Commentary Sue Hall

Sue Hall lives and works in London and was the co-founder of Fantasy Factory – together with John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins, whom I introduced to you in my last mail. The video portrait of Sue Hall shows how a teenager grew up in the London of the sixties, how she became politicized and a fan of clubbing in London’s music scene. (see Sue Hall, Video 05.41: I turn to music and clubbing)

In her video work Sue Hall was mostly active among squatters in North London. The squatting movement flowered in London in the 1970s, when an estimated 30,000 people lived in squats in Greater London, and the movement provided a platform for many London subcultures over several decades.

Sue Hall: ‘We were squatters ourselves, so we were not from the outside. At first people were very hesitant about the video. We took the camera with the recorder out and let other people handle it. We showed them: This is what you do, this is how you zoom, and this is how you focus. After people had had a go themselves, they felt reassured. That was quite crucial. We videoed occupations, parties, evictions, street actions, lectures, seminars, marches. We showed it back to the squatters, and also to squatters in other parts of London’. (see Sue Hall, Video 11.34: Participant observation)

Wishing you an inspiring viewing session,

Heinz Nigg

P.S. The Londoners have recogniszed the value of the culural heritage of the community video movement of the 70s and 80s. In 2017 the London Community Video Archive (LCVA) was founded, that can be accessed online. On its website it says: «Our aim is to draw attention to these unheard voices and images, and to enable them to be used as a resource for contemporary debates and activism.»

In the 1970s and 1980s, young activists discovered video as a new medium and used moving images in their struggle for access to cultural expression for the many, not the few. They were researching and developing new forms of independent and participatory media work. This was an important step towards realizing the utopian promises of the digital age.