Cinema Parenthèse and iMAL present the program Gunvor Nelson - Collage Films. Nelson was born in 1931 in Stockholm, but grew up in the small town of Kristinehamn, Sweden. After studying art in Stockholm, she moved to San Francisco in 1953 where she studied and later taught art and film at San Francisco State University (1969–70) and the San Francisco Art Institute (1970–1992). In the 1960s, Nelson made the films Schmeerguntz (1966), Fog Pumas (1967) and My Name is Oona (1969) (the former two with Dorothy Wiley), all of which are considered classics of experimental film history for their personal, complex, innovative, distinctive and surreal montage, often with a feminist and absurdist perspective. Nelson, like many other filmmakers and artists active in the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, hung out in the circles around Canyon Cinema, a group including personalities such as Bruce Baillie, Chick Strand, James Broughton and Robert Nelson.
Rather than seeing her work in terms of »experimental«, »avantgarde« or »feminist«, Nelson prefers »personal« as the most apt description of her way of working, and she has always filmed from a close and private perspective in her own way, and often things and people in her vicinity and the environment she lives in: herself, in her home, her garden, her family, her friends, the river outside her house in Kristinehamn, in San Francisco, at Muir Beach and not least in relation to her own painting.
In 1993, Nelson moved back to Kristinehamn, where she is still active as artist and videomaker.
In this program of Nelson's collage films, animation is often interspersed with filmed material in interlinked collages, in which she in various ways overpaints, ruptures, redirects and superimposes images in parallel and fluid montages. The films often move playfully and complexly in time and space without clear delineation, where unexpected collisions are followed by more documentary or narrative content. Central also is Nelson’s work with the interaction of sound (and voice) and the expansion of the image to achieve unforeseen constellations. There is an enhanced sense of the tactile here: multilayering, the expansion and contraction of movement, the image as palimpsest. She writes:
»I want my images to contain a kind of enigmatic depth, a charge and an energy that can convey more than what is discovered at a quick glance at the surface. The images must contain many dimensions and layers of meaning beyond the obvious. I see this as an advantage: film consists of more than one image and is made up of many frames in a row, a number of images that can amplify or collide with each other in exciting and unexpected ways.«
Introduction by Daniel A. Swarthnas
- Frame Line (1983, 16mm, b&w, sound, 22'00)
Nelson’s return to Sweden brought a kind of re-actualized and multi-layered encounter with the past, where places and monuments are experienced with a shift in perspective. Filming is here a self reflexive process and an embodiment of what she sees. The dynamics and productive frictions between animation and live action, sound and silence are given greater and more decisive importance than in previous films.
- Natural Features (1990, 16mm, color, sound, 30'00)
A free associative and playfully bizarre form of animation. Here Nelson used mirrors, water, toys, cut-outs, photographs, paint, ink in many different combinations to transform and manipulate images.
- Old Digs (1993, 16mm, color, sound, 20'00)
An inner journey through the sights and sounds of Kristinehamn as reflected in its central river.
Cinema Parenthèse is a collective of writers, programmers and filmmakers that organizes experi-mental film screenings and dialogues in Brussels. Current members are Wendy Evan, Els van Riel, Nicky Hamlyn, Daniel A. Swarthnas and Arindam Sen.