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Review: The 2017 Jarman Awards

10 November 17 words: Miriam Blakemore-Hoy

The 10th anniversary edition of the Jarman Award celebrated a diverse group of artists whose work defies categorisation into any singular genre.  We headed down to Nottingham Contemporary to check out the shortlisted artists' work

Oreet Ashery, Revisiting Genesis web series, video still, 2016. Image copyright of the artist; courtesy of the artist.

The 10th Film London Jarman Award is currently touring the UK and made a stop at the Nottingham Contemporary this Halloween. Named after the visionary filmmaker and artist Derek Jarman, the award seeks to represent current ground-breaking and innovative film work and past winners have gone on to win the Turner Prize amongst other things. This year’s shortlist is one of the most diverse ever selected. All six filmmakers are up for an acclaimed prize of £10,000 and the winner will be announced on 20th November at a special ceremony in London.

Featured first was “Out of Bounds”, by London-based artist Melanie Manchott. Manchott has spent a considerable amount of time in and around a community based deep in the mountains in Switzerland. The film follows the important yet somewhat eerie work that the people do to battle the elements and make the mountain environment more habitable. Principally a photographer, the influence of image and space is very apparent in Manchott’s work. Following a team of snowploughs during a night shift, Manchott captures their slow and serious dance through the snow drifts as they bring order to the chaos. Manchott was at the Contemporary in person for a Q&A session led by Assistant Curator Angelica Sule and gave insight into the backdrop of how her work came to be.

Next was “BRIDGIT” by Charlotte Prodger. Filmed on an iPhone, Prodger’s autobiographical film explores cultural and sexual identity - inspired by her own experience of coming out in a small Scottish community. A journey of self-discovery, Prodger’s vision was potentially an interesting one, but at 32 minutes the film did seem to wear out the audience a little more than they would have liked. Meanwhile, Adham Faramawy delved into the concept of body horror with “Janus Collapse”, inverting the classic role of film to promote beautiful body image by displaying an increasingly grotesque view of human anatomy with some amateur CGI effects thrown in.

Adham Faramawy, Janus Collapse, video still, 2016. Image copyright of the artist; courtesy of the artist.

This was followed by Marianna Simnett’s fairy tale “The Needle and the Larynx”. Simnett underwent a cosmetic procedure to inject botox into her throat with the aim of making her voice deeper and more masculine. With an exciting setup the project was a bit of a disappointment as Simnett’s voice failed to achieve the reach she was aiming for, instead becoming weak and breathless. I would caution everyone not to do this at home.

Oreet Ashery explored questions of mortality by interspersing the story of a fictional artist who is slowly disappearing, with real-life interviews with people who have life-limiting conditions. There is a much larger body of work here than what was screened as “Revisiting Genesis” is one of a twelve-part web series. The final work was by Lawrence Abu Hamdan who tackled a sensitive subject in recreating the real-life trial of an Israeli soldier accused of gunning down two Palestinian children, using visual representations to demonstrate the sounds of the guns that caused the murders. Personally, I found this the most thought provoking piece as it dealt with prevalent political issues but I did find myself wondering whether this was the right platform for a topic that should be brought into the mainstream.

Having seen last year’s winner, I can honestly say I have no idea who will triumph this year, but I will be watching with interest.

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