Relating Narratives - A Common World of Women
Film Screening: Vivian's Garden followed by Q and A with Rosalind Nashashibi and Laura Mulvey
Wednesday 12th September
Rosalind Nashashibi’s film Vivian’s Garden is a sensitive portrait of two Swiss / Austrian émigré artists living in Panajachel, Guatemala, where they have developed a matriarchal compound in an environment that offers both refuge and terror. Elisabeth is in her nineties and Vivian in her sixties and they are as close as maiden sisters, in fact the family relationship is shifting, each is at times mother and daughter to the other. This film takes a close and dreamy look at their artistic, emotional and economic lives, with their extended householders: Mayan villagers as guardians and home help, and an assortment of dogs, it offers a tender look at an instance of post-colonial complexity. The film screening will be followed by a Q and A with Rosalind Nashashibi and film theorist Laura Mulvey.
“The gift of the written story which connects thoughts and saves one from letting herself go is an exquisite image of what we have tried to explain, that is, than in women’s struggle, the symbolic revolution – the representation of oneself and of one’s fellow women in relation to the world – is fundamental and must come first” The Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective
The poet Adrienne Rich describes women's need for writing by women: "she goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world, since she too has been putting words and images together; she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over in the "words' masculine persuasive force of literature" she comes up against something that negates everything she is about: she meets the image of Women in books written by men".
A key practice of Italian feminism was the reading and re-reading of women's writings in order to chart a geneology of women, where women could define themselves not in relation to how they are seen or written about by men, but with or through other women.
The need for an alternative to the image of Women as written in books by men, as Adrienne Rich described, continues to be felt.
These writers, poets and publishers address that need.
For this event women who write about women will read their works. This will be followed by a conversation with feminist publishers Silver Press exploring their own influences and charting the women they have looked to to mediate their position in the world.
Alice Albinia is an award-winning author of interlinked works of fiction and non-fiction. Empires of the Indus (2008) and Leela's Book (2011) explore the territory, histories and politics of South Asia. Her new project focuses on the archipelago identity of Britain. Her books have been translated into several languages, pirated into Sindhi, and have won and been listed for many prizes, such as the Somerset Maugham Award. She is the mother of two young daughters.
Sophie Collins grew up in Bergen, North Holland, and now lives in Edinburgh. small white monkeys, a text on self-expression, self-help and shame, was published by Book Works in 2017 as part of a commissioned residency at Glasgow Women’s Library. Her first poetry collection, Who Is Mary Sue?, was published by Faber & Faber in February 2018, when it was named the Poetry Book Society’s Spring Choice. She is currently translating a full-length poetry collection and a novel (provisionally titled, in English, The Opposite of a Person) from the Dutch of Lieke Marsman.
Emily Berry is a poet and editor living in London. She has published two books of poems with Faber & Faber, Dear Boy (2013) and Stranger, Baby(2017). She is the editor of The Poetry Review and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Nell Dunn (born 9 June 1936) is an English playwright, screenwriter and author whose works have been adapted for television and film directed by Ken Loach. Her short stories, first published in The New Statesmen were brought together in Up The Junction (1963) and awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. This collection was a controversial success at the time for its vibrant, realistic and non-judgmental portrait of its working-class protagonists. It was adapted for television by Dunn (and Ken Loach) for The Wednesday Play series, directed by Ken Loach. A cinema film version was released in 1968. In her second book a collection of interviews, Talking to Women (1965), Dunn spoke to nine of her friends over a bottle of wine about sex, work, money, babies, freedom and love. Her first novel Poor Cow was made into a film starring Carol White and Terence Stamp, under Loach's direction. Her later books are Grandmothers (1991) and My Silver Shoes (1996). Dunn's play Steaming was produced in 1981 and a television film Every Breath You Take, was transmitted in 1987. She has also written Sisters, a film script commissioned by the BBC. She won the 1982 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.
Silver Press is a new feminist publisher based in London. In 2017, Silver Press published The Debutante and Other Stories, the first collected edition of Leonora Carrington's short stories, and Your Silence Will Not Protect You, which brought Audre Lorde's essays and poems together in one volume for the first time. In 2018, they published a new edition of Nell Dunn's book of conversations from 1965, Talking to Women. Silver Press is Joanna Biggs, Sarah Shin and Alice Spawls.
Join Barby Asante and collaborators for a workshop exploring ideas of independence and storytelling based on her current artistic research project As Always a Painful Declaration of Independence. For Ama. For Aba. For Charlotte and Adjoa.
