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Ruth Novaczek
Novaczeks first piece 'Tea Leaf' was completed in 1986 within the film department of the then St Martins School of Art where her immediate contemporaries were, among others, Sandra Lahire and Isaac Julien.

It was at a time when various movements came to a fore, creating a wave of young filmmakers from diverse backgrounds, empowered to rigorously explode not only their own identity and representation, but also react against the perceived classical Avant Garde and filmmakers such as Malcolm Le Grice and Peter Gidal. Accepted film forms and forms of being in the guise of identity politics, took on a new life.

Shot in London, originated on super 8 colour and re-filmed from two projectors creating various super impositions, images of Chinese New Year transmute into the ghosts of a European Jewry celebrating, calling, hollering to the camera, beckoning not only to us, but the maker too, to answer, What or who is a Jew?

'Tea Leaf' takes the form of a confession to her new lover "We started off as friends and then we recognised something else" A raw cacophony of klezmer, Yiddish wedding music and 'Sister Nancy', a "toaster" or roots reggae artist who pre-dated 80's rap music, underscores the voice over which combines the painful memory of an abusive lesbian experience with an almost playful analysis of First Love. It is this tension between play and pain - the pain of play within the psychology of both individual and collective abuse that underscores this first and much of her subsequent work.

There is a sense in Novazceks work of continual movement. Her camera never rests. The end of one film marks the logic of the next creating a context that Novazcek constructs around her own iconography. Motifs build, images are often blurred, the video image degraded in a way that recalls the materialism of a generation of filmmakers that Novaczek positions her self against. What begins in her first work as philosophical reference, the "Khismet"(fate) contained within the swirl of a teacup transfers into her later work as an integral part of her aesthetic.

Tea Leaf by Ruth Novaczek, 1988
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