Hull-based artist Kerry Baldry makes work primarily with 16mm film and video and has been widely exhibited, including at this year’s Venice Biennale in Italy. Nine years ago she founded One Minute, a touring programme of artists’ moving image, which has been screened widely in galleries and film festivals worldwide. In this interview, Baldry shares films from her ever-expanding archives and her thoughts on artists’ moving image from Hull and beyond.
What is your connection to Hull?
I was born just outside Hull and spent my teenage years in the city. I moved to London and travelled extensively, spending a lot of time in Berlin too. I went back to Hull eight years ago when I helped found and co-curate The Museum of Club Culture with artist Mark Wigan. I also curated The Projection Rooms, a space at the back of the museum where we screen artists moving image. Over the last nine years I have been curating and distributing the One Minute programme of artists’ moving image, featuring the work of over 500 60-second videos.
What led to you starting One Minute?
After graduating in Fine Art at Middlesex University and studying film in my postgraduate at Central Saint Martins College of Art, I was selected to make a one-minute film for One Minute Television, which was broadcast on the UK programme The Late Show. Making this film inspired me to further explore the medium of very short artists films.
I was a member of an artists studio set up in Salford, which had access to a large gallery space. I had the idea that it would be interesting to compile a programme of one-minute works with other artist/filmmakers for a screening. There was interest in screening the programme in other places and it just went on from there.
I am currently working on compiling Volume 10. The One Minute volumes have been screened around the world, showing in hotel rooms in Hong Kong during Hong Kong Arts Festival, warehouses in Sydney, shopping centres in Leeds in the UK, and barns in The Snowdonia National Park in Wales, as well as more traditional spaces including international museums, film festivals and art galleries. Each Volume lasts 50 minutes and includes work by international artists at varying stages of their careers, from recent graduates through to Turner Prize winners.
How would you define artists’ film?
When compiling One Minute, I choose work that uses film and video, however, the artists are not necessarily just using this medium within their practice. The programmes I curate generally feature low-budget, independent, experimental works expressing the personal and unique perspective of the artist, and they are not reliant on commercial mainstream cinemas codes and conventions.
What have your highlights been running One Minute?
There have been quite a few highlights such as screenings at Furtherfield Gallery in London, FACT in Liverpool and Directors Lounge Contemporary Art and Media in Berlin, but perhaps the screening at Small Cinema Liverpool during LightNight was particularly memorable. We had 500 audience numbers passing through during the evening, which was pretty amazing. In May 2016 I was commissioned by Obliqua/ VideoArte Cinema Experimental in Lisbon to curate a programme of One Minute films representing the UK.
What is the artists’ film scene like in Hull?
There are, and have been, some excellent artists and initiatives in Hull using the medium of film and video. In the 1970s and 80s there was a Fine Art film programme at Hull School of Art and led by Tony Hill (whose work has featured in the One Minute Volumes). In the 1980s and 90s commissioning agency Hull Time Based Arts supported artists’ film in the city with its ROOT Festivals, and Glimmer: Hull International Short Film Festival also provided a showcase for local and international work. A few years ago I curated the Hull One Minute Artists Moving Image Festival in a number of venues across the city featuring work by UK based and International artists.
How have artist filmmakers such as Steve McQueen and Sam Taylor Wood, who are now household names, changed mainstream cinema?
Ever since the earliest days of film, artists have used the medium in their work. Not reliant on mainstream cinemas codes and conventions, artists approach filmmaking from a personal and unique point of view. Films made by artists are often visually-led, low-budget and non-linear. Unlike commercial films they are not made as a form of entertainment; instead they encourage the viewer to become an active participant.
Artists’ film has influenced the editing and cinematography employed by many mainstream commercial filmmakers, as well as music videos, film title design and advertising. Over the years, artist filmmakers such as Jean Cocteau, Andy Warhol, Luis Bunuel, Derek Jarman and Steve McQueen have also made feature films. Artists’ film and video has recently become more widely known in the public sphere, through high-profile exhibitions such as the Turner Prize and shows at major galleries including Tate Modern. Artist filmmakers continue to influence commercial cinema, and mainstream film companies and distributors are now more open to artist filmmakers directing feature films with their own personal and poetic approaches.
What has the impact of digital technologies been on artist filmmaking?
For me, it has enabled me to become more self-sufficient. I can film, edit and have my work online ready for people to view almost instantly. Artist films can now be viewed on the internet, for example on Visual Container (which has featured some of the One Minutes Volumes). Sites curating the avant-garde such as Ubuweb are also a great resource.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to find out more about artist filmmaking?
I suggest researching the work of the Dadaists, Surrealists and early Soviet films, the 1960s underground experimental filmmakers, expanded cinema and video art. Shoot Shoot Shoot, the back catalogue of the London Filmmakers Co-op is a great place to start.