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Derek Jarman Exhibition Curated by Isaac Julien at the Serpentine Gallery
Derek Jarman, B2 Movie, 1980. Courtesy James Mackay.

LONDON.-Season Partners: A Serpentine Gallery survey of the work of Derek Jarman, opening 23 February 2008 curated by foremost artist and film-maker Isaac Julien, will form the central part of a major season celebrating the life and work of Jarman, the leading British film-maker of his generation.

This Derek Jarman season is a timely re-appraisal of Jarman’s work and will include:
• The premiere at the Serpentine, and on More4, of Derek, a new film about the artist featuring Tilda Swinton, directed by Julien and selected for the World Cinema Competition: Documentary at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival as well as for the 2008 Berlin Film Festival
• The launch of the Jarman Award for artist film-makers, presented by Film London and More4 in partnership with the Serpentine Gallery
• A season of Jarman films on More4 and a series of related screenings at City Screens cinemas, London

The Serpentine exhibition will highlight Jarman’s work in film and painting, including his pioneering presentation of the moving image within the gallery context. The exhibition is conceived and designed as an immersive environment by Julien and will feature several examples of Jarman’s early Super-8 films from the James Mackay collection, shown here for the first time since the 1970s, an installation of his film Blue, (1993), as well as a selection of his paintings. Julien will also make an installation of photographic light boxes for the exhibition, documenting Jarman’s cottage and garden in Dungeness.

Jarman was arguably the single most crucial figure of British independent cinema through the 1970s, 80s and 90s and films such Sebastiane (1976), Jubilee (1977), Caravaggio (1986), The Last of England (1987), The Garden (1990), Wittgenstein (1993) and Blue (1993) epitomised his own era. He struggled for Gay Liberation and lived with the impact of AIDS and was a participant observer, noting with pen or camera all that passed before him – from the punk and Thatcher years, from Hampstead Heath to film premiere.

Derek, Julien’s new film about Jarman, whom he knew as a friend, is a film of Jarman’s life, as well as the story of England from the 1960s to the 1980s.

At its centre is a day-long interview Jarman recorded in 1990 with film producer and author Colin MacCabe. A message in a bottle, it surveys Jarman’s life from the point of view of his death. Tilda Swinton is the film’s narrator, reading a letter she wrote to Jarman a decade after he died. Clips of Jarman’s feature-length and Super-8 films are juxtaposed with news and current affairs footage of the times that his life illuminated. Derek will play at the Gallery throughout the exhibition.

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