PRINT December 2008


Stuart Comer

Duncan Campbell, Bernadette, 2008, still from a black-and-white video, 37 minutes.


1 Bernadette (Duncan Campbell) Campbell’s sharp, spartan study of Bernadette Devlin, a fiery 1960s activist from Northern Ireland, is a remarkable meditation on the politics of history and images.

2 The Temenos (Lyssaraia, Greece, June 27–29, 2008) Three new chapters, or Orders, from the late Gregory J. Markopoulos’s eighty-hour magnum opus, Eniaios (1947–91)—two of them screened for the first time—flashed, flickered, and punched their way into the starry Peloponnesian sky in a stirring fusion of myth, landscape, and cinema.

3 Hunger (Steve McQueen) Ruthlessly detailing the so-called dirty protest in Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison and Bobby Sands’s hunger strike in the early ’80s, McQueen ignites a corporeal cinema of savage gestures.

Aurélien Froment, For Argument’s Sake, 2008. Performance view, Goethe-Institut, London, January 17, 2008.

4 Aurélien Froment, For Argument’s Sake (presented by the Serpentine Gallery in collaboration with LUX, Goethe-Institut, London, January 17, 2008) Shot and screened live from the projection booth, Froment’s “documentary play” staged a series of images and actions through successive interviews with an architect, a magazine photo retoucher, and a jigsaw-puzzle maker.

5 The Shape of a Right Statement I (Wu Ingrid Tsang) Tsang’s powerful video manifesto restages a forceful address by autism rights activist Amanda Baggs.

6 Tearoom (William E. Jones) Jones’s study of community and control—included in this year’s Whitney Biennial—is an impressive act of appropriation, presenting found police footage from the early ’60s of sexual interactions between men in an Ohio public restroom.

7 The Diamond (Descartes’ Daughter) (Emily Wardill) This prismatic theater of luminous images and fragmented texts further elaborates Wardill’s hallucinatory underworld of hidden systems.

8 The Way He Always Wanted It I (Stephen Prina) Prina’s richly layered meander through the life, letters, and spaces of polymath architect, composer, and artist Bruce Goff continues to unravel in the mind long after the final, wintry frame.

9 Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell (Matt Wolf) Wolf’s inspiring film provides a long-awaited road map to the life and work of the gifted musician Arthur Russell, who eloquently articulated the contradictions of the late twentieth century before his premature death in 1992.

10 Flight of the Red Balloon (Hou Hsiao-hsien) Hou’s penchant for long takes and slow drifts finds perfect form in his ethereal response to Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 classic, The Red Balloon.

Stuart Comer is curator of film at Tate Modern in London.