LET RIP: THE BEAUTIFUL GAME: POEM VERSION
'From the live euphoria of football, to homosexual desire and the macho body in action, Lee Campbell explores “Balls and sports, men in shorts. Football with Dad both happy and sad. Dad watching one way, me quite the other”. The pitch is a patchwork of memory. The Beautiful Game is beginning. Roll up and take your seats.'Ink, Sweat and Tears
'A highly experimental film focusing on the director's look back at time spent with his father while watching past sports matches, particularly those that illuminated the director's burgeoning sexuality’
‘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’
'A layering of different images mixed with the memories of a father/son bonding moments - and then kind of leaving us with the homoerotic imagery of the rugby players'
'Brought back my childhood watching rugby league games in Sydney with my father in the 80s. You both liked the tackles you had that in common. Maybe not the same definition of tackle. confusing but I definitely knew I loved looking at them.'
'A Dad and Son conversation exploring what one is seeing and what the other is seeing about the same action of men in football with one person viewing it one way and the other a different way'
SUMMARY: As a gay teenager growing up in 1990s suburban Britain, I had to come to terms with my homosexuality and the realisation of finding men attractive. Whilst Dad could be open back then about how he experienced us enjoying football together, it is only now, as this film reveals, can I be honest and open about my preoccupations; that I found football a means to explore homosexual desire in secret.
This film was made with vintage footage of a 1996/1997 football match between Coventry City and Aston Villa, vintage footage of rugby matches in 1999, sound and moving image recordings made on a Sony Ericsson Cybershoot K800i mobile phone between 2005-2006, drawings and paintings made between 2005-2007 and 2018-2020 and photographic stills and moving image recordings made between 2011-2020 on various iPhones
Made shortly after Let Rip: A Personal History of Seeing and Not Seeing (2019), this film continues the tradition of employing rips and ripping and employed an arguably more complex narrative structure by incorporating two voices in its storytelling, that of mine and that of my dad’s.
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. Juxtaposing my experience with my dad’s, this short film speaks about huge differences in memory about one or more football matches that me and my dad watched live in a stadium/listened to live on the radio whilst driving in the 1990s. Not overly confessional but relaying frank autobiographic details of me and my dad’s actual lived shared experience, the film reveals how our own versions of events are so contrasting. The ‘rip’ in this film could also be said to be in effect in two ways; me not just using my own personal archival material (a cassette tape recording of a radio broadcast I made that me and my Dad listened to in the car of a 1996/1997 football match between Coventry City and Aston Villa) but me ‘ripping’ someone else’s archival video footage of the same match I found on YouTube, plus vintage footage of rugby matches in 1999. Conceiving of a rip as a form of disruption relates to my continued interest in both theory and practice (mine and that of others) of the power of interruption/interruptive processes within art and performance . A disruption takes place at the start of the film. The film begins with footage I shot on my mobile phone of a car journey with my dad in 1996/1997 listening to aforementioned Coventry City and Aston Villa match. Green screen effect employed shows football players running across the screen. Everything gets flipped upside down, turned on its head, presented sideways suggesting another (non-conventional) narrative or point of view in operation (mine, as being different to that of my dad). Whilst the many upside-down and sideway angles draw particularly inspiration from my love of the work Georg Baselitz, the German Abstract Expressionist painter who painted bodies upside down, these specifically reference my love of the work of François Truffaut and particularly the scene in Truffaut’s Les Quatre Centre Coups (1959) where the main character Antoine Doinel experiences a human version of a zoetrope known as a Rotora at a Parisian amusement park. The upside-down and sideway angles in The Beautiful Game draw upon Truffaut’s ability to use the camera in this scene to take both the character and viewer through a bodily disorientation, in most dramatic effect when he films the spectators peering into the amusement ride and seeing the riders (Antoine included) upside down. Throughout the film, ‘interruption’ can be characterised by disruption in terms of action related to the production of stops, pauses and breaks within the otherwise smooth running operations of an event or action in motion at the time of the interruption. Defining these stops, pauses and breaks as surprise moments that derail expectation in terms of what is pre-supposed to occur in the logical narrative of something, word play puns and double-entendres i.e. in my humorous usage of the term ‘tackle’, ‘rip’ into my Dad’s version of events but more importantly rip into not just the climate of homophobia that I was living in in 1990s Britain at the time but also what remains taboo even now, 30 plus years later, that the homosexuality of the homosociality of football is writ large. As I say in the film, ‘Balls and sports, men in shorts. Football with Dad both happy and sad. Dad watching one way, me quite the other …’
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
Completion Date:December 31, 2020
Production Budget:500 USD
Country of Origin:United Kingdom
Micromania Film Festival 2020
OUTStream Film Festival
May 29, 2020
MicroActs International Artist Film FestivalLondon
July 29, 2020
States of DesirePuerto Rico
QueerBee LGBT Film Festival 2021
SPLICE Film FestivalBrooklyn, NYC
July 17, 2021
THE FOOTBALL ART PRIZEUK TOURING 2022-2023
FilmPride, Brighton & Hove Pride's official LGBTQIA+ film festival.Brighton
August 1, 2022
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.
RECENT SELECTED AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS
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
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.