**Honorable Mention for 'Let Rip: Teenage Scrapbook' at REELPOETRY INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL 2023, Houston, Texas, USA ***

‘I love the rhythmic nature of the ripping sounds that accompanies your voice. I can tell this is personal and those passion projects of the heart are the ones that move us’

My art teacher suggested I go to the Southampton Film Society, where they were playing A Bigger Splash, with David Hockney and his bathing beauties. There was so much tanned male flesh on show. I was 14, had Miss Chuter sussed me out? I identify with this poem Lee, wonderful.'

'How it really brought me back to the 90s - even we had these posters in Carlow in my Gaelic speaking school!'

‘The internalised homophobia in this piece is so important’

‘I was devastated that you threw the scrapbook away and you took bad jpegs on a shitty phone… …the emotional investment in these five years of the scrapbook now with just photos must be devastating’

‘Feels like you laid out on a page, every single layer! Such a privilege for an audience to be immersed in something mental like that’

In 1993, when I was aged 15 whilst at secondary school, I discovered Dymaxion Chronofile, architect Buckminster Fuller's very large scrapbook which he documented his life every 15 minutes from 1920 to 1983. Around the same time, my art teacher suggested that I keep a scrapbook of images. This film contains imagery of pages from a very large scrapbook that I kept when I was a teenager in the 1990s for just over five years – my personal private archived of images that in many ways helped to shape my understanding of (gay) male desire at a time when I felt too uncomfortable to come out as gay.

In 1993, at a time when I was exploring my sexuality as a teenager, my schoolteacher suggested that I keep a scrapbook of images as a resource bank The scrapbook far outlived my teacher’s initial suggestion and the finding, scrapping and juxtaposing of images together from a wide range of sources continued until 1998 by which time the scrapbook was 300 pages and extremely heavy. It wasn’t just one scrapbook; my scrapbook was several scrapbooks welded together to create a monument of my life at that time. In the same manner of Scottish poet Edwin Morgan’s love of scrapbooks, my scrapbooks were ‘a mixture of autobiography, documentary, and art’ (DigitisingMorgan, 2022).

The idea of building a queer identity was so different pre-Internet. The world wide web introduces new possibilities for the construction of queer identity. In the manner of bricolage – building and constructing from what is at hand, piecing together images and visuals available in physical images from magazines etc (pre-Internet days), as a teenager in the early 1990s, I could be said to be the queer bricoleur making my collage constructions in my teenage scrapbook. A lot of the imagery in my scrapbook referred to pop music – pictures of pop music stars and their lyrics. Music that you listen to does inform you (particularly so when you are a teenager). For me it was really difficult growing up at that time in the Nineties listening to music about teenage heterosexuals. As a gay guy, I could identify more with Madonna than a heterosexual man yet she’s taking about heterosexual men. By the time I finished adding further images to my scrapbook in 1998 my scrapbook became too heavy to carry and too bulky to manage; hundreds of images of men (whom I fancied) carefully collaged together with images of others and places I’d been over many pages now exist digitally - the original physical scrapbook was destroyed in 2006 and its pages up until 2020 existing as jpeg files in a folder buried somewhere in another folder on my laptop.

Beginning a perpetual process of making and remaking, constantly recycling myself, constantly requoting myself to create a density, in late 2019, I began making a series of Let Rip films which reused/recycled bodies of my past artwork.These films used the rip as both metaphor, symbol and structure to build upon existing work and employed the action and sonic motif of ripping to create new forms out of ‘old’ practice and indeed show new versions of ‘old’ me. The ‘rip’ in terms of this work could be defined as creating visual textures on screen, which both concealed as much as they revealed, and that ripping something apart did reveal certain things about my homosexuality. Inspired by Crawford Barton’s home movies which documented his life as a child and then into adulthood with his male partner, Let Rip: Teenage Scrapbook (2021) revisits my teenage scrapbook through the lens of my (now adult) queer eye. In Reel in the Closet (2015), the narrator talks about Barton’s home movies that he made over many decades and says ‘they’re (Barton and his male partner) interested in the same things as everybody else but at the same time there’s a definite queer eye behind the camera’. What could I learn about myself by revisiting the scrapbook?

Presenting an intimate history of sight (mine), of not seeing yourself (represented in mainstream pop culture) and discovering a part of yourself through seeing, Let Rip: Teenage Scrapbook (2021) tapped into a lot of personal and political issues but mostly internalised homophobia. The voiceover is my voice reciting lines of poetry that I have written that look back in retrospect and reflect upon my life at the time of me producing the scrapbook. Each word or each phrase within the poem connects to different parts of the scrapbook imagery reflect upon how I understand the significance of that imagery now as an out gay man in my forties. Like layers of a painting, each page of the scrapbook imagery forms one layer juxtaposed with other pages/ layers of memory that collectively salvage and monumentalise what could otherwise be the detritus of my life. The rips and tears and the turned-up edges of the scrapbook printed material now as digitised images appear flat on the computer screen. Green-screen processes are again employed to achieve seductive surfaces to beckon the viewer to want to see them in real life thus making the reality of viewing the now-destroyed physical scrapbook in the flesh even more desirable.
Extending Mike Mashon’s idea that ‘there’s something very real and very visceral about a person shooting a very personal film’ (in Reel in the Closet by Stu Maddox, 2015), the pages of my scrapbook in the film appear animated to give the impression of them ripping with subsequent pages coming through. But not so much ripping but more smudging out, on the one hand I am building the image and on the other hand ripping out the image – this is being seen from the image being built up whereas all the other times (in other films like Let Rip: A Personal History…). I am destroying the image.

