Here is a trailer of feature length film I am currently finishing making, which will be screened at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, on 30th January 2020.
Disappearing Worm Wood, 2020
A cinematic witnessing of London living through aberrant, awkward, ugly change, but mostly dying in the process. Filmed over the last half decade, exploring the overlooked aesthetic power of Willesden Junction, Wormwood scrubs, Kensal Green Cemetery and The Grand Union Canal, the film strives to see a closer place, alien, idiosyncratic and yet familiar. It enters into dialogue with its genius loci, capturing and preserving on camera and in word, before it is transformed beyond recognition by the notorious incoming Old Oak redevelopment. The film is part of an ongoing creative collaboration between poet Steven J Fowler and filmmaker Tereza Stehlikova, a project which also includes poetry publications, an exhibition and various public events.
A film that celebrates a particularly charged area of London, a forgotten in-between zone, a sprawling web of canals, railway lines, bridges, tunnels, pedestrian path, workmen’s cafes, graves and open spaces with large expanses of polluted skies… It is a place we find ourselves in, rather than seek out, walking alleys, terrified of being as absent as.
“Let’s listen tonight to Willesden Junction together” said John Berger in his letter to film-maker Tereza Stehlikova, in 2014, when she had told him she had moved to the area, thinking of his writing about it in Railtracks. This film aims to honour that statement, carrying the aesthetic of walking home late, or waiting for a train, imagining him there, in shots without discernible people, many years back, as an art student.
As this hopeless industrial zone started to feel like a home to both Stehlikova and Fowler, who explored it as a means of collaborating, they began experience the expansive landscape as a gift, its ugliness transformed into an expression of freedom. Together the makers hatched a plan to start exploring and documenting, later fuelled by the knowledge of the planned redevelopment, the comically nefarious Old Oak development, threatening to swallow up all that they had grown to love.
The film is a a kind of ritual, often meandering, meditative, limping from documentary to invention, minimalism to maximalism, starting without an exact goal, propelled by the joy of simply being in a place, not knowing where it might take us.
Worm Wood will be shared with a premiere of the 63min film, as well as a reading of some of the texts which have been generated in this multifarious project, including a free, new chapbook publication by SJ Fowler from Sampson Low Publishers, and the gifting of tiny pieces of the location, stolen so they might be kept safe, by you.
Tereza Stehlíková works as an artist, filmmaker and a senior lecturer in still and moving image theory and practice, at the University of Westminster. She holds a PhD from the Royal College of Art, where she researched the tactile language of moving image. She is currently engaged in a cross-disciplinary research, investigating how moving image can be used to communicate embodied experience, by exploring multi-sensory aesthetics and embodiment. Tereza is a founder of Sensory Sites, an international collective based in London, generating collaborative exhibitions, installations and research projects that explore multi-sensory perception and bodily experience. In the past she also co-founded Artesian, a journal for committed creativity, featuring the writings of John Berger, Don DeLillo amongst many others. Stehlikova has presented her research at a number of international conferences and her films and performances have been shown at a variety of film and art festivals around the world (including Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, 2017, and Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, 2019). Apart from the UK, she exhibited and shared her work internationally (Tokyo, Prague, Montreal, Helsinki, Iceland, China etc.). Her ongoing long-term artist film project, 4 Generations of Women (capturing the complex relationships between four generations of women in her own family) has been Shortlisted for BFI 61st London Film Festival Experimenta pitch, presented at Svetozor Cinema in Prague and exhibited in a solo exhibition at Alchemy Film and Art Festival, in Hawick, 2019. http://www.terezast.com, http://cinestheticfeasts.com
SJ Fowler is a writer and artist who works in poetry, fiction, theatre, film, photography, visual art, sound art and performance. He has published seven collections of poetry, three of artworks, four of collaborative poetry plus volumes of selected essays and selected collaborations. He has been commissioned by Tate Modern, BBC Radio 3, Whitechapel Gallery, Tate Britain, the London Sinfonietta, Wellcome Collection and Liverpool Biennial. He has been sent to Peru, Bangladesh, Iraq, Argentina, Georgia and other destinations by The British Council and has performed at festivals including Hay on Wye, Cervantino in Mexico, Berlin Literature Festival and Hay Xalapa. He was nominated for the White Review prize for Fiction in 2014 and has won awards from Arts Council England, Jerwood Charitable Foundation, Creative Scotland, Arts Council Ireland and multiple other funding bodies. His plays have been produced at Rich Mix, where he is associate artist, and his visual art has been exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, V&A, Hardy Tree Gallery and Mile End Art Pavilion. He’s been translated into 27 languages and produced collaborations with over 90 artists. He is the founder and curator of The Enemies Project and Poem Brut as well as editor at 3am magazine and executive editor at The Versopolis Review. He is lecturer in Creative Writing and English Literature at Kingston University, teaches at Tate Modern, Poetry School and Photographer’s Gallery. He is the director of Writers’ Centre Kingston and European Poetry Festival. http://www.stevenjfowler.com