Opening up heritage locations for newly commissioned art


Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival returns for its 8th annual celebration of the art of film – illuminating the whole town through premiere screenings, site-specific installations and specially commissioned projects – in a series of locations around Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Each year the programme responds to a theme, and the 2012 programme – entitled Pictures in Motion - explores the relationship between the moving and the still image, showcasing artists who work across film and photography, and featuring films and moving image art inspired by photography techniques. As always, the Festival will focus on where the boundaries blur, and on artists working at the fringes.

Using the historic town of Berwick-upon-Tweed as a set, the programme features a selection of new films and contemporary moving image art installations, each projected in, or on to, a range of unique venues and heritage locations around the town. The Festival once again opens up rarely accessed parts of Berwick’s Elizabethan heritage with, for example, installations in ice houses, buried deep in the town’s walls, and in the old prison cells in the tower of the Town Hall.

The installations will be switched on at 11am on Thursday 20th September, and will run until 5pm each day until Sunday 23rd September – all are entirely free of charge.

New Commissions for Berwick

Already announced in response to an international call out for proposals is Mishka Henner and David Oates’ Photographers. Known collectively as BlackLab, and themselves from a photography background, this short film will look at representations of photographers on film. The film – still in production – will take footage from a range of film sources and will focus on the stereotypes and clichés that emerge. As well as being presented as a looped installation in Shoregate Ice House all day every day, Thursday to Sunday, the Photographers will also open the Festival on Wednesday 19th September as part of the Opening Gala, previewing Chasing Ice, in The Maltings Theatre & Cinema.

Later that evening, audiences will walk from The Maltings, over the bridge to Tweedmouth to the newly opened Berwick Watchtower gallery. There they will watch a series of photographs – projected that evening on the face of the Watchtower and every evening in a different location around the town. Entitled Talkies Wallah, which refers to the way in which tent cinema owners refer to each other in India, these portraits capture the joy of cinema on the faces of audience members of a travelling cinema back in India. Coming all the way from Mumbai, the photographer Amit Madheshiya will create a travelling showcase across Berwick.

Among the Festival’s more ambitious installations, and one that will see the reopening of Berwick’s Gymnasium, is 24 Times, comprising a circle of 24 monitors, each screening representations of photographers and camera flashes one frame after its neighbour, to produce a looping pulse of light. Using the latest in digital technology, 24 Times reinvents the effect of the much-loved 19th Century zoetrope. 24 Times has been a work in progress since 2010, but one that artist Jason Dee has never seen fully realised as a 24 monitor installation until now…


Opening up locations around the town

In Berwick Town Hall, the Festival will this year take over the Council Chamber on the first floor and all five Prison Cells at the top, exhibiting six individual works, all exploring themes of surveillance and displacement as well as looking at the relationship between the still and the moving image. In the Council Chamber, will be the World Premiere of Section 4 Part 20: One Day on a Saturday, which explores levels of complicity surrounding detention camps at Guantanamo Bay. Created by established photographer Edmund Clark, in collaboration with Anna Stevens from Panos Pictures, the 8 minute video will run on a loop in the Council Chamber, a symbolic site of both democracy and authority. Meanwhile, upstairs in the Prison Cells, will be five short video pieces running in each of the five Cells, each exploring issues of surveillance. One piece, by filmmaker Piotr Sulkowski from Poland centres on a relationship between two people both serving sentences in different prisons, while another by artist Eunjin Jung from South Korea looks over to an adjacent apartment block, reminiscent of a scene in Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The exhibition also includes work by Andrew Norman Wilson from the USA, a Japanese piece by Manchester based artist Amanda Belantara and a video piece by established photographer Chris de Bode from the Netherlands, in partnership with Panos Pictures.

Along the town’s Elizabethan towns walls is Tamino, a stop-motion opera from Netherlands artist Eveline Ketterings, which will be presented in Coxon’s Tower, Parthenon Rising II by the Greek artist Bill Balaskas, which will be presented in The Main Guard, and three works from the North East-based Duane Hopkins’ Sunday series in The Magazine, which will be presented for the first time as a triptych as it was originally envisaged.

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