Robin Buss visits the South Bank's Spellbound exhibition which celebrates art and film
The Hayward Gallery sits almost on top of the National Film Theatre, but there seems to be relatively little overlap in their audiences or their activities.
Despite the claim by the organisers of the present exhibition that "in 1996, visual art without film is unimaginable", the idea of artists as film makers is likely to evoke the spectre of Andy Warhol's Factory; jerky avant-garde antics or eight hours staring at the Empire State Building. "It's so easy to make movies," Warhol once said. "You can just shoot and every picture comes out right."
Four of the ten artists invited to participate in this celebration of art and cinema have chosen to make films, three at least with some narrative element. The medium tames Damien Hirst - his Hanging Around is a lot less unsettling than his usual work - while Douglas Gordon tames the medium, with a version of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho run hypnotically at one-eighth of the normal speed. Both of these, unfortunately, are barred to under-18s, for reasons to do with certification.
Among the visual artists, Eduardo Paolozzi had made a collection of props, objects and memorabilia which is supposed to conjure up the world of movies, from Fellini to Hollywood; in fact, the most cinematic feature of his room is the idea of images endlessly repeated. Paula Rego's paintings of characters from Snow White, Fantasia, and Pinocchio cruelly void them of glamour and restore some of the sense of irrational dread that Disney's fairytale world leaves out.
Terry Gilliam and Ridley Scott have exhibits recalling their own films, Brazil and Blade Runner, but the only artist to have founda true mid-point between the media is Peter Greenaway, whose room mixes sound, sight, movement and music to create an installation that also changes with time.
Making movies is not as easy as Andy Warhol thought, and bridging the gap between what goes on at the Hayward and the NFT may have been more problematic than the organisers of this exhibition at first imagined.
The Hayward has taken a little time to get its accompanying educational programme off the ground. An Inset day, originally planned by the British Film Institute for last Tuesday, had to be postponed through lack of interest. An audio guide (intended for sale, not as a running commentary on the exhibition) will be available in the next week or so.
There is an information pack for teachers which should be ready for the Education Evening being held tonight from 6.30-8.30pm which includes a talk by the organiser, Ian Christie, and a tour of the exhibition.
Until May 6. Details from the education officer on 0171 921 0951. Other enquiries: 0171 928 3144