In conjunction with the current David Lamelas exhibition at Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers, this film screening presents Lamelas’ early London films. Working on the brink of the ‘swinging ‘60s’ and the beginning of the new information age, Lamelas’ work is based on conflicting oppositions: his films are both engaged and distanced, analytic and frivolous. It is his light touch and his ability to see the political in the banalities of every-day life that make his films so intriguing to this day. The historical climate at the time of Lamelas’ stay in London called for a profound revision of modern artistic practice, which most importantly involved the use of new media, such as photography, film and video. Lamelas’ experiments with photography and film projection led to pioneering works, such as ‘Film Script (Manipulation of Meaning)’ and ‘London Friends’, both on view in the gallery. There is an interesting dialogue between the works on display and Lamelas’ first films, which investigate the politics of exhibition making and the construction of meaning through media, while radically questioning traditional notions of art, beauty and narrative.
The screening will be followed by a conversation between Lamelas’ long-term colleague and friend Lynda Morris, who ‘starred’ in ‘Film Script’ and ‘London Friends’, and Maxa Zoller, curator of this event. Lynda Morris is curator of the Norwich Gallery and EASTinternational at Norwich School of Art and Design. She has also published extensively on art of the 1960s and 70s.
‘A Study of Relationships Between Inner and Outer Space’ (1969) was made for the exhibition ‘Environments Reversal’ at the Camden Arts Centre in 1969. The paradigmatic title of the show finds its echo in the film, which explores its immediate ‘environment’: the ‘white cube’ of the exhibition venue and central London, then spiraling out towards Greater London and into the universe. The news of the Apollo moon landing gives the film its political background and adds to its surreal character, which is typical of Lamelas’ work. The film also anticipates ‘Film Script’, which, too, takes an art gallery as its subject, the Nigel Greenwood Gallery. ‘Film Script’ is a multimedia installation, in which Lamelas combined photographs and film projection to explore the fabrication of meaning through codes.
‘Cumulative Script’ (1971) uses jump-cut editing and repetition to confuse our conventional sense of linear narrative and coherence. The film shows two men walking into a park, where they engage in a rough yet playful wrestle. It is the very banality of the subject matter, which creates a subtle unease when watching the film. Like ‘Film Script’, ‘Cumulative Subject’ was presented together with cardboard-mounted photographs as an installation.
‘To Pour Milk into a Glass’ (1972) is based on the absurd, repetitive action of pouring a glass of milk. Yet, Lamelas presents us with alternative ways of pouring a glass of milk, such as pouring half a glass or spilling the milk, pouring next to the glass or onto pieces of broken glass. The self-explicatory title conceals the complexity of the film. Deconstructing the act of pouring milk, Lamelas subverts our perception of what is ‘meaningful’ and what is ‘meaningless’, what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’.