Film still from John Akomfrah and Trevor Mathison's Numen (2014) (courtesy the artists and Smoking Dogs Films, London, © John Akomfrah and Trevor Mathison)

For the artist and filmmaker Lis Rhodes, “the provocation of conditions arrests continuity,” in which resistance is the only mode against inequity and curtailed liberties. The short films on view in the online exhibition Art in Focus: The Provocation of Conditions, including Rhodes’s Orifso, showcase four decades of experimental British filmmaking. Each film is a response, and a form of resistance, to different conditions, real and imagined, of their time. Distinct in subject and style, the films evoke our contemporary moment in relation to political unrest, civic protest, and enforced isolation. They explore the relationship between sound and image and push the boundaries between film poetry, documentary, and the claim to narrative truth.

Margaret Tait’s Colour Poems (1974) is a nine-part elegy to her native Scottish archipelago of Orkney, beginning with the repercussions of the Spanish Civil War. Rhodes’s Orifso (1999) takes the form of a historical fable, using archival and cartographical research to interrogate structures of power and surveillance in France and London between 1942 and 1998. Ori Gersht’s The Forest (2005) is a personal meditation on the reverberations and afterimages of the Holocaust. Finally, John Akomfrah and Trevor Mathison’s Numen (2014) is a fictional journey of post-apocalyptic survival.

To view the exhibition, visit