In this gallery, guaranteed to attract notice, Richard Wilson presents a highly dramatic showcase of film work. Wilson sees his big, tilting projection screen as ‘a wall that appears to have been ripped from another interior space’. Declaring that he wants this unconventional set-up to ‘seize the onlooker’, Wilson explains that ‘like the films projected, the room aims to magnify the abandonment of customary approaches and through this unexpected encounter capture us by surprise’.
Screen installed by Richard Wilson RA, showing a scene from William Raban's film Beating the Bridges
It is an historic moment, too. The Royal Academy has never before devoted a whole room of the Summer Exhibition to film. But the show is fast becoming more open-minded in its attitude towards media. Wilson’s selection, comprising nineteen works, ranges from senior practitioners like William Raban to promising young artists like Matt Calderwood.
Projected by a cone of light, the films bear out Wilson’s belief that the medium has become ‘an unavoidable artistic practice of the twenty-first century, giving greater diversity to art forms. It deserves to be celebrated, so this room is saying, "it’s here, and in a big way".’
George Barber’s Automative Action Painting refers very openly to the activity of applying paint to canvas, and Anne Bean’s Four Drawings takes draughtsmanship into account. But Brian Routh, one half of the performance-art duo the Kipper Kids, performs in his Webern Face Dance. Vicky Hawkins, in Ethel and the Mutant Babies, offers a more disturbing experience, while Martin von Haselberg, the other Kipper Kid, insists that There Is No Self. The underlying aim of the films shown can be summed up by the title of Ben Dodd’s: Surprise.