The artist John Smith has won the sixth annual Film London Jarman Award. Announced last night at a ceremony in London’s Whitechapel Gallery, the award acknowledges contemporary UK artist filmmakers who ‘take risks, resist boundaries and defy convention’, and celebrates the ‘spirit of experimentation and imagination’ that defined the work of filmmaker Derek Jarman, who died in 1994.
Smith, who has been working as an artist since the 1970s, was chosen from a shortlist of 10 that also featured Ed Atkins, Emma Hart and Rachel Maclean. All four artists will receive a commission for Channel 4’s short-form strand, Random Acts, while Smith also receives a £10,000 prize.
Over 40 years, Smith has produced over 50 film, video and installation works that sit somewhere between documentary and fiction and often feature London, where he was born and lives. Considered an important and influential artist in terms of artists’ moving image practice in the UK and internationally, recent years have seen a renewed interest in his work. His recent film Dad’s Stick (2012) received both the ARTE Prize for European Short Film and the Jean Vigo Prize for Best Director.
In announcing Smith as the winner, the judging panel stated: “We returned to the essence and spirit of Jarman himself, as a British filmmaker with a love for experimentation, pageantry, and his borderless approach to disciplines – he was transgressive.”
Chaired by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator of the Department of Media and Performance Art at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, this year’s jury included: Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery; Tabitha Jackson, Commissioning Editor for Arts, Channel 4; Carol Morley, filmmaker; Omar Kholeif, curator, writer and editor; the artists Thomson & Craighead; and Francesca Gavin, Visual Arts Editor, Dazed & Confused.