As part of the second edition of Publiek Park, Art Cinema OFFoff invites the British artist and filmmaker Guy Sherwin.
We are covering the historic bandstand in Antwerp’s Koning Albertpark with four screens for an open-air film programme that resonates with the landscape of the public park. Especially for this occasion, Guy Sherwin reworked his long-running series of Animal Studies (1998 — ) and his rarely screened landscape film Connemara (1980) for four screens, never before presented in this form. On top of that, he will bring his iconic 16mm film performance Paper Landscape (1975). The soundscape of Connemara will be accompanied by a live composition by Philip Masure (guitar) and Aongus McGalligan (whistle, bodhrán, uilleann pipes). The octagonal bandstand was built in 1877 after a design by the city architect Pieter Dens in his Neo-Renaissance-influenced, eclectic style and features excellent acoustics.
A key figure in British avant-garde cinema for already more than five decades, Guy Sherwin (1948) pushes the limits of cinema with his films, installation works and performances in which he explores film’s fundamental properties: light and time. After studying painting at the Chelsea School of Art in the late 1960’s, he became one of the driving forces of the London Film-Makers’ Co-op (now LUX). Since 2005, Sherwin often works together with his partner, film and sound artist Lynn Loo.
Publiek Park is a nomadic contemporary art project which takes public city parks and gardens as its exhibition grounds. At the first edition in 2021, Art Cinema OFFoff curated an open-air 16mm film programme in the Citadelpark in Ghent. This year, Publiek Park takes place from September 15 to October 1 in Antwerp, inhabiting the urban green area of Harmoniepark, Koning Albertpark and the garden of the Provinciehuis.
- 19:45 — 20:30 Animal Studies
- 20:40 — 20:50 Paper Landscape
- 21:00 — 21:30 Connemara
This way, connections with public transport after the event are guaranteed.
1998 various locations / 2023 Belgium
Film installation, 16mm & DV on 4x DV projectors, silent, looped
A selection from Animal Studies, an ongoing series of studies of the inconsequential movements of (mostly small) animals – everyday insects, ants, moths, spiders, birds, coots that are all over the park – and how to make sense of them filmically. Often hand-printed in a variety of ways, using changes of light, geometry or time, the series began in 16mm partly in response to the rapid digitisation of the moving image and its renewed capacity to lie. More recently, I have continued it on DV, making use of those possibilities. My filmic interest in animals is that they are unselfconscious, authentic and can’t act. The central idea is of a single take determining each film’s direction. (GS)
For this festival, sections were redistributed across the four screens of the bandstand in a loop of c. 10 minutes on each of the screens. It takes about 40 minutes to see them all.
Performance for 16mm projector, transparent screen and white paint
1975 England / 2023 Belgium, silent, c. 10 min
Paper Landscape (1975-ongoing) is one of Guy Sherwin’s most iconic performances, a phenomenal time machine that links intimate experience to a reflection on cinema. It is one of a series of early self-portrait performances that see Sherwin as a kind of film magician interacting in the live moment with a pre-recorded version of himself.
Paper Landscape starts with the projector illuminating a transparent polythene screen. Behind the screen stands the artist who applies white paint to the polythene. As a result, the film image is revealed; it shows himself in 1975 slowly tearing up a paper screen of the same size to reveal a landscape. With the live performer gradually walling himself in behind a layer of white paint, the attention of the audience turns increasingly to the image of the landscape projected onto this surface and to the illusory performer who demonstrates the nature of deep space by running into the distance until he has merged with the landscape. Finally, the confines of the cinema space are dramatically reaffirmed as the live performer slices the screen and steps through into the space that the audience occupies.
“The thought that I might be performing this work some fifty years after it was shot was only a joke back then. This is the first time it has been performed in a (partly) rural setting.” (GS)
1980 Ireland / 2023 Belgium
Performance version, 16mm film on 4x DV projectors, c. 30 min
With live music by Philip Masure & Aongus McGalligan
For the festival, Guy Sherwin has re-edited and reconfigured the original film across four screens. Each of the screens will show all the shots in the film, but in a different order; so the combinations keep changing, but the total running length will be the same as the original.
Made on a brief visit to Ireland’s western region of Connemara in 1980, the film is in some ways a reflection on time; time as evident in the landscape, in the way the film is organised and as an experience of viewing. In the quiet collision of the images and ambient sounds, place waits, returns and repeats. In response, the live musicians in the bandstand will play a kind of elegy for the region’s long-lost trees whose strange absence lends this bereft landscape a savage beauty. Across the bandstand, the park accommodates a sanctuary for weak, old trees and trees in palliative care that are slowly dying.
Only shown a few times in the 1980s, Connemara remained unseen for over three decades. Originally shot on 16mm, Sherwin’s rarely screened film was lovingly restored by EYE Institute Amsterdam and Guy Edmunds, thus saving it from oblivion.