John Smith

Waldeinsamkeit. Films from the 21st Century

08.03.2022 -

Filmmakers are observers. In his typical dramaturgy, which experimentally breaks up documentary material and underlines it with humorous elements, John Smith develops cinematic narratives in which the given reality is shaken.

The question about the individual person and his place is repeatedly expressed in a subtle way. John Smith's videos are still mostly made alone and with relatively little technical effort, but the field of view of his camera has now expanded beyond London. Political statements are often intended. In his current films, too, he finds his topics in everyday life.

The exhibition is the second encounter with the cinematic work of John Smith in the Kunstmuseum Magdeburg. Since the short filmmaker and experimental filmmaker had his very first museum exhibition in Magdeburg in 2005, his name has become an integral part of the international art and museum business. Although his way of working has not fundamentally changed in the meantime, he now ranks as a video artist who, with his films, was and still is significantly involved in the historical success of the development of video art. The current presentation focuses on the last two decades.

John Smith, Horizon (Five Pounds a Belgian), 2012
John Smith, Covid Messages (Still), 2020

John Smith was born in Walthamstow, London, in 1952. He studied at North-East London Polytechnic and the Royal College of Art. Inspired in his formative years by conceptual art and structural film, but also fascinated by the immersive power of narrative and the spoken word, he has developed a diverse body of work that subverts the perceived boundaries between documentary, fiction, representation, and abstraction. Often rooted in everyday life, his meticulously crafted films playfully explore and expose the language of cinema.

Smith lives and works in London. He is Emeritus Professor of Fine Art at the University of East London.

Since 1972 Smith has made over sixty film, video and installation works that have been shown in independent cinemas, art galleries and on television around the world. His films have been awarded major prizes at international film festivals in Oberhausen, Leipzig, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Graz, Geneva, Uppsala, Pamplona, Bordeaux, Lucca, Palermo, Split, Cork, Seoul, Ann Arbor and Chicago. He received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011, and in 2013 he was the winner of Film London’s Jarman Award.