Nightcleaners, film stills, 16 mm film, 90 min., 1970–1975 © Berwick Street Film Collective
SITUATION #39: Women and Work in Film/Video of the 1970s and 1980s
28 May – 11 September 2016
This series of films, curated by Amy Charlesworth, represents some of the highpoints of feminist film production during the 1970s and 1980s. Exploring subjects from the United Kingdom, Columbia, Jamaica and Canada, the films engage with the theme of women and work, picking apart the complex imbrication of labour, subjectivity and social positioning. Whether intended as campaigning films, or to record the brutal conditions in which women often work, the films speak to the collectivist aspirations of the period, especially the women’s liberation movement, the anti-nuclear movement or the decolonising impulse of Third Cinema.
As Charlesworth argues in her notes to the series (downloadable below), the films also reveal the productive and at times tense relation between formal experimentation and documentary. This in turn reflected divisions in the feminist movement, as the experience of activists was too easily separated from the theoretically-grounded and formally sophisticated filmic text. The series provides not only exemplary instances of activist filmmaking. It also suggests the relevance of the topic today, as labour becomes increasingly ‘feminised’, that is flexible and precarious.
Berwick Street Film Collective, Nightcleaners, 1970–1975, United Kingdom, 16 mm film, 90 min.
Cine Mujer, And What Does Your Mother Do?, 1981, Columbia, 16 mm film, 10 min.
Sandra Lahire, with Jean Matthee and Anna Thew, Uranium Hex, 1987, United Kingdom, 16 mm film, 12 min.
Sistren Theatre Collective, Sweet Sugar Rage, 1985, Jamaica, VHS video, 42 min.
Download “Once more, or always? Some reflections on women and work in film and video of the 1970s and 1980s”, Amy Charlesworth’s exclusive essay on the series: http://bit.ly/1TBLasG