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Video collage from archive, 05'26''


Neverending Jigsaw uses the archive to build a symphonic video composition: periods of rhythmic, layered industrial textures and movement interspersed with bucolic hand tinted scenes of farmland. But these quiet scenes are eerily populated with objects out of context: made from the cogs, wheels, steel tubes, jibs and other industrial/agricultural ephemera cut from one scene and composited onto the countryside. This obsolete, silent machinery is placed in fields in outsized proportions to make curious monuments in the manner of Paul Nash’s Equivalents for the Megaliths, reminiscent of the antifascist Spomeniks built in the former Yugoslavia. Divorced from their previous function, these monoliths imprint their shapes on the landscape: mysterious shadow structures of memories; leftovers of forgotten worlds. Heavy industry seems as alien to most of us now as ploughing with a horse. 


The objects are almost digitally excavated from the footage: dug out of the image and placed in different scenes to make surreal sculptural forms. We see not just the film textures of the original archive but VHS artefacts & dvd glitches where they’ve been digitised - and the pixels we see it through now. In this way the film traverses layers of time in the materiality of the film objects. Everything in this world is fragile and unstable - constantly buried, dug up, the land remodelled and remoulded, on the brink of collapse. 

The faster paced scenes are built using dynamic moving sequences of industrial processes, angular cranes creating shifting negative space compositions. The images are disintegrated, dissolved, buried and evaporate into plumes of smoke. The film cuts and folds time on itself, making a prism through which to see the past in a new way. It explores things that are lost and unremembered but still leave their imprint in the topography of the land, in the composition of the soil and the movements of populations that, as the Triple Harvest narrative puts it, make “the neverending jigsaw of life”.

Commissioned as part of TRIPLE HARVEST.

Triple Harvest is a collection of new online video work as part of In Steps of Sundew, Fermynwoods Contemporary Art’s two-year programme of artistic interventions in public spaces across Northamptonshire. The programme explores the push and pull between nature and human presence and the effect that extracting resources from the landscape has upon those living within it.

“The story of Corby is one of steel. The fortunes of the East Northamptonshire town were intrinsically tied to those of the steel industry for much of the 20th century: booming in the postwar years before succumbing to the aftermath of the 1970s recession. Corby is a place of constant reinvention, adaptation and modernisation, and the raw materials of its history can be extracted from the holdings of the BFI National Archive and regional collections.”

British Film Institute


For Triple Harvest artists were invited to remix four Corby heritage films to create new narratives through the extraction of archival film material. 

View the other films here

The use of collage, perhaps the most direct parallel with the destruction of material and it’s re-purposing to new forms through the violence of extraction, is prominent in the work of Sapphire Goss and Martha Cattell. Both these artists have produced short films that engage the viewer through layering, patterning, surprising overlays and repetition, giving them an immediate, animated feel. The ending of Sapphire’s film, perhaps of all of the works, reveals most directly the hauntological aspects of the films, made in an awareness of the persistence of a scarred landscape following the demolition of the steelworks; the shattered industrial forms at the end of her work Neverending Jigsaw are reminiscent of the semi-Surrealist forms of destroyed enemy aircraft in Paul Nash’s painting Totes Meer (Dead Sea, 1941). Of all the artists, Sapphire’s work perhaps does the most to challenge the pleasant assumptions of harmony and interdependence between the land and industry, presented in the archive films

Jon Blackwood' s review of the Triple Harvest exhibition 'Stripping the Overburden'

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