Choreographer Michael Clark Nominates Artist Duncan Campbell

The saga of John Z. DeLorean, the American automotive entrepreneur who produced the iconic gullwing DMC-12 from 1981 to late 1982, seems like it rolled straight off the Hollywood assembly line: There’s a rags-to-riches tale, a montage of glamorous women, and even a coke-dusted downfall (a 1982 FBI sting operation caught DeLorean allegedly trying to traffic cocaine to prop up his company’s finances). But in Duncan Campbell’s take on the DeLorean story-the 50-minute Make It New John, screening in a show opening this month at Artists Space in New York City-the 37-year-old Irish filmmaker shifts the focus away from the millionaire to the workers at a soon-to-be-shuttered DeLorean factory near Belfast in Northern Ireland. The footage centers mainly on the plant, moving between sleek images of cars rolling off the assembly line and grainy newsreel of striking workers brandishing signs with slogans like DE LOREAN DREAM, WORKERS NIGHTMARE. As DeLorean’s dream goes down the drain, the fallout settles on the laborers suddenly out of a livelihood. “They bought into the mythology of John DeLorean,” Campbell says of the workers. “You can’t really separate the car from John.” Such an unconventional examination of history is to be expected from an artist whose socially conscious works include, among others, Bernadette (2008), a portrayal of Northern Ireland political firebrand Bernadette Devlin. “He’s a visual poet,” says Scottish dancer and choreographer Michael Clark of Campbell. “The work is seductively complex.”