Volume 4 | Issue 3 | Summer 2009


Volume 4 - Issue 3 - These Are the Times: The Images on the Thresold

By Vertigo

Most of the stories we tell are meaningless in dealing with their own end. Yes, people will continue to love, certainly to hate; they will work and dream and some might even thrive, but whatever happens over the threshold of climate change – if radical action is not taken immediately – will take place in a human order utterly altered from the tales we live within today. What does a story mean, what might a walk in the gardens of evening mean, what might expressions of solidarity mean - what might they achieve and effect, when the human continuum, the thread of being that for millennia has run through conflict, through pestilence, through all the woes and calamities of this life, when that very thread of ongoing hope (hope because of life) is severed.
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Maggid Street: Hackney and the Alchemical Impulse

By Iain Sinclair

Maggid Street was configured in 1972 as a chapter in a Hackney-based 8mm diary film undertaken by myself, Renchi Bicknell, Tom Baker and others. Having just published my Ginsberg memoir The Kodak Mantra Diaries...

Only Connect

By Sukhdev Sandhu

Eva Weber is a poet of negative space. She is drawn to locations and territories tacitly designated by society as sterile, pedestrian, banal – corridors of lockers in storage centres, courtyards outside tube stations, huge cranes towering over metropolitan streets...

Rabbit Unrest

By Joy Damousi

In Ann Turner’s 1988 rites-of-passage drama Celia, we have a representation of how Cold War politics can conflate public and private life; how childhood becomes an effective means of exploring the public, private and psychological dimensions of tragedy...

A Shrug of the Shoulders: Marcel L’Herbier’s L’Argent

By Graeme Hobbs

The tale of an innocent man getting caught up in the wreckage created by the speculations of rival bankers is an apposite one for our times. The film, inspired by Zola’s novel of the same name, is Marcel L'Herbier's L'Argent – Money – from 1928.

The New Black

By Karen Alexander

At a time when our cousins across the water have elected their first black president, and the art world is debating categories such as ‘post-black art’, it may seem slightly retrograde to be talking about notions of ‘black cinema’ here in the UK.

Mobile Men: Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Migrant

By Rob Dennis

However much he might be revered for his pantheist lyricism and formal gamesmanship, politics is rarely far from the surface in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s body of work. Perhaps it is no surprise that a filmmaker who has seen so many of his works censored by his own government...

Hotel Diaries: John Smith Makes Room for Reflection

By Ian Christie

It’s tempting to write about Hotel Diaries in the way that this series of films seems to have started. Turn on the computer/camera and start writing/filming what immediately strikes you. I’m in a train in upstate New York and have just finished re-viewing John Smith’s series of films made in hotel rooms over six years.

The Precarious Life of the Palestinian Image: Reflections in the Wake of Gaza

By Nick Denes

The Gaza Strip was turned into “death’s laboratory” over the new year as Israel’s festively-named Operation Cast Lead saw it wage war against an effectively defenceless population – one already starved, and brutalised by years of siege.

A Way of Not Losing Heart: Independent Image-making in Occupied Iraq

By Maysoon Pachachi

I last wrote an article for Vertigo in December 2003. That was about a free-of-charge, donation- and grant-funded film-training centre I was setting up in Baghdad with my friend Kasim Abid, a London-based filmmaker of Iraqi origin, like myself.

A Place Weeping: Gaza and the Myriad Abuses

By John Berger

A few days after our return from what was thought of, until recently, as the future state of Palestine, and which is now the world’s largest prison (Gaza) and the world’s largest waiting room (Cis-jordan), I had a dream.

Duality of Light

By Wendy Walker

A survey exhibition of Sydney-based Lynette Wallworth's new media works from the last decade was a highlight of an invigorated Art & The Moving Image program, part of the biennial Adelaide Film Festival; and, for the first time, the Festival elected to commission a major work by a visual artist...

Sleep Furiously

By Graeme Hobbs

Gideon Koppel’s land in Sleep Furiously lies west of here, but its world is familiar: village shows, calendars from agricultural machinery suppliers, plastic barrels halved for sheep feed, rolls of blue alkathene water pipe propped against a wall, farm supplier’s clothing and workboots, tractors and sheep.

The Bigger Picture

By Jason Wood

In Widescreen: Watching. Real. People. Elsewhere, writer, programmer and documentary filmmaker Mark Cousins presents eighty essays on film and ideas written across the world in the last decade. Compiled from columns he has contributed to Prospect Magazine...

