Jeff Keen’s films contain innumerable internal layers and films within films. The twenty-four films here include ‘Dirt Film’, a hand-painted movie: Brainstorm, a montage tribute to Vorkapich; Waxwurx, a modern art tableau; along with animated films, films-as-evidence, etc’ – Jeff Keen. Unusually for a 16mm Keen movie, 24 films is silent. —BFI.
Jeff Keen is one of the most prolific and longest working experimental filmmakers in Britain. His directness and intuitive understanding of archetype plus his persistent and evolving referencing of popular culture means that his work appeals as much to skaters and punks as to followers of the canonical avant-garde.
Born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, Keen started making films in his late thirties, having already served in World War II (a pivotal experience) and worked for Brighton’s Parks and Gardens. His first 8mm pieces, Wail (1960) and Like The Time Is Now (1961) were presented at the local art school film society. Only a few other people (such as Margaret Tait, John Latham and Bruce Lacey) were making experimental films in Britain at the time. Although he has no recollection of having seen any American experimental work at this time, Keen’s films share some basic similarities with the early work of Ken Jacobs and Jack Smith in that they have friends perform and interpret other… read more