Mr Phillip Warnell

School: School of Art and Architecture
Position: Course Director: BA(Hons) Filmmaking & MA Experimental Film


Phillip Warnell is an artist filmmaker working primarily in the area of experimental documentary films accompanied by associated publications. His previous output has also involved the use of other media and art forms: including performance and mediated performance, video work and photographic/installation pieces.

Warnell's cinematic work attracts a diverse range of key international contributors. Recent projects include: The Girl with X-ray Eyes (2008), made in Moscow with Natasha Demkina, a Russian medical doctor, who claims she has the supra-organic ability to look directly inside of bodies; and Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies (2009), a 20 minute film and publication constituted in collaboration with philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy. Warnell has also published articles and delivered conference papers on research findings arising from these works. Since 2011 he has been co-curator of Essential Experiments, a twice monthly screening programme at the BFI which explores the history of avante garde cinema alongside contemporary practice. He is also a mentor for the BFI Doc Next film commission scheme.

In 2012 Warnell devised and completed an experimental silent film, I first saw the light, based upon the surviving archive of John Merrick, the 'Elephant Man', held at Royal London Hospital. Currently, he is working on a longer form cinematic project, Ming of Harlem, now in production with Michigan Films (Brussels) and Picture Palace Pictures (New York) with contributions by Dr Sarah Knight (Portsmouth University), Akira Lippit (USC) and philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy.

Warnell's own cinematic output has been internationally recognized in exhibitions, film festivals and also curated screenings that recently include Sharjah Biennial (2013); MOMI, New York (2013); and The First International Biennial of Contemporary Art of Cartagena de Indias (2014); among others. Outlandish (2009) also received a week long screening via the online platform vdrome, conceived and promoted by Moouse Magazine in partnership with Lux Artists' Moving Image, 29 March – 7 April 2014.

Related links

Research expertise

Warnell's work is characterised by an interest in the complexities of the human (and animal) body; he employs a host of investigative procedures which record and channel ideas on chemical, psychological, psychic and even biological transformations. The body becomes a place as much as a person, an axis or point or orientation around which both an object and subject position gravitate, inviting an exploration of notions on bodily migration and mutuality, contestation and exchange.

His expertise is located within the dual contexts of performance and the moving image. Through these mediums he tests concept and parameters of thinking through film as well as the boundaries and thresholds of high and popular culture, often by focusing on a series of central, extraordinary characters. Whether human or animal orientated, his films and performances interrogate the complexities of the psyche and the human-animal split, through visualized deliberations on bodilyness, intra-organic processes, proximity and immediate environment.

Teaching areas & responsibilities

Course Director: BA Filmmaking and MA Experimental Film at Kingston University.

Professional activity

  • 2012 - presentPeer Reviewer, Wellcome Trust
  • 2012 - presentExternal Assessor, BA Moving Image & MFA Moving Image, Brighton University
  • 2011 - presentMentor for BFI (film commissioning of video art works)
  • 2010 - presentCo-curator of Essential Experiments, BFI Southbank
  • 2010 - presentDoc-Next mentor, BFI (supported by the European Cultural Foundation)

Educational and professional qualifications

  • 1994MA Fine Art media Chelsea College of Art & Design
  • 1993Post graduate diploma, Fine Art AVU Fine Art Academy, Prague (Czech government & British Council Scholarship)
  • 1992BA(Hons) Middlesex University (Hornsey School of Art)

Grants, funding and awards

  • 2012Wellcome Trust Arts Award, Ming of Harlem
  • 2012VAF Experimental Film Award, Flanders, Ming of Harlem
  • 2012Belgian Experimental Film Production Award, Belgium, Ming of Harlem
  • 2010Wellcome Trust Extension Award, Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies/South London Gallery
  • 2008ACE exhibition award, Leamington Spa Gallery & Museum, Introspection-Extramission
  • 2008ACE production award, The Girl with X-ray Eyes
  • 2008Wellcome Trust research & development award, Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies

Research groups & programmes

Research supervision


Number of items: 13.


Warnell, Phillip [Artist] (2016) Ming of Harlem : twenty one storeys in the air. (Film).


Warnell, Phillip (2009) Intimate distances: mediating mutuality, contestation and exchange between bodies. Leonardo, 42(1), pp. 28-35. ISSN (print) 0024-094X

Warnell, Phillip (2009) Life-like: an organ in search of a body. Performance research, 14(4), pp. 4-10. ISSN (print) 1352-8165

Nancy, Jean-Luc, Warnell, Phillip and Allsopp, Ric (2009) Transplant. Performance research, 14(4), pp. 12-18. ISSN (print) 1352-8165

Book Section

Harries, Rhiannon [Interviewer] and Warnell, Phillip [Interviewee] (2016) ‘The wild inside’: an interview with Phillip Warnell on Ming of Harlem. In: Lawrence, Michael and Lury, Karen, (eds.) The zoo and screen media: images of exhibition and encounter. London, U.K. : Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 269-285. ISBN 9781137543424

Warnell, Phillip (2016) Writing in the place of the animal. In: Giunta, Carrie and Janus, Adrienne, (eds.) Nancy and visual culture. Edinburgh, U.K. : Edinburgh University Press. pp. 144-163. ISBN 9781474407496

Warnell, Phillip (2015) The beast with two backs: on Borowczyk's The Beast (1975). In: Kuc, Kamila , Mikurda, Kuba and Olesczyk, Michal, (eds.) Boro, l'Île d'amour. Berghahn Books. ISBN 9781782387015

Conference or Workshop Item

Warnell, Phillip (2011) Projections of animality. In: Unruly creatures: the art and politics of the animal; 14 Jun 2011, London, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Warnell, Phillip [Artist] (2016) Phillip Warnell : ‘Ming of Harlem : twenty one storeys in the air’. Phillip Warnell : ‘Ming of Harlem : twenty one storeys in the air’. .

Moving Image/Broadcast

Warnell, Phillip [Director] (2014) Ming of Harlem: twenty one storeys in the air. (Film).

Warnell, Phillip [Director] and Raedeker, David [Cinematographer] (2012) I first saw the light. (Silent experimental documentary film).

Warnell, Phillip [Director] (2009) Outlandish: strange foreign bodies. (Experimental documentary film).

Warnell, Phillip [Artist] (2008) The girl with X-ray eyes. (Experimental documentary film). Two-screen installation.

This list was generated on Fri May 26 04:17:12 2017 BST.
Film still from I first saw the light, 2012, depicting Joseph Merrick's model church
Outlandish: Strange Foreign Bodies, 2009 (with the participation of Jean-Luc Nancy)
The Girl with X-ray Eyes, 2008 (with the participation of Natasha Demkina)