Holly Antrum

Research project: Writing a lens: how might the formal structures of the film archive be subverted through fictioning within artist moving image?


My research facilitates the becoming of a narrator and a matrilineal counterpart, Markéta (b. Brno, 1976), via fiction into a different yet possible turn of family history. Through documenting the construction of her I overlay a fictional woman, reader and researcher, with the archives they attend today. 

Writing a lens involves me with a feminist oral history research methodology, recording Markéta's real-life peers, who were teenage girls during the Velvet Revolution. Lending these perspectives to the becoming of a narrator, her voice, her work and her use of images within it, wagers the hierarchical obstacles of citizenship alongside ‘pirate' uses of archival material as quotation. 

Underpinning this collaborative doctoral partnership with the BFI, the research is engaged with depicting the subject's attention in the archive. Representing this throughout the research project inherently quotes and interconnects the discourses captured by  filmmaker, film theorist, and arguably ‘feminist collaborator', Peter Wollen's notebooks - as generative, haptic kernels of film and cultural thinking – held in this essential state to move further among the project's primary materials within the BFI National Film Archives. I utilise these traces to suture and propose the indexical value of Wollen to opening up the film archive, and examine the vehicle of artist moving image to both propose and enact this.

Using these catalysts and tools of my practice (publishing, handwriting, voice, interviews) towards a new film, and an artist book that accompanies the spaces of Markéta's research, I am interested in these overlays as uncovering and constructing the speculative formation of subjectivity, influenced by history and by film, actual and possible, and within contemporary practices. 

The questions of autoethnography and intra-action that my practice brings to these layered and highly disparate acts of looking and imagining, subvert archive access into highlighting notions of the Self through material, and the added indexicality of the archive's users upon key-searches. My research findings will point to the artist-deployed distinct conjunctions of material and their uses, as intentional transformational collisions, non-totalising entanglements (Barad), and fictioning (Burrows and O'Sullivan).

  • Research degree: Practice-based PhD
  • Title of project: Writing a lens: how might the formal structures of the film archive be subverted through fictioning within artist moving image?
  • Research supervisor: Abbe Fletcher


UK-based Techne AHRC PhD Researcher since 2018 and a practicing / exhibiting artist and filmmaker of 11+ years. This practice has developed in recent years to include creative writing, putting words where pictures are sought, and achieving images which speak to writing through a critical framework and peer-led publishing.

My background in painting, printmaking and drawing mean that the act of inscription and transfer connect writing to mark-making in my work. These experimental concerns overlapped most visibly in my career with aspects of care and collaboration in a 16mm-HD film called ‘Catalogue' (2014) working with artist and concrete poet Jennifer Pike (1919-2016).

Since then I have worked both alone on written and film projects and in consultation with poets, artists, filmmakers, archivists and students. My work has been shown widely in the UK as well as internationally. My films are distributed by LUX Artists' Moving Image.

Areas of research interest

  • Archives and fictioning, experimental forms
  • Czechoslovak Velvet Revolution 1989, women's stories and Central Eastern European & Diasporic Feminisms
  • Translation in film and poetry: speech and mark-making, cursive mark, copy
  • Transnational archival practices
  • Film scanning - digital hybrid analogues
  • Camera movement and lens-led approaches to filmmaking
  • Inter-disciplinary fiction, close reading, reading group models, diegesis
  • Former Eastern-bloc graphic artist film posters and printmaking connected to filmmaking
  • Linguistic and cognitive functions of 'analogy' and 'ekphrasis'


  • MA Fine Art Printmaking (2011) Royal College of Art, London
  • BA(Hons) Fine Art Painting (2005) Wimbledon School of Art, London

Funding or awards received

  • Kingston School of Art Graduate Research School / British Film Institute: BFI Reuben Library event 'Marketa's Notes', 2023
  • Women's Art Library Documentary: Practice-based research commission, Art360 Foundation, 2022
  • Practice-based research commission, Camera Austria, 2022 (part of a funded curatorial project by Oliver Fuke and Nicholas Helm Grovas)
  • 'Edges of a Close Reading' - Techne (AHRC) student-led event funding, 2018-19
  • TECHNE (AHRC) PhD scholarship (Kingston School of Art and British Film Institute, awarded 2018
  • The Elephant Trust - 'Beech Avenue' film installation seed funding, 2018
  • British Council and Writer's Centre Norwich - 'Eidolon' film commission funding, 2017


Selected publications:

2023  Forthcoming (London: JOAN Publishing).

2022  Holly Antrum, 'Markéta's Notes' Artist publication, edition of 400 (Graz: Camera Austria).

2022  Iwona Blazwick, 'A Century of the Artist's Studio', Whitechapel Gallery, London.

2020    Antrum, Holly, 'Swollen Feet, False Sun', Ed. Willats, H., Art Licks, Issue 25.

2019    Antrum, Holly, ‘Mapping Catalogue – A Film', in 'Verbi-Voco-Visual', Tinted Window magazine, Issue 02.

2016    Outside Noise, Ed. Holly Antrum & Jonathan P Watts (second edition), Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Edinburgh

2015    The London Open 2015, text by Daniel F. Herrmann, Whitechapel Gallery, London (exhibition catalogue)

2014   Outside Noise, Holly Antrum, Jonathan P Watts & George Vasey, Grand Union, Birmingham.

2013    Flatness, curatorial project by Shama Khanna, editioned publication and website.

Conference papers

April 2023 BFI Experimenta Mixtape curated by Holly Antrum, National Film Theatre; 'Markéta's Notes' live performance, BFI Reuben Library (both BFI Southbank, London).

December 2022  'Markéta's Notes in the BFI - Fictioning in contemporary artist practice (featuring the Peter Wollen archive) 2018-2023' (paper) in 'Disrupting Dominance in the Archive' conference at London College of Communication, UAL, London.

September 2021  Presenter: 'Voices at the Margins?', Techne Conflux with University of Brighton, Brighton.

November 2019 Contributor, co-presenter and co-researcher: '(Edges of) a close/d screening' - public reading group presentation in We Are Publication (CARC artist research-led exhibition), Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University, London.


2015  Presenter: 'Catalogue' (introduction and film screening): Symposium, 'Make Perhaps Sense Out of This Can You', Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London, 2015.

Organised by William Cobbing, Rosie Cooper, Gustavo Grandal Montero and David Toop. http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/11868/