‘I venture to say that future sociologists will find more information about what it felt like to live in the middle of the twentieth century by looking at these so-called esoteric and precious-sum-experimental films than they would from looking at the prefabricated, cut-and-dried documentaries to which we are so often exposed.
In experimental films we have a clear picture of a society in transition, a society faced with crisis, war, alienation of the individual, problems of standardisation and mechanisation.
In all these respects, the experimental films, whether the individual artists are aware of it or not, express the tensions and the discomfort felt by their makers in our present-day society.’
Amos Vogel, Film Culture, November 1957
Six film portraits in the ‘What Did You Eat Today?’ series
made in collaboration with filmmaker William English
1. Hugh de la Cruz, 16mm colour silent 10 minutes, 2001 London
Inventor, Hugh de la Cruz silently demonstrates his unique trouser coat, smokes in the shadow of Canary Wharf, makes spaghetti bolognaise and eats pie and mash on the East India Dock Road.
2. Bill Burns, DV Cam colour sound, 10 minutes, 2003 La Palette Paris
Canadian artist, Bill Burns, Director of the Museum of Safety Gear for Small Animals, talks to Sandra and William in La Palette in Paris about precisely what he ate on one particular day in 2003 whilst wearing a horse’s head.
3. Cafe Lipp, DV Cam colour sound, 10 minutes, 2003 Cafe Lipp Paris
One of the three historic cafes on Boulevard St-Germain-des-Pres, Cafe Lipp is featured here as waiters come and go via a rotating door.
4. Rose Lowder, DV Cam colour sound 62 mins, 2005 Paris
Filmmaker Rose Lowder describes her childhood years growing up in Peru where she picked avocados fresh from the tree. In this film Rose cooks a macrobiotic meal in her tiny Paris flat.
5. Yann Beauvais, DV Cam colour sound 60 minutes, 2005 Paris
Filmmaker and co-founder of Light Cone, Paris, Yann Beauvais cooks a crevette risotto in his apartment in Paris for his partner Edson, friends Cecilia, Sandra and William. Yann talks about filmmaking and how he came to shop and cook for his Father and brother when he was a young boy.
6. La Palette, DV Cam colour sound, 30 minutes, 2010, La Palette Paris
The cook and his assistant are seen in the tiny kitchen preparing lunch in this classic cafe on the Rue du Seine.
Screenings: Lux Cinema, Hoxton Square, 2001 / ‘Light Reading’ presentation at 291 Gallery, Hackney Road, 2002 / Les Archives Du Cinema Experimental D’Avignon, 2001 / ‘Sense and Nonsense’ at Danielle Arnaud, Kennington, 2003 / Mass Observation Archive, Sussex University, 2004 / Poetry Film: Altered States of Consciousness, Tate Britain, 2006 / Lux Salon, 2008/The London Art Book Fair, Whitechapel Gallery, 2010
What Did You Eat Today?
concept: Sandra Cross, circa 1997 –
Images of La Palette: Sandra Cross, circa 2006 all other images by William English, dates various