Dirty Pictures

John Smith

Festival Forum: International Short Film Festival Oberhausen 2020 Dirty Pictures
John Smith

14 Minutes

Festival Forum

Friday, May 22, 2020

e-flux and the International Short Film Festival Oberhausen are pleased to present John Smith’s Dirty Pictures, the third film in the joint series From My Window / From Your Window.

“To the question of how one travels and collects images without objectifying, John Smith answers by shooting the generic in place of the exotic. In Dirty Pictures, an Englishman travels to Palestine but instead of showing us the long lines at the checkpoints, the military artillery on display or the unbearable poverty inflicted on the general population, he elects to shoot the familiar interior of two common hotel rooms. But nothing is ever entirely banal in the West Bank, or so it seems. As the wind from the window of his room hits the ceiling, the tiles start moving up and down. Off-camera, Smith explains that this newly renovated hotel reopened recently after being requisitioned by the Israeli army in 2000 at the start of the second Intifada because of its strategic location on top of a hill. The surreal movement of the tiles becomes a poetic reminder of the building’s haunted past.”

Frédéric Moffet, curator’s statement, “I don’t want to tell you who I am,” Cinéma Parallèle, Montreal, 2008

Palestine, Public Space
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John Smith (b. 1952, London) studied film at the Royal College of Art and was an active member of the London Filmmakers Co-op. Inspired in his formative years by conceptual art and structural film, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word, he has developed an extensive body of work that subverts the perceived boundaries between documentary and fiction, representation and abstraction. Known for their formal ingenuity, anarchic wit, and oblique narratives, Smith’s meticulously crafted films rework and transform reality, playfully exploring and exposing the language of cinema. Since 1972 Smith has made over fifty film, video, and installation works that have been shown in independent cinemas, art galleries, and on television around the world and awarded major prizes at many international film festivals. Smith lives and works in London. His work is held in the public collections of Tate Gallery; Arts Council England; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz; FRAC Île de France, Paris; and Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, Germany. He is represented by Tanya Leighton, Berlin and Los Angeles, and Kate MacGarry, London.


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