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On General Release: Artists and Film in Britain 1968-1972

A Touring Exhibition from the Norwich Gallery, Norwich School of Art

31 May – 27 June 2003

Andrew Logan, Annabel Nicholson, Berwick Street Film Collective, Bruce Lacey, Bruce McLean, Carolee Schneemann, Chris Welsby, Dan Graham, Darcy Lange, David Askevold, David Crosswaite, David Dye, David Hall, David Lamelas, David Tremlett, Derek Jarman, Esther Ronay, Fred Drummond, Gill Eatherley, Guy Sherwin, ian Breakwell, Jack Smith, Jeff Keen, John Baldessari, John Black, John du Cane, John Hilliard, John Latham, Kenneth Anger, Kurt Kren, Lawrence Wieiner, Liz Rohodes, Malcolm Le Grice, March Chaimowica, Marcel Broodthaers, Margaret Tait, Mark Boyle, Mary Kelly, Michael Snow, Mike Dunford, Mike Leggett, Paul Botham, Peter Gidal, Peter Watkins, Peter Whitehead, Pip Beneviste, Ray Barrie, Roger Ackling, Roger Hammond, Sally Potter, Steve Dwoskin, Storm de Hirsch, William Raban

curated by David Curtis and Lynda Morris, assisted by Matthew Noel-Tod

On General Release explores the origins of avant-garde film in Britain. It presents a rare opportunity to see a wide range of avant-garde films made, or shown, by artists and filmmakers during the crucial and influential years 1968-1972. It will include the art school film experiments which laid the groundwork for the explosion of artists’ films during the 1970s, as well as work by international filmmakers and artists whose work shaped the idea of avant-garde film at the time. Siting these programmes within galleries, rather than cinemas, reflects the critique by artist filmmakers of the use of cinemas in the period 1968 to 1972. Filmmakers sought to position their identity as close to that of visual artists. Meanwhile, artists who made film had the expectation of showing it in galleries.

The exhibition will be comprised of four thematic programmes: Performance, Art Schools, The Gallery, and Documentary. The programmes bring together artists and filmmakers from Fluxus, Structuralist and Conceptual practices, reflecting the creative vitality and diversity of the period. On General Release represents the full spectrum of experimentation, from classics such as Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of My Demon Brother and Carolee Schneeman’s In Quest of Meat Joy to Lutz Becher’s early experimentation with electronic imagery, and David Crosswaite’s virtuoso technical experiments.

David Curtis has organised the British Artists Film and Video Study Collection at Central St Martins. He was previously film officer at the Arts Council of England. David Curtis’ research has shown that in 1960 to 64 there were as few as five artist filmmakers in Britain, in the course of 1965 five more appeared. By 1975 there were 140 Independent filmmakers listed. David Curtis programmed the Arts Lab Cinema in Drury Lane 1967 to 1968 and Robert Street near Warren Street 1969 to 1971.

Lynda Morris worked at the ICA from 1969 to 1971 and then for Nigel Greenwood from 1971 to 1974. She has worked with filmmakers including Ian Breakwell, Bruce Lacey, Andrew Logan, Jack Goldstein, John Blake, Annabel Nicholson and David Lamelas. She acted in Lamelas’ Filmscript 1972. She wrote about a number of artists’ films at that time for Studio International, Art Press and Data magazines.