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VIVIENNE DICK: FILMS Lux Tour 2011

Experimental, intimate, fragmented, passionate, angry, reflective, lyrical, political, Vivienne Dick`s films use documentary, invention, narrative and improvised scenarios to imagine the world as something different whilst fiercely examining the issues of her time. Dick’s identity as a film-maker was kickstarted in the cultural maelstrom of the ‘No Wave’ scene of late 1970s’ New York´s Lower East Side, although her style of filmmaking owes more to 60s underground film, feminism, music and spontaneously made home-videos than to any structural avant-gardists of the time or to contemporary/institutional video art, and predate music video culture. Like punk, No Wave was a reaction to conservative US values and put ideas, social politics and desire over technical ability, academic theory or production value. Vivienne Dick’s films, and others too, brought this ‘anyone can do it’ attitude to film-making. It was the intimate, direct nature of Guérillère Talks, as well as subsequent films, Beauty Becomes the Beast, and She Had Her Gun All Ready that prompted Jim Hoberman to call her the ‘quintessential No Wave film-maker’. It was from within this movement that Dick, recently emigrated from Ireland, was inspired and encouraged to make films, and from where her identity as a film-maker was born. Her first films were seen as oppositional, transgressive and feminist, and her interests lay in experimentation with performance and power relationships. These were strongly inlfuenced by the writings of Monique Wittig, and by her immediate contemporaries as powerful female role models and collaborators. The performers’ self-reflexivity as they play both subject and content, and their own power in their representation, conscious and unconscious, subverts the gaze, and breaks down the distinctions between fiction and documentary.

Dick’s own innovation was prompted by her reaction to the accepted aesthetics of the day, in the avant-garde scene, cinema, art and the No Wave movement itself. Her anarchic filming and editing style, the self-reflexivity of the performances, and the direct interventions into the mise en scene, subvert expectations of objectivity, implicating both the audience and the filmmaker in the production of the film. Dick`s ouevre has recently come to the fore again and been reappraised through retrospective exhibitions and screenings in The Crawford Art Gallery (Cork), Tate Modern (London) and Artists Space (New York), as well as inclusion in ´avant garde´ and No Wave programmes around the world. The resurgence in interest may be attributed to an appreciation of the Super8 genre, and nostalgia for No Wave`s punk aesthetics, but Dick, although a pioneer of both, ultimately transcends these categories. It is the political and social situation in which we are questioning today that has given increased significance to her films. No matter what subject matter she is probing, the sense of community and solidarity that are inherent in the collaboration she enlists, is progressive and utopian. This selection of four of Dick`s films are curated as an introduction to the range of her work, and the issues she explores in form and content. The first programme Guerillere Talks and Liberty's Booty focuses on women and identity, both made in the context of the No Wave film and music scene in New York in the late 70s and early 80s. The second programme Visibility Moderate and London Suite chronicles Dick´s return to Ireland and subsequent migration to London. Throughout these films she pays special attention to women as protagonists, to worker and migrant struggles, all from within her own shifting communities. In these films, she chronicles, invents and subverts the political and social times in which she finds herself, with a radical and intimate style that draw us into the worlds she is fascinated by. - Treasa O’Brien, Curator

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