James Newitt

James Newitt’s work engages with specific social and cultural relations, often embracing mutability and paradox, in order to investigate the spaces between individual and collective identity, memory and history, fact and fiction through personal, observational and performative approaches.

Spectacle uses voice and image to describe a scenario where a large number of people gather, move together and enact their right to protest. Within the video both the place of the demonstration and the demands of the crowds remain ambiguous. Neither the narrator’s descriptions nor the video of the crowds seem to quite match, at times the text and image overlap while at other times they seem to exist in conflict with each other, creating a tension between what we see and what we are told we are seeing. Throughout the video people are filmed obsessively documenting an event, which we presume is the heart of the ‘spectacle’. Our position within this event—looking out—creates a confrontation of gazes and camera lenses that aims to provoke questions of identification and representation in relation to political demonstration within the public sphere.

James Newitt, Spectacle, 2013-2014, HD video with stereo sound. Narration by Syma Tariq. Duration 9:40 mins. Courtesy of the artist.

James Newitt’s Untitled is a document of a performance in public space that was both a demonstration and a celebration. A group of people move rhythmically through the centre of a city listening to a soundtrack only audible through individual headphones. The group moves silently in unison while each person is consumed within their own private soundscape. The performance represents a conjuncture of internalised experience and external circumstance, although the video refuses to reveal the specific social and political context of the event.

James Newitt, Untitled, 2011, HD video, silent, duration 2:35 mins. Courtesy of the artist.