A unity of time and place with other times and places
Ravi Agarwal, Ali Essafi, Cătălin Ilie, Rosalind Nashashibi, Margaret Tait, Tom Thayer

Opening Saturday, 27 April, 3pm
27 April – 16 June 2024

→ Read more ...

A unity of time and place with other times and places
Ravi Agarwal, Ali Essafi, Cătălin Ilie, Rosalind Nashashibi, Margaret Tait, Tom Thayer

Screening times:
Sunday, May 19th, from 3pm 
Saturday, May 25th, from 4pm 
Saturday, June 1st, from 5pm
Saturday, June 8th, from 3pm
Saturday, June 15th, from 6pm 
Sunday, June 16th, from 3pm 

The exhibition A unity of time and place with other times and places showcases 15 short films by six filmmakers and artists – Ravi Agarwal (*1958, New Delhi, India), Ali Essafi (*1963, Morocco), Cătălin Ilie (*1982, Romania), Rosalind Nashashibi (*1973, Palestine/UK), Margaret Tait (1918–1999, Scotland/UK) and Tom Thayer (*1970, USA). The show is conceived as a cinema/installation on four alternating screens. Over the course of 1 hour and 8 minutes, the films flow into one another and sometimes briefly overlap to create a poetic dialog between moving images, sound and music, on a formal level, as well as correspondences between themes and motifs which recur at different times throughout the screening. The succession of the films is choreographed so as to transport the gaze from the humble and attentive observation of immediate surroundings to a birds-eye view at local or regional histories. Employing techniques of montage, animation, collage, modified camera lenses, among others, the presented films blur the line between documentary images and a poetic understanding of the world, as well as the dichotomies between epic and prosaic, humans and nature, or histories of peoples seen as ‚other'. 

The exhibition takes a selection of films and poems by Margaret Tait as its departure point. Tait, the Scottish poet-filmmaker and filmmaker-poet, whose works never settled in categories but represented a species of their own, was born in 1918 in Kirkwall, UK, where she also died in 1999, aged 80. A contemporary of documentarist John Grierson and the Rose Street Poets in Edinburgh, Margaret Tait was only marginally or insufficiently credited by fellow filmmakers and writers during her life. In her films as well as in her poetry, Tait keenly focuses her attention on the prosaic, the available, and the everyday, precisely because of their 'insistence on existence,' and as 'a form of paying attention to the world,' as author So Mayer aptly remarks.
While in the majority of her films she crafted her own cinematographic language from a vocabulary of documentary 16mm footage, music, and spoken word, Tait also experimented with hand-painted animated film. The artists invited to contribute their works to this exhibition, Ravi Agarwal (*1958, India), Ali Essafi (*1963, Morocco), Cătălin Ilie (*1982, Romania), Rosalind Nashashibi (*1973, UK), and Tom Thayer (*1970, USA), reflect in their films or videos aspects that intersect in different ways with Tait’s artistic concerns. Whether through documentary footage, assemblages of found images, poetry, animated film, or music and sound, the presented works cast a keen look at the world.


RAVI AGARWAL (*1958 New Delhi, India) has an interdisciplinary practice as an artist, writer, curator, and environmental campaigner. His work mediates between art and activism to address the entangled questions of nature and its future using photography, video, text, and installation. Ravi is alongside the founder and director of the environmental NGO Toxics Link based in New Delhi, and The Shyama Foundation’s - Shared Ecologies program, which supports emerging initiatives at the intersection of art and ecology in India. His recent projects include Samtal Jameen, and the photobook The Power Plant – fragments in time.

ALI ESSAFI (*1963, Morocco) studied psychology in France, then entered the world of filmmaking. Returning to Morocco he embarked on lengthy research on the North-African film & visual archives. These have been transformed into publications films and installations.

CĂTĂLIN ILIE (*1982, Slobozia, Romania) studied Photography and New Media at the National University of Arts in Bucharest, Romania. Recent solo exhibitions include The the Wall I Talked at Galeria Plan B project space (Berlin), Studies for a better understanding at Ingrid Projects (London).

ROSALIND NASHASHIBI (1973, London, UK) received her BA in Painting from Sheffield Hallam University and her MFA from the Glasgow School of Art. In 2020, Nashashibi became the first artist in residence at the National Gallery in London, after the program was re-established. She was a Turner Prize nominee in 2017. In 2007 Nashashibi represented Scotland in the 52nd Venice Biennale. Her work has been included in Documenta14, Manifesta 7, Nordic Triennial, Sharjah 10, 14th Shanghai Biennial. She received the Paul Hamlyn award in 2014 and Beck’s Futures prize in 2003, among others. The British-Palestinian artists films chronicle intimate moments of contemporary life across diverse circumstances with a deeply empathetic and personal approach.

Born in 1918 in Kirkwall on Orkney, Scotland, MARGARET TAIT qualified in medicine at Edinburgh University 1941. From 1950 to 1952 she studied film at the Centro Sperimentale di Photographia in Rome. Returning to Scotland she established Ancona Films in Edinburgh’s Rose Street. In the 1960’s Tait moved back to Orkney where over the following decades she made a series of films inspired by the Orcadian landscape and culture. All but three of her thirty two films were self financed. She wrote poetry and stories and produced several books including three books of poetry. Screenings include National Film Theatre (London), Berlin Film Festival, Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), Arsenal Kino (Berlin), Pacific Film Archives (San Francisco), Knokke le Zoute, Delhi and Riga. Tait was accorded a retrospective at the 1970 Edinburgh Film Festival and has been the subject of profiles on BBC and Channel Four.

Drawing on Art Brut, children‘s art, and experimental education, TOM THAYER‘s (*1970 Chicago/USA) surreal works have a crude, naive spirit. He activates his paintings and sculptures with animation and music in improvised performances he calls Scenographic Plays. As an educator, Thayer is interested in theories of collaborative pedagogy, including the musical experimentation developed in England around Cornelius Cardew and his Scratch Orchestra, a compositional project conducted entirely by untrained, amateur participants. Thayer has exhibited and performed since the early 90s at venues including The Living Theater, Issue Project Room, SculptureCenter, The Kitchen, The 2012 Whitney Biennial, and MoMA.


Further reading / Research:

· Margaret Tait. Poems, Stories and Writings, edited by Sarah Neely, Carcanet Classics, 2023
· Subjects And Sequences: A Margaret Tait Reader, Peter Todd (ed.), LUX, 2005
· John Berger, Why Look at Animals, in: About Looking, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009
· Ravi Agarwal, Have you seen the flowers on the river?
· Ali Essafi, Widen the Circle: An Obscure Experimentation in North African Avant-Garde Cinema, Sharjah Art Foundation, 2022
· Reconstituting Archives: Moroccan Cinema and History in Ahmed Bouanani and Ali Essafi's Projects of Re-collection, in: Expressions maghrébines, Volume 21, Numéro 2, hiver 2022, pp. 153–169
· Rosalind Nashashibi, Catalogue, Isla Leaver-Yap (ed.), ICA and Bergen Kunsthall, 2009

We would like to thank Jovan Atanackovic, the National Library of Scotland, LUX, David Lipps, and all participating artists.