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New exhibition explores the work of major film theorists through the prism of art

‘Art at the Frontier of Film Theory’ will be at the Peltz Gallery from 22 March - 24 May 2019.

Detail from the exhibition exploring the work of major film theorists through art

Opening at Birkbeck’s Peltz Gallery on 22 March, ‘Art at the Frontier of Film Theory presents moving image works, audio recordings, drawings, diagrams, photographs and archival materials, which together provide a new perspective on the work of Birkbeck Professor Laura Mulvey and her long-time collaborator, the political journalist and film scholar Peter Wollen. Although primarily known as film theorists and filmmakers, Mulvey and Wollen’s engagement with art and artists has always been a central dimension of their project. The exhibition will run until 24 May 2019.

This exhibition invites visitors to discover and map the co-ordinates of these two transdisciplinary, overlapping practices. It includes collaborations, conversations and interactions with figures such as Kathy Acker, Victor Burgin, Emma Hedditch, Mary Kelly, Mark Lewis and Kerry Tribe.

As well as proposing that Mulvey and Wollen can be understood within the broader frame of artists or art theorists influenced by feminism and socialism, the exhibition utilises the university context to suggest their important role as teachers of younger artists and the mutual influence between academic and artistic work.

The exhibition will further explore their numerous documentaries and ‘theory films’ about or featuring artists, as well as their role as important interlocutors for artists, their critical writings, teaching, artwork, and their curating of exhibitions like ‘Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti’ (Mulvey/Wollen, 1982) and ‘On the Passage of a Few People Through A Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International’ (Wollen, 1989).

Dr Michael Temple, Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and the Essay Film Festival said: "This exciting new exhibition not only provides an original and thought-provoking reinterpretation of the legacy and contemporary relevance of the Mulvey-Wollen project; it also chimes perfectly with the expansive, multi-faceted and creative spirit of the essay film that we celebrate and explore in our annual festival."

Accompanied by a film retrospective, discussion events and gallery workshops, the programme as a whole is supported by CHASE (Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England).

The exhibition has been curated by Oliver Fuke and Nicolas Helm-Grovas in collaboration with Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image and the Essay Film Festival.

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