Samuel Dowd (b.1978) trained at Chelsea College of Art and subsequently at Wimbledon College of Art in Fine Art Sculpture. In 2007 he graduated with an MA in Time-based Arts from Dartington College of Arts. He is currently based in London.
Dowd’s films to-date are predominantly non-narrative portraits of both existent and imagined dwellings – exhaustively nuanced spaces – often populated by sculptural objects and, occasionally, somnambulist figures. This work is underscored by the will to inhabit moments of unmitigated experience: moments of making, being and becoming. Enigmatic encounters with forms, subjects and structures set against idealised settings and landscapes, not only in film but also manifest as sculpture, collage, text and photography. Dowd’s obsession is with the quest for ideal environments – the earthly paradise – as inscribed in the objects, furnishings, patterns and architectures of real and imagined tribes.
In recent years Dowd has pursued several exemplary strands of Gesamtkunstwerk as subject matter for the work – focusing on those who have taken avant-garde activity into the realm of the domestic and explored radical ways of living and making as the total work of art. His practice is research-led and as such he works with archives, galleries, museums and libraries to construct repositories of images, texts and moving image from which to produce new works. This ongoing research into alternative modernisms and visionary architecture has led to films such as The Passing (2010) – shot at Charleston Farmhouse, the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant; The Glass Parallax (2009), commissioned by the Towner Gallery and shot at Chermayeff & Mendehlson’s De la Warr Pavillion; Aphrodite’s Left Turn (2010) – a response to the ouevre of Frederick Kiesler and, most recently, Scenes in the Desert House (2010), footage of experimental and prehistoric dwellings shot in the American south-west, accompanied by a voiceover taken from J.M.G. Le Clezio’s Terra Amata.
Dowd’s moving image and sculptural work has been exhibited extensively in the UK and internationally. Recent exhibitions/events include Dirty Literature at the National Portrait Gallery, London, Platform X (D) – A Living Room at the Permanent Gallery, Brighton, Sweat Lodge at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, Tipping Points at HBC, Berlin, 3X3 at FormContent, London, Lost Horizons at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne and Manifesto Marathon at The Serpentine Gallery, London (with the SpRoUt collective). He has received awards from the British Council, Artscouncil England, The Henry Moore Foundation, Artists Networks and the European Cultural Fund. HIs work has been reviewed and published in (among others) The Guardian, A-N Magazine, Artvehicle and Kultureflash and he has most recently published Aphrodite’s Left Turn, a screenplay with Formcontent, London.