Vivienne Dick, Augenblick, 2017, Production still, HDV, 14 mins. © Vivienne Dick.
‘For Dick, the title of the exhibition 93% STARDUST, suggests that we are moving into a new age, following the age of Enlightenment, where man is no longer the centre of the universe’ (Exhibition Guide, IMMA).
Yesterday I went to the ‘Vivienne Dick, 93% Stardust’ exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Vivienne Dick is an Irish artist and filmmaker, who was a key figure within the ‘No Wave’ movement, a short-lived avant-garde scene in the late 1970s in New York, led by a collective of musicians, artists and filmmakers including Nan Goldin, Lydia Lunch, Arto Lindsay, James Chance and others.
The exhibition at IMMA presents some of Vivienne Dick’s early Super-8 film works from late 1970s New York, including Guérillère Talks (1978), Staten Island (1978), She Had Her Gun Ready (1978), Beauty Becomes The Beast (1979) and Liberty’s Booty (1980), alongside her recent film works The Irreducible Difference of the Other (2013), Red Moon Rising (2015) and Felis Catus (2016) and the world premier of her latest film Augenblick (2017), which was made while on IMMA’s Residency Programme earlier this year.
Having never heard of Vivienne Dick until now, this exhibition was a wonderful discovery. Her New York films focus on female sensibilities. Guérillère Talks, for example, presents a series of portraits of women associated with the ‘No Wave’ music and art scene. In Liberty’s Booty, Dick makes use of real-life footage, personal testimonies and acted-out scenarios in a film which examines the commodification of the female body through the perspective of prostitutes. Filmed in Super-8, these early films have the look of home movies, with the grainy picture, rough sound and handheld photography we associate with home movies.
Images of exhibition courtesy of Irish Museum of Modern Art
In her latest film, Augenblick, ‘different realities, seemingly disconnected, flash by, from an imaginary virtual world to a frozen landscape’ (Exhibition Guide, IMMA). From Jean Jacques Rousseau ranting about society, to three female actors recounting the story of human beliefs in animism, God and the digital world through quotes from Rumi, Harari, Gramsci and Hildegard Von Bingen, to the same three women chatting spontaneously around a table.
There were a number of things I particularly liked about this moving image. Such as the way in which she blends acted-out scenarios, unscripted conversations and landscape images together in the film; her use of lines quoted from older texts; and the moments of silence interspersed with 18th century music. All of which helped to give the film an organic, spontaneous feel. Techniques which I shall explore in my own moving image making.