All The Pages That Have Turned, All The Errors Left Unlearned
John Latham, Film Star, 1960
Tate Britain, London, 15th October, 2015
This 1960 piece, Film Star, by John Latham struck me recently when I walked through the Tate Britain. I'm drawn to mixed media pieces, particularly ones that repurpose or incorporate everyday objects. Sometimes they work, often they don't, but they express a desire on the part of the artist to remake the world around them.
To me they almost seem to be anti-art, where in a traditional painting or sculpture the artist is trying to reflect what they see, to remake base material (a blank canvas, stone or clay) in the form of an externality, but with mixed-media pieces like this it often seems to me that they are trying the reverse, to remake the external in the form of an internality that exists only in their mind.
According to the Tate:
"This work was titled Film Star because it appeared in Latham's film Unedited Material from the Star. It incorporates books whose pages have been painted in twelve colours. Because the books can be opened at different pages, the work can exist in different states. The film consists of static shots of opened books. During production, Latham would stop filming at various points, turn the pages of the books, and start filming again. When the film is shown, the books appear suddenly to open, close and change colour."
As I was thinking yesterday about the passing of David Bowie, this piece by Latham (a detail of which I had used in a post over the weekend) came to mind, with Bowie's public life being a series of static shots, pauses in an ongoing narrative that gave the impression of something completely different each time, but at their core were but moments of a constantly moving original.