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John Smith Introspective – Closing: Programme 2012–21 + Q&A
Institute of Contemporary Arts
Covid Messages, dir. John Smith, UK 2020, 22 min., English

Due to demand, this programme will be screened again at 9pm. Book here.

The final programme in the independently curated and produced John Smith: Introspective (1972 – 2022) takes in eleven films made since 2012 by one of Britain’s most radical, best-loved and most influential artist filmmakers. 

Following the screening of Smith's most recent short films, the filmmaker will be live in conversation with Jarvis Cocker, who has described him as his ‘favourite British filmmaker’.

John Smith: Introspective (1972 – 2022) takes place every Thursday evening from October 1 until December 1 at Close-Up Film Centre, with events at the ICA on October 1 (with composer Jocelyn Pook), October 27 (with filmmaker Carol Morley) and December 1 (with Jarvis Cocker). For more information, visit johnsmith-introspective.com.

Part of the ICA 75th Anniversary Season

Dad’s Stick, dir. John Smith, UK 2012, 5 min., HD video
Dad’s Stick features three objects shown to Smith by his father shortly before he died. Two were so steeped in history that their original forms and functions were almost completely obscured. The third seemed to be recognisable but turned out to be something else entirely.

White Hole, dir. John Smith, UK 2014, 7 min., HD video
Inspired by Smith’s visit to communist Poland in 1980, White Hole questions the idealisation of life in other places while remembering a time when we could at least imagine that the grass might be greener on the other side.

Steve Hates Fish, dir. John Smith, UK 2015, 5 min., HD video
Filmed from a smartphone using an app told to translate French into English, Steve Hates Fish deliberately confuses the software by instructing it to interpret English signage in a busy London shopping street.

Who Are We? (2016, 4 min., HD video)
A reworking of material from a BBC TV debate transmitted a few weeks before Britain voted to leave the EU.

Song for Europe (2017, 4 min., HD video)
Inspired by a message for motorists on Eurotunnel trains, Song for Europe is an underwater celebration of Britain’s connection to the mainland.

Citadel (2020, 16 min., HD video)
Filmed from the artist’s window during lockdown, Citadel combines fragments from Boris Johnson’s speeches with views of London. Recognising the government’s decision to place business interests before public health, it relocates the centre of power from Parliament to the City, contrasting faceless corporate power with the particularities of individual lives.

Jour de Fête (2017, 1 min., HD video)
The French village of Serviès-en-Val celebrates its annual fete each July, with a stage in the main square and fairground attractions in surprising locations.

A State of Grace (2019, 3 min., HD video)
Enigmatic diagrams and the artist’s poor hearing trigger a radical interpretation of airline safety instructions.

Time and Motion (for A L Rees) (2021, 2 min., HD video)
The filmmaker blames a pioneer photographer for his speeding fine.

Covid Messages (2020, 22 min., HD video)
Based around broadcasts of Boris Johnson’s COVID-19 press conferences, Covid Messages is focused on the government’s attempts to eliminate the virus with magic spells and rituals. Exasperated by Johnson’s many mistakes, the spirits of the dead rise up and intervene.

Record (2021, 1 min., HD video)
A larger-than-life portrait of Prince Philip, recorded in 2002 and completed on the day of his death.

All films are ad-free and 18+ unless otherwise stated, and start with a 10 min. curated selection of trailers.

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Side profile of Pulp musician Jarvis Cocker. Text in pink in a playful font reads: