Usurp Zone5 Film Festival

14 – 17 August 2015

Usurp Art Gallery organised an extraordinary, four day film festival with 84 experimental short films by 63 artists and filmmakers from over 15 countries, including Argentina, Germany, India, Jordan, Peru, Spain and South Africa. This is the first time an experimental film festival has taken place in the London Borough of Harrow.

Festival website

The Usurp Zone5 Film Festival was conceived as a curated and open submission festival of short films up to 10 minutes. Usurp Art nurtured the film festival from a well publicised open call, receiving 491 film submissions from every continent and over 60 countries. Our open call asked for films that were based on the following: “Think – abstract, absurd, activist, animated, asemic, clandestine, collage, conceptual, cut-ups, environment, experimental, glitch, graffiti, graphic, identity, kinetic, outsider, paracinematic, performance, plunderphonic, poetry, radio, rebellious, scores, sci-art, scratch, silent, sonic, subterranean, subversive, surreal, synesthetic, typographic, video art…”

The programme consisted of four days of exhibition films – projected and on monitors, three nights of screenings with informal talks and discussions, and a film soundtrack and projection night with artists from Usurp Art. It was fantastic to have 11 festival filmmakers present who made the discussions highly enjoyable and accessible. Usurp Art welcomed very diverse audiences each day with a full house on each night. Attendees were thrilled to meet and discuss the films with the filmmakers, and share knowledge. The filmmakers were delighted to be able to network with each other and to share their ideas with members of the public, other filmmakers, and curators that attended. The social, cultural and educational value of this festival was considered to be exceptional, and the fact that it took place entirely at Usurp Art proved to be its strength, with high numbers of people reporting that they felt excited and engaged because of the intimacy, and possibility to have one on one discussions in a friendly atmosphere.

Programmed and curated by Poulomi Desai and Simon Underwood.

“Proud to be backing experimental film and video festival Zone5…

Inspiring, friendly, high quality, thought provoking films – first time I have attended an experimental film festival – this is brilliant – well done Usurp!

Amazing community spirit and what an opportunity to meet with so many filmmakers and a chance to discuss ideas

Eclectic, funny, well-organised, great audience and what an atmosphere – more of this please!

Thanks Usurp for taking so much care in screening my film. The sound, black-out, people, everything is perfect. Great to be in an environment that nurtures reflection and networking

Exciting, enthralling, luminescent, interactive, inviting, textured

Festival showing experimental films from all around the world:

Thanks to all the filmmakers, audiences, helpers and sponsors who made our Usurp Zone5 Film Festival a great success.

Film Hub London, Film, NEC, and the BFI. #usurpzone5

Selection from the documentation:

All the filmmakers and artists:

Adam H. Marchand, Ale Bachlechner, Alice Boutell, Aline Helmcke, Allan Brown, Arnont Nongyao, Blanca Rego, Clint Enns, Damian Lintell-Smith, Damien Megherbi, Daniel Watkins, Eisuke Yanagisawa, Elsa Philippe,Francois Knoetze, Gabriel Rud, Graham Dunning, Harrison Banfield, Hernán Talavera, Hiroya Sakurai, Jack Wormell, James Pomeroy, Jessica J Giacobbe, Jo Shaw, Justin Pechberty, Jukka-Pekka Jalovaara, Karl Waugh, Kuesti Fraun, Laura Fletcher, Marc Nesy (aka SWOON), Marko Schiefelbein, Maryam Tafakory, Matthias Kispert, Maura Wendelken, Mauricio Sanhueza, Maxime Corbeil-Perron, Melanie Menard, Michael Fleming, Michael Woods, Mikhail Basov, Molly Brown, Morgen Christie, MV Isip, Natália Azevedo Andrade, Nazare Soares, Neelu Bhuman, Onyeka Igwe, Pablo Saura, Razan Haikal, Richard Anthony Dunford, Richard Ashrowan, Sally Waterman, Sandra Araújo, Saravana Selvam, Sasha Waters Freyer, Scott Fitzpatrick, Samir Hamiche, Sedi Ghadiri, Shunsaku Hayashi, Stuart Pound, Theo Tagholm, Thorsten Fleisch, Vicki Bennett, Zachary Finkelstein

Usurp Zone5 Trailer

Check out our Vine videos here:


Part of this tomorrow with my Kartar harmonium – do join us – the afternoon starts at 2pm with performances.

