The Girl Chewing Gum

John Smith’s The Girl Chewing Gum is many things: a twelve-minute 16 mm film consisting of only two shots, a testimony to how complexity can arise out of a sparse economy of means, an allegory of cinema, a critique of documentary naturalism, an interrogation of language-image relations, a record of an East London neighbourhood, a classic avant-garde film, an art world hit some thirty-five years after its debut, and more besides. Yet before discussing these elements, some description is in order.
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