The Jarman Award: Shortlist
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The Jarman Award: Shortlist
Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want, Stephen Sutcliffe

Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want, Stephen Sutcliffe

Inspired by filmmaker Derek Jarman, The Jarman Award was launched in 2008 “to recognise artists working with the moving image whose work, like Jarman’s, resists conventional definition, encompassing innovation and excellence”. The 2009 shortlisted artists are Anja Kirschner and David Panos, Simon Martin, Lindsay Seers, and Stephen Sutcliffe. We asked them all some questions.

The Jarman Award is funded by Film London and Channel 4.

Stephen Sutcliffe
When, how and why did you start working with film?

I started working with video when I thought ideas in that area were getting a bit stagnant. No-one seemed to be making the sort of stuff I wanted to see. That was probably 10 years ago.

The Jarman Award “recognises individual artist filmmakers whose risk-taking work resists boundaries and conventional definition” – how do you see that in relation to your own practice?
Do you see your work as ‘cinema’, or having a relationship to an idea of ‘cinema’?

I see my work as being more in the wider tradition of collage than art-film or cinema. I like elements that disrupt rather than compliment each other. That sort of juxtaposition is the essence of collage. It suits my love of paradox. As far as resisting boundaries and risk-taking goes, I never think about it.

What other reference points might you have?

Literature and television have always been influential for me. My video work began with the idea of making poster poems along the lines of the poet Christopher Logue’s. In fact, I ended up including him in some of them.

How about…’narrative’?

There has been no narrative in my work up to now.

The winner gets £10,000, and a commission to make four three-minute films for television – what do you like to watch on television?

I like to watch any television really. I like seeing interviews. I am not so keen on music, I watch pop videos with the sound off.

What would you do with the money?

Get my tits done.

Anja Kirschner and David Panos
When, how and why did you start working with film?

We’ve both worked on video since the late 90s, because it means we can control the whole process and film seems quite old fashioned as a medium, both in terms of the workflow and the way the image reads. We got into it for different reasons. One of us had used video in a documentary way to create visual essays but was increasingly frustrated with the formal and ethical questions that go with that. The other was looking for a way to go beyond painting and other media where you end up with one ‘unique’ art object.

The Jarman Award “recognises individual artist filmmakers whose risk-taking work resists boundaries and conventional definition” – how do you see that in relation to your own practice?

These days all so-called ‘boundaries’ seem to be regularly broken as a matter of course. We feel that re-opening the challenges posed by narrative, performance and class politics in the present is resisting current conventions. In some way our practice is about figuring out how the boundaries are constructed and how they function historically and politically.

Do you see your work as ‘cinema’, or having a relationship to an idea of ‘cinema’? How about…’narrative’? What other reference points might you have?

Cinema history seems to shape so much of how we see our work, but so-called serious ‘Cinema’ today generally feels pretty exhausted – trapped in a humanist, psychologised or self-referential dead-end. Occasionally we enjoy the unintentional artfulness of CGI or the accidental ‘alienation effects’ of mainstream Hollywood blockbusters. We raid cinema genre components and borrow elements from a cinematic approach but in a different context and to different ends.

The winner gets £10,000, and a commission to make four three-minute films for television – what do you like to watch on television?

Generation Kill was certainly better than any of the ‘cinema’ works made about Iraq war. That kind of thing really shows the potential of the series format. But overall we liked it better when TV had more creative freedom. The internet has meant that you’re able to marvel at what actually got onto UK television between the 60s and the 90s.

What would you do with the money?

Money would buy us time to work on our new script and help us realise the next film.


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