Special on Abigail Child
- October 2022
- ISSN: 2462-2885
- Full-color magazine
Abigail Child: We cannot control the pacing of this movie, by Gracia Ramírez
Watching an Abigail Child film for the first time feels like being bombed, tricked and tickled all at once. She interweaves seemingly unending arrays of stimuli drawn from bottomless piles of culture, all sources levelled up. She arranges them in sequences and submits them to layering, constant interruptions and repetitions, like someone tuning the radio, or hopping back and forth between TV channels. Sometimes there is synchrony between sound and image, or some continuity in the ordering of space and time—conventional cinematic cues that prompt the mind to search for meaning, recognize patterns and anticipate effects. But before we get too comfortable and savvy, Child thwarts those expectations and forces us to think again. Over the last forty years, she has used her multiple creative practices to explore meaning and culture in both serious and playful ways. Her work started to break new ground in the 1980s, engaging with the cultural voracity of the all-consuming eyes and ears of the multichannel TV generation, and with the DIY attitude and wholesale rejections of punk.
Through Child’s work we can see ways in which ideas, texts and audiovisual images are adopted, adapted and shared in popular culture, resulting in a sustained argument about how culture is comprised of a never-ending process of circulation and connection.
‘I want to speak with my time’ radical biography in Abigail Ahild’s Acts and Intermissions, by Jeffrey Skoller
Poetic questions and empathic ruptures: The Future Is Behind You, by Maureen Turim
The Suburban Trilogy: Abigail Child’s Cake and Steak, by Rachel Garfield
A little of the transcendental universe of Abigail Child, an interview by Camilla Margarida
- Stan VanDerBeek’s Danse Macabre: Found sound, appropriated music, and rehearing, by Michael Betancourt
Stan VanDerBeek’s appropriations of popular imagery from newspapers and magazines arranged as complex moving-collages and shown as multiple-windowed compositions, have received extensive critical attention. However, his work with sound—equally complex—has not enjoyed the same consideration. This omission is not surprising. Discussions of found footage films rarely concern the dimensions of music and sound, yet the use of recognizable popular music as a found object—a déjà entendu—is an obvious feature in a wide range of classic avant-garde films. VanDerBeek’s use of pop songs participates in the general transformation of his appropriated materials, a context that produces shifts that philosopher Bernard Stiegler describes as a potential implicit in all replays of any media—that one can listen again to the same thing and hear something different.
- Into the Unknown Known: Images of depersonalized people in post-socialist found footage films, by Lukas Brašiškis
While rooted in the tradition of the twentieth century’s avant-garde, in the twenty-first century found and archival footage-based cinema has re-emerged as a widespread nonfiction subgenre. Over the past two decades filmmakers in numerous countries have been reusing the archive to make new films entirely from old footage. In this essay I propose to look at found and archival footage-based films from a specific historical context: the use of soviet-era footage appropriated by post-communist filmmakers. I direct my attention to two works—Revue (2008) by the Ukrainian film director Sergei Loznitsa, and Into the Unknown (2009) by the Lithuanian video artist and filmmaker Deimantas Narkevičius—to examine how these films recycle archival images of socialist people. In doing so, I will consider the purpose that these images once bore, and how these works cinematically reflect their heterotopian bonds with collective memory today.
- Re-Enacting the Archives in Sam Ashby’s The Colour of His Hair, by Matthew LaPaglia
Sam Ashby’s film The Colour of His Hair (2017) melds hyper-staged fictional reenactment with a documentary-style investigation of queer archiving to explore the nuances of queer history. Ashby’s film takes an experimental approach to both narrative and documentary, maintaining that a successful attempt to historicize queerness acknowledges that queer past is not fixed, and instead functions to inform the present and hopes for the future. Drawing on the work of queer theorists like José Esteban Muñoz and film critics like Trinh T. Minh-ha, this paper argues that Ashby’s sourcing of archival materials scrutinizes the fraught relationships that queerness has to temporality and truth.
- American History Recontextualized: James Benning’s American Dreams (Lost and Found), by Theodore Xenophontos
The works of experimental filmmaker James Benning are predominantly examined through an ecological lens due to his interest in landscapes or are situated within the context of structural film. This paper however examines the historical dimensions of Benning’s work through a case study of his 1984 film American Dreams (Lost and Found). The film juxtaposes the career highlights of baseball legend Hank Aaron and the diary entries of attempted political assassin Arthur Bremer as a means of contrasting the way two dissimilar individuals navigate the American experience between the years 1954 to 1976. Benning supplements these viewpoints with a variety of media materials such as era appropriate radio broadcasts, advertisements, music, and interviews with figures from popular culture as a means of contextualizing scenes historically. The combination of these diverse media sources gives rise to a dialectic that allows the spectator to ponder the contradictory nature of the material put in front of them, and in turn, draws their attention to the various ways in which history is constructed. Moreover, this approach foregrounds how artifacts of all kinds can serve as markers of the past and have historical value.
ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
- An interview with Jennifer Proctor, by Marie-Pierre Burquier
- An interview with Jennifer West, by Scott MacDonald
- Touching, by Mike Hoolboom
- An interview with Salise Hughes, by Andy Spletzer
- Chance encounters: A conversation with Cécile Fontaine, by Justin Remes
· Making Images Move: Handmade Cinema and the Other Arts, by César Ustarroz
· Persistent Images: Encountering Film History in Contemporary Cinema, by Matthew Cole Levine
DÉMONTAGE: WHITE AFRO, by Akosua Adoma Owusu
by Eugeni Bonet and Eugènia Balcells, Cedric Arnold, Federica Foglia, Karissa Hahn, Johanna Vaude, Pedro Maia and Antoni Pinent.