Currently in progress is a 30 minute film due to be complete Spring 2023 that re-stages photographs made by Pucill with the filmmaker Sandra Lahire who was her partner before she died in 2001. Lahire’s piano playing, incomplete Phd, and performance to camera on Brighton beach accompany interior photo-performances.
Sarah Pucill’s recent film Eye Cut (16mm, 20’, 2021) premiered at London Film Festival and won best experimental film at Toronto Women Film Festival and at London New Wave Festival and will show at Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art Dec 2022. Eye Cut returns Pucill’s practice back to the film language of her early Surrealist interior sets and objects, where echoes of her first film You be Mother (1990) are revisited.
Sarah Pucill’s publicly funded films have been shown in galleries and won awards at Festivals internationally. The majority of her films take place within the confinements of domestic space, where the grounded reality of the house itself becomes a portal to a complex and multi layered psychical realm. In her explorations of the animate and inanimate, her work probes a journey between mirror and surface, in which questions of representation are negotiated.
Pucill made two long films that re-imagine photographs by Claude Cahun alongside voices from her writing. The first Magic Mirror (16mm, 75min, b/w, 2013), premiered at Tate Modern, screened at ICA, London Art Fair, Birkbeck Cinema, and toured internationally with LUX and was staged as an exhibition, “Magic Mirror: Claude Cahun and Sarah Pucill” at the Nunnery Gallery 2015 alongside Claude Cahun’s photographs. In 2022 the film toured to Paris, Caen and Marseille in association with the play “Invisible Adventure” by Marcus Lindeen which includes clips from both films (also interviews with Pucill inspired the script), also screened at Washington Museum Gallery and the Lexi Cinema London 2022.
The second of a two-part study on the work of Cahun, Confessions To The Mirror (16mm, col, 68min, 2016) premiered at the London Film Festival in October 2016 and in 2017 at Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Creteil, Paris Intl Women’s Film Festival, Dortmund Intl Women’s Film Festival, Close Up Cinema and National Portrait Gallery, London. A gallery staging of Confessions to the Mirror is touring in an exhibition of Cahun’s photographs, “Under the Skin” originally at Cobra Museum Gallery, Amstelveen, Oct 2019-March2020, at Kunsthal Museum Gallery, Rotterdam May-August 2022.
A gallery installation, “Garden Self Portraits’ (2019) which included costumes and props from the film with shots from the Confessions to the Mirror reflected in water, were staged at Ottawa Art Gallery in the exhibition, “Face à Claude Cahun et Marcel Moore”. Two chapters written by the artist on Pucill’s use of tableaux vivants in Magic Mirror and Confessions to the Mirror “ were published in Cinematic intermediality, (Ed M Schmid+K Knowles), 2021 and Experimental and Expanded Animation, (Ed N Hamlyn+V Smith) 2018.
In 2017 Phantom Rhapsody (16mm, bw, 20min, 2010) was staged in the gallery at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, in one of the first exhibitions to include invited moving image artists, curated by Eileen Cooper (also invited Isaac Julien). Phantom Rhapsody premiered at Sainsburies Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich in a programme curated by Ben Cook (LUX), was screened at Edinburgh International Film Festival, at Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts Superieure in Paris, the Millennium, New York. It was part of the DVD compilation published by LUX in 2011 and which launched at BFI Southbank and in the same year was screened as part of Maya Deren’s 50th anniversary, in a retrospective of my films. More recently in 2013, it was selected for ‘Assembly: A Survey of Recent Artists: Film and Video in Britain 2008-13 at Tate Britain. Distinctive in its stark use of black and white, the film draws connections between canonical painting, early cinema and theatrical side-show ‘magic’ acts. The film examines the appearance and disappearance of the phantom as it relates to the present/absent dynamic of visible lesbian sexuality in the canons of both cinema and art history.
Fall In Frame (16mm, 20′, 2009), toured leading venues in the US and Canada in 2009 (including Film Anthology Archives, AIR Gallery, New York and Pleasure Dome, Toronto and LA Filmforum, Los Angeles), was screened at Montreal Festival of New Cinema and at retrospective screenings in London including the Freud Museum and at N.O.WHERE. The film explores the materiality of the filmmaking process as part of a young woman’s constrained performance that blurs a distinction between the physical and consciousness.
Blind Light (16mm, 20′, 2007), screened at The Lab, San Francisco in December 2017 as part of ‘LightField’. It was screened at Tate Modern in 2010 in a programme curated by Maxa Zoller. In the film the filmmaking process as performance and image is brought into the fold of a fragmented spoken narrative. Like Phantom Rhapsody and Fall in Frame, it was funded by the Arts Council of England and like many earlier works was also awarded funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council. It premiered at Millennium Film, NY and was shown at the European Media Arts Festival Osnabruck, the Louise T Blouin Foundation in London, and Aurora Media Arts Festival in 2008 and at VideoForms Festival, France 2009.
Taking My Skin (16mm, bw, 35′, 2006) was recipient of the Marion McMahon Award at the Images Festival in Toronto 2007 and together with Stages of Mourning (2004) received Directors Citation from the Black Maria Film Festival. Continuing Pucill’s experiments with the collapsing of space in front of and behind the camera, the film tracks a dialogue between the artist and her mother while each alternately instruct, position and direct. Exhibition stagings have included: ‘Mother Cuts: Experiments in Film, Video & Photography’ at New Jersey University Gallery in 2008 together with work by Mona Hatoum and Mary Kelly. In the same year in ‘MultiChannel’, Artsway Gallery curated by Peter Bonnell and in 2007 in ‘Intervention’ at Fieldgate Gallery, London curated by Richard Ducker. Later screenings include Xcentric Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona in 2011.
Pucill’s individual visual language emerged in the 1990s in the context of visual arts and experimental film and has been shown internationally in galleries and cinemas. You Be Mother, Pucill’s award winning film (Best Innovation, Atlanta, 1995; Best Experimental Film, Oberhausen, 1991) was exhibited in Moving Portrait at De La Warr Paviliion in 2011 and was exhibited in ‘A Century of Film and Video Artists’ (2004) at Tate Britain where her work has also enjoyed retrospective screening and in ‘A History of Artists Film and Video’ (2007) at BFI Southbank.
Her films have been screened at major international film festivals including: London Film Festival, Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Osnabruck Media Arts Festival, Berlin International Film Festival and Montreal Festival of New Cinema. Television broadcasts include: BSB TV Australia (Mirrored Measure, 1996; bought by BSB), Carlton Television (Backcomb, 95; funded by Carlton), Granada TV (You Be Mother, 1990).
Sarah Pucill lives and works in London, has a doctorate and is Reader at University of Westminster. Her work is archived and distributed through LUX (who have produced 3x DVDs with accompanying commissioned essays), London and LightCone, Paris.