LUX’s history began in 1966 with the founding of The London Film-Makers’ Co-operative, or LFMC. Part of the 1960s counter-culture in London, the LFMC originally grew out of film screenings at the Better Books bookstore, before moving to the original Arts Lab on Drury Lane.
In the following years, it moved to share offices with John ‘Hoppy’ Hopkins’ BIT information service and then, with the breakaway group that formed the New Arts Lab, to the Camden-based Institute for Research in Art and Technology. With the end of IRAT’s lease in 1971 the Co-op found a base in a long-term squat in a former dairy at 13a Prince of Wales Crescent in Kentish Town. For most of its life, the LFMC was based in Gloucester Avenue in Camden in a run down building which for a number of years also housed the London Musicians Collective until it moved to the Lux Centre with London Electronic Arts in 1997.
Founded by, amongst others, Stephen Dwoskin and Bob Cobbing, the LFMC was inspired by Jonas Mekas’s The Film-Makers’ Cooperative in New York. One difference between the New York Co-op and the LFMC was that the LFMC was organized as an egalitarian cooperative, which assisted production as well as distribution. Early Filmmakers associated with the group include Malcolm Le Grice, Peter Gidal, Lis Rhodes, Carolee Schneemann, Annabel Nicolson, Lis Rhodes, Gill Eatherley, Roger Hammond, Sandra Lahire, David Crosswaite, et al. and William Raban. Alongside ACME Gallery and 2B Butlers Wharf the LFMC was widely regarded as one of the most important experimental art spaces in London during the 1970s and 80s.
London Video Arts (LVA) was founded in 1976 to support the promotion, distribution and exhibition of video art. Following the influential Video Show at the Serpentine Gallery in May 1975, which brought the work of international video artists to London and showcased British artists working in the medium, it became apparent that the increased activity in British video art required an organisation to provide support for the artists involved. The idea for London Video Arts (LVA) was initiated by David Hall and founded in summer 1976 by a group of video artists including Roger Barnard, David Critchley, Tamara Krikorian, Brian Hoey, Peter Livingstone, Stuart Marshall, Stephen Partridge, John Turpie and Hall.
LVA aimed to provide video artists with support promoting their work, beginning as Stuart Marshall later put it as “a pressure group” for the autonomy of video as an art practice, with its own systems of exhibition and distribution. This is apparent in the first LVA catalogue, produced in 1978, which places emphasis on “artists′ work on videotape, video performance and video installations…”. LVA acted as a regular screening venue for video art with a distribution library that provided access to a selection of tapes by international as well as British artists working in the field.
In the early days there were no production facilities, due in part to the unwieldy and expensive nature of the technology then available. It was not until the early 1980s that LVA managed to secure sufficient funding to set up a permanent office, employ staff and set up their first production facility, this was heralded in LVA’s second 1984 catalogue by David Critchley. “We now have, in March 1984, an organisation which is ‘up and running’ in all of the areas it was intended to cover by its founder members back in 1976… LVA can now offer facilities for the production and post-production of video programmes, can exhibit those programmes through its own shows series, and can distribute them worldwide with the help of this catalogue.”
As video art became more established throughout the 1980s, LVA changed to accommodate the different concerns which emerged across the decade. The phenomenon of Scratch Video, for example, and the rise of the music video and cheaper and more available video “camcorder” technology produced a different aesthetic less connected to the modernist concern for medium specificity which first characterised video. In 1988, after some disagreements with John Cleese’s video production company (Video Arts) over company names, LVA became London Video Access, and indeed its production facilities were in great demand at the expense of its distribution library during this period, showing a shift towards broadcast and the independent video sector and away from the arts. By 1994, another change of title to London Electronic Arts reflected developments in video technology towards a more dispersed digital media and again reasserted the artist led nature of the organisation.
Both the LFMC and LVA/ LEA moved to the Lux Centre in 1997, which, for the first time, provided the organisations with purpose built spaces including a gallery, cinema, archive and production facilities. Under the pressure of funding cuts, and perhaps also determined by the increasingly blurred distinctions which now existed between video and other moving image media, LEA merged with the London Film-Makers’ Co-op with whom it shared a venue under the collective name of the Lux Centre, continuing until the eventual demise of the Centre in 2001 due mainly to spiralling property costs in the Shoreditch area. A complete online collection of the Lux Centre programmes from 1997 – 2001 can be viewed online here.
LUX opened on Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, in 2002 to continue and extend the work of its predecessors as an agency particularly based around the distribution and collection activities of the LFMC and LEA. Working through distribution, collection, exhibition, screening, professional artists support and education, LUX continues advocate for and support the practice and discourse of artists’ moving image in the UK. In the summer of 2016, LUX relocated to Waterlow Park, Highgate after 14 years in Hackney. In 2014 LUX also established LUX Scotland, a new agency for the support and promotion of artists working with the moving image in Scotland, more information about this at www.luxscotland.org.uk
Over the past 50 years LUX has worked with most artists who have worked with the moving image in the UK, these include amongst others: Ed Atkins, John Akomfrah, George Barber, Clio Barnard, Black Audio Film Collective, Ian Breakwell, Stuart Brisley, Duncan Campbell, Bonnie Camplin, Marc Camille Chaimowicz, Adam Chodzko, Steve Claydon, Phil Collins, David Critchley, Nina Danino, Vivienne Dick, Cerith Wyn Evans, Shezad Dawood, Benedict Drew, Stephen Dwoskin, Luke Fowler, Ryan Gander, Beatrice Gibson, Peter Gidal, Dryden Goodwin, David Hall, Mona Hatoum, Emma Hart, Claire Hooper, Jaki Irvine, Derek Jarman, Isaac Julian, Sandra Lahire, David Lamelas, Torsten Lauschmann, Malcolm le Grice, Tina Keane, Patrick Keiller, Anja Kirschner, Andrew Kotting, Tamara Krikorian, Mark Leckey, Anthony McCall, Stuart Marshall, Simon Martin, John Maybury, Ursula Mayer, Rosalind Nashashibi, Grace Ndiritu, Annabel Nicolson, Uriel Orlow, The Otolith Group, Jayne Parker, Gail Pickering, Sally Potter, Elizabeth Price, William Raban, James Richards, Lis Rhodes, Ben Rivers, Margaret Salmon, Carolee Schneemann, Lucy Skaer, John Smith, Patrick Staff, Corin Sworn, Stephen Sutcliffe, Grace Schwindt, Guy Sherwin, Alia Syed, Margaret Tait, Stefan and Franciszka Themerson, Jon Thomson & Alison Craighead, Edward Thomasson, Mark Titchner, Mark Aerial Waller, Mark Wallinger, Emily Wardill, Gillian Wearing, John Wood & Paul Harrison, Andrea Luka Zimmerman and many more…
Reaching Audiences Distribution and Promotion of Alternative Moving Image Julia Knight and Peter Thomas, Intellect.
Shoot Shoot Shoot: The First Decade of the London Film-Makers’ Co-operative 1966-1976 Mark Webber (ed), LUX