CAMPLE LINE is delighted to present three short film works by Corin Sworn, Rania Stephan and Laura Horelli respectively. The screening, organised in association with Driftwood Cinema, is the second of three that launch our on-going programme May You Live In Interesting Times, and other family stories.
Corin Sworn’s film The Foxes was commissioned by The Common Guild in Glasgow for Scotland+Venice 2013. Sworn’s starting point for the film was a collection of slides taken in 1973 by her father Gavin A. Smith, who is a social anthropologist. The slides were taken during his fieldwork in Huasicancha, a highland village in Peru. While Sworn’s film touches on her father’s original work on Peruvian land reform and tactics of peasant rebellion, it also poses questions about the general legibility of photographs and the layers of story that we draw out of them. Sworn sat down with her father over two days in July 2012 to project and look at the slides. As they talked, Sworn learned more about the trip the slides documented. As she has noted: ‘At 8 years old, your parents’ adult life is very foreign to you in a way, and it just seemed more weird back then than necessarily interesting.’ Snippets of a conversation between the artist and her father discussing the slides and the places, events and people they depict are woven into the film alongside footage of a trip that they make together back to the region in 2013.
Laura Horelli’s film The Terrace shares features with Sworn’s The Foxes: central to both is the consideration of images taken by a respective parent. As a small child Laura and her family lived in a row house in a compound in the neighbourhood of Kilimani in Nairobi, Kenya, staying there for a period of four years before moving back to Helsinki. The Selborne Apartments consist of four vaguely modernist row houses, designed by the architect Braz Menezes and constructed in the late 1970s. Shots of the buildings and grounds are interspersed with sequences in which the artist sifts through a series of photographs, taken by her mother in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At certain points, the camera pans over photos of Esther, a local Kenyan woman who the Horellis employed as a housekeeper. In a voiceover, Horelli also recounts that during the 1980s, her father worked for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, and her mother worked with a Kenyan women’s organization. However, this is not a straightforward return to a childhood home: the filmed footage resists giving dimension easily to remembered places and relationships.
Rania Stephan’s film Memories for a Private Eye was commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation and premiered at Berlin Film Festival in February 2015. Memories for a Private Eye will comprise a trilogy of films, of which it is the first part. In contrast to the films of Sworn and Horelli, in which both artists maintain a more direct, analytical approach to their source images, Stephan approaches a small snippet of film of her mother less directly, drawing on cinematic forms and footage to elaborate an exploration of her own memories. The investigative impulse is present in her film, however it is embodied in a fictional Hollywood detective who Stephan artfully cuts into the flow of the film. Beguiling cinematic images are interspersed with documentary footage of Stephan’s hometown Joun, and attempts made by Stephan to interview and record her father. Stephan has said of this film: ‘I tried to explore my personal archive by invoking a fictional detective to help me unfold deep and traumatic memories. The images, which come from different sources, weave together into a labyrinthine maze to create a blueprint of memory itself. The film spirals around a lost image, the only moving image of my dead mother. What remains of love, war and death with the passing of time? These are the questions that are delicately displayed for contemplation in this film.’