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Photo of John Smith
Photo of John Smith

John Smith

“Nearly all of my work I tend to set up expectations which are not fulfilled, leading people down the garden path a bit. It’s very deliberate and I like that playfulness, not being sure where something is going, but also not being sure quite what it is you are actually looking at. I try and make work that isn’t immediately classifiable within a particular genre.”

Available to Watch

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    CITADEL

    John Smith United Kingdom, 2021

    Typically incisive and playful, Citadel is an urgent film of the COVID era. John Smith’s subversive city symphony, shot in confinement from his window, is profoundly critical of the status quo, responding with the director’s characteristic wit and humanity to the reigning chaos.

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    THE GIRL CHEWING GUM

    John Smith United Kingdom, 1976

    Authorial control is just an illusion in this boisterous classic of experimental film. British artist John Smith starts off as a voice-of-God narrator, barking instructions at the people of 1970s Dalston, yet events soon exceed his dictation. In The Girl Chewing Gum, reality runs away with itself.

    THE BLACK TOWER

    John Smith United Kingdom, 1987

    John Smith takes repetition and makes a mystery out of it in The Black Tower. Above terraced houses and between blocks of flats, the eponymous structure appears to the narrator over and again like a bad omen—and in this curious film about fascination and perception, we share his hallucinatory state.

    BLIGHT

    John Smith United Kingdom, 1996

    As homes are razed to the ground, a mural for The Exorcist is revealed amid the ruins. In John Smith’s Blight, horror hangs over these images of gentrification, and the destruction of a community is loudly lamented in a moving, discordant composition by Stanley Kubrick collaborator Jocelyn Pook.

    OM

    John Smith United Kingdom, 1986

    With deft simplicity and a lightness of touch, John Smith confounds our ingrained assumptions of cultural stereotypes. In only four minutes, Om swings from one extreme to another, playfully punning on how we interpret fashion styles and subcultural codes.

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