Messing With the Medium: Radical Materiality in Feminist Media
While film in its traditional narrative form functions through transparency – narrative films produce an illusory world, and we look through the medium to glean a story – feminist experimental film and video often does the opposite: it calls attention to the matter of the medium: to emulsion, editing, projection, viewing, gathering, and sharing. Using clips from the broad history of experimental film and video, Jennifer West and Holly Willis discuss a series of projects by women that focus on materiality, from abstract films made without cameras to appropriation, collage and glitch feminism. What does it mean to focus on the materiality of film, video, and digital media at a moment when the borders among media forms seem so blurry? What lineages does this work recall, and what trajectories does it point to? And what unique pleasures does this work spark?
Holly Willis is the Associate Dean of Research in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California where she served for many years as the founding chair of the Media Arts + Practice division. She teaches courses on new and emerging media forms, especially as they relate to moving-image storytelling. She is the author of Fast Forward: The Future(s) of the Cinematic Arts and New Digital Cinema: Reinventing the Moving Image, as well the editor of David O. Russell: Interviews. The co-founder of Filmmaker Magazine dedicated to independent film, she served as the editor of RES Magazine and co-curator of RESFEST, a festival of experimental media, for several years and she writes frequently for diverse publications about experimental film, video, new media and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in publications as diverse as Film Comment, Afterimage, ArtWeek, Variety and The Normal School.
Over the last ten years, Jennifer West has gained international recognition for her explorations of materialism in film. West recently presented four solo exhibitions internationally, Is Film Over? at the Yuz Museum in Shanghai, China (2017); Action Movies, Painted Films and History Collage at the Man Museum in Nouro, Sardinia, Italy (2017); Film is Dead... at Seattle Art Museum (2016–17); and Flashlight Filmstrip Projections at Tramway, Glasgow, Scotland (2016). West completed a feature film for the Institute of Contemporary Arts London’s Art Night in 2016 and presented her work at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Other significant commissions include the High Line Art, New York; Aspen Art Museum; and the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern, London. Her work is included in numerous public collections, including the Yuz Museum, Shanghai; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Kadist Art Foundation, Paris/San Francisco; Saatchi Gallery, London; Rubell Family Collection, Miami; LACMA; Los Angeles, Zabludowicz Collection, London. among others.
Currently she is an artist in residence at SOMA in Mexico City and has been in residence at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, MA. West’s writing has appeared in Artforum, Frieze, and Mousse Magazine and she’s produced twelve zine artist books. She received her MFA from Art Center in Pasadena and her BA from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She is the Chair of 4D Art and an Associate Professor of the Practice of Fine Art at the USC’s Roski School of Art and Design in Los Angeles.