Missing, Camera, Action: Helen and the Longer Take

By Jerry White

Although their background is in experimental performance, Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor have created work that is completely cinematic in a way that few recent narrative films are. They emerged onto the international scene in 2006, with their collection of linked short films...

Raiding the Icebox: Reflections on Twentieth-century Culture

By Dai Vaughan

Peter Wollen’s sequence of essays, Raiding The Icebox, was originally published by Verso in 1993; and its re-issue is to be welcomed. From the start, we are plunged into a maelstrom of erudition encompassing fashion, cinema, politics, the visual arts and much else.

Liminal: A Question of Position

By Chris Lane

Liminal was an exhibition presented in April 2009 at London’s Rivington Place by Iniva. It questioned the thresholds of our perception, the boundaries that mark those thresholds and the opportunities that exist to resist attempts to enforce them.

The Cinematic Guerrilla (aka ‘the blind dialectic of vision’)

By the Celluloid Liberation Front

Celluloid Liberation Front is a multi-use(r) name, an "open reputation" informally adopted and shared by a desiring multitude of insurgent cinephiles, transmedial terrorists, aesthetic dynamyters and random deviants.

The Empire’s New Clothes: Sally Potter’s RAGE

By Sophie Mayer

RAGE isn’t so much a film about fashion, as about refashioning film. Told through a series of monologues (and equally telling silences) delivered in front of a greenscreen and addressed to the cellphone camera of the invisible, inaudible schoolboy protagonist Michelangelo...

Feel the Power, Experience the Pleasure: Contemporary Tehran and its Visual Culture

By Vahid Valizadeh

Feel the power, experience the pleasure. Raised over the congested Hemmat highway in Tehran, god-like, two gigantic billboards call the commuters to their heaven, with these words alongside a picture of a BMW. Probably the representatives of BMW think of improving the sales of their product, but I think of the teeth of bourgeois ideology.

Optimism at Point of No Return: Dan Walwin and the Implications of Landscape

By Gareth Evans

Images, like crashing planes, arrive out of left-field. Those at least that jolt us into new ways of seeing, or of seeing what has long been there, minted afresh.

Visible Thresholds: The Imaginary Cinema of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

By Davina Quinlivan

Surfaces, textures and traces of dust all tend to mark visible thresholds between the material world and the invisible environs that Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller attempt to invoke.

Everywhere Is Different and Everywhere Is the Same: Frederick Wiseman and the Making of the World

By Robert Chilcott

The cinema of Frederick Wiseman continues, almost annually, to draft a labyrinthine parchment of the American Institution, and as such the minutiae, the jigsaw, of American, and all Western, society.

These Are The Times: Episodes from a Life of Thomas Paine

By Trevor Griffiths

In the 200th year since his death, the astonishingly influential radical thinker and writer Thomas Paine is incarnated afresh in the work of one of the most important and politically committed British dramatists and screenwriters of the last fifty years.

In the Perceptible Field

By Catherine Elwes

A contemporary audience encountering Robert Cahen’s work for the first time might struggle to imagine the impact of his experimentations in video art in the late 1970s. Our knowledge of video at that time was limited to television, which for most of us was still drab black & white, and dominated by a seamless realism.

My Father’s Country

By Maryclare Foá

Figuring Landscapes brings together British and Australian artists’ film & video and ventures into those countries’ shared histories.

Paradoxes of Peace or the Presence of Infinity

By Nicholas Mosley

One of Britain’s very few genuinely experimental writers, Nicholas Mosley has been publishing for six decades. A remarkable stylist, with a visionary sense of language, history, psychology and human relations, his many novels and works of non-fiction have made an oeuvre unique in British letters.

The Man from London: Notes after the Event

By Dai Vaughan

This film (by Béla Tarr) lies heavy in the memory as an ill-digested meal will lie heavy on the stomach. It demands our continued concern, nagging at us with the suspicion that some important truth has been articulated...

Writing as Magic in London in Its Summer: Iain Sinclair and the Crafting of Place

By Kathy Acker

The precision. I remember the excitement of reading White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings – my first Iain Sinclair experience – though I don’t remember where and when. And yet every word of Sinclair’s, herein lies his style, is always positing when and where.

When Faces Counted Most

By Noah Isenberg

While children across the globe were busy tearing open their presents on Christmas Day 2008, Ann Savage, the 87 year-old bad girl of film noir was battling a series of strokes – one of the few fights she would ultimately lose – in a Hollywood nursing home.