Sat 18th July 2015
4.30pm – 5.30pm
space breath time
Joe Namy (b. 1978, lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon)

space, breath, time brings together a group of musicians to interpret a text-based score written for South Asian portable harmoniums. This experimental score explores ‘flows of people, networks and waves – sounds in migration, in search of asylum’. Audience members are invited to walk amongst the harmonium players in order to experience the sonic characteristics of the performance space.


Looking forward to this tonight at 8pm:

Sonic seeds and spores from thunderous electronic artist Petrels – presenting the London debut of the full 5-piece Petrels band line-up following the release of new album ‘Flailing Tomb’; extraordinary and otherworldly noise duo Conspirators of Pleasure – aka Simon Underwood (founder member of The Pop Group) and Poulomi Desai (ex Dead Jalebies); CIYF favourite Laid Eyes, presenting the premiere screening of new film ‘I Want In But I Don’t Know To What’; enthralling quartet performance from müllZimmer’s Jonas Gustafsson (percussion) and Lia Mazzari (cello), with Clay Gold (electric bass) and Florian Zeisig (percussion); plus Tartaruga DJing throughout and till late.


Great to have been invited by Graham Dunning for his morning sound art radio show on NTS on 3 April – as it’s Easter there may well be the sounds of Oryctolagus cuniculus included in our live set…

Fractal Meat

Performing live in the studio on Friday 3rd April will be Conspirators of Pleasure, aka Poulomi Desai and Simon Underwood. Tune into NTS from 8am to 10am to hear them play.

Conspirators of Pleasure (Poulomi Desai – ex Dead Jalebies and Simon Underwood – founder member of post punk band The Pop Group) are an improvising duo that seek to bend all the rules, question the sacred, create extraordinary soundscape performances and self-regulating sonic systems, using modified and prepared instruments. Part of their unusual musical armoury includes a prepared sitar, sonically twisted stylophones, prepared bass, modified toys, resurrected radios and visually scarred slide projections. Their compositions explore experimental terrains, twisting technology to transform organic sounds into eerie calls that flow from intense waves of abrasive, noisy, chaos invoking industrial nostalgia, to structured pulsating rhythms, to melancholic, microtonal drones.

The duo have worked with a range of musicians and artists including, Noise=Noise…

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Happy International Women’s Day!
My curation for Sound and Music’s International Women’s Day is now online! 

Sound and Music | British Music Collection | Google Cultural Institute.
Creating this online exhibition has been inspiring, reflective, joyful, intense and hard work. There were many gems in the archives at the collection, from autograph manuscripts to quizzical graphic scores, to old recordings and photographs. I have produced / curated this online exhibition within two weeks including two fascinating, intensive research days at the University of Huddersfield where the archives are preserved carefully, cataloging and colour correcting dozens of photographs, and uploading, and designing the exhibition on an online software that I sometimes wanted to scream funeral dirges at. I hope you find it stimulating and informative. This is just the beginning of an “unfinished” story and I hope to be able to re-visit the archives to highlight more of what is hidden and waiting for us to discover.
Featured amongst many are – Composers, Sound Artists, Conductors, Musicians, Sound Magicians, Wordsmiths: Alwynne Pritchard, Angela Morley, Anna Friz, Claudia Molitor, Diana Burrell, Errollyn Wallen, Ethel Leginska, Ethel Smyth, Feminist Improvising Orchestra, Iris Garrelfs, Janet Beat, Jo Thomas, Judith Weir, Lindsay Cooper, Magz Hall, Michelle Marie Lewis-King, Nicola LeFanu, Phyliss Tate, Polystyrene, Priti Paintal, Rebecca Horrox, Rebecca Saunders,  Riot Grrrls, Riz Maslen, Shirley J. Thompson, Yumi Hara Caukwell.

