OtherFilm | Louise Curham recollects the OtherFilm Festivals in Brisbane around 2006-2008
OtherFilm are a collective dedicated to experimental, avant-garde and expanded forms of art.
Recollecting OtherFilm in Brisbane. The first event I went to was at Queensland College of the Arts in one of the gallery spaces on the river side of the road there, the Southbank campus, I was invited by OtherFilm which was Sally Golding, Danni Zuvela and Joel Stern to come up and make some performances.
Danni had been tracking the work that I had been doing with the Sydney Moving Image Coalition (SMIC), some of it myself and quite a lot of it with Lucas, Lucas Ihlein. Lucas and I still collaborate together as Teaching and Learning Cinema. Danni had got wind of our research on Australian expanded cinema, which we had both become really independently become interested in expanded cinema. And we had an idea to try to drum up interest, I guess in an exhibition of some of this work to show some international work. Lucas really loved the work of the London Film Makers Co-op. He been over to London and met various people like Guy Sherwin and Malcolm Le Grice. He was interested in works like Malcolm’s Horror Film and I had found Corpocinema, the Jeffrey Shaw work and that was an important one in connection to a piece of art I was making at the time for my MFA. So we sort of in different ways, had gotten really interested in expanded cinema, this work that explored the performance of cinema really, and was also had a score-based element to it or at least our experience of it.
We experienced these works as things that you could replicate if you knew how they were put together. One of the ones that we had explored … we went off and met, we spent some time with Jeffrey Shaw, talking to him. I went down to Melbourne and spent some time with Arthur and Corinne Cantrill. And we also went over and had Portuguese tarts with David Perry and David told us about some of the early stuff with Ubu Film. And some of the things that he and Albie Thoms had done and one of those was Poem 25. So we had a go at staging Poem 25, that involves a projection that features numerals where the performer stands with the projection –I think the projection goes onto the performer from memory. The performer has to deduce, read the words as they appear read them aloud, speak them aloud as they appear. So Danni was really interested in this piece and I remember she had wanted to restage it, which we did in a spiritually faithful, but practically unfaithful manner. So what happened that night (the first OtherFilm Festival I went to (about 2006/7) was, it was kind of a pretty much a party and lots of people in the gallery, quite a lot of drinks. I think those sponsorship for a beer company, I remember there was drinking. There were also spirits, I hadn’t seen that much in Sydney and it was pretty fun.
Louise’s live murals
There were lots of musicians and one of my works was to make this a living mural, which I’d been getting into doing. There were many temporary constructions for film projection for example, which helped create these kind of moments of event where then they can be decoded by musicians. So I’d sort of gotten into this practice of devising ways to make moving image. That behaved like a score, things repeated enough that you could grab hold of what was going on visually but they also changed so that they, yeah, they behave like a score, lots of different elements that were thinking musically like timbre, cadence, pace. They were lots of different patterning properties going on in those images and all of them made using direct film. All on Super 8 film, a small gauge film often used experimentally by artists since the 1950s and 1960s. So lots of Ink on the film and quite systematic. So, kind of finding systems to produce these images. So printmaking type strategies, like resists, hold back areas, gauze tapes, orange bags, ink, over orange bags, things that produce systematic patterns on the film, and using a ground that was systematic. I’d gotten into filming vegetation things like succulents. And fields of daisies and poa, snow grass, things where the patterning is really strong. And so then the movement of the camera becomes another dimension in this kind of multi-layered so score. So and when then I was getting into projecting those so that they had interruptions in front of the projection. I’ve been trying to for years working on this idea of getting away from the screen. Can we make the screen horizontal or three dimensional. All these different properties to try to break up the way we experience the screen and I guess that was kind of prescient. Now the screens really are everywhere in our hands or time.
So of course, the precursors there when you look at Jeffrey Shaw’s, early work like Corpocinema, you can really see why that would have resonated for me because those were inflatable domes with projections on them in public spaces because I was also really interested in finding ways to get moving image out of the dark space so it could participate in life.
The first OtherFilm Festival continued
So so, yes, I was there to perform some of our SMIC experiments or to help them take place because I don’t recall myself, actually performing them. I remember Joe from Botborg performing that one and I think Danni made the numbers using an overhead projector. It was quite a different instantiation than what we had done in Sydney with Lucas’s friend Simon as performer at a SMIC event.
So to recollect what happened that evening: I remember it began with Danni. I think she sort of performed, read, Hollis Frampton’s A Lecture and for me that was really quite powerful because I didn’t actually know it. And I think she had props so she had like the red lens and she had different props that go with that lecture. And she moved around the space. I seem to remember that that took place in a different part of the campus from where the gallery space with the other works of the evening took place and the audience was quite big. There was probably 50 people, maybe a hundred, those seem to be quite a big audience. At SMIC events we usually had 20 to 40 tops, so our audience was quite small. So we were, I was, you know, really impressed that Joel and Danni and Sally had drawn these people together. So that was the first of the OtherFilm festivals.
