Reflecting the seams and sources of the river and their relationship to human intervention, this series of artist films and archive shorts explores the Tamar’s mining history: from the traces of industrial affluence to the landscape that surrounds it. Curated by artist and film curator Lucy Reynolds
Sandra Lahire, Serpent River (1989)
Beautiful but often violent images are interwoven to create an experimental documentary about the hazardous existence of the Serpent River community living in the shadow of uranium mines in Ontario, Canada. Serpent River is the final part of a trilogy (see Uranium Hex and Plutonium Blonde) of anti-nuclear films in which the filmmaker makes visible the invisible menace of radioactivity. People, the landscape and natural resources all bear the scars. A matter-of-fact narration by a woman miner and a radiation expert lend emphasis to the film’s unconventional and evocative images.
Ursula Biemann, Deep Weather (2013)
Water and oil form the undercurrents of all narrations as they activate profound changes in the planetary ecology. After the oil peak, ever dirtier, remote and deeper layers of fossil resources are being accessed. Aerial recording of the devastated crust in Alberta opens the view into dark lubricant geologies. Climate change, exasperated by projects such as the Canadian tar sands, puts the life of large world populations in danger.Melting Himalayan ice fields, rising planetary sea levels, and extreme weather events increasingly impose an amphibian lifestyle on the Bangladeshi population. Gigantic machine-less efforts are made by communities to build protective mud embankments in the delta where large parts will soon be submerged and water is declared the territory of citizenship.
Inger Lise Hansen, Adrift (2003)
Adrift is shot on the arctic island of Spitzbergen and in Norway. It combines time-lapse photography with stop-motion animation of the landscape. Through camera-angles and framing the film gradually dislocates the viewer from a stable base where one loses the sense of scale and grounding. In Svalbard (Spitzbergen) Hansen was in a landscape without many references to distance, scale and perspective. They wanted to work with this sense of dislocation, both visual and geographical, and make the film itself be physically disorientating. This was done through different perspectives and fragmented framing and destabilizing the ground through stop-motion animation.
Mikhail Karikis and Uriel Orlow, Sounds From Beneath (2010-11)
In Sounds from Beneath a desolate disused colliery in East Kent, once populated with workers, machines and the sounds of their activities, is brought back to life through song. The video centers around a choral piece for which Karikis invites an ex-miners’ choir to recall and sing the subterranean sounds of a working coal mine. It transforms into an amphitheatre resonating sounds of explosions in the ground, machines cutting the coal-face, shovels scratching the earth and the distant melody of the Miner’s Lament, all sung by Snowdown Colliery Welfare Male Voice Choir grouping in formations reminiscent of picket lines.