Close Up

24 November 2022: John Smith: Introspective Programme 8 (2010-12)


In celebration of John Smith’s 50 years of radical filmmaking, and Close-Up present the most extensive survey of his work to date: screening 50 films by Smith, organised into 10 weekly programmes. For the season's full programme visit:

Programme 8 (2010-12)
With John Smith and Iain Sinclair in conversation

Flag Mountain
John Smith, 2010, 8 min

A view across the border in Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus. The camera looks over the rooftops of the Greek Cypriot south to the mountains of the Turkish Republic in the north, where a display of nationalism is enhanced by filmic means. Moving between macro and micro perspectives, Flag Mountain sets dramatic spectacle against everyday life as the inhabitants of both sides of the city go about their daily business.

Demo Tape
John Smith, 2010, 5 min

Whilst staying in a very expensive hotel in Geneva, a businessman expresses his outrage when the TV news reports a demonstration in London against student fees.

Unusual Red cardigan
John Smith, 2011, 12 min

The filmmaker's discovery of an overpriced VHS tape of his work on eBay triggers obsessive speculation about the seller's identity.

The Man Phoning Mum
John Smith, 2011, 12 min

Revisiting the original locations of The Girl Chewing Gum after three and a half decades, The Man Phoning Mum retraces its camera movements and superimposes new material upon the old. Black and white passers by from 1976 meet their colourful present day counterparts in the well-trodden street, oblivious to each other’s existence.

"… So, thirty-five years later, in a cultural moment now characterised by reflex nostalgia, you return to the same street corner – and the same field, or at least that’s the aim – and film again and layer the new film onto the old, the girl chewing gum and her momentary compatriots flickering through crisp video like monochrome celluloid ghosts, past and present interlaid. The fact that you’re using a different recording medium now is far from all that’s changed. The archetypal figure, here, signposted by the title The Man Phoning Mum, is toting a compact technology inconceivable in the year of Punk, a mobile phone.” – Martin Herbert

Soft Work
John Smith, 2012, 37 min

Waiting by the sea with his camera ready for action, the artist complains about the weather and attempts to describe his intentions and working methods. Soft Work is a film about the making of a film, where the viewer can only imagine what that film might be. It was made spontaneously during the production of Horizon (Five Pounds a Belgian), a video installation commissioned by Turner Contemporary, Margate

Screening as part of John Smith: Introspective (1972-2022)