THIS IS NOW: Film and Video after Punk



AXENÉO7 presents This is Now: Film and Video After Punk, a major touring project curated by William Fowler (Curator of Artists’ Moving Image, British Film Institute) that looks at artists’ film and video from the post-punk era in the United Kingdom from 1978 to 85. The project comprises seven screening programmes and was developed and organized by LUX in partnership with the BFI National Archive. This North American premiere features rare and restored works by internationally acclaimed artists Cerith Wyn Evans, Isaac Julien, Sophie Muller and Cordelia Swann, many never shown previously in Canada.

The early 1980s saw an explosion in alternative and independent moving image production. Clubbers, art students, new romantics and members of the post-punk scene used cheap domestic technologies to subvert the mainstream media and to find new modes of expression. Independent VHS tapes were released, stridently bypassing censorship, and Super 8 film was embraced as a cheap yet lyrical new medium. The DIY approach of punk was powerfully reborn.

Artists defied conventional ideas about how film should be made and who should make them. Female, gay and black filmmakers pushed forward; squatting flats, clubbing and developing new styles and techniques together. Derek Jarman collaborators, John Maybury and Cerith Wyn Evans experimented with Super 8, casting friends Leigh Bowery and Siouxsie Sioux in fragmented, dreamlike scenarios. Isaac Julien and Grayson Perry explored the politics of cultural and personal representation, and major pop video director Sophie Muller (The Eurythmics, Björk, Beyoncé) printed and layered images on 16mm.

This is Now celebrates the diversity of independent moving image production from the UK in the 1980s, a unique moment when cheap new technologies enabled new voices to be heard. A new aesthetic developed that would shape the look of film, television, fashion and music for many years to come. The BFI National Archive has restored twenty Super 8 and 16mm films from this period and the majority of titles are presented for the first time in over three decades. Developed over several years, these programmes revisit a key period in the cultural life of the UK and reflect on the currency that this work has with internet video and film today.




Performing The Self
Wednesday, May 3 at 7PM

New ways to think about identity, the self and the body were all part of punk’s powerful legacy. These imaginative, diverse pieces show how artists played with ideas of performance, forging a dynamic new pop art film culture that was snappy, stylish and existential.

  • Still Life With Phrenology Head by Cerith Wyn Evans, 1979, 14 min.
  • Human League: Don’t You Want Me by Steve Barron, 1981, 4 min.
  • Chat Rap by John Scarlett-Davis, 1983, 15 min.
  • Adam Ant: Stand and Deliver by Mike Mansfield and Adam Ant, 1981, 3 min.
  • Adam Ant: Prince Charming by Mike Mansfield and Adam Ant, 1981, 3 min.
  • The Modern Image by John Maybury, 1978, 13 min.
  • Solitude by John Maybury, 1981, 13 min.
  • Bungalow Depression by Grayson Perry and Jennifer Binnie, 1981, 4 min.
  • The Private View by The Neo-Naturists, 1981, 7 min.


Home Taping
Wednesday, May 10 at 7PM

The mainstream media was treated like a giant library to be plundered for provocative play and subversion in the early 80s. Whether filming their TV screen with a Super8 camera or deftly copying tapeto-tape, artists grabbed and juxtaposed disparate material to disrupt the dominant ideologies of the age, and create new visual music.

  • The Attitude Assumed: Still Life With Still Born by Cerith Wyn Evans, 1980, 19 min.
  • Skinheads and Roses by Jill Westwood, 1983, 7 min.
  • Pop Dolphin by Jeffrey Hinton, c. 1983, 23 min.
  • Tilt by George Barber, 1984, 6 min.
  • Branson by George Barber, 1983, 2 min.
  • Blue Monday by Duvet Brothers, 1984, 4 min.
  • The Commander in Chief by Gorilla Tapes, 1984, 4 min.
  • Art of Noise: Legs by George Barber and George Snow, 1985, 6 min.
  • Passion Triptych by Cordelia Swann, 1982, 4 min.


Just Images
Wednesday, May 17 at 7PM

The moral, political and symbolic integrity of the image itself is explored, attacked and undermined in these richly textured films. John Maybury casts friends Siouxsie Sioux and David Holah in one of the singularly most stunning and ambitious Super 8 works of the era: Court of Miracles. Young filmmakers bring on the post-modern age.

  • The Court of Miracles by John Maybury, 1982, 44 min.
  • Glory Boys? by Vanda Carter, 1983, 4 min.
  • Territories by Isaac Julien, 1984, 24 min.
  • Psychic TV: Unclean by Cerith Wyn Evans and John Maybury, 1984, 9 min.


Before and After Science
Wednesday, May 24 at 7PM

Grayson Perry, Anna Thew and Steven Chivers present stunning, lo-fi and strange new fictional worlds. Arcane beliefs, folk tales and a post-apocalyptic scenario shot in run-down London all provide welcome counterpoints to the rigidity of modern, patriarchal Christian society.

  • Lost For Words by Anna Thew, 1980, 26 min.
  • The Green Witch and Merry Diana by Grayson Perry, 1984, 20 min.
  • Men Without Hats: Safety Dance by Tim Pope, 1982, 3 min.
  • Catherine De Medicis Part 2 by Steven Chivers, 1984, 25 min.


Through a Glass, Darkly
Wednesday, May 31 at 7PM

Provocative filmmakers in the early 80s treated the moving image like a mirror; a surface of divination through which to probe inside their own mind and that of the viewer. This programme includes particularly challenging work that was originally connected to the industrial scene.

  • The Wound by Jill Westwood, 1984, 18 min.
  • Winter Journey in the Hartz Mountains by Cordelia Swann, 1983, 12 min.
  • Liquid Video by Michael Kostiff, 1983, 10 min.
  • The Branks by Akiko Hada, 1982, 7 min.
  • All Veneer and No Backbone by Holly Warburton, 1980-84, 5 min.
  • 23 Skidoo: F.U.G.I., by Richard Heslop, 1983, 5 min.
  • Grayson/Flowers/Jewels by Jennifer Binnie, 1985, 3 min.
  • Lyrical Doubt by Judith Goddard, 1984, 16 min.


Video Killed the Radio Star
Wednesday, June 7 at 7PM

Early independent video releases were the revolutionary, DIY antidote to a TV system only just gearing up for a fourth channel. They bypassed censorship and gave a platform to the marginalised and unsanctioned. This eclectic selection includes a very rare John Smith title and punchy, stuttering Scratch Video works by The Duvet Brothers, Kim Flitcroft & Sandra Goldbacher, Gorilla Tapes and George Barber.

  • Echo and the Bunnymen: Shine So Hard by John Smith, 1981, 32 min.
  • The Miners’ Campaign Tapes: The Lie Machine by Various, 1984, 16 min.
  • The Greatest Hits of Scratch Video Volume 2 by Various, 1984, 28 min.


Entering the Dream Space
Wednesday, June 14 at 7PM

Weaving film and video together, often utilising religious imagery, and introducing colour, effects and surface texture, filmmakers generated a new, vividly transcendental style by the end of the post-punk era. Key examples of this sensual, visually mature work are presented alongside other dynamic pieces that explore the dreamlike state.

  • The Technology of Souls by John Maybury, 1981, 11 min.
  • In Excelsis Deo by Sophie Muller, 1983, 26 min.
  • The Miracle of the Rose, by Cerith Wyn Evans, 1984, , 25 min.
  • The Union Jacking Up by John Maybury, 1985, 18 min.



AXENÉO7 wishes to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Gatineau, LUX, the British Film Institute and Idéeclic for their support.


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