Video, Canada/Germany/UK, 27 mins, 2018
‘Special Works School’ was the codename used by the British War Office between 1917-1919 for a group of artists tasked with the job of ‘camoufleur’ - painters, textile artists, scenographers, designers, sculptors and scenic painters who were employed by the military to work specifically on developing camouflage technology. The artist, armed with the skill of rendering their surroundings with utmost acuity, was appointed to remove things from the realm of perception. Bambitchell’s ’Special Works School’ takes its name from this military unit to investigate the connections between artistic practice and surveillant technologies. With this video, the duo ask what an overtly aesthetic approach to surveillance can render visible, or invisible. By framing surveillance as an aesthetic practice, ‘Special Works School’ hones in on the psychic, embodied and material dimensions of surveillance - both from the position of the surveillor and the surveilled.
Video by: Alexis Mitchell & Sharlene Bamboat (Bambitchell).
Camera: Rita Macedo
Assistant: Vika Kirchenbauer
Music Composition and Sound Design:
Purple: Mason Leaver-Yap
Cyan: RIchy Carey
Sand: Alexis Mitchell
Additional text by:
Ralph Ellison, Anirban-Gupta-Nigam, Simone Browne, Riley Snorton, Fred Moten, Hanna Rose Shell, Michael Taussig, Jonathan Crary, Jean Genet, Len Lye, Laura Levin, Marcel Proust, Anna Funder, Charmaine Chua, Derek Jarman
Produced with support from: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Gallery TPW (Toronto), and Canada Council for the Arts