Immediately following an appearance at Tate Modern – in conversation with Dawn Ades, Professor of Art History and Theory at Essex University, noted for her publications on Dada, Surrealism and photography – the Mexico-based artist Melanie Smith made a first visit to West Dean in late June. During an evening presentation and discussion, Melanie screened Xilitla: Dismantled 1 (2010), an alternate version of the film recently purchased and displayed by Tate. Made in collaboration with regular partner Rafael Ortega, both films centre on the surreal architectural constructions built by West Dean founder Edward James deep within the Mexican jungle.

Melanie had known about James’ interventions at Las Posas for some years before finally visiting the location to research, develop and shoot the film. It is not difficult to understand the attraction of the site, especially considering James’ own British heritage, yet the sense of Xilitla that emerges in the film…

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