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Claire Hope

Project Space School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University Road University of Leeds Leeds LS2 9JT

30 March 2017

28 March – 13 April

CONTACT Claire Hope (b. 1977) completed her PhD in Fine Art practice at the University of Leeds in 2015 and an AHRC Cultural Collaboration Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies in 2016. Hope is a UK-based artist working with moving image and performance. Recently, she has produced two solo moving image commissions: Contact with Pavilion and the University of Leeds (2016) and Group Photo, with Gallery II, Bradford (2014). In 2016 she took part in the celebration of Ian White’s life and work and screened Group Photo – both at Showroom Gallery, London. Previously Hope has screened films with Transmediale (Berlin, 2007); S1/Salon (Sheffield), Mains D’Oeuvres Arts Centre (Paris) and LUX (London) all in 2009; David Dale Gallery (Glasgow, 2012); British Artists’ Film & Video Study Collection (London) and Bermondsey Project & Arbeit (London) in 2013, Brunel Museum Tunnel Shaft (London), 2015 among others. In 2012 Claire took part in the retreat on ‘The Self’ at Wysing Arts Centre, UK. Hope is a Part-Lecturer in Fine Art at Leeds Beckett University, has an MA Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art, London (2004) and is also a former LUX Associate Artist (2007/8). Credits: Actors: Martina McClements Alyson Marks Sarah Oldknow

Editing Support and Grading: Dave Lynch Venue hire: Cardigan Centre, Leeds Woodhouse Community Centre, Leeds

University of Leeds BA Fine Art Students: Beth Dalton Alice Evans

Claire Hope

Cinematographer: Dave Lynch Camera Assistant: Lauren Pissochet Camera and Sound Assistant: D’arcy Darilmaz


Editing: Claire Hope


Project funded by: AHRC Cultural Collaboration Post-Doctoral Award at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds Supported by: Pavilion, Leeds Produced by Claire Hope, 2016


Claire Hope



In Claire Hope’s video Contact (2016), female actors and students perform a series of affectionate interactions. Beginning with forms of touch recognisable from cinema, visual media and daily life, the video goes on to show a range of increasingly creative, physical gestures. The premise of Contact is to depict, in moving images, the kinds of creative bodily intimacy that can be seen between people who are close, or attached but are often absent from visual culture and social media. Hope is interested in how relationships are experienced and depicted in capitalist cultures, and how this can differ from the potential that actually exists between people. Contact uses experimental, performative ways of working to close the gap between the performance of closeness in life and in images. Drawing on task-based performance techniques, used by dancers such as Yvonne Rainer, Hope handed one-line instructions to professional actors and students to base improvisations on. Instructions included: ‘Working in pairs, starting with hands on hands, hands on arms, switch an affectionate gesture on and off. What changes can you make to ensure that the gesture’s effect or familiar appearance stop?’ and ‘A student starts with a seemingly abstract form of touch, can the actor respond with a gesture of communication, then the student responds differently, then the actor again – where does this lead?’ This was the only type of direction and the actors and students negotiated their improvisations vastly through physical movements and gestures alone. The filming of Contact, by cinematographer Dave Lynch, involved a sustained focus on moments of contact and the performance of gestures. By using a fixed distance lens, the images fall in and out of focus – meaning that a moment of touch often aligns with a moment of focus. Contact combines exploratory forms of negotiated improvisation, and a restricted focus on moments of touch, gesture and bodily interaction. Contact sets out to both allude to, and challenge, the framing of bodies in images. Its warmly coloured images recall similar romantic scenes in cinema and visual culture, whilst also resisting any conventional ‘portrait’ of the individuals involved. Despite what might become an intense, even relentlessly extended experience of affection, we know that the closeness is a performance. Not least because the actors are heard, and occasionally seen, talking about their experiences of ‘performing’ affection and attachment at points during the film. Consequently, the act of looking at intimate gestures becomes increasingly analytical and the searching actions of the camera contradict viewers’ expectations of the depiction of affection. This relates to Hope’s interest in politicising the dynamics between viewers and the people they choose to watch in images, as well as between those who produce and are depicted in images. In many respects, Contact appears to confront us with an idealised depiction of closeness – albeit one that draws from what is actually creative about intimacy in life. In this regard, the video is concerned with the cultural dominance of romantic narratives in capitalist cultures and how it feels to watch these images, while the reality may be different – either more creative, or more alienated. Consequently, Contact is a politicised artwork that uses the highly affective power of moving image to depict an ideal form of relating, with a view to prompting, or recalling, the same in human relationships. Contact was produced in 2016 during an AHRC Cultural Collaboration Post-Doctoral Fellowship Award in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds. Contact was supported by Pavilion, a visual arts commissioning organisation based in Leeds.

Imagery: Claire Hope, CONTACT (2016)

The Fold 03 – Claire Hope  
The Fold 03 – Claire Hope