“As Senior Film and Video Officer at the Arts Council of England, David Curtis was in a unique position to overview the practical throughput of a film and video community in the UK. He has initiated various important exhibitions of artists’ works, and encouraged the support of artists moving-image in various contexts and communities.” – J.Hatfield
David Curtis is Senior Research Fellow at the AHRB British Artists’ Film & Video Study Collection, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. From 1977 to 2000 he was responsible for artists’ film at the Arts Council of Great Britain. In 2003-4 he curated Tate Britain’s largest-ever show of artists’ film and video, A Century of Artists’ Film in Britain. He was involved in the London Filmmakers’ Co-op in the late 1960s and ran the cinema at both the Drury Lane and Robert Street (IRAT) Arts Laboratories. His book ‘Experimental Cinema’ (1970) was one of the first books to survey the international film avant-garde.
His latest book: ‘A History of Artists’ Film and Video in Britain’, 1897-2004 was published in August 2006.
This major new book is the first comprehensive history of artists’ film and video in Britain. Structured in two parts (‘Institutions’ and ‘Artists and Movements’), it considers the work of some 300 artists, including Kenneth Macpherson, Basil Wright, Len Lye, Humphrey Jennings, Margaret Tait, Jeff Keen, Carolee Schneemann, Yoko Ono, Malcolm Le Grice, Peter Gidal, William Raban, Chris Welsby, David Hall, Tamara Krikorian, Sally Potter, Guy Sherwin, Lis Rhodes, Derek Jarman, David Larcher, Steve Dwoskin, James Scott, Peter Wollen and Laura Mulvey, Peter Greenaway, Patrick Keiller, John Smith, Andrew Stones, Jaki Irvine, Tracy Emin, Dryden Goodwin, and Stephanie Smith and Ed Stewart.
Interview of David Curtis
View the interview transcript here
Quotes:"Besides the work of the documentary pioneers, the most original and sustained achievement of the British school developed in the productive 1970s out of an intense interest in the politics of representation. This heterogeneous British movement encompassed 'structural materialist film, early video art, Feminist film and video, even the post-Straubian costume drama, and much else besides. At its best, it was as daring and innovative as any contemporary body of work abroad. Not least, it began the still continuing debate about how cinema might be expanded, conceptually and physically. And from that period emerged the major theme of identity, which still dominates artists' image-making in Britain today, in gallery and cinema." David Curtis, A History of Artists' Film and Video in Britain, 2007.