The London Perambulator – a possible sequel

London Perambulator

The Lockdown has caused me to excavate the rushes I shot in 2008 for my documentary about Nick Papadimitriou, The London Perambulator. It almost feels like an act of ‘Deep Topography’, diving into what Nick describes as ‘storage vats of regional memory’. Here the storage vats are hard-drives of footage shot on a series of walks through Nick’s territory around West and Northwest London – Finchley, Stonebridge Park, Perivale, Feltham, Wormwood Scrubs.

London Perambulator

walk from Stonebridge Park to Perivale

It’s been a strangely comforting and therapeutic experience. It could be the memories of a simpler time, before ‘the virus’. Also a period when I was very much learning how to make a documentary (a process that never ends). There’s the nostalgic aesthetic of Standard Definition video tape as opposed to Ultra High Definition (4K) video clips recorded on a SD card, the camera running as it roves across the landscape looking for a subject to settle on. There’s some good stuff in those out-takes that didn’t make the final cut that premiered in the East End Film Festival at The Whitechapel Gallery in April 2009.

London Perambulator

 

Even though I have more pressing concerns in these troubled times, I can’t help spooling through another clip when I sit down at my computer, finding gems I’d forgotten about, such as Nick talking about a planned prose sequence called ‘In Praise of Industrial Middlesex’. This was shot while we walked through a Wembley Industrial Estate, a place we’ve returned to at least twice since for subsequent projects.

London Perambulator

And there’s the murky December day we went to the former site of Ashford Remand Centre, now HMP Bronzefield named after the Bronze Age settlement that was discovered during the building of the state of the art prison. Small references that got lost in the construction of a broader narrative.

London Perambulator

I still don’t know what I’m going to make from these clips – I’m enjoying the process of rediscovery too much to impose a framework around it. The initial film was given form by three ‘expert’ interviews with Iain Sinclair, Will Self, and Russell Brand, talking about Nick and his practice. I’m tempted now to  just let the footage speaks for itself without explanation.

 

Art Assembly at Walthamstow Town Hall

Things to Do in Debden When You’re Dead

Brilliantly bizarre end to Art Assembly on Saturday in the Council Chamber at Walthamstow Town Hall. I’d been commissioned to make this film (Things to Do in Debden When You’re Dead) with theatre Director William Galinsky, who’d been asked to re-animate the corpse of William Morris. William Galinsky had responded by writing an unfilmable script – but the idea of attempting to shoot a zombie sci-fi Blader Runner film about William Morris’ News from Nowhere in a day, a week before the screening, was too tempting to turn down. Luckily artists Jessica Voorsanger and Bob and Roberta Smith agreed to take part – Bob playing himself having his chest ripped open by the sock puppet offspring of William Morris. And Jessica as herself who then is zapped into the future and returns as a cyborg Space Captain to wipe out the sockie Morrises and avenge her husband’s death – obviously. Brilliant satirist, Miriam Elia played a gentrifying alien arts administrator and my son, Oliver Rogers, who’d come along to help out with lighting and setting up the camera played opposite Miriam, doing a great job of improvising his lines.

Art Assembly

William Galinsky and the Intergalactic Arts Alliance

The film kicked off the session at the end of Art Assembly, a day-long programme of events around Walthamstow, as a provocation to debate the subject of whether ‘artists should try to change the world’. The panel was chaired by William Gallinsky with the two alien representatives of the Intergalactic Arts Alliance (or something like that) played by Ezra and Miriam Elia, who set the tone by stating that their interest in the arts was to push up property prices. It produced an fascinating debate that veered between absurdity, seriousness, righteous indignation, and incomprehensibility. Which is exactly how it should be.

 

 

 

The William Morris Resurrection at Art Assembly

Up till 3am last night finishing a short film about William Morris I’ve directed for this wonderful event tomorrow at Art Assembly, part of Waltham Forest Borough of Culture. So I’m a little tired today but excited to be screening something very different. Here’s the blurb for the event:

The William Morris Resurrection – Sat 23rd November 5-6pm, Walthamstow Town Hall – Art Assembly

A panel of experts, Two Aliens, One Universe, One Question: Should artists try to change the world?

Join us for the debate of the ages, where we discuss why artists can’t stop trying to save the world… Imagine if William Morris woke up 140 years in the future like the hero of his science fiction novel News from Nowhere…  Would he find the creative utopia he had dreamed of or would he be bitterly disappointed by the state of the world and of the arts community in particular?

Join us and arts professionals from all over time and space to explore the role of the artist past, present and future. The event includes the world premiere of a new short film by William Galinsky & John Rogers –  THINGS TO DO IN DEBDEN WHEN YOU’RE DEAD – featuring Miriam Elia, William Galinsky, Ollie Rogers, Bob & Roberta Smith, Jessica Voorsanger, an alien who thinks he’s Antony Gormley and a miniature Rutger Hauer.

