Berg (2014)

University of Brighton Gallery
Saturday 22 November – Friday 19 December 2014

A man called Berg, who changed his name to Greb, came to a seaside town intending to kill his father …

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ann Quin’s debut novel, CINECITY and artist/production designer Anna Deamer presented a film set installation for an imaginary screen version of Berg. The immersive, cinematic environment was complemented by a soundtrack  from renowned musician and composer Barry Adamson.

A boarding house in out of season Brighton is the background for this strange, disturbing and darkly comic drama. Published in 1964, Berg established Ann Quin’s reputation as one of the most original British writers. She wrote a further three, increasingly experimental novels but remains one of the best-kept secrets of British literature. She died in 1973, drowning in the sea off Brighton, aged 37.

The film set was devised, designed and built over two years by Anna Deamer in an ambitious partnership between artists, industry and education. Over 300 students from City College and the University of Brighton worked in an art department guided by industry professionals, building life-size walk-through sets of the novel’s key settings before set dressing, lighting, sound design and original score created the final installation. It was supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Crossing fine art and cinema practices, Berg developed the distinctive approach first seen in Hangover Square (2012); a film set based on a novel that was neither filmed in nor featuring actors ‘in character’, and through meticulous design and detailing, allowed an audience to be within both the novel and imagined film simultaneously. 

Associated Events

There was a complementary programme of introduced screenings and special events. The exhibition was complemented by a full screening and talks programme. Novelist Cathi Unsworth introduced a rare screening of West 11 (1963) based on Laura Del-Rivo’s novel The Furnished Room and The L-Shaped Room (1962) starring Leslie Caron and Tom Bell. Nell Dunn (Poor Cow and Up the Junction), a contemporary of Ann Quin, and the novelist Lee Rourke took part in a panel discussion about the life and work of Ann Quin. There were  screenings of films made by Ann Quin’s contemporaries: Film (1965) written by Samuel Beckett; Towers Open Fire and The Cut Ups (1963-1967) by William Burroughs with Anthony Balch, Brion Gysin; and BS Johnson’s You’re Human Like The Rest of Them (1967) as well as a touring programme of ground-breaking early 1960s cinema.

Associated Screenings

CINECITY also developed a network of new partners across East Sussex during November to present a touring programme of groundbreaking early 1960s cinema to complement the exhibitions.

THE L-SHAPED ROOM + Introduction by Professor Steve Chibnall
Dir: Bryan Forbes. UK 1962. 126 mins.
Fri 7 Nov / Electric Palace, Hastings

TOWERS OPEN FIRE + THE CUT UPS  1963. 16 mins / 1967. 10mins.
Dir: Anthony Balch, Brion Gysin & William Burroughs. 

WHOLLY COMMUNION Dir: Peter Whitehead. UK 1965. 33 mins.
+ Introduction by Barry Miles
Sat 15 Nov / Towner Gallery, Eastbourne

 REPULSION + Cinemas of The Mind Discussion (15)
Dir: Roman Polanski. UK 1965. 104 mins.
Sun 23 Nov / Lewes Film Club at All Saints Centre, Lewes

 LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (L’Année dernière à Marienbad)
Dir. Alain Resnais. France-Italy 1961. 94 mins.
Fri 28 Nov / FOREST ROW Film Society