Thursday, Jun 14 at 7:30 pm
Holy Fluids and Absent Wounds
Screening to be followed by a discussion with Ruth Somalo, Vicky Smith, and Vanessa Renwick
Detached from their proper place inside the body, fluids transcend the boundary between the inside and outside, the clean and the unclean, claiming for themselves a position of artistic value. Once they transgress the safe confines of the subject, bodily fluids are conventionally conceived as waste products that, unless disposed of, lead to contamination (Barthes) or social embarrassment. How do misconceptions about the female body shape the cultural position of women?
UnionDocs is excited to present Holy Fluids and Absent Wounds, a program by filmmaker Ruth Somalo that presents the work of seven filmmakers that directly or indirectly deal with the female body, its secretions, its functions and its representation.
Maryam Tafakory, 10 min., 2017, Iran/ UK
One space, two separate worlds: a room in which several men perform Persian warrior training rituals; a room where a young girl carries out purification practices. Through poetic and compelling language, the Iranian artist Maryam Tafakory does an exercise in resistance toward the idea of a woman’s body as an object of repression.
Spotting, spitting, scratching
Vicky Smith, 4 min., 2017, UK
Tears, signifiers of emotional excess – the use of the term ‘sobbing’ rather than ‘crying’ in the title relates specifically to an uncontrollable emotional outpouring – are to be wiped away (‘dry your eyes’), whilst spittle carries with it more negative connotations of loss of bodily control, even madness (‘frothing at the mouth’). The clear leader as a signifier of nothingness and as a low-status waste product connects with the excess of these bodily secretions and their colorless, formless nature, creating an intricate dialogue between material and bodily economies.
Neither Spring Nor Estuary / Não Há Foz Não Há Nascente
Valentina Homem, 18 min., 2017, Brasil, Virgin British Islands
The fear of death is the driving force behind the camera from beginning. The return to the past, and the reorganization of the memories-images stored in miniDV tapes, reveals an impossible gesture of transmutation. Is it possible to overcome the fear? To dress the image, like dressing the skin of the other that I have never been and never will be.
Vanessa Renwick, 3 min., 1983, USA
A visceral personal response to surviving a near-fatal case of Toxic Shock Syndrome. Toxic Shock combines intimate taboos of needles, blood, and tampons with tried and true hands-on self-defense, set to a spare, penetrating and unknown score provided by a cassette tape gifted by a forgotten friend. A call to arms; what will you do in defense of your body? “Penetration up the wazoo, blood, fire, gas, needles, tampons, liquid power and cocktails of the burning sort. My experimental response to sweating out near death with Toxic Shock Syndrome.”
A Mythology of Pleasure / Una mitología placentera
Lara Rodríguez Cruz, 6 min., 2017, Spain/ Germany
Mysterious objects, molds, textures, and colors illustrate this playful class in history, mythology and modern alchemy, in which a group of women gives life to the lost member of Osiris.
Relocating One's Own Shame
Ruth Somalo, 2 min., 2016, USA
Given that shame can lead you to feel as though your whole self is flawed, bad, or subject to exclusion, it makes you want to withdraw or hide yourself… or maybe relocate it somewhere else.
Vicky Smith, 7 min., 1983, USA
‘Rash takes a furtive look at female sexual fetishism through a voyage in and around the body. A surface manifestation of a hidden anxiety: erupting skin opens and seals. A visual approximation of the psychic processes at work in fetishism – simultaneous disavowal and recognition. Information is offered and withdrawn discontinuously through a number of destructive processes – which extend to removing the photographic emulsion itself. These endless cycles of creation and cancellation demonstrate that representations can be destroyed but compulsions remain.’ – V.S.
Noisy Licking, Spitting & Dribbling
Vicky Smith, 4 min., 2014
Made with the mouth alone, ‘Noisy Licking Dribbling + Spitting’ is a direct animation that takes the idea of licking as a primary and semi-automatic action. Using the stained tongue as a tool and stamping pad, the first impression is made 40 frames (1 foot) into the film and then reduced by one frame with each new stamp, accelerating until the marks overlap. Mechanistic control is then rejected in favour of spitting and dribbling as random action, painterly like splats and dense swirling tangles roll along the filmstrip and spill into the audio track, generating noisy rasps and skidding sounds.
