Groundwork

  • Steve McQueen, 'Gravesend' (2007), film still. Image: courtesy the artist, Thomas Dane Gallery and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, Paris and London

Steve McQueen | a Groundwork exhibition

An exhibition of Steve McQueen’s film Gravesend will be presented at CAST in a specially constructed black box space, with exceptional sound and image quality, and accompanied by Unexploded, the short film McQueen made during his time as a War Artist in Iraq.

Gravesend (2007) is concerned with the mining of coltan, a dull black mineral used in capacitors, which are vital components in mobile phones, laptops, and other electronics. Juxtaposing an animated fly-by of the Congo River with footage of workers sifting through dark earth and robots processing the procured material in a pristine, brightly lit laboratory, the film’s disjunctions allegorise the very real economic, social and physical distance this material traverses as it moves from the third to the first world. Its final sequence, a time-lapse shot of a sun setting behind smokestacks, brings everything full circle, rendering visual a scene described at the outset of Joseph Conrad’s celebrated novel, Heart of Darkness.

Unexploded (2007) shown on a nearby monitor, is a minute-long film made by McQueen when he was sent to Iraq as a war artist and filmed – from multiple perspectives – a crater left by an unexploded bomb in a building in Basra.

Steve McQueen is a British artist celebrated for his moving image work, and is also the acclaimed director of feature films such as Hunger, Shame and 12 Years a Slave. He won the Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2008 for ‘Hunger’ and the FIPRESCI prize for Shame at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. 12 Years a Slave was awarded three Oscars at the 2014 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. McQueen won the Turner Prize in 1999 and represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2009. His work is celebrated in both art and cinema contexts.

With a focus on place and an emphasis on moving image, sound and performance, the Groundwork season presents new commissions and sited work by internationally acclaimed artists in Cornwall. A changing programme of exhibitions and events unfolds from May to September – visit www.groundwork.art for more information.

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