I am currently reading Sean Cubitt and Stephen Partridge’s edited volume REWIND: British Artists’ Video in the 1970s and 1980s (2012, New Barnett: John Libbey), which I’ll be reviewing for Screen. The book and associated online database http://www.rewind.ac.uk/rewind/index.php/Welcome emerged out of the REWIND project, which started in 2004 and continues to be led by Stephen Partridge, Dean of Research, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design. After contributing to The Video Show at the Serpentine in 1975, The Installation Show at the Tate Gallery in 1976, the Paris Biennalle in 1977 and the The Kitchen in New York in 1979, Partridge made Dialogue for Two Players (1984, C4). He and the late Jackie Hatfield planned and implemented the AHRC-funded strand of the REWIND project.
In the fragmented practice that is reading and writing reviews, I’ve been chasing leads and following my nose and came across Catherine Grant’s terrific posting on REWIND, from her blog in August 2009. Grant is one of those amazingly energetic academics who seems to write both academically and in more public contexts, make video, innovate in terms of teaching, etc etc. Inspiring.
Reading REWIND, however, I’m struck by the homology between video as re-writable media (thinking specifically about tape-based formats here) and the structure and contents of the edited collection. Am also thinking about the ways in which absences are presenced on the page. Namely, Hatfield’s early death impacted significantly, and the glitches in the text speak volumes about this. I certainly don’t want to appropriate the life and death of an important artist, a person I never met, into a reading of the critical and creative merits of the book. Yet, there is something fitting about the production of a volume that allows gaps, overlays and stutters and scratches to remain as a reminder that she was/is integral to the project.