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Ad Hoc #26 Women Filmmakers, Embodiment, and Abstraction

Room 222, Innis College, University of Toronto
2 Sussex Avenue
Toronto ON M5S 1J5


Ad Hoc #26
Women Filmmakers, Embodiment, and Abstraction (1970-1995)


Curated by Tess Takahashi and Josh Guilford

Sponsored by Archive/Counter-Archive at York University and the Cinema Studies Institute at Innis College at U of T


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This program presents eight short films created by women filmmakers between 1970-1995, which have been drawn from the collections of three experimental film distributors in the U.S. and Canada. It highlights a prevalent – yet under-examined – tension that structures diverse forms of women’s experimental cinema from this period by gathering a range of works that exhibit a complex oscillation between abstraction and embodiment, where non-representational images and sounds continuously merge and clash with representations of gendered, raced, and sexualized bodies.

Examining the co-presence of these seemingly divergent tendencies within the work of filmmakers from different regions, generations, and cultural locations, the program considers how the aesthetic conflict between abstraction and representation indexes broader cultural tensions negotiated by women artists working within the traditions of experimental cinema after the 1960s, revealing how such artists sought to reconcile prevailing inquiries into medium specificity with emergent discourses on identity politics. By foregrounding works that reference mediums other than film – such as dance, painting, television, and collage – the program also points to affinities between women’s experimental cinema and explorations of abstraction conducted in parallel artistic disciplines.

“Swish,” Jean Sousa, 1982, 16mm, color, silent, 3 min
“Abstraction,” Rosalind Schneider, 1971, 16mm, color, sound, 10 min
“Roseblood,” Sharon Couzin, 1974, 16mm, color, sound, 8 min
“Yogurt Culture,” Patti Lee Chenis, 1970, 16mm, b&w, sound (digital file), 11 min

“Girl from Moush,” Garine Tarossian, 1993, 16mm, color, sound, 5 min
“Stranger Baby,” Lana Lin, 1995, 16mm, color, sound, 15 min
“Chronicles of a Lying Spirit (by Kelly Gabron),” Cauleen Smith, 1992, 16mm, color, sound, 13 minutes
“Lie Back and Enjoy It,” JoAnn Elam, 1982, b&w, sound, 8 min

TRT ca. 77 mins

Ad Hoc is grateful Innis College and the Cinema Studies Institute of University of Toronto for their ongoing support of this series.

About Archive/Counter-Archive
Archive/Counter-Archive is a network of researchers, artists and archivists dedicated to activating and remediating audiovisual archives belonging to women, Indigenous Peoples, the LGBT2Q+ community, and immigrant communities. Political, resistant, and community-based, counter-archives disrupt conventional narratives and enrich our histories. www.counterarchive.ca