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Gwendolyn Audrey Foster - Experimental Filmmaker

Originally from New York City, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster is an award-winning film/video artist and a prolific author on experimental film, women filmmakers, LGBTQ+ and film history. Co-author of "Experimental Cinema: The Film Reader," "The Films of Chantal Akerman," and many other books on cinema, Foster's documentary on early women filmmakers, "The Women Who Made the Movies," is distributed by Women Make Movies. Foster is Willa Cather Professor Emerita in Film Studies at University of Nebraska and now a full time artist and filmmaker based in Nebraska in the United States.

Foster's films and video installations have premiered at MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art (NYC); Outfest (LA); Bi+ Arts Festival (Toronto); Anthology Film Archives (NYC); The Filmmakers' Coop (NYC); Collective for Living Cinema (NYC); Films de Femmes (Créteil); Black Maria Touring Film Festival (USA); Rencontres Internationales Sciences & Cinémas, RISC (France); Forum Yokohama (Japan), Analogica (Italy), Festival Internacional de Cine Experimental Y Vídeo CODEC (Mexico); Studio 44 (Stockholm); BWA Contemporary Art Museum (Poland); Filmhuis Cavia (Amsterdam); nGKB gallery (Berlin); and many other art galleries, museums and festivals around the world. Foster's films and videos are archived at the UCLA Film & Television Archives and Museum of Modern Art in NY.

Artist Statement:

As a queer feminist marxist artist, my work explores the aesthetic space between film & video through collage and abstraction techniques. I work in 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film/video. I create some films from found materials, combining elements of Surrealism, eco-feminism, punk, romantic structuralism, détournement and chance editing (automatism). Chance is my favorite collaborator. My films are personal; alchemic, mysterious and handmade: hand-painted, hand-processed. I often compose the music and soundscapes for many of my films, which have been described as surreal, contemplative, and hypnotic. ―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

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Contents of this portfolio copyright © 2016 - 2021 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  1. Kiki's Film

    Festivals and Group Shows:

    Encuentro Internacional de Cineastas, Esto es Para Esto 2021
    Lisbon Short Film Festival 2021
    Bi+ Arts Festival Toronto 2020
    FilmArte Festival, Madrid + Berlin 2020
    London Experimental Film Festival 2020
    AltFF Alternative Film Festival, Best Artistic Film Nominee 2020
    London X4 Seasonal Short Film Festival,Special Mention, Best Experimental Short 2020
    VastLab International Film Festival LA 2019
    We Make Movies International Film Festival, LA 2019
    Pugnant Film Series Athens 2019
    KinoBerlino, Kino Moviemento, Berlin 2019
    14th Experiments in Cinema Film Festival, Albuquerque, 2019
    Kino Klub Split, Croatia 2019
    Kino Climates, Belgrade, Serbia 2019
    An Ordinary Day Film Festival, Stockholm 2018

    One Woman (Solo) Shows:

    Bi+ Arts Fest, Toronto 2020
    Cinetoon De Nijverheid, Utrecht 2019
    Studio 44, Stockholm, Sweden 2018
    OT301 CInema of the Dam'd, Amsterdam 2018
    Filmhuis Cavia, Amsterdam 2018
    BWA Contemporary Art Museum, Poland 2018

    A dream poem for Kiki de Montparnasse, (Alice Prin); artist, Muse, and creative partner of Man Ray. Kiki embodies the very essence of 1920's free queer sexuality and all things Dadaist and Surrealist. An interdisciplinary artist, Kiki was much more than a 'model.' She was a painter, writer, nightclub singer, photographer, performance artist, memoirist and vibrant bohemian provocateur at the center of the Dada and Surrealist literary and art scene in Paris, in the 1920s.

    Kiki looks directly at the viewer in this exercise in Objective Chance Surrealism (automatism); a dream occult homage; a look through Kiki's eyes in her imagined "lost film."

    You are no doubt familiar with Kiki's image, as she appears in so many famous Surrealist films and photographs, including Man Ray's "Le Violon D'Ingres," which shows a naked Kiki, seated and viewed from behind, with two 'f's in her back; a celebration of her violin-curves. Kiki was more than a gorgeous woman who had the audacity to love her curves and flaunt them - in an era when women were expected to be shaped like a thin boy.

    Kiki was punk before punk. She was a performance artist before performance art. Ultimately, she was too intense for Man Ray. By the late 1920s, Kiki had her own cabaret, Chez Kiki, She had also begun painting primitives and, in 1927, had a sell-out exhibition. Her memoir, "The Education of a French Model," was banned in America. The more I read about Kiki, the more I fall in love with Alice.

    Kiki de Montparnasse lives on in her direct frank expressiveness, sensuality, photographs, films, artwork and memoirs. --GAF

    Kiki (Alice Prin) is featured in my related video, "Bisexual Materialist Ragtime Party": vimeo.com/272007107

    “Kiki's Film” is made from materials found in the Public Domain, or released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license."Kiki's Film," by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2018 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  2. Self Portrait [Détournement]

    Self Portrait [Détournement] is a queer experiment in Surrealist autoportraiture. A 'found image as self' morphs into multiple selves who walk away from the camera to meet yet more aspects of the self, travelling through alternate times and places. Use of a 'found' female figure - one who never looks at the camera - disrupts cis hetero-norms of traditional-patriarchal portraiture.

