Stephen Sutcliffe

Stephen Sutcliffe
Still from Outwork 2013

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Glasgow based artist Stephen Sutcliffe (1968, Harrogate) creates film collages from an extensive archive of British television, film sound, broadcast images and spoken word recordings he has been collecting since childhood. Often reflecting on aspects of British culture and identity, the results are melancholic, poetic and satirical amalgams which subtly tease out and critique ideas of class-consciousness and cultural authority. Through an extensive editing process, Sutcliffe’s works pitch sound against image to subvert predominant narratives, generating alternative readings through the juxtaposition and synchronization of visual and aural material.

In this, his most ambitious exhibition to date, Sutcliffe exhibits a new version of on his most recent film Outwork,  commissioned for the Margaret Tait Award and supported by Creative Scotland and LUX , 2013, which he has developed and expanded for an installation format. Outwork was originally shown during the Glasgow Film Festival within a cinema context and is a filmic collage inspired by Erving Goffman’s book Frame Analysis. In his book, Goffman, a sociologist, explored how conclusions drawn from events and interactions shift dramatically due to changes in their framing contexts. Sutcliffe employs this premise structurally, through a humorous series of moving images and animations which explore the determining influence of titles, prefaces and introductions on the work that follows them. 

For his exhibition at Tramway, Sutcliffe has reconfigured Outwork as an installation for multiple screens, drawing in previous work, sources and new sequences to comment on the core film Outwork. In this new interpretation, Outwork is situated as part of a larger collage in which animations and synchronised images shown on the two outer screens literally frame the original film. Sutcliffe employs the three screen format to set up a rhythmic choreography between image and sound, creating a series of distinct sequences which take their titles and starting points from the different chapters of Goffman’s book. 

Outwork also implicates an essay by French philosopher Jacques Derrida of the same title in its’ scheme, taking cues from his engagement with the importance of margins as the place for characterising the structure of a written page. Next to text, margins are the place for annotations, notes-to-self and 'workings out'. In Sutcliffe's Tramway presentation, the wings of the three screen installation function as margins, in which Sutcliffe’s own notes, influences and previous works, become part of the finished collage. Sutcliffe’s interest in with prefaces and introductions also extends into the language of cinema and he has purposely used film trailers and title and credit sequences as material for the collages. Outwork includes trailers from films by Fassbinder, Resnais and Pasolini and also the title sequence featuring out-takes from Cannonball Run.  Hand-drawn illustrations and cartoon imagery also feature as a further framing device, at one point quite literally, as the hand of an unseen narrator draws an ornate frame and columns around the image.

Trailers, titles, credits and illustrations are used as additional structures for presenting information, but also function as a device in which the artist is insinuated as a subject within the work. Furthermore, Sutcliffe manipulates recordings of himself in interview for inclusion in Outwork, emphasizing the ongoing, inconclusive nature of artistic engagement.


Artist Talk: Sat 29 June 3 - 4:30pm

Tramway 2, admission free.

A discussion between Stephen Sutcliffe and William Rose followed by questions from the audience.