Navajo rising

Camille Summers-Valli’s experimental docos – selected by champion of young British art Kirsty Ogg
Art | 12 October 2014

Camille Summers-Valli, ‘Black Mesa’, 2014, video, 25 min (looped). Courtesy the artist and Bloomberg New Contemporaries

This article is part of Young Art Week – Defining a generation

Camille Summers-Valli, ‘Black Mesa’, 2014, video, 25 min (looped). Courtesy the artist and Bloomberg New Contemporaries

Welcome to HERO Young Art Week – our essential, multifaceted guide to the new wave of creatives working at the vanguard of contemporary art today. Across a dynamic week of digital content, we’re exploring what’s happening at the epicentre of this global community: from the ground up, the artists themselves and the key figures witnessing the evolution of the ideas, trends and movements defining this art generation.

As director of Bloomberg New Contemporaries – one of a growing number of institutions providing major support to young students, graduates and budding professionals within the British art landscape – Kirsty Ogg is at the forefront of nascent, young art. Providing a touring exhibitive platform for new and fine art graduates, each year, Ogg joins a panel of influential art voices to select 50 winners for the finalists exhibition, which kicks off at the World Museum in Liverpool before touring to the ICA in London.

For Young Art Week, she goes head to with each of her five selected artist highlights from this year’s final line-up.

Camille Summers-Valli, selected by Kirsty Ogg

Kirsty Ogg: Tell us about the work that was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries
Camille Summers-Valli: Black Mesa is a two-screen experimental documentary that explores the modern day realities of a small Navajo community in Northern Arizona. Since 1974, their culture and traditions have been impacted by a mass relocation due to the corporate interests of fossil fuel industries. The video installation examines and observes the disrupted lives and documents their approaches to defending the land and the culture.

The installation works on many different levels and I am certain I cannot outline them all; it leaves space for the viewer to bring in their own agency and interpretation of the footage, much of which is observational and mildly manipulated. 

KO: Is there anything you are thinking of developing in your work following your selection for Bloomberg New Contemporaries?
CSV: The project is still in production, the subject is endless and there are so many areas that I still need to explore. So I will continue to develop this with the intention of also making an 80-minute documentary (experimental, once again) that will be due for release at the end of 2015. More on the project can be seen on the website,

KO: What are the current challenges faced in your own practice?
CSV: The biggest challenge is financial. I am attempting put together the funds to continue this project.

There are also conflicts with the ethical issues making and distributing this film and which I am constantly having to consider, reflect and act upon both internally and within the piece itself.

KO: How will you utilise this opportunity?
CSV: Not sure! I don’t really know what it can provide. I guess that the exposure is great and I feel really lucky to have this opportunity to have an audience for a subject that is so incredibly pertinent at this time of social and environmental unease. I hope this opportunity will provide a dialogue on what it means when modernity meets tradition and both the positive and negative repercussions of that.

The Bloomberg New Contemporaries exhibition shows from until 26th October at World Museum, Liverpool, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EN. The exhibition will show from 26th November to 25th January at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH

Check out Kirsty Ogg’s interviews with other New Contemporaries finalists Emily Motto, Imran Perretta and Jesc Bunyard.

Stay tuned for more HERO Young Art Week content in the coming days and plug into our social media platforms for updates as they come.


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