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Recent Acquisitions, Gifts and Bequests

7 December 2011 By
Kerry Tribe: The Last Soviet

Kerry Tribe, The Last Soviet, 2010

Acquired for the Imperial War Museum. Commissioned by Modern Art Oxford, Arnolfini, and Camden Art Centre as part of the 3 series: 3 artists/3 places/3 years. Generously donated by the artist and commissioning organisations through the Contemporary Art Society, 2009.

Kerry Tribe’s film work The Last Soviet centres on the story of Sergei Krikalev, the Soviet cosmonaut stranded aboard the Mir space station for many months during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The film recreates the poetic story that a parcel of autumn leaves was sent up to him within a shipment of essential supplies. Different voices, a female newsreader and a male member of the ground control staff are woven together into a narrative, as in a documentary. These ideas of truth and propaganda, individual experience, memory and the construction of narratives permeate the Imperial War Museum.

The Imperial War Museums’ exceptional art collection is one of the most important representations of twentieth century British art. Artists such as Paul Nash and Stanley Spencer were commissioned to reflect not only the front line, but all aspects of war as it was experienced by ordinary people, military or civilian. Collecting from and commissioning in relation to contemporary conflicts continues to be at the heart of the Imperial War Museum’s work.

Image: Kerry Tribe, The Last Soviet, 2010, video, 10min 44sec, installation view, Hammer Museum Los Angeles. © the artist. Photo: Brian Forrest.

John Smith, The Black Tower, 1985 – 87

Acquired by the Ferens Art Gallery with support from the V&A Purchase Scheme through the Contemporary Art Society’s Acquisition Scheme.

John Smith has inspired many artists since his first films were made in the 1970’s, Girl Chewing Gum and The Black Tower amonst them.  This meticulously-made work, regarded as a classic experimental film, makes an exciting addition to the Ferens collection.  It tells the story of a man  haunted by the apperance of a tower, where the character only ever appears in the narrative voice. The humour is particularly melancholic in this work.  Here Smith draws upon the raw material of comon experience, transforming reality in a way that we can all identify with.

The Ferens Art Gallery opened in 1927 and holds and impressive collection of Eurpoean Old Master paintings.  The contemporary collection holds significant works paricularly acquired through the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collections Scheme and includes contemproary photography and moving images works.

John Smith – unusual Red cardigan is currently on display until 10 December 2011 at Peer, London.

Image: John Smith, The Black Tower, 1985-87, still from 16mm film, colour, sound, 24min. Edition 1 of 5 + 2AP. © the artist, courtesy the artist and Tanya Leighton Gallery