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Arnolfini - est 1961

A screening of films specially selected to accompany Daphne Wright’s Emotional Archaeology.

The way in which language facilitates (and abstracts) communication; ambiguities inherent within close, personal relationships; intergenerational relationships; domesticity: these films reflect a range of themes explored in Daphne Wright’s exhibition.


The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), the first feature film by legendary director Peter Greenaway, is a highly stylised period-drama. Focused on an arrangement between an aristocratic woman and an arrogant young draughtsman, who agrees to exchange sexual favours in return for a series of drawings of her estate, the plot goes on to encompass a murder mystery. Precise narrative resolutions are avoided however, in favour of an arch and witty style which revels in the declamatory vocal delivery of the main characters, and the slight though deliberate skewing of various period details. The score by Michael Nyman, drawing heavily on the music of the 17th century English composer Henry Purcell, testifies to one of the most celebrated creative partnerships in British film making.

Peter Greenaway, UK, 1h 48min, Cert 12.

The screening will be preceded by a selection of artists’ short films:

Margaret Tait – A Portrait of Ga

UK, 1952, 5min.

A portrait of the film maker’s mother.

Born in 1918 in Kirkwall on Orkney, from 1950 to 1952 she studied film at the Centro Sperimentale di Photographia in Rome. In the 1960’s Tait moved back to Orkney where over the following decades she made a series of films inspired by the Orcadian landscape and culture. All but three of her thirty two films were self-financed.

Screenings include National Film Theatre (London), Berlin Film Festival, Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), Arsenal Kino (Berlin), Pacific Film Archives (San Francisco), Knokke le Zoute, Delhi and Riga. Tait was accorded a retrospective at the 1970 Edinburgh Film Festival and has been the subject of profiles on BBC and Channel Four.

The feature length Blue Black Permanent (1993) opened the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Her final film Garden Pieces was completed in 1998. Tait died in Kirkwall in 1999.

Read more about Tait’s work by writer Ali Smith here.

Catherine Elwes – The Gunfighters

UK, 1985, 5 min 30.

‘Very few artists have tackled the question of masculinity in anything like an accessible way. Cate Elwes’ Gunfighters is an exception. The tape is cut so that we see the boys’ tenderness and vulnerability before they flip into parody violence. We are left with their fantasy world, hermetic and complete, as well as having questions about its provenance raised in our own minds.’ – John Dovey

Co-curator two landmark feminist exhibitions, Women’s Images of Men and About Time, (ICA, London, 1980, both of which toured to Arnolfini), Elwes specialises in video and installation exploring gender and identity. She has participated in many international festivals, and her tapes have been shown on Channel 4 as well as on Spanish, Canadian and French television networks. She is Professor of Moving Image at University of the Arts London.

Keren Cytter – Game

2015, 9 min 19. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corias Gallery.

Characterised by a non-linear, cyclical logic Cytter’s films consist of multiple layers of images, conversation, monologue and narration, systematically composed to undermine conventional linguistic and interpretative conventions. Recalling amateur home movies and video diaries, the artist creates scenes of intensified versions of everyday life, in which the overwhelmingly artificial nature of the situations portrayed is echoed by the very means of their production.

Born in Tel Aviv, 1977, lives and works in New York. Winner of the 2006 Bâloise Art Prize at Art Basel, she has exhibited widely, and had her first major survey show at MCA Chicago last year.

Benjamin A Owen – AcCord: Going along (without a body)

2016, 7 min 48.

Ben is a filmmaker whose work explores politics as it is played out in the everyday and in the commonplace. He often works in film, but his practice encompasses exhibition making, performing music and working in education.

The film shown will consist of new material created as part of his current residency at Cubitt Gallery’s Studio 1 at 73 Mildmay Street, an Extra Care home run by Notting Hill Housing Group, where he is developing collaborative work with the residents.

Grace Surman – yournamelitupinneonlights

UK, 2006, 7 min.

yournamelitupinneonlights plunders children’s television and picture books, circus animal tamers, Dada and Surrealism, silent films and amateur pantomimes. Surman’s work plays with subtleties of appearance and persona. In this stop-motion animated film, she places herself in a world of make-believe, leaving parts of the set unfinished and holding on to a childhood excitement of dressing-up.

Surman is interested in how we live and experience the world through constraints and conditions around us – be it work, gender or age. The drive of the work is to explore and excavate these conditions, drawing on theatrical devices, process-based performance actions, feminist theories and contemporary culture.

Past work has been commissioned by and seen at ICA London, the National Review of Live Art, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Chelsea Theatre, and Dance Base Edinburgh. Surman lectured at the Royal Scottish Conservatoire until 2007 and was Associate Curator for performance at CCA Glasgow.