Amateur Films from the People's Republic
no-image, Amateur Films from the People's Republic
A collection of amateur films from the People’s Republic of Poland will be on show in Birmingham from the 26th to the 29th of September.
A collection of amateur films from the People’s Republic of Poland will be screened in Birmingham from the 26th to the 29th of September.
Nowadays every amateur filmmaker strives to artificially achieve the grainy image and distorted sounds of yesteryear. Marysia Lewandowska and Neil Cummings weren't content with such weak remedies and sought out the real deal. In 2002, the two London-based artists came up with the idea of collecting lost, abandoned, forgotten celluloid 16 mm and 8 mm films shot in Poland by amateur film clubs between 1955 and 1985.
Lewandowska and Cummings have digitalized their findings, previously shown in art galleries in Warsaw, London, Barcelona and Berlin. Their collection will be on display at Unit 13, Minerva Works gallery in Birmingham from the 26th to the 29th of September.
Party (Impreza), Franciszek Dzida 1972. Archive.org
The amateur films cover every imaginable genre from romantic comedy to experimental art. The means are modest, the finish rough. They speak to modern viewers from the margins of a dead era of censorship and state-sponsored art, resuscitating artistic intents that could not make it into the censored currents of communist mainstream. (Such amateur clubs inspired Krzysztof Kieslowski's 1979 feature, Camera Buff.)
While most Western amateur filmmaking is geared with fame as the ultimate goal, Lewandowska and Cummings’s relics aspire to nothing. They are born out of sheer enjoyment given by the modest window for free expression that film-making activities offered in that era, hence the title – Enthusiasts: The Archive. Of their own projects, the artists write:
Our intention with Enthusiasts: The Archive is twofold. Firstly, to build a film archive from what is 'missing' from the official record, while using the technologies of the contemporary archive - databases, taxonomies and cataloguing systems as artistic tools; allowing the creative combination and recombination of existing artifacts. And secondly, to establish an 'open' archive of amateur film in one place. Open in terms of donation of material, and open in terms of access.
Enthusiasts: The Archive will open on the 26th of September with a talk from Neil Cummings and Marysia Lewandowska. The exhibition was organized in collaboration with the Polish Expats Association and the Stryx studio.
Sources: Polish Cultural Institute, Center for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, Archive.org, edited by LB, 25/09/2013