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  • Jemima Stehli
    'Endears me, yet remains'
  • 21 January to 29 March 2014

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“The whole crowd became absolutely silent as we came onto the stage, the band to gear up and me to undress and pick up the camera. For a moment I was concerned it would kill the energy of their show, but the silence switched to a surge of energy and relief and I was forgotten, moving slowly between them as they threw themselves around the stage. We had no rehearsal so that the experience would be as strange for us as for the audience.” – [Stehli, 2014]

Focal Point Gallery is pleased to present Jemima Stehli ‘Endears me, yet remains’, the first major UK solo exhibition by the British artist in recent years.

The show inhabits all three gallery spaces with new work from a collaborative relationship which started more than five years ago when Stehli began travelling, working and performing with the Lisbon-based band If Lucy Fell and their subsequent projects.

As part of the launch, the band will give a one-off live performance in the gallery on Saturday 18 January 2014. Stehli will film a continuous, unedited recording of the event which will later be projected on the end wall of Gallery 1 and illuminate a series of large photographs, depicting scorched Portuguese landscapes.

Having seen one of their first concerts at Vila Franca de Xira, Stehli’s first video piece of the band was filmed in Artra Art Gallery, Milan, where she shouted directions from behind the camera.

“They were interested in how my shouting voice was in tune and in time with their music, this was the beginning of us really working together. They had enjoyed being taken out of the rock venue and into the white space of the gallery and I wanted to be in their world, not thinking but feeling the energy of the performing moment.” – [Stehli, 2014]

Renowned for her large-format photographs and video performances, this project marks a new territory of work for Stehli but continues her interest in shifting positions in relation to the camera and the body.

“Gaza, the bass player, asked me to record the show on his camcorder. I found a position at the edge of the stage but during the filming I became so absorbed by the sense of being part of the action… I asked if I could film live on stage at their next show which was at Santiago Alguimista Lisbon in April 2009. They didn’t really understand what I was doing and I wasn’t sure where I was going but we enjoyed talking of ideas and possibilities and this understanding and trust gave me the licence to work in their world.

By the end of that year we made ‘She looked back’ a collaborative work performed at Zé Do Bois, Lisbon, November 2009. I was naked making

a film which projected them as huge giants behind them, as they played”
– [Stehli, 2014]

Stehli continued work with the band and the other projects instigated by its core members, including the now-popular band, Paus and Filho da Mãe. In total more than 500 hours of film footage on tapes were captured, with the artist often spending more than eight hours a day filming whilst the band were recording or practicing.

The footage from the time with the band, described by Stehli as “her muse and [her] sculptures”, will be shown in random order in Gallery 2 and act as a contrast to the theatrical, formal space of Gallery 1. The subsequent recordings function as a series of visual events rather than a linear documentary style, with formal interest in finding the image within the on-going activity outside the artist’s control.

Jemima Stehli (b.1961) lives and works in London. She has exhibited and performed at institutions including Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2011); Tate Modern, London (2010) Musee d’Art Moderne et d’Art Contemporain, Nice (2010) Centro Cultural de Belem, Lisbon (2009); Galerie Bernd Kluser, Munich (2004); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2003); ARTRA, Milan (2001-2); Chisenhale Gallery, London (2000).

This exhibition launched with a live performance Jemima Stehli films If Lucy Fell, by the artist and Lisbon-based band If Lucy Fell, which took place on Saturday 18 January.