As part of my solo exhibition Bona Polari! at The Margate School in February 2022, a magical moment was when I performed my scrapbook poem with moving imagery behind me (Figure 28). The teacher who told me to keep the scrapbook, Sharon Cavalier, who I hadn’t seen for 30 years since I left school in 1996, was in the audience. She hadn’t changed a bit and she commented that neither had I after all these years. We shared a very poignant and emotional moment together after the performance had finished agreed not to leave it another 30 years before we met up again. The experience made me question what would it be for me to take that advice from Sharon today – take a book and collage some images into it? Would I repeat the process that I did? Would the process stop after two weeks? Or ten minutes? Would the imagery be different – I didn’t know fully what I was doing then (in terms of selecting and ‘curating’ the imagery from magazine to corkboard to my original 1990 scrapbook) but it seems so obvious now. In some ways, I feel no different as a person looking at that 1990s scrapbook today than when I made it all those years ago but in other ways, it’s almost like looking at another person and zone of feeling (hiding/closeting my homosexuality) that I am never going to revisit, that my teenage self is completely ‘other’ to me now. I feel that I am looking at these images as an outsider now. This just proves that even though we feel we know ourselves at a particular point in time, we are always reassessing everything. That’s a very human quality in the work – it exposes our vulnerabilities but there also a lot of humour in the work as a means to communicate with the viewer.

  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Short
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 2, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Atticus Review

    May 1, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Colony x Polari Present:: Short Film Evening II
    United Kingdom
    September 16, 2022
    Official Selection
  • New Note Poetry

    September 1, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Octopus Marquee Independent Film Festival

    December 15, 2022
    Official Selection
  • REELpoetry/HoustonTX International Festival
    United States
    February 24, 2023
    Official Selection
  • Queer East Midlands Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    February 23, 2023
    Official Selection
Director Biography - LEE CAMPBELL

Dr Lee Campbell is an artist, performance poet, experimental filmmaker, writer, Senior Lecturer at University of the Arts London, and curator/founder of Homo Humour, the first of its kind project on contemporary queer male film and moving image practices that explore humour and LGBTQ+ storytelling and has screened all over the world since 2020. He is gay and lives in London.
His experimental performance poetry films have been selected for many international film festivals since 2019. His film SEE ME: A Walk Through London’s Gay Soho 1994 and 2020 (2021) won Best Experimental Film at Ealing Film Festival, London 2022 and his film ‘Apple of my Eye’ (2022) was a finalist in the Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize 2022.
Lee had his first solo exhibition in North America of his poetry films, See Me: Performance Poetry Films at Fountain Street, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A in July 2022 and a solo exhibition of poetry film, Bona Polari! at The Margate School, Margate and Wimbledon College of Arts Library, UAL in February 2022. Recent film screenings include CINEM’aMOSTr, Teatro Municipal de Vila do Conde, Porto, Portugal, (de)construction,, Kino Club Helsinki, Finland, Living with Buildings III, Coventry,SF Queer Film Festival, San Francisco, FilmPride Brighton & Hove Pride's official LGBTQ+ film festival, Brighton, Feminist Border Arts Film Festival, New Mexico State University, Splice Film Festival 2022, Brooklyn, TRANÅS AT THE FRINGE - International Screening of Experimental Films and Videopoems, Sweden, Post Pxrn Film Festival, Warsaw, REELpoetry/HoustonTX 2022 International Poetry Film Festival and The Football Art Prize, UK-touring exhibition to Touchstones Rochdale, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens.
Lee has been interviewed numerously about his current film/performance work including interviews on BBC Radio Sussex and Surrey with Kathy Caton for Out with Kathy, KMTV (local Kent-based TV station) interview feature about Bona Polari! solo exhibition, interview with Jane Glennie, Moving Poems Magazine in July 2022, Daniel Hess for To Tony Productions, Tim Kirk, Matt Skallerud for I Love Gay Today/PinkMedia LGBT, Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With – Lee Campbell (March 2021) BBC Radio Kent- Interview with Dominic King for The Dominic King Show January 2021. His film work has received critical acclaim with recent review features of his film work by Francesca de Luca in Cut Frame Magazine and James Clark in Lost Creatives. In 2008, he was interview ed by Libby Purves for BBC Radio 4 where he discussed his solo performance for Whitstable Biennale that year.
Lee’s poetry has received critical acclaim and was mentioned in a Summer 2022 edition of London’s Islington Tribune. His poem ‘Clever at Seeing without being Seen’ was recorded for Sometimes, The Revolution is Small, Disarm Hate x Poetry project by Nymphs & Thugs Recording Co. UK.Publications of his poetry include Hakara: A Bi-Lingual Journal of Creative Expression, The Atticus Review, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Untitled. Voices, Gob Jaw Anthology 2019-2022, Issue Two: Wasteland, Powders Press, Issue One: First Times, Powders Press, Otherwise, You Are Here - The Journal of Creative Geography, Queerlings – A Literary Magazine for Queer Writing, New Note Poetry, Streetcake Experimental Writing Magazine and Step Away Magazine.
Lee has a long history of curating performance and fine art exhibitions internationally. For example, between 2005-2008, he curated All for Show, an internationally touring film showreel of emerging and established British moving image artists whose work exposed the banalities of everyday life through humour, self-introspection, and serious play. In 2020, Lee curated Radical Ventriloquism at Kelder, London. His most recent curation is Homo Humour which has screened at Metal, Southend-on-Sea, Open Eye Liverpool and FRISE, Hamburg, Germany in 2022 and forthcoming at Centre for Comedy Studies Research (CCSR), Brunel University and Brewery Tap Project Space, Folkestone in February 2023. In January 2021, he curated a set of queer poetry evenings for BBC Radio.

2022 WINNER of BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM, for ‘SEE ME’, Ealing Film Festival, London
2022 Finalist for ‘Apple of My Eye’, Deanna Tulley Multimedia Prize 2022
2022 Finalist for ‘See Shells’, Drumshanbo Written Word Weekend Poetry Film Competition, Drumshanbo, Ireland
2022 Juan Downey International Contest (Finalist), Chile 
2022 Hombres Video Poetry Award (Finalist) for ‘SEE ME’, SlamContemporary, Italy  
2022 Finalist for ‘Rufus’, MicroMania Film Festival 2022, Buffalo, NY, USA
2022 Finalist for ‘The Perfect Crime: A Doggy Whodunnit’, Absurd Art House Film Festival 2022
2022 Finalist for ‘Reclaiming my Voice’, Vesuvius International Film Festival
2022 Honorable Special Mention Award, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2021 Best Psychedelic Fantasy film winner for 'See Me' (2020), Retro Avant Garde Film Festival NYC 
2021 Semi-Finalist, Serbest International Film Festival 2021
2021 Honorable Mention, Splice Film Festival, New York
2021 Nominee for Best Original Concept and Best Atmosphere Independent Horror Movie Awards 2021
2021 Honorable Mention Award for 'See Me' (2020), Screener Short Films  
2021 Best Kent Film nominee for ‘Peer’ (2020), Margate Bookie Film Festival
2021 Honorable Special Mention Award, Athens International Monthly Art Film Festival
2020 Semi-Finalist (3rd place winner), Splice Film Festival, New York
2019 Special Mention Award, London-Worldwide Comedy Short Film Festival

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

My work broadly explores vision, visuality, and the politics of seeing and not seeing and has a long historied body of practice since 2000. As both the writer, director and performer within the experimental films and poetry performances I create, I view my practice as me performing an autoethnography; using these media forms and the chosen themes within their narratives to help me self-reflect and (better) understand myself in relation to acts of looking, seeing and being seen and the difficulty in terms of not seeing/not being seen and my own subjectivity and experiences as British, working class, male, and gay. Themes of masculinity and desire underpin many aspects of my work.
Comedy historically comes from a queer identity defence, when it was harder to be gay in public, to be funny like Kenneth Williams who used gay slang known as Polari to communicate with other gay men covertly. Extending these ideas, underpinning my work are the mechanisms of comedy and humour to create a form of autoethnographic storytelling that subverts and challenges through a sophisticated usage of camp, innuendo and double-entendres to speak of personal narratives often raw, often painful but always generous and authentic.
Applied humour as a tactic to subvert and challenge a issues of homosexual identity and representation in relation to themes addressing seeing/not seeing etc. My practice presents a personal archaeology and revolves around my own autobiographical perspective, using the mechanisms of comedy and humour to engage, disarm, and highlight the gay male subcultural milieu which needs critique as it creates such stereotypes.
With a background in Painting and then Performance Art, my current artist moving image film practice brings together personal drawing, painting, photography and performance. Collage has become a major tool in this recent film practice, reinvigorating paintings and drawings that I produced nearly twenty years ago which are juxtaposed throughout my films with current photographic and performance for camera work. These films are often made with reusing / repurposing personal archival material and sound and moving image recordings. Things insist, in a spiral, nothing’s wasted. In my current practice, I use all my capacities, from theatre to drawing to painting to language to the comic to the affective to the relational, to painting and performance and film. Excavating (fine art) work I made long ago and resuscitating it, I bring it back to life through the medium of film and moving image. Integrating my fine artwork into my film work, my films create an arresting palimpsest effect by recycling pieces from previous bodies of work and placing them within my current context to see how their meanings may now differ from when they were first conceived. Whilst what is presented through my films can be read as one person’s (my) narrative, so too can it easily be read as lots of different voices layered to talk about wider levels of experience with various references to cultural context that (any)one can relate to.