72-82 by William Raban is now available on DVD and for hire for screenings and exhibitions in the UK and internationally via LUX. The 60-minute film draws largely on a range of archive material from Acme Studios’ first decade, animated by the voices of recently-interviewed artists and others who were part of the story to reveal what this artist-led organisation’s early years were about. These include: Kevin Atherton, Bobby Baker, Anne Bean, Stuart Brisley, Richard Cork, David Critchley, Richard Deacon, Fergus Early, Ron Haselden, Charles Hayward, Jacky Lansley, Jock McFadyen, Ken McMullen, Sandy Nairne, Simon Read, Claire Smith, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Anthony Whishaw, Alison Wilding, Richard Wilson and Bill Woodrow.
“Solely using archival visual materials, [Raban] revisits the first ten years of art organisation Acme, highlighting its work in housing artists in the East End and the extraordinary work that was produced.” (William Fowler, London Film Festival)
72-82 had its UK premiere in October last year as part of the Experimenta programme of the BFI London Film Festival and was subsequently screened by Acme to invited audiences at Hackney Picturehouse on three occasions. The film has now been shown more widely – in art colleges and at festivals, including the 61st Oberhausen Short Film Festival in May.
The film follows the archive exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, Supporting Artists: Acme’s First Decade 1972-1982 (September 2013 to February 2014), and was commissioned as part of Acme’s 40th anniversary celebrations. The work is an important reminder of how Acme began and of its founding principles. The need for affordable space for artists is as pressing as ever and responding to that demand continues to be very challenging; Acme remains totally committed to that task. Recognised as one of Britain’s foremost artists and experimental filmmakers, William Raban was also intimately involved with the history that the film reveals. As such it offers perhaps a new model of how archives can be presented on film.
“Rather than an attempt at a definitive history this is an assemblage of spoken recollections and recovered ephemera from a selection of artists who were probing new ground in performance, sculpture, film and intervention in 1970s London. From these fragments and memories the filmmaker plots historical narratives, versions of events that focus on contemporary issues: housing, availability of property, artists and galleries interaction with wider communities, consumerism and broader attitudes to emerging art practice... With this type of practice now all but impossible in cities like London and New York this could be merely a nostalgic lament on the loss of a more open city. But ultimately that isn't the true nature of the story here. The coda is more optimistic: despite everything else, the type of work the more progressive Acme artists championed - conceptual, performance, mixed media - has in subsequent decades been accepted as legitimate art practice. Their story is, if only in this regard, one of victory.” (Guy Parker, ArtSlant, Los Angeles)