The Toxic Camera
by Jane and Louise Wilson, UK 2012, 21'
SCREENPLAY: Susan Schuppli e Tony White   PRODUCER: Ohna Falby
SHOT BY: Martin Testar   PRODUCTION: Wilson Sisters
SOUND: Philippe Ciompi   CO-PRODUCED BY: Film London e Forma Arts and Media
EDITING: Daniel Goddard   DISTRIBUTION: Forma Arts and Media
    LANGUAGE: English; Subtitles: Italian

Schermo dell'Arte - Archivio Film Presented at Lo schermo dell'arte Film Festival 2013

This piece was inspired by the documentary Chernobyl: A Chronicle of Difficult Weeks (1986), shot by filmmaker Vladimir Shevchenko in the Chernobyl reactor in the days after the nuclear disaster. Exposure to radiation, which killed the director shortly afterwards, altered the film-stock he used to shoot his film (the reel was considered “the most dangerous in the world”) and made his film-camera, a Konvas Avtomat 35mm, highly toxic. The camera was buried on the outskirts of Kiev.
25 years later, the Wilson sisters re-created the event, through testimonials from several Chernobyl “veterans”, and Shevchenko’s collaborators. In this reflection on the effects of the catastrophe and on the “material nature of film”, their stories guide us in an itinerary from the nuclear waste dump in Pirogovo, Ukraine, and the architecture of an abandoned military base at Orford Ness, Suffolk, where the artists placed several imposing, obsolete yardsticks.
Utilized by the Wilsons to create installations, these objects, which we see in many scenes, function as markers of the passage of time and to reveal presences, while at the same time sending us back to the history of these places and to the strange sort of tourism they’ve recently attracted.

Jane and Louise Wilson
Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, they both attended Goldsmiths College, London. Their work, which comprises installation, photography and video, is centered around  historical research, with particular attention paid to vestigial architecture. They were nominated for the prestigious Turner Prize in 1999 for their film Gamma, shot in an old American military base in England.
One-man shows: De Appel, Amsterdam, 2004; British Film Institute Gallery, Southbank, 2009; Centro Gallego de Arte Contemporánea, Santiago de Compostela; Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, 2010; Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee; Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester 2012. Group shows: Out of Time, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2006; The Science Of Imagination, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, 2010; Stanley Kubrick retrospective exhibition, LACMA, Los Angeles, 2012. They live and work in London.

Selected filmography
2003: A Free and Anonymous Monument; 2004: Erewhon; 2005: Broken Time; 2006: Sealander;  2008: Spiteful of Dream; 2009: Unfolding the Aryan Papers; Songs For My Mother; 2011: Face scripting - What did the building see?

Toxic Camera trailer from Forma on Vimeo.

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