    Festivals and Group Shows:
    AltFF Alternative Film Festival Toronto (Semi-Finalist) 2020
    NewFilmmakers at Anthology Film Archives, NY. 2018
    Bi+ Self Portrait Workshop, Bi+ Arts Festival, Toronto, 2018
    FIVAC 8th Festival Internacionel de Videoart de Camagüey 2019
    "Nostalgia," Manifest Destiny Art Gallery, Barcelona, 2019
    KinoBerlino, Kino Moviemento, Berlin, 2019
    Exploding Cinema, London 2020

    I am fascinated by myriad representations of the self as Other and the Other as self (or selves); particularly in the work of women artists, the Surrealists and Dadaists, and bisexual+ genderqueer artists such as Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Frida Kahlo, Cindy Sherman, Anaïs Nin, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Bessie Smith, Alice Walker, Virginia Woolf, and Toyen (Marie Čermínová).―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    "Self Portrait [Détournement]"―Music and video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. A détournement made in part from materials in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license. Copyright © 2018 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  3. Fountains for the Baroness

    "Fountains for the Baroness" is a Punk Dadaist film for Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, also known as "The Baroness." Elsa, the famed bisexual Dada artist, sculptor and poet, sent her friend Marcel Duchamp a urinal as a gift, signed R. Mutt. Her gift is famous as one of the most famous early readymade sculptures,"The Fountain," but it is solely attributed to Marcel Duchamp.

    Elsa found objects in the street and declared them works of art before Duchamp hit upon the idea of "readymades." Duchamp said of the Baroness "She is not a Futurist. She is the future."

    Elsa's wildly suggestive androgynous contributions as an artist inspire new queer & feminist re-readings of Dada art, the readymade, and Conceptual art.

    Elsa was as freely sexual, queer, gender nonconforming, and avant garde in the way she behaved and fashioned her body as she was in her poetry and artwork, exploring the phallic and labial appearance of the urinal of "found" plumbing fixtures that she fashioned as androgynous readymade sculptures, with titles such as "God."

    Decades before punks wore safety pins and wild drag fashion, Elsa cross-dressed and wore live birds in a cage, a tomato can bra, shaved her head, and adorned her body with myriad found objects, often shocking those around her.

    Elsa was a pioneer in radical queer self-fashioning. She manufactured agency in a patriarchal bourgeois world that she actively disrupted and defied. Elsa's title as the "Baroness" was deployed ironically: her real name was Else Plötz. Djuna Barnes was one of her many lovers, and Elsa famously appeared in a film made by Man Ray and Duchamp titled “The Baroness Shaves Her Pubic Hair.”

    A sexually aggressive libertine bi+ genderqueer protopunk provocateur at the center of the Dada movement, Elsa lived her life as a Dada performance artist, and is as well known for her breathtaking, sexually-charged blasts of staccato poetry as she is her outlandish behavior; she was arrested on several occasions for cross-dressing and other "perverse and scandalous acts of public indecency."

    Elsa, born in Germany, brought Dada to New York City and fashioned her own body as an art piece before the rise of performance art. Elsa made a spectacle of herself, claiming agency over her own body, whether nude, wearing men's clothing, or adorning herself with trash and found objects. Elsa fashioned her own body as anti-consumerist whilst defying gender norms, almost singlehandedly pioneering queer feminist dada performance art.

    Elsa's poetry is equally important and prescient as her dada art and persona. Recently collected and published as "Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven," Elsa was an early pioneer of "sound poetry" who employed irrational modernism in her writing. Her Dada poems are as free-spirited and original as they are provocative.

    When language did not suit her needs she made up words such as, “kissambushed,”“phalluspistol,”and “spinsterlollipop.” Elsa's sexually charged intensity anticipated the poetry of the Beats. Her poems are themselves art objects, decorated and painted in wild colors.

    Now dubbed "The Mama of Dada," The Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven is a force to be reckoned with even today; pioneer of junk art, inventor of the "ready-made," a queer/trans feminist performance artist known for her sexually transgressive Dadaist painting, sculpture, art and irrational modernist poetry. Elsa's artistic genius is only now being recognized, nearly one hundred years after she gifted a urinal (as an artwork) to Marcel Duchamp.

    Read more here on The Baroness:

    francisnaumann.com/daughters%20of%20dada/elsa.html

    timeline.com/baroness-elsa-dada-poetry-ceef0930cd47

    "Fountains for the Baroness" is a punk dadaist film made from recycled "found" CCO public domain materials - in honor of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven aka The Baroness.

    "Fountains for the Baroness," by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2018 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  4. Séance for Hilma

    A handmade abstract film for the Swedish artist and mystic Hilma af Klint (1862-1944),"Seance for Hilma," is an experiment in mystical 'disrupted stereoscopic' using random intervals and elements devined from 'filmic automatism' (chance edits, random colors, and abstractions): inspired by the Surrealists - and guided by the spirit of Hilma af Klint.

