Preview: Thursday, 9 May 2012

Exhibition Run: 10 May - 16 June 2012

Curated by Fiona Parry

Walk-Through is a new film by British artist Redmond Entwistle set in the California Institute of the Arts, Los Angeles. The film explores the site, design and philosophy of CalArts as a starting point for posing wider questions about contemporary pedagogical models and their relationship to new forms of social, political and economic exchange that have emerged since the 1970s.

Walk-Through is devised as a tour of the CalArts campus, which moves back and forth through the institution’s history, analysing the location, design and function of the building. The studied voiceover articulates the rhetoric of CalArts’ founding mission which, when read through the current moment, pinpoints an early form of cultural capital embedded within the pedagogical institution. Slowly the tour starts to shift as we see students gather in a classroom to attend a fictional recreation of influential artist and teacher Michael Asher’s Post-Studio class. The Post-Studio class, which took the form of critical group discussions around students’ work, has subsequently become one of the primary models of teaching in art schools today.

In this forensic atmosphere of the staged classroom discussion, which mirrors the intensity of Asher’s classes, the film shifts into a space of science fiction and allegory. Some students can speak while others can’t, as whispered lines are fed to the principal actors from those at the back of the class. These first person recollections, taken from former students, are increasingly interrupted by the reading out of bureaucratic information, detailing the literal financial and infrastructural underpinning of the institution as if the students have become mouthpieces for its memory, also hinting at the institutional critique of Asher’s own work. As the discussion progresses we begin to understand that what is being staged is an exercise in assessing the parameters of the institution’s legitimacy and the legitimacy of the class as a space within which to speak, as well as individual speech itself as a principal tool of democracy.

Borrowing formal and atmospheric motifs from 1970s giallo films by directors such as Mario Bava and Dario Argento, Walk-Through re-imagines CalArts as a site of potential intrigue, subtly calling into question the artistic and democratic tenets embedded in the school’s founding ideology. Through a style and form that shifts from didacticism to fiction the film expresses some of the complexity of the changing status of the body, memory and language in current educational and political formations, especially at a time when government cuts threaten arts education, and higher education is being marketised worldwide.

Walk-Through is co-commissioned by Tramway for Glasgow International Festival 2012, International Project Space, Birmingham and Cubitt Gallery, London.

Redmond Entwistle (b. London, 1977) is an artist and filmmaker based in New York and London. Recent group shows include Nought to Sixty, ICA, London, 2008, and Greater New York: Artists Cinema, PS1 MOMA, 2010. In 2008 his film Paterson – Lódz won Best International Film On-Screen at Images Festival. His last film Monuments had its gallery premiere at Art in General in 2010, and has been shown in festivals and curated programs including the Rotterdam International Film Festival, the National Gallery of Art Washington, Viennale, Hors Pistes at the Centre Pompidou, Anthology Film Archives and the Walker Art Center. His work is distributed by LUX Artists’ Moving Image.