Participation: The Film and Video Workshop Movement 1979–1991

1 July 2009

Participation was an exhibition and archive project which examined the ‘missing voice’ of independent moving image practice: the film and video workshop movement which was activated by the ACTT ‘Grant-aided Workshop Production Declaration’.

Firmly rooted in VIVID’s workshop origins as the Birmingham Centre for Media arts, established in 1992, Participation focused on the emergence of new film forms, politics and practices in the 1980s. Presented in two parts, the works presented react to and document the rise of Thatcherism and the social and cultural events the period from 1979 engendered: inner city disturbances, the miners strike, and increasing social disparity.

Many individual filmmakers and producers contributed material to the programme from their private archives, providing not only original film and video tapes for digitisation but also key texts, photographs, diaries and ephemera from the period. Interviews were carried out with major individuals, contributing first hand accounts and documentary images from the period enabling digital access for a new generation to material previously unheard and unseen.

A critical selection of works were exhibited from key film and video workshops and groups who, motivated by a desire to effect social change, forged new approaches to political themes that emerged nationally. The show included exhibition and presentation from Amber Films, Black Audio Film Collective, Sankofa and Sheffield Film Co-op amongst others, and had a special focus on the Birmingham Film and Video Workshop whose largely unknown yet groundbreaking work was presented for the first time in decades.