WomensdaylogoI am very pleased that I have been chosen for the curation of an online exhibition for Sound and Music and the Google Cultural Institute. The exhibition is for the British Music Collection for International Women’s Day on 8 March 2015. I want to highlight new works by living composers and artists and want you to be part of it.

Here is my call out:

Using the idiom of “A wo (man)’s work is never done”, I am exploring what might be considered, ‘feminist’ and ‘radical’ –  from everyone who considers themselves to be on the margins – artistic, social, cultural, political. I am specifically interested in finding:

1) ‘Unfinished’ pieces 2) Noise based, Dada, Fluxus, ‘nonsense’, multi-lingual, poetry, radio, video and text sound works, and graphic scores. I want to highlight work that is on the fringes of contemporary, new music scenes and interweave this with archived works from the British Music Collection at the University of Huddersfield. My intention is to make this archive broader in it’s outlook and  I encourage sound makers and musicians to register their works with the British Music Collection. Your work will also be highlighted on the Usurp website.

For your work to be considered for the exhibition, you will need to register with the British Music Collection website by 2nd March 2015 be a member of PRS (or equivalent) and have some You Tube links for me to view. Full guidelines (check the details) and how to register:

Once your work is online, email me your details:

Excerpt from second set : 3 Electronicas at De Player. Noise + Sitar Improvisations: Lorah Pierre, Poulomi Desai, Ewa Justka. Full 52 min performance on You tube here:

“3 ELECtronicA’S” hijacked the lighting and sound systems of De Player in Rotterdam and created a twisted, noise, son et lumière. Hacking, bending, pulsing darkroom electronics in a filmic ambience, creating audio-visual hypnagogic illusions. 3 artists characterised by the fact that they develop their own electronic devices for the use of making sound in a sculptural and performative way. Thanks to De Player and special thanks to Peter Fengler.

“Translocations” Exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery, London 1997. Digitally modified photographic portraits and cover photo for the gallery magazine. Curated by Displaced Data: Janice Cheddie, Keith Piper and Derek Richards. For full list of exhibitors and more info see:

“The Conspirators of Pleasure” perform at The Cockpit Theatre London. Monday 9 December 2013 Doors open 6pm – Music at 7.30pm £8 / £6 concs. Tickets available here: The Cockpit, Gateforth Street, London NW8 8EH 
Box Office: 020 7258 2925 (12-6pm, Monday – Saturday) “The Conspirators of Pleasure” not only seek to bend all the rules and question the sacred but they also explore variants of raga structures from which they create extraordinary soundscape performances. They use self-regulating sonic systems using modified and prepared instruments including a prepared sitar. Their compositions explore experimental terrains, twisting technology to transform organic sounds into eerie calls that flow from intense waves of abrasive, noisy, chaos invoking industrial nostalgia, to structured pulsating rhythms, to melancholic, metaphysical drones. “The Conspirators of Pleasure” are Poulomi Desai (ex-member of The Dead Jalebis) and Simon Underwood (ex- member of post-punk The Pop Group). The duo have worked with a range of musicians and artists including, Noise=Noise, Steve Beresford, BJ Cole, Satoko Fukada, Aisha Orazbayeva, Kammer Klang, Roger Turner and John Edwards. Also playing are Project 12
- a newly formed band of young British musicians exploring the depths of Indian classical music with the influences of music surrounding them today. With a passion to perform compositions and original music, these young musicians highlight the eclectic variety within British Asian Music by adding a new and dynamic perspective.

"Handbag Gucci Noise - Dance Floor Divas #1" Fake Gucci handbag + Electronics Artwork amplifier, literally celebrating the idea of handbag house, modified and created by Simon Underwood. It will be on a gallery dance floor soon playing with others. "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde 1895. “Jack: I don’t actually know who I am by birth. I was… well, I was found. Lady Bracknell: Found? Jack: Yes. The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentlemen of a kindly disposition found me and gave me the name of Worthing because he happened to have a first class ticket to Worthing at the time. Worthing is a place in Sussex. It’s a seaside resort. Lady Bracknell: And where did this charitable gentlemen with the first class ticket to the seaside resort find you? Jack: In a handbag. Lady Bracknell: [closes eyes briefly] A handbag? Jack: Yes, Lady Bracknell, I was in a hand bag. A somewhat large… black… leather handbag with handles… to it. [pause] Lady Bracknell: An ordinary handbag. Lady Bracknell: And where did this Mr. James… or, Thomas Cardew come across this ordinary handbag? Jack: The cloak room at Victoria Station. It was given to him in mistake for his own… Lady Bracknell: [Shocked] The cloak room at Victoria Station? Jack: Yes. The Brighton line. Lady Bracknell: The line is immaterial. [begins tearing up notes] Lady Bracknell: Mr. Worthing. I must confess that I feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or at any rate bred in a handbag, whether it have handles or not, seems to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life which reminds one of the worst excesses of the French revolution, and I presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to?”

