Crossing Points

Lewisham Arthouse presents three films by Alia Syed, Amanda Francis and Lucy Harris – Panopticon Letters, The Making of… and Crossing Points
Thursday 10th April, 7pm – 9pm

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(Above) Alia Syed, Panopticon Letters, 2013, mage courtesy the artist 2014

Lewisham Arthouse presents three films by Alia Syed, Amanda Francis and Lucy Harris – Panopticon Letters, The Making of… and Crossing Points.

Each film presents uninhabited locations haunted by events long passed. Tides, shifting light and fleeting shadows observe the constant movement of time and a multitude of cultural and historical perspectives. The artists however offer no single point of observation. The shifting horizon disputes its role as a point of reference; figures remain fluid, fixed boundaries shift. From these fluid states the audience is encouraged to examine their own position as observers, observed and witness.

Characteristics and themes shared by these works will be discussed in conversation with curator and writer Paul Goodwin.

Alia Syed’s work examines memory, representation and colonialism through narratives constructed from both personal and historical realities. Panopticon Letters is a single screen work that explores ideas of memory, techniques of the body and colonialism, within the tradition of landscape painting. In the film, footage of the river Thames in London is altered to bring about a false relationship between sky and water. This is set against the technical descriptions of the architectural plans for an ideal prison as read from ‘The Panopticon Letters’ of Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), who had first identified the Millbank site for the construction of his Panopticon. The darkness of the severed horizon-line allows different modes of address to emerge within a correspondence of letters, reformulating a multitude of narratives of time and place.

Amanda Francis is preoccupied with identity – specifically, how attempts to ‘define’ can be influenced by context. Francis’ is particularly interested in ‘Black’ as a cultural construct, the evolution of a political and social identity within the occident. The Making of… is the culmination of a project inspired by a saint with an identity crisis. Taking the practice of hagiography as a starting point, the film charts the story of Saint Maurice who died along the French/Swiss border in the third Century AD. He later became a cult figure in 15th Century Germany and a popular subject for art of this period. Following the footsteps of other artisans, Francis’ intentions to add to this catalogue were thwarted. The film presents a meandering narrative of the process, conflated with a tale of a man, an object and a legend…

Lucy Harris’s work explores relationships between personal narratives and rereading of the spaces that we inhabit, often shifting the usual/received focus of attention.

Crossing Points, filmed in the 1936 Berlin Olympia Stadium and the Kuppelsaal, exploits the interplay between memory, history and architecture. Through the interweaving of these empty venues with two fencers performing a series of choreographed gestures, a dialogue between distinct architectural spaces disrupted by a legacy of past activity is created. Her background as an artist and international fencer led to investigating the relationships between these two activities, exploring the use of the performance as a means to trigger undisclosed historical narratives.