Screenings and Conversations with Vivienne Dick

Friday, October 22, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010
7pm, 9:30pm

Film Screening

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 totems. 

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. 

Vivienne Dick
Still from Guerilla Talks, 1978

Vivienne Dick
Still from She Had Her Gun All Ready, 1978

Screening Schedule

Friday, October 22, 7:30pm
Guérillère Talks(1978), Super-8, 24 mins
Staten Island(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, 7pm
Beauty Becomes the Beast(1979), Super-8, 41 mins
Liberty's Booty(1980), Super-8, 48 mins

Followed by a conversation with the artist and Thomas Beard.

Visibility: Moderate(1981), Super-8, 45 mins
Rothach(1985),16mm, 8 mins
A Skinny Little Man Attacked Daddy(1994), video, 28 mins

Followed by a conversation with the artist and Ed Halter.