Scratch! Installation view
BRITISH SCRATCH VIDEO (1983-1986)
GORILLA TAPES / GOLDBACHER & FLITCROFT / GEORGE BARBER / THE DUVET BROTHERS
SEVENTEEN is proud to introduce SCRATCH! a retrospective exhibition featuring works from key artists associated with Scratch Video, a low budget British video-collage movement of the early 1980's. Keen to exploit newly available video editing technology, between 1983 and 1986 an intimate group of London based artists began to experiment with pre-existing video footage, recorded directly from television or ripped from other moving image sources. The Scratch Video collage style with its percussive montages, rhythmic or repetitious looping of images and use of graphical overlays and special effects can be identified as a direct response to the emergent malleability of VCR format.
Between the artists included in SCRATCH! two conceptual approaches can be identified - one explicitly political, the other more aesthetic. The work of Gorilla Tapes and The Duvet Brothers respectively confronted the political and cultural issues of 80's Britain head on, challenging the divisive conservatism of Thatcherite social policy, the ongoing troubles in Northern Ireland and the Reagan led American influence on global foreign policy.
The political drive and rabid anti-establishment ethos of Gorilla Tapes and The Duvet Brothers gives way in the work of George Barber and the collaborative efforts of Sandra Goldbacher and Kim Flitcroft, to a more subtle examination of the aesthetic potential of manipulated video. Barber in particular infused his Scratch Videos with a dreamy sensibility enriched with pulsing electronic soundtracks and trippy hyper colour visuals. Aesthetic properties are equally paramount in the work of Goldbacher & Flitcroft - their snappier offerings fusing music by artists such as Donna Summer and Joy Division with archive cine film and super kitsch Hammer Horror style film footage.
Over 22 years since its emergence, history demonstrates the degree to which Scratch Video was assimilated into the mainstream world of commercial television - particularly in the fields of advertising and music video. That Scratch Video is an under recognised movement today can be attributed in part to the efficiency of this commercial recuperation. The innovation of the original movement being lost amongst the multitude of imitations and replications proffered by a commercial world eager to tap into the energetic style, technique and attitude circulated by the original Scratch artists, all of whom are included in this exhibition.
SCRATCH! is the second exhibition at SEVENTEEN's new basement exhibition space curated by Paul Pieroni and will run concurrently with Grand Hotel Abyss, the CutUp collective's third solo exhibition at the gallery.