Cafe Oto | Kammer Klang.  BJ Cole (pedal steel guitar) + Poulomi Desai (prepared sitar) 8 July 2013.

Thanks to Lucy Railton and Aisha Orazbayeva of Kammer Klang. Thanks to Peiman Khosravi for the sound recording.

BJ COLE: Whether co-writing with the Orb, re: interpreting Roy Orbison with Brian Eno or creating a context for the pedal Steel in Folk music with Martin Simpson, BJ COLE continues to prove himself the most essential and pioneering Pedal Steel Guitarist in the UK today. His uniquely eclectic style of Pedal Steel Guitar playing first made an impact on the British music scene in the early 1970’s with his performances on Elton John’s classic ‘Tiny Dancer’ and Joan Armatrading’s hit single ‘Down To Zero’. Throughout the ‘70’s and into the ‘80’s, BJ’s inimitable contributions to classic recordings by Marc Bolan, Scott Walker, The Stranglers, kd lang, Deacon Blue and Paul Young earned him considerable respect as both an innovative and exciting creative force. During the ‘90’s, BJ’s desire to pioneer the use of the Pedal Steel Guitar far beyond it’s traditional context in Country Music has ensured that he has continued to expand the instrument’s horizons into uncharted territory.

POULOMI DESAI is a self taught multi-media artist, best known for her large-scale sound and photography installations that interrogate the politics of identity, listening and perception. Inspired by her post-punk theatre background, her tools are image-based, textual, performative and acoustic, traversing boundaries of physical location and structures of presentation. Her current pre-occupation investigates sacrilegious sound and vision through the machinations of her prepared, modified sitar, electronics and slide projections, performing on the noise and free improv scenes. Commissions and exhibitions include, The Serpentine Gallery, The Photographers Gallery, The Science Museum, INIVA, The Queens Museum (USA), The Oxford Gallery (India), Futuresonic UK and Souzouzukan 9001 Japan. She runs the Usurp Art Gallery and studios, an experimental tactical media artist-led space where she has curated over 80 exhibitions and events. “Her irreverent aim is to shatter the contours of these fixed notions of sexual, national, cultural, personal, political and diasporic identities” – Professor Stuart Hall “Different” Pub. Phaidon.

Other performances also on the night were:
THIERRY DE MEY : Musique de Tables (1987), one of Mey’s earliest compositions, was originally written for the first show from the choreographer, dancer and film director, Wim Vandekeybus, entitled ‘What the Body Does Not Remember’. It is scored for three percussionists, each creating a variety of sounds from striking a table. Performed by percussionists, Joe Richards, Elsa Bradley, Ana Gasco.

STEFAN PRINS: Stephan Prins – Piano Hero No.1 (2011) is an immersive cycle for midi-keyboard, grand piano, live-cameras, video and live-electronics. Referring to the video game ‘Guitar hero’ and it’s plastic guitar triggering pre-recorded sounds and images, the pianist in Piano Hero triggers with a midi keyboard video samples of an ‘open piano’ improvisation. Performed by pianist, Gwen Rouger.

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG – Fantasy for Violin with Piano Accompaniment op.47 (1949). Violin and piano duo Aisha Orazbayeva and Matthew Schellhorn have performed together for a number of years, and have recently recorded Ravel’s Violin and Piano Sonata featuring on Aisha’s Outside album. They are currently preparing for a live broadcast on France Musique and a series of concerts for the Radio France Montpellier Fetstival.

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