Declaration of Independence brings together womxn of colour in a discursive performative moments to explore what it is to find a sense of place and navigate life a world where their stories are rarely heard. With many of womxn of colour doing work to create a more equitable world, through creativity, activism or in our everyday actions, Barby invites womxn to share her- stories in a backdrop of postcolonial/decolonial and migration to intervene in the archive of these cultural histories.
Participants in the workshop will also be invited to take part in a public performance at 7.30pm if they would like to.
A performance by Barby Asante and collaborators exploring ideas of independence and storytelling based on her current artistic research project As Always a Painful Declaration of Independence. For Ama. For Aba. For Charlotte and Adjoa.
Declaration of Independence brings together womxn of colour in a discursive performative moments to explore what it is to find a sense of place and navigate life a world where their stories are rarely heard. With many of womxn of colour doing work to create a more equitable world, through creativity, activism or in our everyday actions, Barby invites womxn to share her-stories in a backdrop of postcolonial/decolonial and migration to intervene in the archive of these cultural histories.
Directed by feminist collective Sister of Jam It Takes A Million Years to be a Woman is a layered portrait of feminist activist, writer and artist Kate Millett at the feminist art colony she founded in 1978 in Poughkeepsie USA. The colony remained in operation until the beginning of the new millennium. It was founded out of a belief that a gender-specific community would provide an environment where women artists could work unencumbered by social stigma.
In 2010 Kate Millett invited S.O.J. to stay with her at The Farm and this became the starting point for their cultural portrait of this unique community. The Farm has been said to be the workshop of Kate's mind. Many past residents from The Farm talk about Millett's strong vision for the colony, creating a experimental community devoted to both the production and the discussion of art made by women. Sisters of Jam are intrigued by The Farm both as an artist colony, a feminist community and as a social experiment. But most of all because of its act of opposition. The film, made in collaboration with Fredrik Redelius and with music from Jenny Wilson, draws on archival material and interviews with Kate Millett and the farms residents.
Kate Millett's Three Lives is a moving, proud, calm, aggressively self‐contained documentary feature, shot by an all‐female crew, about what it's like to be the three very different women who talk about their lives, with feeling and sensitivity. The film portrays three women: Robin Mide, an artist; Lillian Shreve, a chemist; and Mallory Millet-Jones, Millett’s own sister. The camera is a quiet observer, letting the women, from three different paths and generations, tell their own stories without outside interference. Through these women’s personal revelations, a narrative of living under the patriarchy is revealed. The personal is political, indeed.
Scuola Senze Fine (School Without End) was directed by Adriana Monti in collaboration with students from the adult education150 Hour Secondary School diploma course with whom she had been working for a year.
The 150 Hours Courses were an educational experiment implemented in Italy beginning in 1974, available to factory workers and farmers initially, and expanding to include women a couple of years later. The courses were non-vocational; they were not intended to improve one’s productivity at work, but rather to allow for personal and collective growth. The courses sought to help workers reflect not only upon their working conditions but also on their lives. The film shows how the experiment extended into the lives of women taking the course, most of whom were housewives. The film was produced in collaboration with these students as part of their studies for the class, turning the curriculum’s questions about the representation of women into questions about the representation of themselves. After the group of former housewives had completed their 150-hour secondary school diploma course in 1976 they did not want to stop learning. With the help of their teacher, they formed a study and research group. Monti shot the film about them from 1979–1981, with the first half of it being made collectively by the group.
Privilege, directed by Yvonne Rainer, is seemingly a straight-forward documentary in which women are interviewed about their experience of the menopause – a subject that has been virtually invisible on film. With a cast of characters the film takes on intersectionality exploring sexual identity, disability, race, gender, age and class. Jenny, the white middle-aged protagonist agrees to be interviewed by Rainer’s onscreen double Yvonne, an African-American friend who is making a documentary on menopause (Rainer is white). Her candid observations are punctuated by a ‘hot flash-back’ of Rashomon-like intensity which reveals an experience she has kept secret for 25 years. Yvonne extracts from Jenny’s tale a skein of hidden themes, such as the prevalence of rape and domestic violence; racism in law, housing, and personal attitudes; the sexualization of women’s personal identities; and the role of class and economic power in reinforcing these and other forms of injustice.
‘The paradox of woman, a being that is at once captive and absent in discourse, constantly spoken of but of itself inaudible or inexpressible, displayed as spectacle and yet unrepresented, a being whose existence and specificity are simultaneously asserted and denied, negated and controlled.’ (1)
‘The female image with which man has interpreted woman has been his own invention’ (2)
(1) Teresa de Laurentis Sexual Difference and Feminist Thought in Italy page 12
(2) Manifesto Rivolta Femminile, 1970