NUMBER FOUR: DEREK JARMAN – SUPER8, JULIA STOSCHEK FOUNDATION e.V., Duesseldorf, 11 September 2010 – 26 February 2011

The JULIA STOSCHEK FOUNDATION e.V., in collaboration with James Mackay, and as part of the Quadriennale 2010 in Duesseldorf, presents the first comprehensive retrospective of the experimental film works of Derek Jarman from his Super8 archives. It represents the first solo exhibition of an artist in the JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION.

The British painter, film maker, set designer and writer Derek Jarman (1942–1994) is best known to the wider public primarily as the director of stylistically influential feature films and music videos from the 1980s and early 1990s. Less well-known, but vital to his oeuvre, are the over 60 Super8 films that Jarman filmed from 1970 until his death in 1994. Taken from the subjective-personal perspective of his hand-held camera, the scenic arrangements mediate Jarman’s artistic approach in which life and art constantly connect with one another as a matter of course. The often autobiographical film documents, which he himself called a “cinema of small gestures”, are defined by spontaneity and lightness on the one hand and symbolism and mythology on the other.

The 24 digitalised films from the Super8 archive, complemented by a 16mm sound film and the BlueRay version of a 35mm feature film, are distributed over both floors of the exhibition space as well as in the basement cinema. To begin with the first floor contains 12 films covering the social and (sub)cultural world of Jarman and his circle of friends. The overlapping of documentation and staging is constantly fluid here and this is further reflected stylistically in the works. Two sound films, presented individually, break this sequence: in the first space “TG: Psychic Rally in Heaven” (1980), an early music-video experiment, originally recorded on Super8 for the British industrial-music group Throbbing Gristle, and in front of the second space, “Imagining October” (1984), which will be shown – not least because of its references to Sergei Eisenstein and Soviet film – in its original format, as a 16mm sound film.

On the second floor 11 films from the group of works covering rituals, mythology and landscape are displayed. The works are deliberately presented in the completely open space surrounding the centrally placed, boxed projection of “Art of Mirrors I-III” (1973). Between them, the various works from 1971 to 1978 generate panoramically stylistic and content-based references.

The exhibition ends in the cinema space in the basement where Derek Jarman’s final, elegiac feature film “Blue” (1993) can be seen.

Simon Fisher Turner, who was responsible for the soundtracks of many of Jarman’s feature films from the 1980s onwards, has developed a special sound concept with atmospheric and space-specific soundscapes for the exhibition.

A catalogue has been published by Verlag der Buchhandlung König, Cologne to accompany the exhibition. It contains an essay by Jon Savage, which sets selected works in the context of their respective contemporary backgrounds. Derek Jarman himself speaks about his creative work in an interview with Simon Field and Michael O’Pray from 1985. 

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