Emily Richardson

Aspect at National Portrait Gallery, London

Three States of Cinema: Still Life, Landscape and Portrait

Thu 24 May 2018 / 5pm – 8.30pm

National Portrait Gallery
£8 (£7 concessions and Gallery Supporters)

Book online

In a spirit of cinematic dialogue with her three London exhibitions this spring, Tacita Dean has invited Los Angeles-based curator and archivist Mark Toscano to select and present three programmes of 16mm films by various artists, each one engaging with one of the themes of her exhibitions.

Drawing on his role as a film preservationist specialising in the American avant-garde, Toscano has assembled a trio of short programmes featuring films both rare and canonical, all in 16mm (some in newly restored prints), and alongside work by UK artists selected from the collection at LUX.


5pm – 6pm

A “motion picture still life” may seem like a fundamental contradiction, but numerous artists have created films in dialogue with this classical pictorial form. Some of the films in this program contain direct nods to the genre, while others seem to translate the concept into the realm of the temporal, suggesting that a still life can be, paradoxically, at least partly about change. Several cats make appearances throughout the program (at least four), and the selection ranges from the irreverent to the exquisite (sometimes in the same film).

Cat (Guy Sherwin, 1998, bw, silent, 3m)
The Gypsy Cried (Chris Langdon, 1973, bw, sound, 2.5m)
When & Where (Mike Henderson, 1984, bw, sound, 2.5m)
You be Mother (Sarah Pucill, 1990, colour, sound, 6.5m)
Eclipse Predictions (Diana Wilson, 1982, colour, sound, 3.5m)
A Study in Natural Magic (Charlotte Pryce, 2013, colour, silent, 3m)
Sky Blue Water Light Sign (JJ Murphy, 1972, colour, sound, 9m)
Leading Light (John Smith, 1975, colour, sound, 9.5m)
Quick Billy roll #47 (Bruce Baillie, 1967-69, colour, silent, 3m)
Morning (Ernie Gehr, 1968, colour, silent, 5m)
Glass (Leighton Pierce, 1998, colour, sound, 7m)
Junior (Gus Van Sant, 1988, colour, sound, 2.5m)

6.15pm – 7.15pm

This program looks at various forms of filmic landscape, as we pass meanderingly from nature to city in the course of an hour. Nature reveals itself as a place in flux, elusive and yet full of unabashed and luminous beauty, while more human-occupied spaces are found to be just as unpredictable and full of strange visual charms. Some classically beautiful nature and city portraits share screen time with hand-processed films, calendrical cycles, and formalist works of compelling design.

Tree Reflection (Guy Sherwin, 1998, bw, silent, 3m)
Wildflowers (Margaret Honda, 2015, bw on colour, sound, 3m)
Aspect (Emily Richardson, 2004, colour, sound, 9m)
Fforest Bay II (Chris Welsby, 1973, colour, silent, 5.5m)
Behind This Soft Eclipse (Eve Heller, 2004, bw, silent, 10m)
Elements (Julie Murray, 2008, colour, sound, 7.5m)
Kalendar (Naomi Uman, 2008, colour, silent, 11m)
New York Portrait, Chapter II (Peter Hutton, 1981, bw, silent, 11.5m)

7.30pm – 8.30pm

This selection of short portrait films reveals a variety of approaches by artists to portray persons of some significance to them, whether parents, siblings, lovers, or friends. Guy Sherwin and James Otis foreground the process of photographic portraiture in domestic settings, while the materiality of Ben Rivers’ hand-processed film complements the palpable texture of Jake Williams’ isolated existence. Margaret Tait and Gunvor Nelson respectively portray their elderly mothers, one quite active, the other on her deathbed. To close the program, Barbara Hammer’s remarkable and sensual Women I Love employs a variety of filmic techniques to express the rich and distinctive personalities of several of her friends and lovers.

Portrait with Parents (Guy Sherwin, 1974, bw, silent, 3m)
A Portrait of Ga (Margaret Tait, 1952, colour, sound, 4.5m)
Family Dinners (James Otis, 1997, colour, silent, 7m)
This is my Land (Ben Rivers, 2006, bw, sound, 14m)
Time Being (Gunvor Nelson, 1991, bw, silent, 8m)
Women I Love (Barbara Hammer, 1976, colour, sound, 22.5m)

All films screening in their original 16mm format.
Programs curated and notes by Mark Toscano.