A. L. Rees, who died in November 2014, was a tireless advocate for artists’ film and video. As a writer and teacher his work informed and guided a number of generations of students, scholars and artists through the complexities of the forms of both historical and contemporary moving image with patience, erudition and care. His book A History of Experimental Film and Video now in its 2nd edition edition (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) remains a standard text. He was a friend to the Study Collection, always happy to listen, advise, and where necessary lighten the moment with a scurrilous story or wicked joke. As part of the team editing the Study Collection’s book Expanded Cinema: Art, Performance, Film (Tate Publishing, 2011), his expertise and intuition was invaluable. His knowledge of the area was indisputable, his opinions firm and well-argued, but always modestly stated, for him the work and its makers always came first.
I first met Al at college in the early 1980s when he was drafted in by David Hall to show and discuss artists’ film and video, and as such I was among his first students at Maidstone College of Art, where he was later Head of Media. Much later, in the early 2000s, I renewed the acquaintance, and had the privilege of being among his comrades, working with him on a number of projects, always enjoying a chat with him when we collided at one screening or another.
Al was held in high regard by many people, some of whom paid their respects at an event organised in his memory by his partner Angela Allen in January. These and other tributes have been collected and edited by David Curtis, and are available to download as a PDF here as a tribute to Al and his work.
- Steven Ball