Within documentary practices the relationship between fact and fiction is constantly renegotiated. The films and videos by John Smith address this relationship in a special way, disarrange it, and in doing so, reveal the conditions of producing filmic truth. We invited John Smith to show his films and comment on them in this regard. Here we present audio recordings of his statements and short descriptions of the films he referred to. In the following text, film scholar Volker Pantenburg points out the importance of John Smith’s voice in his films, it creates a reflexive level. In a similar way, the audio files create a commentary level for the films in this article. Additional drawings by the Berlin based artist Maxim Bauer illustrate the conversational character of the evening.
John Smith is Research Professor of Fine Art at University of East London and video artist. His work is held in numerous collections including Tate Gallery, Arts Council England, FRAC Ile de France, Paris, Kunstmuseum Magdeburg, Ferens Art Gallery, Hull and Wolverhampton Art Gallery. He was born in Walthamstow, east London in 1952 and studied at the Royal College of Art. Since 1972 he has made over fifty film, video and installation works that have been shown in art galleries and independent cinemas around the world and awarded major prizes at many international film festivals. He received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Artists in 2011, and in 2013 he was the winner of Film London’s Jarman Award.