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Completely surprised to find echoes of 2010 Olympic artworks in REWIND: British Artists’ Videos in the 1970s and 1980s. Ian Breakwell’s One, from 1971, needs to have a conversation with Rina Liddle’s We Are Watching. I write about Liddle’s work in my chapter in the soon-to-be-published OUP Handbook of the Archaeology of the Contemporary World (co-editors: Paul Graves-Brown, Rodney Harrison, Angela Piccini). In One, Breakwell set out a performance event on the second floor of the Angela Flowers Gallery in Soho. There, ‘labourers’ shovelled earth from one mound to another. At ground level, in a shop adjacent to the gallery, a TV monitor relayed CCTV footage of the shovelling so that passersby could watch. This was taking place against the background of the latest moon landing, which was being screened on TVs in shop windows all round the city. The Breakwell piece subverted the saturation of broadcast TV, something that Riddle’s piece for Jefferey Boon Gallery echoed. Her’s is a participatory work, however, that both involves and implicates audience in the production of media spectacle. A CCTV camera was set up beneath a billboard in an adjacent fenced-off piece of ground. This filmed passersby who were looking up on the side of the building, where crowd-sourced video of Olympic events, protests, actions was being projected. The CCTV footage was relayed into the Gallery and projected on to its rear wall, visible to people on the street.

In Sheet (1970), Breakwell and Mike Leggett took a 3m-sq linen sheet around Bristol and filmed it in various locations. Formally, this finds echoes in Lois Klassen’s excellent work Covering Up (2010) http://loiszing.blogs.com/photos/covering_up/index.html, although the conversation here doesn’t extend past the basic elements of textile, city, film.

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