There’s an excellent programme of classic feminist/punk/experimental films from the 1970s and 1980s curated by Rachel Garfield to accompany her new book Experimental Filmmaking and Punk: Feminist Audio Visual Culture in the 1970s and 1980s, Bloomsbury, 2021. You need to go to Vimeo to see the trailer and to rent the actual film, we’d love to embed the trailer here but Vimeo is never that user friendly. The programme does look like it is well worth checking out, so does Rachel’s book and as we’re up to our necks in the Book show and this weekend’s companion on-line show “Books (A Companion Show)” we through today would be a good day to mention both Rachel’s book and the programme of films that you can go and explore vis this link
Here’s a description of the book…
“Experimental Filmmaking and Punk aims to analyze and situate the aesthetic and intellectual ambition of a range of women filmmakers operating during the 1970s and 1980s with punk as a contextualizing scaffold. The aspiration that musicians such as Poly Styrene and The Slits portrayed has a legacy and influence in the attitude of these filmmakers that it is timely to address and that moments, such as the Top of The Pops debut of Poly Styrene, marked the emergence of a new female subjectivity that was picked up and followed through by these filmmakers. The ground had been prepared by second wave feminism but punk delivered a strident visual example of what could be possible and an alternative way forward outside the serious earnestness of the political realm. These women did not necessarily identify as feminist, certainly the punks often did not at the time. Nonetheless, the punk of women such as Poly Styrene with her retro clothes of clashing colours, her shouty voice and artlessly enthusiastic dance was an affirmative negation of the normative modes of femininity. Where femininity demanded grace and beauty punk was a celebration of its failure. Such erstwhile versions of femininity were ditched in favour of an awkward female youth as a lived relationship with the world using an aggressive camp as cipher against middlebrow expectations of what it was to be a woman.
This is about a tendency within filmmaking that eschews the model of certain kinds of virtuosity of form as the key indication of a good film. Within the technology-based forms of art, technical expertise/skill is a contested site of production that goes to the heart of what the role of an artist is. The materiality of the technology has also been an important focus in avant garde film. Instead the work is grounded in experience and questions of provisionality: of subjectivity, of placehood and status. The commonalities of the works documented in this book are constituted through the connections between a fragmented visuality and the absence of certainty or entitlement: this work offers its own virtuosity but one that confounds the normative signs of it. In the historical moment the idea of a female subjectivity emerged as a vital and valid form of practice. Out of the formalist and minimalist paradigms of their emergence – these filmmakers were focusing on a range of approaches and entry points for the viewer that encompasses the impact of second wave feminism or its detractions; the importance of Dada and the Weimar Republic; the development of multiculturalism; collage and the fragment within feminist art. – Rachel Garfield”
Read an extract here