Founder and janitor of the Oregon Department of Kick Ass
Vanessa Renwick is an artist by nature, not by stress of research. She puts scholars to rout by embracing nature’s teaching problems that have fretted trained minds. Working in experimental and poetic documentary forms, her iconoclastic work embodies her interest in landscape and transformation, and relationships between bodies and landscapes, and all sorts of borders.
She has been a singular voice in the experimental cinema for over 20 years. Eschewing an allegiance to any one medium or form, Renwick builds authentic moving image works revealing an insatiable curiosity and unflinching engagement with the world around her. Often focusing her lens on themes of westward expansion and the locales of her adopted home, the Pacific Northwest, Renwick uses avant-garde formal elements to explore radical politics and environmental issues. An artist who often self-distributes, her screening history reads as a map of independent cinema worldwide. She has screened work in hundreds of venues internationally, institutional and not, including The Museum of Modern Art, Light Industry, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Art Basel, Oberhausen, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Centre Pompidou, Bread and Puppet Theater and True/False Film Festival, among many others.
Vanessa Olivia Renwick is an artist of Scottish and German descent, born on the traditional and unceded territory of the Illiniwek in what is now known as Chicago, Illinois. She lives and works as an uninvited guest on the traditional territory of the Chinookan peoples, now known as Portland, Oregon.
Vicky Smith has been practicing experimental animation for 25 years. Recent exhibitions include: Primal (16mm, 10 ‘ 2016) Crossroads Film Festival, San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art (2017); Athens Ohio Film Festival (2017); Contact Film Festival (2016); Edinburgh Film Festival (2016); Visions in the Nunnery (2016). Noisy Licking, Dribbling and Spitting (16mm 4′ 2014) Flatpack Festival, Birmingham (2016); Parts & Labour, Animate Touring (2015); London Short Film Festival (2015); Cornerhouse Artist Film DVD; ICA, London (2015); ‘Explorative Sensoriums in Film and Video’, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol (2014). Bicycle Tyre Track (16mm/performance) in ‘Assembly’ at Tate Britain (2014) and Exploding Cinema (2013). Rash (16mm 7′ 1997) Monstra Animation, Lisbon (2017) ; Tate Modern: From Reel to Real (2016). Stacking (16mm, 7′ 2006) at Edge of Frame, London (2016) and Alchemy Film Festival (April, 2015). Recent talks include Edges: an Animation Seminar (2016 Whitechapel Gallery) http://tinyurl.com/yda5najf.
Publications include: The Animator’s Body in Animation: an Interdisciplinary Journal (2015) http://tinyurl.com/ybqmrhg8 and Full Body Film in Sequence (2013). In collaboration with Nicky Hamlyn, Vicky is editing a book Experimental & Expanded Animation: Current Perspectives, to be published early 2018 by Palgrave Macmillan.
Ruth Somalo is a Spanish filmmaker, programmer, and researcher based in New York. Ruth has been working in non fiction for the past 14 years, her work has been shown in theaters, festivals and museums internationally, including the Verdi Cinema Theatre and Contemporary Art Center Matadero de Madrid, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Cinema du Réel (Paris), ADFF (NY), L’Alternativa (Barcelona), Documentamadrid, MOMA PS1 (Expo1) and at the EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam (Spanish Cinema Without Fear). Ruth is the founder and director of Horns and Tails Productions and her new work includes themes ranging from chronic illness and the economy of death, to creative processes, tears and musical theater.
Ruth is currently a PhD. candidate at Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, she is writing her dissertation and was a visiting researching scholar at NYU. As a member of the research group Hist-Ex at the Spanish National Research Council she is currently taking part on a research project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad) on the cultural history of well-being.