The event includes contributions from some of the UK’s most vibrant artistic minds as well as some light relief at the end of an action packed Art Assembly. This event is presented as part of Art Assembly, a one-day festival to explore how art can make a difference.

 

Make Your Own Damn Art at Regent Street Cinema

Regent Street Cinema

Q&A – Travis Elborough, John Rogers, Jessica Voosanger, Bob and Roberta Smith

John Rogers

John Rogers and Travis Elborough

Regent Street Cinema

Regent Street Cinema

Q&A – Travis Elborough, John Rogers, Jessica Voosanger, Bob and Roberta Smith

 

Great evening last Friday at the screening of my documentary about Bob and Roberta Smith, Make Your Own Damn Art at presented by Heavenly Films at Regent Street Cinema. It was a wonderful experience to revisit a film that premiered in 2012 at the East End Film Festival. As Bob commented in the Q&A, it really captured a slice of time, filmed over 3 years between 2009-2012.

Art Assembly

The next day saw another chapter in my collaborations with Bob and his wife, artist Jessica Voorsanger, as we worked together on a slightly bonkers film for Art Assembly this Saturday 23rd November to be screened at The Resurrection of William Morris.

Iain Sinclair & Edith Walks at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema

Iain Sinclair Leytonstone

I had to photograph Iain Sinclair in front of Leytonstone’s Olympic Fish Bar in Church Lane. The great London writer had come to introduce his film collaboration with Andrew Kötting, Edith Walks at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema in Leytonstone Library. Iain had been a prominent critic of the London 2012 Olympics, resulting in Hackney Council temporarily banning him in 2008 from speaking in its libraries.

Iain Sinclair Leytonstone

Iain Sinclair introducing Edith Walks

Iain Sinclair Leytonstone

Iain Sinclair introducing Edith Walks at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema

When introducing Iain Sinclair, I mentioned how in the boom years of the psychogeography revival at the turn of the millenium, the idea of a Sinclair – Kötting collaboration was considered the psychogeographer’s ‘dream ticket’. Then while I was working at the National Film Theatre that dream ticket quite incredibly manifested itself with the film Offshore Gallivant, which screened at the NFT in 2006. Iain gave a humorous account of the making of the film as the crew spent the entire trip throwing up over the side of the boat meaning little footage was actually shot, however somehow Kötting still managed to make a film.

Iain related this to the making of Edith Walks, one of a number of subsequent collaborations between the pair, documenting a pilgrimage in the wake of King Harold’s wife Edith Swanneck from Waltham Abbey to the battlefield at Hastings. The nature of a 100-mile walk meant footage was not easy to capture throughout. Some of the scenes I shot at Waltham Abbey and on the towpath to Enfield Lock made their way into the final cut. A fair percentage of the film was shot on iphones using a Super8 app. The result was something magical and entrancing that the audience received warmly and sparked a fascinating discussion after the screening.

Edith Walks by Andrew Kötting

Iain Sinclair in Edith Walks directed by Andrew Kötting

Edith Walks Kötting

Claudia Barton as Edith Swan Neck

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema is the first Wednesday of the month at Leytonstone Library

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema at Leytonstone Loves Film

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema’s programme of Films of East London was a great success at Leytonstone Loves Film on Saturday. There were big audiences and fascinating director Q&As. Let’s hope that Leytonstone Loves Film – produced by the Barbican – becomes an annual event.

 

Adam Kossoff

Adam Kossoff director of The Anarchist Rabbi

Q&A with Adam Kossoff covered the importance of cultural memory, Jewish radicalism, and the life of Rudolph Rocker.

Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema - Leytonstone Loves Film

The Anarchist Rabbi

Paul Kelly film-maker

Paul Kelly director of What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day

Paul Kelly explains how he spent several weeks exploring the area around the proposed Olympic Park in the summer of 2005 for his film What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day, that was made for a live performance by pop band St. Etienne at the Barbican later that year.

Ian Bourn introduces Lenny's Documentary

Ian Bourn introduces Lenny’s Documentary

Ian Bourn explained how the idea for Lenny’s Documentary arose in 1978 from wondering what would happen if anyone could make and broadcast a TV programme. Shot on U-Matic, it was a pioneering piece of video art, made when Ian was a student at the Royal College of Art.

Barbican Family Film Hub St. John's Churchyard

Barbican Family Film Hub St. John’s Churchyard

Tehran Taboo

Our next film screening

The next screening at Leytonstone Pop-Up Cinema – Tehran Taboo is on Wednesday 6th October, 7.45pm at Leytonstone Library