Mujeres en el Cine Experimental offers an introduction to the work of 15 avant-garde filmmakers, some of whom worked in the 1950s and many of whom still work today. In each essay from this collection, an important film researcher writes about a filmmaker, providing biographical information, analyzing their various influences, examining the development of the corpus of their work and interpreting a significant number of individual films. The essays rescue the work of female filmmakers neglected by the critics but very influential at the teaching and academic level and, fortunately, also important for restoration and preservation.
It’s equally important to acknowledge how much they enrich our understanding of feminism in film and expand the terrain of film history, particularly the history of the American avant-garde. We review the work of Marie Menken, Joyce Wieland, Gunvor Nelson, Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann, Barbara Rubin, Amy Greenfield, Barbara Hammer, Chick Strand, Marjorie Keller, Leslie Thornton, Abigail Child, Peggy Ahwesh, Su Friedrich and Cheryl Dunye. The essays highlight the diversity in the forms and methods of these filmmakers, delving into themes such as, for example, Menken used film as a way to rethink the transition from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art in the fifties and sixties, or how Rubin investigated the filmic apparatus that allowed the objectification of the body in her film Christmas on Earth (1963), and how Dunye uses film to explore her own identity as a black lesbian artist.
At the same time, these essays reveal common features, including a tendency towards documentary rather than fiction, and a commitment to collaborative and non-hierarchical production practices. The final essay focuses explicitly on the teaching of experimental film made by women, addressing logistical concerns (how to acquire films and ensuring appropriate visual spaces) and broadens the scope of the book by suggesting alternative films for use in the classroom.