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Jeanette Iljon
Comprehending film, video, performance, music, installation and dance, Jeanette Iljon's is a complex, inventive and transversal practice.

It has, over the duration of 30-odd years, engaged with themes like cultural and historical shifts, gender identity, subjectivity, feminist activism, and the social and formal materiality of media. The bulk of her work that is available in Britain was produced in the 1970s and early 1980s when she was living and working in Britain; she has been travelling, working and teaching throughout Central Europe, Africa, New Zealand and the Far East since then. That approximate decade was a period of intensive activity for Iljon, a time when she made a pivotal contribution to the creative and educational initiatives for women's collaborative practice in London's independent film/video community; organising workshops within the London Filmmakers Co-op and promoting training access for women, such as the 1982 Co-option network. The following text will attempt to provide a schematic chronological account of her work in the context of independent film and feminist self-organisation of that era, along with a close analysis of four films: Focii, Mantra, That's Entertainment/The Conjuror's Assistants, and No Laughing Matter.

While still a student at the Royal College of Art, Jeanette was already making forays into the polymath aesthetic that would come to inform her work, using duration in sculpture and performance and colliding those media with film and video. The mid- to late 1970s was a hub of politics and artistic experimentation at the Royal College, and Jeanette went on to teach in the Film and Video department, before branching out in collaborations on screenings and workshops with the Independent Film Association, The Other Cinema and the London Filmmakers Co-op. The work she was producing at this time was engaging with the psychological and cinematic variants of illusionism, and she very much drew on her dance background as much as on her predilection for the magic of the optical printer. One later instance of this imbrication is That's Entertainment/The Conjuror's Assistants. One of the most formally innovative and enigmatic of Iljon's films, That's Entertainment/The Conjuror's Assistants, uses footage of a children's birthday party with a magician to catalyse a meditation on time, memory, and identification. It is also surveying the materiality of the filmic image and the history of the cinematic mode itself.

Still from Real Woman Feminist pop video for Vi Subversa and Poison Girls/ Wildtrack by Jeanette Iljon, 1984
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