Abigail Child: Silent Films (1977-79)

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Microscope Gallery is very pleased to present a rare screening of early films by Abigail Child, a fixture in New York’s avant-garde film and writing community since the 1980s with around 50 films completed to date.

Child is perhaps most known as a formidable collagist of cutouts of images and sounds into densely edited moving image works often merging formal, feminist, and political concerns, while including artistic contributions of friends and collaborators such as poetry, music, and acting. Silent Films focuses on six early, silent works most of which have not been shown in nearly 30 years. All were made in San Francisco between 1977-79 prior to her move to New York City and represent her first filmic outburst as an independent filmmaker, following her work as a commercial documentary filmmaker.

From an interview with poet Charles Bernstein:

“CB: […] So go back to your first [experimental] film. What was the conception in editing it?

AC: Well, that might be Some Exterior Presence. I had four elements sourced from a documentary on radical nuns that I had edited. It was the last commercial directorial job I did. The women were terrific, and the film was “adequate” with a formula of a half-hour TV documentary: do it in three weeks from start to airdate. Wanting to be more authentic to these women and their spirit, I took some of the work print, and I looked through it; and I was interested, as an editor, in the possibilities that the film could go forward, it could go backward, it could be flipped, and it could be upside down.”

In addition to Some Exterior Presence (1977), the program includes: two striking depictions of nature and light on celluloid Peripeteia I and Peripeteia II, shot by the artist in Oregon’s rainforest, alone and without electricity; Pacific Far East Line, filmed out of her apartment window facing downtown San Francisco and approached by the artist similarly to a painted composition; and Ornamentals, a film consisting of unrelated fragments organized according to the color spectrum in which Child begins to consider “ways to structure work” and the possibilities inherent in the cut.

All work will be shown in their original 16mm film format. Child will be attendance and a Q&A follows the screening.

General admission $8
Students & Members $6

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Abigail Child has been at the forefront of experimental media and writing since the 1980s, having completed more than thirty film/video works and 6 books, five of poetry and one of criticism. Her works have exhibited among others at The Museum of Modern Art, NY; Block Museum of Art, Illinois; Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Oregon; The Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY; Wellin Museum, New York; Maccarone Gallery, NYC; LACE, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; Museum of Image and Sound, Brazil; Greater New York Show at P.S.1, MoMA; MACVAL, Museum d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne, France; Westbeth Gallery, NY; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Hardy Tree Gallery, London UK; SF Museum of Modern Art; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF.

Her films and videos have been screened at the Whitney Biennial (1989, 1997) and shown worldwide at festivals including New York, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Pesaro, Seattle, Locarno and Edinburgh, among many others. She has had retrospectives in Tokyo at Image Forum, in Madrid at Museo Reina Sofia; at the Cineteca, Sala Trevi in Rome; in Argentina at BIM (Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento); Wakeforest University; and the Greek Cinematheque, Athens.

Awards include the Rome Prize, Radcliffe Institute, Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships, and the Brakhage Vision Award. She has received grants from NYSCA, NYFA, the Asian Cultural Council, Mass Arts and the LEF Foundation. Harvard University Cinematheque has created an “Abigail Child Collection” which will preserve and exhibit her art. Child was born in Newark, New Jersey, and lives and works between New York City and Nova Scotia.

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Monday, June 10, 2019 - 19:30
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