John Smith, Dirty Pictures | From My Window / From Your Window: Film #3
Friday, May 22, 2020
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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

John Smith was born in Walthamstow, London in 1952 and studied at North-East London Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art, after which he became 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. Often rooted in everyday life, his meticulously crafted films playfully explore and expose the language of cinema. Since 1972 Smith has made over sixty 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. He received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011, and in 2013 he was the winner of Film London’s Jarman Award.

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