I went up again to another festival, which must have been about 2008 and that was a really, quite a big program they had organized. The Cantrills were there and they performed quite a lot of their early expanded cinema works, including the one with the 3D screen with the different shapes that get attached to the screen. And I’ve got a recollection of seeing the boiling jug work there and I’m pretty sure that was in one of those iconic old dilapidated Brisbane theaters. That’s the Metro not sure 2008. You guys would know it was in pretty sure. Fortitude Valley from memory? I don’t really know Brisbane my enough but it was on the other side of the city from where we had been when we were in West End where QCA, in that QCA area that Highgate Hill area. Now that I think about they also had Ben Rivers and Ben Russell there. This is all very impressive in hindsight.
And there was also a program at the IMA so I might be mixing the festivals up, maybe I went to three festivals in total not just two. Maybe the first one was Poem 25 and Hollis Frampton and my wall mural. The next one was the Cantrills and the Bens and the third one was at the IMA. The program at the IMA was where Guy Sherwin, Lynn Loo and baby Kai came out from London with Lynn’s mum too.
Here’s a link to how Lucas reported on that trip for the TLC website: http://teachingandlearningcinema.org/2008/09/29/guy-sherwin-and-lynn-loo-in-brisbane/
I distinctly remember going to the beach, the fake Beach at Southbank with baby Kai and catching ferries. There is Super 8 footage of that, which I gave to Guy when we went to London (2013), now with them some years later. For that program I think Sally had made a trip to the US and she met Kerry Laitala and she’d met Bruce McClure and they were there too and that program at the IMA was pretty extensive and I know I made a performance with Erik Griswold. That was okay. It didn’t actually go off that. Well, for me, I wasn’t really I didn’t, it was kind of under prepared. I did make some new work which I’ve since used an awful amount, but the way I chose to present it, my my screen interruptions were really too rough. The whole thing was too rushed and under-rehearsed and rough and it didn’t didn’t really work that well but you know, that’s so that’s Eric Griswold. Erik and I have kept working together intermittently. That IMA event for OtherFilm, he played his wallpaper music, and it was like, that’s a fantastic piece of music, and I was pretty sure I use my Japanese flower footage, which I still have. I’m still using, still finishing making that work more than 10 years later.
So, I remember Richard Toohey was there, but he didn’t actually show any work and and it sort of felt a bit awkward that he was there, but he wasn’t participating as a filmmaker. But I guess he was just starting the super 8 lab named Nanolab and just getting into it. And I remember when I was in Brisbane for the first OtherFilm, I had been hunting around on the internet for resources for the Sydney moving image Coalition website. And I had found Richard setting up Nanolab in Daylesford Victoria and I remember being really excited about that because there hadn’t been analogue film resources widely accessible in Australia for a while. So, yeah, that IMA event was a pretty big one. I also remember that at one of the early festivals, Danni herself gave a performance, which was really interesting. And I don’t recall her performing again. So she did that Hollis Frampton thing I spoke about. But she also did a, she made this performance. I think there was three of them. They had a group, they had a name as a performance group and it was to do with them being vegan anarchists. And it was really quite interesting, but I had a feeling that their commitment to it was they were ambivalent about whether they really wanted to be making that performance, but to me, it was really quite interesting. So yeah, lots of dynamic stuff.
Funnily enough for me, you know, I have never actually seen Abject Leader. That’s Joel and Sally’s performance event. I was either performing right after them so I was busy setting up or something has precluded me actually seeing their work. Sally and I did a lot of stuff together. We did some hand processing workshops. One really memorable one was in Newcastle at This is Not Art, that was pretty Dynamic. We were like getting people to shoot stuff and processing it in tanks just in situ
Like really fully Guerrilla filmmaking.
When Lucas and I went to London in 2013 (with our families in tow), where Sally had set up unconscious archives and she was really kind of taking the London scene by its throat and she had she organized an event for Lucas and I as Teaching and Learning Cinema which we became evolving out of the Sydney Moving Image Coalition, just kind of focused on our collaborations, as doing our reenactments of this expanded Cinema stuff, which we got really into through and we did have quite a number of pieces. One of those has been Guy Sherwin’s Man With Mirror and Sally organized this event for us to present that in London. It was pretty interesting. Guy, came along and that was I think quite shocking for him to get to see his own work and especially to see me performing it moving really fast. But anyway we all learned a lot.
So, yeah, so that’s the OtherFilm festivals in Brisbane. So I guess the key recollection I have is that the events were really energetic. There was quite a lot of drinking and lots of engagement. Lots of people wanting to be part of it and people wanting to make new work. And I know Botborg was a real eye-opener for me. What Sam and Joe were doing for me was really interesting. The video stuff probably has its roots in Severed Heads, you know, some of that kind of glitchy imagery but they really went, there took the glitch, much further, you know, and what else would I say? Think that’s probably it…
Traces on the internet:
Otherfilm has/had a websitehttp://otherfilm.org/
and SMIC became TLC now www.teachingandlearningcinema.org
Here are some traces of SMIC:
Otherfilm’s own representation of the festival http://otherfilm.org/otherfilm-festival/
Gives dates of 2004, 2007 and 2011. Yet Guy was there in 2008, I think they call that Otherfilm IMA …