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UnSpooling - Artists & Cinema

Featuring 19 international artists, the exhibition achieved record figures and a review and citation in Art Monthly. Web content extended engagement with online audiences. A 64-page catalogue was co-edited, including artist profiles and invited essays from internationally leading critical voices in artists’ film and video. Together the outputs examine the vital role for art in problematising cinema, and informing future possibilities for its visual, spatial and relational conditions.

This 25th anniversary exhibition for Cornerhouse asked how its twin spheres – art gallery and cinema – could unite as a space to review their relationship and mutual concerns. Andrew Bracey and I jointly reviewed practice and literature, to appraise and select emerging and established artists and critics. Typical techniques, such as reinvented visual technologies or forensic dissections of iconography, exemplify the continuing concern of contemporary artists to critically recycle cinema, to reveal the illusion of its apparatus, and question its dominant models. 'The cinematic' is an energetic vein of contemporary practice that filters the histories, ideologies and language of moving images through other artforms as prisms to reinvigorate or subvert cinematic ideas. To critically frame our inquiry, and contribute to a field led by thinkers such as Burgin, Bellour and Mulvey, I developed the new conceptual model of Cinema 4.0. I depict art's engagement with moving images as novel convergences of the technical lineage (photographic film, sound, digital) with an infinitely variable range of materials, sites and social production strategies.

Through curating and critical writing we explored how cinema – as experience, theory and artefact – is unraveled as potent material for artistic production. Contrasting with earlier exhibitions addressing artists' use of cinema primarily through moving-image works, we sought to present a diverse range of practice. Photomontage, painting, drawing and video from the last decade were exhibited alongside newly commissioned residencies, performance, installations, expanded cinema, and street interventions. The project thus engaged holistically, beyond the galleries, with the history, architecture, personnel and environment of Cornerhouse’s site.

A roundtable discussion on 18 November 2010 was co-organised by Dr. Felicia Chan (University of Manchester) and Cornerhouse, bringing together Professor Janet Harbord (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr. Vicky Lowe, Dr Aleksandar Dundjerovic (University of Manchester), Sophia Crilly (Director of Bureau) and artists Ming Wong and Wayne Lloyd, to explore performance and it’s engagement with cinema.

The catalogue features essays by Dave Griffiths, Andrew Bracey (Lincoln School of Art), Professor Steve Hawley (MMU) and Professor Janet Harbord (Queen Mary, University of London), was designed by Graham Jones (MMU), and is distributed by Cornerhouse. Exhibition review by Chris Clarke, Art Monthly, no.341, November 2010

Co-commissioned by Cornerhouse & Abandon Normal Devices, as part of WE PLAY – the Northwest's cultural legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympics.