‘Oh my god, that sound (football) when I first came to live in the UK - Saturday afternoons in the living room – the sound of the commentators’
‘The green screen with the football players is genius, all the layers, very Busby Berkeley’
‘Felt like an assault on the senses but for a reason’
‘Interesting work that is difficult to engage with even if you are only engaging with it on a sensory level that goes beyond moving image work.’
SUMMARY: Taking a critical view of football, including vintage footage of a 1996/1997 football match between Coventry City and Aston Villa, TACKLE tackles some of the issues and problems that men are under at the moment incl. obsessive behaviour; identity; racism, mental health; homophobia; the growing problem of body dysmorphia and the need for the perfect ‘classically beautiful’ body. Like a balloon about to pop.
Football is often called ‘The Beautiful Game’. Football players are seen as the epitome of male body beautiful. The ‘beauty’ of the game could be described as these physical demonstrations of the macho body in action. This body is an Idealized body of classical Greek proportions. We only have to think of Michelangelo Buonarroti's colossal masterpiece, 17-foot-tall marble David, considered a Renaissance masterpiece, an ideal male form combining heroic strength and human uncertainty. Men are under so much pressure to have this body beautiful made famous in classical Renaissance art. These ideals are not real. They are made up and every man aspires to them.
TACKLE was made with vintage footage of a 1996/1997 football match between Coventry City and Aston Villa, sound and moving image recordings made on a Sony Ericsson Cybershoot K800i mobile phone between 2005-2006 including the car journey that I took with my Dad where we listened to the match live on the radio, drawings and paintings made between 2005-2007 and 2018-2020 and photographic stills and moving image recordings made between 2011-2020 on various iPhones.
The word ‘tackle’ is the belligerent multilevel pun through its overstatement that keeps fading away and comes back. The word as an image opens up different connotations of what that ‘tackle’ is. When’s the 'tackle' going to disappear you may ask as it comes and goes all the time. Through its excessive repetition, after a certain amount of time of seeing it on screen, it suddenly stops meaning what it means, and the viewer starts doubting what it means.
This film was made at the same time as PEER (2020), a film about the British seaside and a Britain making do with the beaches that we have. The film again recycled previous bodies of my artwork but was a move away from other films in terms of their narrative speaking about my identity and sexuality. Both PEER and Tackle, however, are very observant of English leisure rituals, in places offering snapshots of a less cosmopolitan England, Englishness and a nostalgia for an England that may or may not have existed. In Tackle, a football match between two regional teams. Even ‘tackle’ is 1970s slang.
The provocation in TACKLE is the way it is made; its sound reminiscent of industrial music (think Throbbing Gristle) has a blunt industrial lo-fi but unrelentless unremitting aggressiveness that is not out to seduce in any way. Everything is really crunchy. Large crowds yelling in a football stadium, drinking, aggression, the monotony of the same word constantly coming up, harking at moments in society where noise and violence occur; there is a violence when the football players come together at the end of the film. The nostalgia of listening to a really old football match is countered by the sound that is so aggressive, so disruptive of your own thoughts.
At times, the footage looks like hands and then a blinking eye paired with moments of voyeurism e.g., the guy on the London Tube is holding a phone and I am holding a phone too – the footage also looks like hands. Compositionally, the roads create a cross and grid effect reminiscent of a football pitch. This compositional mask remains the constant; it is something quite neat and ordered within the chaos. The road looks like a tear but then the rip was also like the St. George’s Cross eluding to nationalism and religion. In another version of the film, I would look to include a rip sideways to further complexify the composition.
Project Type:Experimental, Short
Runtime:15 minutes 52 seconds
Completion Date:January 24, 2020
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
Moving Image SalonLondon
January 31, 2020
March 12, 2020
Vesuvius International Film Festival
May 31, 2020
MicroMania Official Selection 2021
Dr Lee Campbell is an artist, poet experimental filmmaker, writer, Senior Lecturer at University of the Arts London, curator of regular performance poetry night POW? Play on Words in South London and 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. His experimental performance poetry films have been selected for many international film festivals since 2019 including Queerbee LGBT Film Festival, The Gilbert Baker Film Festival, Kansas 2020 and 2021, HOMOGRAPHY, Brussels and STATES OF DESIRE: Tom of Finland in the Queer Imagination, Casa de Duende, Philadelphia, USA, 2020 WICKED QUEER 2021, Boston, USA, FilmPride - Brighton & Hove Pride's official LGBTQ+ film festival, Brighton, UK, Splice Film Festival 2021, Brooklyn, USA and Darkroom Festival, London.
In 2022, Lee’s films have screened/will screen at prestigious events/festivals including REELpoetry/HoustonTX, Houston, USA, Living with Buildings II, Coventry, UK, Beyond Words curated by Gabriel Sosa, Fountain Street Gallery, Boston USA, Micromania Film Festival ,The Football Art Prize, UK-touring exhibition to Touchstones Rochdale, Millennium Gallery, Sheffield and Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens, Scream Queer Film Festival, Rome, Italy, Splice Film Festival 2022, Brooklyn, USA, TRANÅS AT THE FRINGE - International Screening of Experimental Films and Videopoems, Sweden, Post Pxrn Film Festival, Warsaw, Poland and FILM.ART Festival, Innsbruck, Austria. He has a solo exhibition of his poetry films, See Me, in July 2022 at Fountain Street Gallery, Boston, USA.
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, Daniel Hess for To Tony Productions, Tim Kirk, Matt Skallerud for I Love Gay Today/Pink Media 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.
His live Zoom poetry performances have been showcased at events including Disturbance#2, Ugly Duck, London, Theatre Deli, London Festival ECRÃ Edition 5, Rio de Janeiro, the Immersive Storytelling Symposium, Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham and Rise Up! Reconnect. Rebuild. Recreate 10th International Digital Storytelling Conference, Loughborough University. In October 2021, Lee headlined Forum+ Incite! Lee currently performs regularly at poetry events across London including Poetry Shack, Mind Over Matter, Poetry LGBT, The Word Zoo, Mother Wolf Club, Gob Jaw and Paper Tiger Poetry where he won Best Poem of the Night (September 2021). Lee presented a one hour solo poetry performance at Brighton Fringe 2022 in 2022. Lee was one of the invited performance poets for Bold Queer Poetry Soirée, Above the Stag Theatre, London in June 2022.
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 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 and Queerlings – A Literary Magazine for Queer Writing.
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 this year has screened at Metal, Southend-on-Sea, Open Eyen Liverpool and FRISE, Hamburg, Germany. Lee runs a regular monthly experimental poetry /spoken word night, POW! Play on Words, at The Bridge House Theatre in South London where he is currently curatorial poet in residence. In January 2021, he curated a set of queer poetry evenings for BBC Radio.
RECENT SELECTED AWARDS:
2021 Honorable Mention, 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
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.
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 this new exciting phase of my 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.