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Vivienne Dick
In the majority of Dick's New York films, meaning is produced through a collage of elements drawn from retro and contemporary culture, including billboards, pop and punk music, fashion, TV news and advertising.

This celebration of Americana, signalled by the use of landmarks such as the Coney Island fairground and the Twin Towers, is paralleled by shots of the city's vacant lots and crumbling tenements - and frequent references to sexual violence, murder and exploitation. In all of these narratives, New York is figured as both an iconic site of popular and oppositional cultural production, and a space in which fragments from formerly distinct eras converge. This aspect of No Wave film was noted by contemporary critics as emblematic of an emergent 'post-modernism'- mirroring developments in popular cinema during the 1980s. But Dick's work during this period is not simply concerned with post-modern aesthetics, and it extends to an exploration of the social and economic forces shaping urban experience in New York. In particular, Dick's representation of the city was increasingly shaped by her perspective as an Irish migrant, and her dislocation from Ireland during a period of rapid social change associated with globalisation.

Globalisation first emerges as a focus of investigation in Liberty's Booty (1980), a film that is ostensibly concerned with prostitution. The open scene features a transsexual (dressed as a school girl) and a bizarre stuffed figure, complete with genitals, a stuffed womb and several embryos. It is followed by a low-tech animated title sequence, in which the Statue of Liberty is first transformed into Wonder Woman and then into a gun-toting soldier. This is followed by a more mundane images of everyday life in a New York brothel (anticipating aspects of Lizzie Borden's Working Girls). The male clients are evidently actors but the film also seems to feature some real-life testimony from women engaged in prostitution, highlighting their anxieties concerning their future and current status as commodities.

In the central section, the examination of prostitution give way to a broader interrogation of power relations, articulated through a montage of images of 'Liberty'. The Liberty figure appears in street murals that memorialise victims of prostitution, and in the interior of a McDonalds restaurant where a group of women meet. In this latter scene, the history of a vicious labour dispute at a branch of McDonalds in Dublin is introduced, and recounted in an Irish-accented voiceover. A montage of scenes set in Ireland follows, with much of the imagery drawn from news coverage of the 1979 visit by Pope John Paul II. This section of the film might seem to establish an obvious opposition between dissolute urban America and 'Holy Catholic Ireland', but this opposition is undercut by the emphasis on the mass media in both the content and delivery of the Pope's sermon. The Pope's visit was intended to demonstrate the enduring power of the church in Ireland, but it is now generally seen to have marked a final (and futile) attempt to halt the transformation of Irish society. While its fragmentary structure resists easy interpretation, Liberty's Booty suggests an awareness of the significance of this moment, and provides an intriguing insight into the relationship between diverse, but converging, cultures.

Stills from Liberty's Booty by Vivienne Dick, 1980
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