The Slade School of Fine Art is happy to present documentary footage of the 2022 Summer Shows shot by Slade students on the school’s 16mm Bolex cameras. Funded by UCL Alumni Engagement, the project - led by BA (sculpture) student Niki Kohandel and facilitated by Film & Media Technician Andrew Northrop and Slade Deputy Director (Projects) Jo Volley - sought to give students an opportunity to experience 16mm filmmaking without the barrier of cost.
The resulting footage is a unique time capsule of the effort students across Fine Art Media, Sculpture and Painting put into preparing their summer shows. The public-facing Slade Degree shows are a much-anticipated annual event; they are part of the exam process and are a manifestation of current student work. There is so much work that goes on behind the scenes, and this project permitted us to showcase those efforts in a distinctive way through the use of celluloid film.
The Slade maintains a variety of 16mm filmmaking equipment, much of which dates back to the school’s early adoption of filmmaking practice in 1960 and various ties to the former London Filmmakers Co-op. The resulting film gives alumni students a unique record of their work, and gives progressing and former students broader confidence in 16mm cameras and documentary filmmaking. The 16mm rushes from this project will be deposited in the Slade's archive.
Niki Kohandel student lead on the project states:
It was during the first lockdown, at a time where I was away from the Slade, that I became interested in the school's history. By history, I don't intend to reference the renowned artists that have taught or studied at the Slade - the names which have been associated to this building in books and encyclopaedias. I was drawn to learn more about those whose works 'have not made the cut', names that have not been part of the official narrative and therefore of our memories.
As I returned to UCL, filming the work of current students became a necessity. Where I have found it so difficult to find images of past international students making at the Slade, I wished to prevent this from reoccurring in the future. Recording the gestures that are repeated and reinvented every generation seemed almost more important than showing the finished pieces of work. During the lead up to the degree shows, students became active participants in the preservation of the school's memory, regardless of their position behind or in front of the camera. I hope that our collective work will be carried on by future students and contribute to the Slade archive.
Film & Media Technician Andrew Northrop writes:
In a world of instant gratification and amidst pressure to frame every creative act as a finalised project, we often overlook the amount of work people put into things behind the scenes. As a Technician, the processes of making are just as important to me as the final pieces, and the moments Niki, Ning and Yuuki captured during this project convey that energy and the sense of anticipation around the public-facing shows.
The Bolex is an unusually shaped camera that you bring very close to your body when shooting handheld, and as a result it heightens the subjectivity of the operator when you’re watching the footage back. You can feel when they choose to commit a memory to film, how they might crouch down to film something, the lens they chose, and the personal interest in seeking out a certain item or gesture. We often see students interacting with the camera, responding to the presence of the operator, or staging poses and interactions. The intersubjectivity you feel whilst watching really is an extension of the community the students have built around each other, and arguably couldn’t be captured as well if this footage weren’t shot by them.
The footage appears largely unedited, straight from the camera with no accompaniment – we hope that what comes across is both the joy of experimenting with the camera and the energy of the students as they prepare their installations.
Footage captured by: Niki Kohandel (BA Fine Art, year 4), Ning Jian (BFA Fine Art, year 3), Yuuki Horiuchi (MFA Fine Art, year 2)
Funded by UCL Alumni Engagement Fund