Test Dept Films
Thu 3 December, 8.30pm
AV Festival presents a screening of five rarely seen short films from Test Dept’s archive at the Barbican on Thu 3 December.
Emerging at a time when industrial society in Britain was disintegrating, Test Dept reacted against neo-liberal de-industrialisation and Thatcher’s free market politics. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s they created large-scale events in support of striking miners, the trade union movement, anti-racist and anti-apartheid movements and marked the end of the GLC (Greater London Council). Often working directly in solidarity with those involved in struggle, they collaborated with activists, politicians and artists including Tony Benn, Diamanda Galas, Jonathan Moore, Steve Martland and Malcolm Poynter.
Test Dept re-emerged last year to create DS30, a major new installation and film commissioned by AV Festival that marks 30 years since the 1984-85 miners’ strike and engages with the current cultural and political climate.
The programme also includes: Tested (1984) shot in the industrial wasteland of South London's former docklands; Cold Witness (1984) shot on location at the abandoned and monumental Beckton Coke and Gas Works in East London (before Stanley Kubrick blew it up shooting Full Metal Jacket) and featuring cult actor and director Ken Campbell; The Second Coming (1990) a monumental event at St Rollox Locomotive Works in Glasgow; and Fuel to Fight (1984) a document of their tour in support of striking miners.
The screening is followed by a not to be missed Q&A with founding members of Test Dept and guests.
The event also marks the publication of Total State Machine, a major new book documenting Test Dept from 1981 to the present, published by PC-Press and available online, www.pc-press.co.uk
“There is something very timely about the return of Test Dept. Their installation DS30, the accompanying film and the book Total State Machine have arrived just in time for the deep crisis of neoliberalism in the UK” (Mark Fisher, Frieze magazine, October 2015)
Presented by the Barbican in partnership with AV Festival.