We are Scottish interdisciplinary artists, Sarahjane Swan and Roger Simian, and we began our collaborative practice in 2009. Since then we have created a large body of works under the names Avant Kinema (films, installation art, soundtracks, sculpture, publications and writing) and The Bird And The Monkey (alternative songs and music videos).
Our early collaborations in songwriting and music video creation soon led on to us diversifying our practice into making short experimental films, many of which have screened around the world. Alongside digital technology these often make use of analogue equipment and processes: vintage 16mm and Super 8 cameras, long-expired film-stock, home-processing using household ingredients and handcrafting by directly scratching, painting and manipulating the film itself.
Avant Kinema films have screened internationally - throughout the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, USA, Canada, South America, Australia and New Zealand - as well as on several episodes of the experimental American cable access show, Here Comes Everybody, which broadcasts in numerous states across the USA.
Between 2012 and 2022 we produced five full-scale Installations, an Expanded Cinema Performance and a major Group Exhibition.
As The Bird And The Monkey we have released three albums worth of material since 2009. Much of this is collected on the 2022 compilation, Retrospektral. Our songs have aired regularly on BBC 6Music and other UK radio stations. One track, Moon Moth, was used in the soundtrack for BBC2 / digital drama, The Cut. That same year one of our early promo videos was picked for the BBC Music Video Festival.
In 2019, under the name Avant Kinema, we released the limited edition CD, Ghost Worlds (Animal Rites), a soundtrack album created in collaboration with Newcastle raised handpan player, Undertoad, for our Expanded Cinema Performance of the same name at Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival.
We have received arts grants and commissions from South of Scotland VACMA, the Hope Scott Trust, Creative Scotland and Imprints of the New Modernist Editing. We were the 2019 winners of the Pauline Fay Lazarus prize for work using the human form and have also been shortlisted for the EIFF Short Film Challenge (2016), and nominated for the Margaret Tate Award (2018).
In December 2017 a local MSP put forward a motion in relation to this nomination asking that the Scottish Government "wholeheartedly applauds the film-makers, Sarahjane Swan and Roger Simian... and extends its emphatic best wishes to them... for the future".
- Sarahjane Swan and Roger Simian