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Cordelia Swann
In what have been called her 'autobiographical' or 'personal documentary' works - an ongoing series began in 1986 with Phantoms, Swann's strategy of simultaneous engagement and distance is exemplified by different contrasts.

Opulent iconography and exaggerated colour or luscious narratives veer from the bittersweet recollections of a far from perfect childhood to the harrowing realities of death. Fact and fiction meet, blur and interweave, but the basis of engagement is always that which has been experienced, consciously filtered through Swann's subjective eye and retold. This embellishment of 'real' narratives with fantasy and artifice can be seen as a proposition for a way of relating to and coming to terms with life and the world.

As Swann says, the films started with a compulsion to look back at her own life through the use of images which recreate or act as triggers for memory. The use of a narrator in many of the films adds another vivid layer of conjuring pictures through words, whilst at the same time, image and sound work together to evoke and allude.

Out West (1992) and Back East (2000), as the titles imply, mark the beginning and end of a personal trilogy set in America, interspersed by Tall Buildings (1992). The films, shot in the saturated colours of Kodachrome, are very reminiscent of the immediate post war era. This further accentuates the way in which Swann presents contemporary visuals as an entry point for retrospection, fantasy and reminiscence.

Still from Tall Buildings by Cordelia Swann, 1992
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