Currently reading : Derek Jarman: Pandemonium
Derek Jarman: Pandemonium is an immersive exhibition that celebrates the life and work of this truly innovative and multi-faceted artist. A student of humanities at King’s from 1960 to 1963, Jarman went on to become one of the most important creative practitioners of his generation and a crucial voice in gay politics in Britain. Painter, filmmaker, set designer, diarist, poet, gardener, activist – Jarman’s work across many areas and media was distinguished for its continual innovation and sense of daring. This exhibition, marking the 20th anniversary of his death from an HIV-related illnesses in February 1994, captures the unruly spirit of his work and his artistic times.
The exhibition focuses on Jarman’s life along the Thames and the ways his work engages with London – from his student days at King’s, to his time in artistically vital warehouses at Bankside and Butler’s Wharf where he lived for most of the 1970s. Pandemonium links Jarman’s studies as an undergraduate – especially the emphasis on the literature and history of the Medieval and Renaissance periods – to his later artistic and intellectual interests.
Among his most arresting work in the 70s were his Super 8 films, and the exhibition will be screening three films continuously. In addition a display of his astonishingly elaborate notebooks which he kept for each of his feature films and writing projects will be on display. The Super 8 films and the notebooks are still too rarely seen. Furthermore, Jarman’s life and work will be contextualised through the many collaborative relationships which helped to inform and enrich his output. In focusing on the warehouse culture of the 70s, the exhibition seeks to celebrate the collaborative spirit which was so important in cultural production at the time.
A programme of public events can be viewed here.
Besides from this exciting exhibition, the BFI are playing a range of his films and have just announced the premier of a never before seen film Will You Dance With Me? made in 1984 in Benjy’s the gay club in Mile End London. This unedited VHS made footage follows the movements of the dancing within the club from break dance to disco.
The film will be screened at the Bfi in London on 22 March