Montez Development Grant
About Anna Thew
Born in Sheffield. Studied F.A. Painting at Chelsea School of Art, London and Italian & German at Manchester University and Perugia University, later Anna Thew began working with film receiving grants from the arts council, BFI and channel 4 with sponsorship from Kodak.
She has shown widely in international film festivals, including Berlin, Edinburgh, London, New York, Sydney, Locarno and Montreal; in galleries including the Serpentine and Tate Gallery, London and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, and in touring programmes in the UK, France, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Brazil and USA. Retrospective and one person shows of single and multi-screen works include BROKEN PIECES, Zagreb and Dubrovnik, 2002, ANNA THEW MULTI-PROJECTIONS, Villa Capriglio, Turin 2000, the LUX, London, 1999, the International Festival of New Film and Video, Split, Croatia 1997 and Akademie der Künste, Düsseldorf 1995.
She has independently curated programmes of artists’ film and video in the U.K. and abroad and taught at Goldsmiths college and Central St. Martins.
Image: Anna Thew, film still - BLURT, (1983)
A pillow book for a dream film
Our collaboration with Anna Thew revolves around the ambition to produce, in the artist’s words, ‘a pillow book for a dream film – one that if you flick through it, has the effect of musical variations, with shuttling sequences and moving frames as you might view ideograms or pictograms’, which appropriately describes Anna Thew’s associative style and method as the material act of of assemblage/montage.
Image: Anna Thew, film still - Rome Movie, (1983/1985), 23 mins, colour super 8
First seen as a teenager living and studying in Italy, her fascination with the intermingling of residual political slogans and posters on the peeling walls of Trastevere in Rome, found its way into her early abstractions, collaged paintings and subsequent films.
By piecing together notes, drawings, texts, sketches for sound(s), Super 8, 16mm film and digital video, the archive of Anna Thew and her work produced from the late 70’s, throughout her active involvement with the London Film-makers’ Co-operative (LFMC), to the present, portrays the complete picture of an artist who has intuitively filmed and made single and multi-screen film with multiple narratives.
With colour and gesture, both textural and textual, she has explored the lived experience of love, death, loss and bereavement, HIV/AIDS and the commercial privatization which saw the demise of such collective organizations as the LFMC, through performance and film.
Through juxtaposition and intercutting of diary extract, literary text, spoken word, abstraction and figuration, frequently referencing painting, the history of cinema, music, and literature, her films and writings reveal the traces and structures that produce ideology and belief.
It is the importance that Anna Thew gives to voice, text, colour, gestural movement and the deconstruction of figuration and narration which prevent the erasure of necessary discussions surrounding sexuality, gender and economics for which abstraction has historically been used to mask over.
Image: Anna Thew, film still - Città Spellata (Peeled City), (1985), 3 mins colour Super 8
see also: www.luxonline.org.uk/artists/anna_thew
Words, Words, Words
This month we celebrate Anna Thew as the first artist to perform as part of a multi screen installation and performance of BLURT at Tate Modern's star auditorium as part of the larger programme "Real to Reel, Women and Feminism at the London Film-makers' Co-operative: Trapped in Language".
The event incorporated a mobile Super 8 projection of a TV boxing match between famous fighters Bugner and Frazier and a live performance of a Kabuki howl in front of the screen by Anna Thew herself. Look out for a video excerpt of BLURT on our website, coming soon.
Below, see an excerpt from Yann Beauvais' article LIKE A SONG, concerning Thew’s use of language in film. See also the complete article on our website, coming soon.
Language, in all its forms, is seen as an essential element of Anna Thew's cinema, manifesting itself either in the shape of the sound or as graphic sign, such as in Blurt (1983) and Blurt Roll 2 (1987). Word and language - but here we should speak of languages, infiltrating every element of the films. But if language invades the film space, it is done in an exceptional way. We are never in the presence of a voice which would overwhelm or provide the image with its meaning. Rarely does the voice dominate, excepting in the "conversations" with Steve Moore in Assemblage for Eye Drift (1996), or with the mother's voice in Hilda. The voice is always plural and functions according to the classical polyphony found in the Fugues of J.S. Bach.
Anna Thew's work in sound is marked by the multiplicity of languages spoken, sung or written. This multiplicity highlights the distinctiveness of each of these languages, their scansion, their dynamic and their poetry. This collision of languages in the body of the film, whether it is Italian, German, or French, in the same breath, questions the insularity of the dominant language. English becomes one language amongst so many others.
The film-maker speaks by means of this polyphony. Consequently the original version is also plural, in the manner of the pieces of music and film from which she composes her works. Each film is coloured by the places, the towns which the film-maker passes through, the memories, the men, her desires, which she documents in a distinct way and which she assembles in mosaics from which the joins, flare outs and scratches are not discarded. The film must be understood as a body, and consequently a body which is malleable, endlessly transforming itself. This constant renewal reveals itself in Anna Thew's films in the re-cycling of sequences from one film to another. This method acts on the notion of motifs as much as it performs as a rhythmic element, permitting the films to be seen as cinematographic poems which, from individual experience, are freed to make way for other songs.
The Spirit of the LFMC
To mark the close of this year’s LFMC 50 Years anniversary of the London Film-makers’ Co-operative at the BFI/National Film Theatre and Real to Reel at Tate Modern, we take a look at Montez Press grant recipient Anna Thew’s 16mm films, Broken Pieces for the Co-operative (double screen 1985 -2001) and LFMC Demolition (2004). These films document the demolition of the old Gloucester Avenue railway building, which occurred the same year that the LFMC ltd was tragically forced to the wall. These reels revel in Co-op film-making, in underground Super 8, 16mm and 35mm film, in Co-op Cinema and Archive as an act of resistance. Here are some words from the artist:
Though the LFMC was destroyed as a limited company and registered charity in 1999/2000, its funding cruelly withdrawn and its donated equipment and precious film collection wrongfully appropriated, the LFMC as a Co-operative was never ever legally dissolved by choice of its members; film-makers with films in the Co-op archive. Therefore, the LFMC as a co-operative still exists by virtue of its open constitution. Its members and life members are still in contact with one another. Dedicated Co-op film-makers still exist. Therefore, if young film-makers and artists want the LFMC to exist for them, the Co-op spirit and its concept are indestructible (See 1978 Constitution). The LFMC can simply revitalize.
The LFMC Facebook page was launched this year with the initiative of finding filmmakers and artists who support the continuation of the LFMC. This site is meant to serve as a platform where films can be uploaded and pledged to the collection, as well as a place in which lobbying to save the disappearing collection of precious avant garde film can be organized.
So the spirit of the underground lives on…and on. The peeling screen, demolished doorways, the old café and film archive are a pile of rubble haunted by a mirage of flickering frames.
Montez Press is pleased to announce a new Grant scheme offering authors, artists and practitioners the opportunity of funding for six to twelve months in order to facilitate research towards an eventual publication.
The first recipient of the Grant will be artist and film-maker Anna Thew.
The research will explore her foundational use of sound and image, assemblage and collage throughout her career as both linguist, performer, painter, writer, musician and film-maker.