    Hilma af Klint's early abstract paintings were among the very first abstract European art, predating better known artists.The paintings and drawings of af Klint are truly breathtaking, but Klint is only now being recognized as an important early figure of modern European abstract art. Though her work prefigures that of Kandinsky, Mondrian, Klee and others, reportedly none of them ever saw her work. Hilma af Klint was discouraged from showing her work in public by her mentor in Theosophy, Rudolf Steiner. Af Klint painted for the future: she stipulated that her work not be shown in public until twenty years after her death.

    Hilma's spiritual life and early preoccupation with Nature is as interesting as her artwork, and the two are deeply connected in her stunning abstract paintings. A gender non-conformist, Hilma took part in seánces in the 1870s and formed a women's group, De Fem (The Five). De Fem immersed themselves in the paranormal and mysticism and practiced automatic writing. These pioneering women created unconventional ways to create and "channel" liminal art (including 'exquisite corpse' chance drawings, a term & process coined and used much later by the Surrealists).

    Hilma, a mathematician and linguist, created a highly personal language of symbols, letters, color, and words. Her work demonstrates her passionate interest in dualities, harmonies and balance, as well as her desire to abstract representations of love and ethereal realms of spiritual transcendence.

    The delayed recognition of the art of Hilma af Klint disrupts the authority of 'art history.'

    Presciently, Hilma af Klint left extensive notebooks and plans for the future exhibition of her artwork in a circular gallery like a temple not unlike the Guggenheim, confidently assuming that her unconventional abstract spiritual art would one day be displayed, understood and highly valued.

    A hundred years after they were created, the paintings and artwork of Hilma af Klint are thrilling viewers and bewitching art historians. Hilma af Klint is finally being recognized for her significance in art history and mysticism.

    Hilma af Klint is currently enjoying a fantastic major retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum until April 23, 2019 in New York City. Read more about Hilma af Klint here:

    hilmaafklint.se/hilma-af-klint-foundation/

    Hilma af Klint at the Guggenheim in NYC:

    guggenheim.org/exhibition/hilma-af-klint

    "Séance for Hilma" is made from recycled "found" CCO public domain materials."Séance for Hilma," by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2018 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  5. Kitchen Sink Film (Teaser)

    Festivals and Awards:

    Lisbon Short Film Rendezvous Film Festival (Finalist) Portugal 2021
    Xprmntl Film Festival, London 2021
    Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, Scotland 2020
    NewFilmmakers, Anthology Film Archives NY 2020
    AltFF Alternative Film Festival (Semi-Finalist, Best Experimental Short Animated Film) Toronto 2020
    Fisura International Festival of Experimental Film & Video Mexico 2020
    International Moving Film Festival (Semi-Finalist, Best Experimental Film Editing & Effects) Iran 2020
    KinoDrome: International Motion Picture & Screenplay Festival Cleveland OH 2020
    L’Age d’Or International Art-house Film Festival:
    (Critic’s Choice Award Experimental Film) India 2020
    TRMF Animation Competition, Asheville NC 2020
    The Black Mountain Experimental Film and Music Festival 2020
    We Make Movies International Film Festival, LA 2020
    London Experimental Film Festival UK 2020
    FLIGHT/Mostra del Cinema, Genoa (Animated Experimental Films), Italy 2020
    Palm Springs International Animation Film Festival & Expo (Abstract Animated Shorts Collection) Palm Springs CA 2019
    Aggregate Animated International Short Film Festival, San Francisco 2019
    The Itinerant Cinema of La Bête Rousse Touring Experimental Film Festival, Belgium & France 2019

    Direct animation. A cameraless Fluxus film - made in my kitchen sink. A playful celebration of light, color and abstraction. Hand-processed, hand-painted, hand-scratched, baked, and edited 16mm film.

    For Barbara Rubin, Marie Menken, Maya Deren, Chick Strand, Gunvor Nelson, Su Friedrich, Barbara Hammer, Storm de Hirsch and other visionary experimental women filmmakers; creators of such personal, hand-made, dazzling and poetic cinema.

    Teaser of Kitchen Sink Film which is 3:48 minutes.

    Copyright © 2019 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved. A Kitchen Table Film.

  6. Run / Fall

    Exploding Cinema Bunker online edition 2020.
    Save The Archives Film Festival, Milwaukee 2019
    Fu#k Narration Festival at Chimeres Space, Athens, Greece 2018.

    "Things are never as they seem."―Jim Thompson.

    "'Run / Fall' is both a détournement and an experiment in automatism (automatic writing via chance editing) made in the spirit of Surrealism; my subconscious and Chance as co-authors. I found myself repeating a disturbing image of an outsider running from a menacing red abstraction; a visual motif connecting fifties hysteria with the political anxieties of the present." ―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    "Run / Fall" is made from materials in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    "Run / Fall": music and film by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

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