Guy Oliver and Reman Sadani are the recipients of the Jerwood/FVU Awards 2020. Responding to the theme of Hindsight, each artist explores the power of reflection through the prism of artists’ film, and how moving-image can move us back and forwards through time, assisting recollection, engendering nostalgia, and enhancing collective wisdom.
Guy Oliver’s film You Know Nothing of my Work is a multi-chapter rumination on the cultural dilemma of the disgraced popular icon. Considering how collective, systematic failure led to cases of abuse from powerful figures in the cultural scene, this work proposes a conflict between the enjoyment of and respect for their creative work and what we now know (or at times failed to recognise) about their behaviour. Can we erase the existence of abusive yet influential figureheads, or should we acknowledge and discuss their actions alongside their work? Through a piece that uses elements of film musical and music video traditions within the form of an experimental essay, Oliver takes the pulse of society’s reaction to this fast-evolving and contentious subject.
Reman Sadani’s Walkout 1, reflects how a preoccupation with the past could be considered a privilege when faced with the challenges of the present. Walkout 1 is set in a city that has been shrouded in dust, setting the film in a post-crisis, desert-like cityscape. The poetic film explores the flaws of a society’s single viewpoint, in particular how a dominant ideology can be forced upon a younger generation. In order to lift the cloud of dust, four young characters are instructed by an elder who rigidly adheres to a vision, leading to doubts and questions from her followers. The nature of crisis shows that it is often impossible to ‘look back’ and reflect because of a present, urgent need for survival. The film draws on Sadani’s own experiences of growing up in Arab countries and later moving to the UK. Various contributors were interviewed about their own ideas of the city, which sparked discussions of flawed systems of authority, collective frustrations and changing political narratives, all of which helped Walkout 1 take shape.
About the Jerwood/FVU Awards 2020
The Jerwood/FVU Awards are a major annual opportunity for moving-image artists in the first five years of their practice. The open application programme invites artists to make proposals for ambitious new works, two of which are selected each year by a panel of experts. From 2020 the award that the selected artists receive was increased from £20,000 each, to £25,000. This is used to create their proposed artworks over a 10-month period. Each recipient also receives full production support from FVU. The finished works premiere in an exhibition at Jerwood Space, London.
The panel for the 2020 Awards consisted of:
Irene Aristizábal, Head of Curatorial and Public Practice, Baltic and Co-curator British Art Show 9 (2020)
Steven Bode, Director, Film and Video Umbrella
Harriet Cooper, Head of Visual Arts, Jerwood Arts
Shezad Dawood, artist
You can read all about the new theme for 2020 below.
‘Hindsight is always 20/20’, said the great film director Billy Wilder – giving voice to a feeling, shared by many, that life, for all its mystery and complexity, would be so much more explicable and fulfilling if we had understood in the past what we are able to see all too clearly today.
Instead, human beings are wise after the event. Enlightenment always arrives just that little bit too late. And as we look back, confronted by the choice of paths we have taken, we also note the ones we did not. It all makes for better self-knowledge, but often leaves us rueful, pondering how things could have turned out differently.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, some people say, usually meaning the opposite: dismissing retrospection as nothing but a pointless indulgence, the province of ‘if only’ and ‘what might have been’. Yet ‘hindsight’, in its different interpretations, feels like a wonderfully appropriate theme for the 2020 Jerwood/FVU Awards. At what will be the start of a new decade, hoping to free itself from the shadow of recent turbulence and austerity, acknowledging past lessons (or mistakes) in pursuit of new alternatives may well become the order of the day. Objects in the rear-view mirror may still exert a disproportionate fascination, or, in some cases, be a source of continuing dismay or regret, but keeping them in vigilant focus can also be salutary and instructive. Looking back can be a prelude to moving forward. What people carry with them from the past can help to illuminate and determine the future.
Hindsight may be 20/20, but foresight is always 50/50, as one wag who wasn’t Billy Wilder once said – meaning that while the past reveals itself in stark outlines, the future is uncertain and equivocal. But the best guide to what is coming can often be found in the present, and in earlier experiences and precedents. For that reason, we would like you to explore the contemporary significance of ‘hindsight’ in broad and imaginative ways, drawing on diverse inspirations, from the influence of history, from the lexicon of cultural memory, or from the back-story of immediate personal experience. Or your idea could revolve around a particular insight or observation; such as a reflection, for example, on how modern technological communication increasingly incorporates a review or overview function: scrolling you through a timeline, sending you back to a particular point in time, like the Facebook Memories feature, or directing you the beginning of an email thread.
Hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing.