Bourn, Ian

“Born in London 1953. Studied at Ealing School of Art, 1972-75; Royal College of Art, London, 1976-79.

Screenings include Bracknell Video Festival; Hayward Gallery, London; The Kitchen, New York; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; National Film Theatre, London; Image Forum, Tokyo.

Video Fellowship (awarded by Arts Council of Great Britain and Sheffield City Polytechnic), 1982-83.

Co-instigator with Chris White of HOUSEWATCH (est. 1985): a group of mixed-media artists who collaborate, individually or collectively, to produce environmental site-specific performance events – initial project ‘Cinematic Architecture for the Pedestrian'” Luxonline, 2005.

“Ian Bourn has been making videos since the late 70s, at a time when most video artists were experimenting with black and white low-band U-matic, and relatively few homes had video recorders.

However it was the medium’s means of playback – on domestic-TV-like monitors – which attracted Bourn, who saw the potential for using the familiarity of television’s modes of address to develop his own highly personal and idiosyncratic style. Taking his cue less from contemporary artists’ film and more from televisual conventions, with a particular antipathy for TV’s portrayal of the ‘cheeky Cockney chappie’, he set out to develop his own pantheon of imaginary tragi-comic characters, pitched somewhere between Tony Hancock and Harold Pinter.

Bourn has described his single-screen video work as ‘a kind of portraiture that examines role-play and the viewer’s relationship with people portrayed on film.’ As well as being a consummate writer, Bourn is also an actor, often appearing in his own and other’s work. The blurring of fiction and autobiography is what gives the work its edge. This is paralleled in his work for ‘Housewatch’, a mixed-media group co-founded by Bourn in 1985, in which the facades of real houses are used, their illuminated windows presenting the passer-by with an illusory, fictional interior.”
Felicity Sparrow, Luxonline, 2005.

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