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Introduction
1981

First issue of Undercut magazine

"We are in search of the artistic practice which situates itself between art as poetic (the effacement of knowledge) and art as knowledge (the effacement of the poetic). It is this productive tension which we hope to address."
Mission statement, Undercut issue 1.

Undercut was a journal devoted to experimental film and video art. The magazine was produced and edited collectively by artists and writers involved with the London Film-maker's Co-op. Among the editorial collective in its early years were Nina Danino, Nicky Hamlyn, Stuart Marshall, Michael Maziere, Michael O'Pray, Al Rees, Guy Sherwin, Susan Stein, and Gillian Swanson.

Undercut published criticism, commentary and essays alongside photoworks, drawings and performative texts. As for the tone of the journal, Malcolm Le Grice suggested there was "a subtle distinction between the editorial policy of 'Undercut' and any representation of a collective attitude of the co-op". This is evident in the diversity of debate that took place in the pages of the journal: While the structuralist and materialist modes of filmmaking as produced by artists like Peter Gidal and Malcolm Le Grice had dominated the LFMC in the 1970's, this narrative now came up against the diverse concerns of the film and video artists of the 1980s. For example, debates from the Cultural Identities event at the Commonwealth Institute in March 1986 were reproduced in issue 17, Spring 1988. The issue brought together Peter Gidal, Mandy Merck and Reece Auguiste, Martina Attile and Issac Julien of Sankofa/Black Audio Film collective to discuss 'Aesthetics and Politics: Working on Two Fronts?'.

Tom Roberts

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Cover of Undercut 7/8, 1983

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