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The Woman's Voice
The Woman's
Personal Perspectives
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IntroductionClick here to Print this Page

Women's fight for equality has not only been grounded in demonstrations and campaigning actions, it has also became part of their approach to making films.

Gathering particular force in the 1970s and 1980s, woman film-makers started to question their position in society, looking to explode recurring myths about their roles as worker, mother, home-maker. They challenged the patriarchal structures that confronted them not only in the content of their films, but also in the alternative collectives and networks that were set up to support women's art practice. In 1979 Circles was formed, the first woman-only film distribution company. It continues to function today under the name of Cinenova, holding a rich archive of women film-makers from the 19th century pioneer Alice Guy to more recent artists, many of whom, from Lis Rhodes to Jeanette Iljon, Tina Keane or Sandra Lahire, are featured in LUXONLINE.

Like their contemporaries in other art mediums, film and video artists have explored questions of discrimination and inequality by making work which is both personal and challenging. Sometimes this takes the form of documentation , such as Annabel Nicolson's record of Greenham Common in Fire Film, and often by more personal and allegorical statements like There is a Myth by the video artist Cate Elwes. In Lis Rhodes and Jo Davis' collaborative series Hang on a Minute, issues from nuclear war to domestic violence are examined, whilst Annabel Nicolson's Fire Film presents a document of the women at Greenham common. Artists such as Tina Keane and Cate Elwes have employed a more personal or allegorical approach, Keane takes a Victorian tale of madness as her starting point in Faded Wallpaper, for example, whilst Elwes explores the myths of motherhood in There is a Myth. In Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen's Riddles of the Sphinxthe convention of the authoritative voice of the narrator is replaced by the questioning voice of the enigmatic and mythical sphinx in a tale which explores the problems of motherhood and childcare. By contrast Vivienne Dick's sassy super 8 portraits of her friends in the dereliction of a post punk New York in Guerrillere Talks show a group of women who challenge traditional notions of feminity.

Younger women artists, still experiencing many of the fundamental inequalities which had concerned an earlier generation, continue to examine questions of female representation, also introducing a global perspective in which many cultural voices are included; Alia Syed's films Fatima's Letter (1992) and Watershed (1994), for example, mix Urdu and English to weave fictional narratives that speak of contemporary urban experience. In The Fall of Eve Grace Ndiritu uses performance to reconsider the portrayal of black women during the early part of the Twentieth Century.

Still from At the Academy

There is a Myth

The conventional image of a mother suckling her child is deliberately frustrated.

Still from At the Academy

Hang on a minute - Swing Song

From Hiroshima to Hackney

Still from At the Academy

Fire Film

Women at Greenham Common talking about the peace movement.

Still from At the

Faded Wallpaper

Visual perception, madness and the search for identity.

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