Oliver Payne & Nick Relph – The essential selection

Milano - 05/04/2019 : 06/04/2019

A film trilogy

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nero and fabio quaranta present 'the essential selection', a film trilogy realized by british artists duo oliver payne & nick relph, at the very turn of the millennium between 1999 and 2001.

seen today, the films speak of a past that already vanished, yet feels simultaneously so close and so far from our present. when the films were shot, payne & relph were respectively 22 and 20 years old

already influenced by documentaries, avant-garde cinema and closely connected to graffiti, rave and skateboard culture, the artists wanted their works to produce an experience akin to a “visual rave in cinema” in a mixture of romanticism, youthful aesthetics, quasi-documentaristic and artistic films. twenty years later, their militant and satirical gaze on contemporary urban culture and their eclectic style in filmmaking—in between a music video, a surveillance tape and a video diary—feels still contemporary, by their way of showing a very peculiar engagement with the political, in an intimate but poetic form of refusal towards specific social structures.

the three films, entitled driftwood (1999), house and garage (2000) and jungle (2001), are focusing on the city of london, its suburbs and its countryside.

driftwood is a committed and romantic portrait of 1999's london, viewed through the lens of a psychological and geographical stroll of a skateboarder across the urban landscapes of canary wharf, earl’s court and mayfair, and his reflective ride through architectural and public spaces in london, where personal thoughts on social control and individual revolt are confronted with politics, in an homage to patrick keiller’s seminal film london.

“navigate your city by alternative means. follow paths of smell, of sound, whatever. when a desire is a physical possibility, you must defy the stifling constraints of the social order and act upon your desire. smash the symbols of the empire in the name of nothing but the heart's longing for grace.”

house and garage is a free form collage of images filmed in 16mm and super 8, music, and spoken texts exploring the suburbs of london, where the artists grew up in the 1980s. the title makes both reference to the suburbs' architecture of the detached houses, and to the homonymous musical style that was developing at the same time. the juxtaposition of images and ambient sound, conversation and music matches a pure punk bile with some wistful nostalgia.

jungle describes the horrors of the countryside in several rather sustained episodes, in a nocturnal exploration of the rural english nature. a dark journey into the countryside of devon and the superstitious rites surrounding it.

a special thanks to the artists and herald street gallery, london.