: Chris Welsby, Wind Vane 2 1972; Anemometer 1974; Tree Fragment, 1974

Gallery 2: 15 Dec 2012 - 13 Jan: William Raban, Diagonal, 1973
              15 Jan - 3 Feb: Malcolm Le Grice, Castle One, 1966
              5 - 24 Feb: Louisa Fairclough, Song of Grief, 2011


More images:

a photograph of a film screeing with a lightbulb showing on the screen
Malcolm Le Grice, Castle 1, 1966© Malcolm Le Grice
a film still that appears to show a train station visible through the windows lining a busy road
Guy Sherwin, Camden Road© Guy Sherwin
a black and white film still showing the interior of an apartment
Gill Eatherley, Pan Film© Gill Eatherley
a film still showing light shimning through a venetian blind
© Emma Hart
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