From: Thomas Beard (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Oct 20 2010 - 10:53:18 PDT
Artists Space <http://artistsspace.org/exhibition/vivienne-dick>
38 Greene Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY
Beginning as an Irish expat in drop-dead New York, Vivienne Dick was among
the most celebrated and influential filmmakers to emerge from the downtown
No Wave scene. Obsessed with exhuming repressed traumas, voicing beaten-down
identities, and generally meandering through a complex matrix of bad vibes,
Dick has created an ever-evolving body of work that constitutes one of the
major corpuses of Super-8 cinema. The critic J. Hoberman once referred to
her as a “quintessential narrow-gauge filmmaker,” noting how, in her films,
“urban documentary, confessional-psychodrama, ironic spectacle, and
home-movie ‘dailiness’ are fused,” thereby totalizing the prevailing genres
associated with the lo-fi format.
Her first film, *Guérillère Talks*, with its single-reel portraits of Pat
Place, Ikue Mori, Lydia Lunch and others, plays as proto-riot grrrl
ethnography. Place and Lunch reappear in *She Had Her Gun All Ready*, a
threadbare narrative about two friends that “speaks the contemporary
unspeakable: woman's anger and hatred of woman at the crucial moment of
overpowering identification and obsessional thralldom,” as one writer
observed in the pages of *Idiolects*. For *Beauty Becomes the Beast*, Dick
sets a baby-faced Lunch against the decaying, rubble-strewn corners of the
city, invoking a backstory of parental abuse through music choices like the
Shangri-Las’ heart-torn lament “I Can Never Go Home Anymore” and a wry shot
of a subway ad reading HELP DESTROY A FAMILY TRADITION. Full of dirty dolls
and impromptu rug-cutting, it's a Freudian meltdown, but feels like a party.
Dick’s intertwining of fact and fiction continues in *Liberty’s Booty*, a
film that examines the daily routines of middle-class call girls in New York
through snapshot-like images taken in their apartments, using off-the-cuff
interviews and staged scenarios to look at how women’s lives become enmeshed
in tightly-wound circuits of money and power.
*Visibility: Moderate* obliquely engages with Dick’s own return to Ireland
by imagining the vacation movies of an incongruously glam new waver
traveling to touristy spots like the Blarney Stone, expressing Dick’s own
love-hate distance with disjointed bleats of punk and space jazz over
ancient megaliths. The subtexts of these earlier works become more explicit
in her video essay *A Skinny Little Man Attacked Daddy*, which uses handheld
footage of her family’s happy gatherings as counterpoint to reminiscences
like her parents’ coldness toward each other or a sister dying of cancer in
apartheid-era South Africa, digging up still-potent artifacts from the wet
bogs of memory. Here and elsewhere, Dick obliterates the vernacular idiom of
the home movie, reconstituting it anew from what remains of its battered
*Friday, October 22*
1978, Super-8, 24 mins
1978, Super-8, 5 mins
*She Had Her Gun All Ready*
1978, Super-8, 28 mins
Followed by a conversation with the artist and Amy Taubin.
*Saturday, October 23*
*Beauty Becomes the Beast*
1979, Super-8, 41 mins
1980, Super-8, 48 mins
Followed by a conversation with the artist and Thomas Beard.
1981, Super-8, 45 mins
1985, 16mm, 8 mins
*A Skinny Little Man Attacked Daddy*
1994, video, 28 mins
Followed by a conversation with the artist and Ed Halter.
Tickets - $5, available at door. Free for members.
Organized by Thomas Beard, Ed Halter, and Treasa O’Brien as part of an
ongoing series of screenings curated by Beard and Halter for Artists Space.
Special thanks to Stuart Comer, Tate Modern.
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