971 Horses & 4 Zebras

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I went to the Tate last night for the 971 Horses & 4 Zebras event, to think about how artists apply animation.  The curators Gary Thomas and Jordan Baseman sought to programme provocative works that primarily take a conceptual approach, but might raise questions about what animation is but also what it isn’t.  At the same time, the films had to engage in a gallery setting, and Jordan Baseman wanted the work to be entertaining.  It certainly was successful in that degree, the 60 minute screening contained 14 films, presenting a broad range of techniques and subject matters.  Lilly Husband’s essay for Animate Projects elegantly delineates some of the connections between the films.  Though I enjoyed the screening very much, I wanted to see more evidence that artists were the people to grapple with the material of animation (whatever that may be). But many of the films revolved around a time-based gimmick, and wouldn’t merit repeat viewings, that’s my measure.  There were many exceptions, all 3 of the Animate films (by Emily Richardson, Inger Lise Hansen and James Lowne), David O Reilly’s Octocat and Chris Shepherd’s World Stare Out Competition from 1998, which was the informal starting point for the programmers.  Anyway, the panel discussion put it all in perspective, Melissa Gronlund was a very warm and knowledgable chairperson, and Lilly Husbands created a broader context. We discovered that Gary Thomas and Jordan Baseman had had a lot of fun putting the programme together, the screening was really the result of a dialogue about their taste, their affiliations and their connections in the world of artists making films using animation, which is good, and if there were more such events and collaborations, we would get a complete survey of the realm.

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