Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Happy Easter to everyone

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Amazing Mr Bickford

Last night Bruce Bickford visited London's Horse Hospital. LIAF and Jayne Colling had invited him to show the 2005 documentary Monster Road by Brett Ingram, followed by a London premiere of Cas'l. It was very busy and I expect everyone felt the same gladness as I did to be in the company of an extraordinary animator like Bruce Bickford.

The documentary bodyswerved the Zappa question (I think there may be copyright issues with the estate), which didn't seem too disappointing given the supporting role played by Mr Bickford senior, called Old George, a very clever man made more loving and benign by Alzeimer's. The father and son made very charming and eccentric hosts, and threw much light on the Bickford family and motivations behind Bruce Bickford's extraordinary body of work. His lust for movement springs from within himself, he looks quite frail but he fairly well bounded up a tree in Monster Road and we saw him whirling balls on fire around his head just by the family garage.
A lot of his metamorphosis is made with replacement parts, rather than squashing or building, so he has hundreds and thousands of trays full of morphing people and their weapons, pizzas, trees.. He refers to his protagonists as 'little guys and indeed he often makes them as small as he can, as small as new stick insects, in order to save materials and space. These little guys have to do a lot of fighting and spearing the enemy until their guts slither out, so once the battle is over they have to be mended before they get sent back into the fray.

Bruce Bickford has miraculously managed to get by without having to work either in the industry or with other people. He seems to live very parsimoniously and with the support of his parents, I think this is what makes his body of work so amazing but also, despite my admiration, what made the film Cas'l quite hard to watch. The film is untempered by any restriction and metamorphosis is the enemy of the edit so it's like being trapped in a slithering, garish, childhood fantasy. I'm not put off though, I'd like to see all his other films because he's a master of metamorphosis and I'm very glad that he's getting a burst of international recognition.

You can get Monster Road from Brett Ingram.
I did.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Last night in Hoxton

Congratulations to Abigail for the lovely thumb cinema exhibition.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Signe Baumane and Tricky Women

I had a merry two days in Vienna for the Tricky Women Film Festival, I havn't been to many festivals recently so I was more than ready for a feast of animated films. I was also really pleased for the chance to see Waltraud, Birgit and the TW team, who are very splendid people. My trailer was showing before every screening and I was glad that the transfer to 35mm was good and Fonic's sound was beautiful, everyone was very kind about it. Little Skipper was showing in the Specials programme and it seemed comfortable in the programme.

The star of the festival was Signe Baumane, there was a screening of her best work and she also won the Tricky Women award with her new film Birth, quite right too. Although the film is called Birth, it's not so much about Birth as about the more sinister aspects of mother/child relationships, with a passing reference to the US elections. Signe's also getting a lot of attention for her Teat Beat of Sex films, and as a result her old films are having a moment too. The Teat Beat of Sex films take the form of humourous stories about erotic encounters from a woman's perspective. I don't imagine that the work could be taken as offensive because the drawings are quite clean and bright. The writing and narration are very fresh and the tales seem to take one unexpected path after another, which is a part of their joy. Signe and her stories are quite joyful for the same reason.

I also saw a great many Danish films. There was a screening from the Animation Workshop, and a few of my favourites were also from Denmark, including Stick in the Mud by Roswitha Menzel, a story about Mrs X, who gets to the bottom of her depression but finds herself confronted with a clinging stick in the mud, the stick in the mud, though not polished in any way has left a curiously memorable impression! Acid by Pia Binder, in which an etching plate is built up and printed each time was an inventive idea and kind of worked for a depiction of a club night out. The NFB was very present at the festival, Shira Avni very deservedly won the audience award for her film Tying your own Shoes, a very beautiful film made with four artists who have Down Syndrome. Julie Roy, a producer in the French department was on the jury and she brought a programme called Intimacy & Individuality with her. It looked very good, but I didn't arrive in time to see all the screenings that I'd like to have. I was also glad to meet Vessela Dantcheva from Bulgaria who made Anna Blume based around a very evocative recording of Kurt Schwitters reciting his poem by the same name, Agnieskzka Skolik who animates and paints very beautifully as we saw in her film Angel, Kristina Maria Hofmann and Nandita Kumar.

D a u m e n k i n o - t h u m b c i n e m a opening

My flipping Emperor flip book will be in the D a u m e n k i n o - t h u m b c i n e m a exhibition at the really brilliant Bookartbookshop on Pittfield St. Opening on Friday 12th March 6-8pm until March 24th.
Come along if you can.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Tricky Women

The Tricky Women film festival is opening this evening, I'm looking forward to joining in on Saturday when I go back to Vienna.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Shudder at the Drawing Room

Esther Leslie has written an essay for Animate Projects called Shudder - Shutter - Shatter which is very good and provokes many stimulating thoughts relating to the physical shudder, through the writings and deeds of Luigi Galvani, Adorno, and the animator Ladislas Starewicz. It was commissioned to accompany the exhibition Shudder at the Drawing Room, not far from here. You can see some of the films at Animate Projects. I was drawn to the exhibition by this beautiful image from Edwina Ashton's film Mr Panz at Lake Leman (notes on mammals and habitats), which is one of three new films commissioned by Animate Projects and The Drawing Room.

Edwina Ashton's film is a portrait of a slightly grumpy elephant living on the edge of a Swiss lake, there's lots of lovely detail in the drawing and the animation. Ann Course has made a new film called The Collaborators in which Ann's edgy, barely-animated drawings are accompanied by the sound of two parties trying to thrash out an undefined problem. I also liked Naoyuki Tsuji's film ‘Zephyr’ for it's gentle story and bold straight-ahead zooms and pans in charcoal. But somehow it was disappointing seeing the animations at The Drawing Room, the gallery creates a confusing context for single screen projections which don't make reference to the spaces that they are projected in. In addition the films don't relate especially well to the title and Esther Leslie's essay which suggests to me an investigation of something exciting and elemental within the projection and creation of animation. However I do know that Animate Projects will create numerous other screening opportunities across many platforms and the works will each find a place to flourish.

The Flipping Emperor

I made a flipbook for Abigail Hirsch's D a u m e n k i n o exhibition at Book Art Bookshop. I returned to a favourite subject and made some rubber stamps of Napoleon Bonaparte showing off for Betsy Balcombe on the island of St Helena.