25 July – 29 August 2020
10 – 12 September 2020
Gallery Weekend Berlin
Christine Roland and Kara Hamilton
At Kurfürstenstraße 156
Site-specific installation at Henry Art Gallery
University of Washington, Seattle
11 June 2020 – 7 February 2021
Suzanne Hudson, World of Art: Contemporary Painting, Thames & Hudson
Olomouc Triennale 2020: The Universal, curated by Gina Renotière
Diversity United. Contemporary European Art
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
11 November 2020 – 21 February 2021
Undo Things Done Exhibition Tour
Senedd, National Assembly for Wales
26 July – 9 September 2020
Masculinities: Liberation through Photography
Barbican Centre, London; Luma Foundation, Arles, and Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin
Tanya Leighton Gallery, Berlin, established in 2008, is dedicated to developing a cross-disciplinary, trans-generational gallery programme with off-site projects, in collaboration with artists, filmmakers, critics, art historians, and curators. Its international exhibition programme reflects a variety of opinions and practices as well as Leighton’s associations with American and British experimental cinema, artist’s film and video, performance, minimal and conceptual art.
Director: Simon Gowing
Director: Patrick Armstrong
Gallery Manager: Melanie Isabel García
Finance Manager: Stefan Schuster
Tanya Leighton GmbH
Kurfürstenstraße 156 & 24/25
Open Tuesday – Saturday
11am – 6pm and by appointment
THE MAN GIRL PHONING CHEWING MUM GUM
25 January – 22 February 2017, Tanya Leighton, Berlin
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of John Smith's film The Girl Chewing Gum, Tanya Leighton is pleased to announce an exhibition focusing on this seminal work, widely regarded as one of the most important avant-garde films of the 20th century. The exhibition's title, 'THE MAN GIRL PHONING CHEWING MUM GUM', is a conflation of the titles of the two films on view – The Girl Chewing Gum, 1976 and The Man Phoning Mum, 2011. The latter repurposes the earlier film wholesale, building on its referent by overlaying video on the original. These two works - both of the same length and sharing the same soundtrack – are presented in synchronized loop.
The original, The Girl Chewing Gum, is an interrogation of the conditions of narrative film and the uneasy relationship between images and language. Debuted at the London Filmmakers' Co-op in 1976 – an era where many experimental filmmakers in Europe and North America were eschewing narrative for materialist concerns – the film is in some senses an anomaly. It consists of twelve minutes of voiceover narration describing two shots – one of a bustling street corner in Dalston, London and the other in a field outside the city. The film begins: Smith's directorial voice projects above the sound of car engines and an incessantly ringing alarm bell. 'Slowly move the trailer to the left', he begins, and a scene takes shape with each prop, backdrop and actor obediently following his cues.
Willful suspension of disbelief is eroded over the first few minutes of The Girl Chewing Gum. Paradoxically, this is not because of unconvincing performances or the voiceover failing to describe what is represented on screen, but rather the cast being too perfect and the narrator too emphatic, overstepping his role in the creation of meaning. He disregards the fact that the camera is an apparatus capable of panning, zooming and focusing – of potentially making meaning – and in turn reminds the viewer of that easily forgotten truth. The conditions of cinema are exposed by this film's over-reliance on them.
The Man Phoning Mum utilizes the footage and soundtrack of The Girl Chewing Gum, treating the earlier film as a kind of readymade. Layered on top of the original is video footage shot more than three decades later in the same locations. Perhaps in a concession to the uncontrollable change that occurs with the passage of time, Smith does not direct the 21st century interlopers in Dalston. The old street corner has changed dramatically, as has East London around it. Technological progress has reshaped our world, seen here as the film's new eponymous protagonist chats into a cell phone.
When the video cuts to rural landscape, subtitles confess that Smith couldn't locate the original field. Whether this is due to the drastic changes in the landscape, the artist's forgetfulness or just another lie, we don't know. Humorously, the subtitles mention that the electricity pylons and trees seem to have been rearranged in a different order – as if all this could happen by one director demanding it from off camera.