Artist Projects


Cam Archer

Cam Archer’s first feature-length documentary, 1981, examines and dissects the artist’s past and present narrative work, resulting in a film-essay on what it means to live with and without fiction, or with and without art. Using actors, friends and characters from Archer’s life and life’s work, new fictions or reinterpretations of old fictions are conceived, produced and decoded. Ultimately, as Archer’s worlds collide, as fictions are exhausted and extracted, he struggles to make sense of his own real life and everything else outside of it.

Throughout the film, Archer draws meaning from sculptor Marcus Howley’s obscure, self-published 1981 self-help memoir Alone, People Don’t Leave Me, which echoes many of the themes, concepts and ideas in Archer’s work. What first feels like some sort of unspoken kinship between one artist and another slowly turns darkly radical, with little solace and many new ambiguities. As Archer distances himself from Howley and from his own artistic disappointments and frustrations, a new sense of self, or self without creativity, develops on screen. Gradually, Howley pushes Archer toward a desire for a life based in reality, an acceptance of creative failures, and a hope for new meaning and inspiration elsewhere.