Betrayed by Rita Hayworth

By James Norton

Best known for Kiss of the Spiderwoman, Argentinian novelist Manuel Puig’s 1968 debut Betrayed by Rita Hayworth – a title inverting the traditional course of desire; betrayal preceding kiss – has just been reissued by Dalkey Archive Press, superbly translated by the author’s friend Suzanne Jill Levine.


By Nancy Harrison

It’s Saturday night at a cinema on London’s South Bank. The projectionist is putting the final touches to the 35mm print before threading it through the projector. Ushers are settling the audience into seats and people are chatting to each other.

A New Way Must Be Seen

By Sukhdev Sandhu

Just when it seemed as if American independent cinema was dead, engulfed by a landslide of cutesy ironists and mumblecore mitherers, along comes Ramin Bahrani.

Amytis Yearns for Ecbatana: Field Recordings from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon

By Vaughan Pilikian

In July 2003, an Iraqi man was arrested at London City Airport carrying a suitcase containing seventeen clay cylinders inscribed with what looked like cuneiform script. First thought to be relics looted from Baghdad's National Museum, these cylinders were later traced to an archaeological site in al-Hillah...

In The Room: Lost Cinema, Post-Cinema, Post-Traumatic Cinema

By Chris Petit

This is not about that fashionable subject, death of cinema, but is about the ‘after’ of something, a shift which is probably too early to identify yet, other than by hairline cracks.

Folk Routes

By Adam Pugh

With the façade of the early 21st century goldrush crumbling and lean times ahead, there is a need, perhaps more than ever before, to locate meaning; to find new ways of navigating and humanising our environment.

At Risk of Interment: WG Sebald in Terezin and Breendonk

By Will Stone

My aim here is simply to discuss certain ‘creatively enabled’ melancholic gleanings made by the late writer WG Sebald from the morbidly endowed climate of two Holocaust related locations, which play a key role in Austerlitz, and to suggest how the historic realities harboured by such locations...

I Wanted

By Roque Dalton

I wanted to talk about life and all its song-filled
corners I wanted to merge in a torrent of words
dreams and names and what’s never printed

Walking in Palestine

By Emile Ashrawi

"When I began hill walking in Palestine a quarter of a century ago, I was not aware that I was travelling through a vanishing landscape. For centuries the central highland hills of Palestine, which slope on one side towards the sea and on the other towards the desert, had remained relatively unchanged."

Kino Korrespondence

By Ken McMullen

There is no such thing as independent cinema… cinema can only exist in relation to the means of production available and in correspondence with other cultural disciplines...

Blind Spot: Judy Price and Metaphors of Vision in Israel and Palestine

By Lucy Reynolds

Made in the context of a fictional television interview in Jean Luc Godard’s film Notre Musique, the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish appears to speak the unspeakable, to admit a measure of complicity in the brutal destruction suffered by his nation at the hands of the Israelis.


By a Fine Quartet

Independent DVD Releases Reviewed

and I am waiting

and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again…
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem

Volume 4 - Issue 3 - Summer 2009

This issue is dedicated to all our contributors, readers and fellow travellers over the years; without you we are nothing. Thank you for all your work, for your support; and for your commitment in troubled, uncertain, extraordinary times.

“But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive; for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” – George Eliot, from Middlemarch

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
: Gareth Evans
Assistant Editor
: Nancy Harrisson
Original Website
: Chris Lane
Publication Manager
: Nancy Harrisson
Online Editor
: Robert Chilcott
Web Development
: Tim Riley
: Abigail Freeman
Original Print Design
: Tomasz Zarebski

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Michael Chanan, Gareth Evans, Nick Haeffner, James Leahy, Hannah Patterson, Julian Petley, Anne Robinson, Sheila Whitaker 

Printed by: Cambrian Printers Ltd.

Front cover and Editorial image: "Fire in the Eye" by Disinformation © Joe Banks 2004 

With Special Thanks to: Bad Idea magazine, Aneta Chałas, Peter Chappel, Ian Christie, Curzon Cinemas, Helen Devine, Hermoine Harris, Antonia Hazelrigg (UKFC), Ajay Hothi (ACE), Julie Lomax (ACE), Mehelli Modi (Second Run), Maysoon Pachachi, Micheal Pierce, Sven Porter, Gautham Ravidran, Ana Santos, Sylvia Stevens