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Gwendolyn Audrey Foster - Experimental Filmmaker

Originally from New York City, Gwendolyn Audrey Foster is an award-winning film/video artist, curator, and a prolific author on experimental film, women filmmakers, LGBTQ+ and film history. Co-author of "Experimental Cinema: The Film Reader," Foster's documentary on 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.

Foster's films and video installations have premiered at Anthology Film Archives (NYC), MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Outfest (LA), Bi+ Arts Festival (Toronto), The Filmmakers' Coop (NYC); Collective for Living Cinema (NYC), Films de Femmes (Créteil), 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 galleries, museums and film festivals around the world. Foster's films and videos are archived at the UCLA Film & Television Archives.

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. I 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. As One

    For Wheeler - the love of my life, the light of my life.

    "Passion brings ancient bronze statues to life; they melt into one another, becoming one. 'As One' recalls the 'love which makes us one,' described so beautifully by the Pre-Raphaelite poet Christina Rossetti in her poem, 'Monna Innominata,' "―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    "Monna Innominata"
    ―by Christina Rossetti (first published in 1881)

    I loved you first: but afterwards your love
    Outsoaring mine, sang such a loftier song
    As drowned the friendly cooings of my dove.
    Which owes the other most? my love was long,
    And yours one moment seemed to wax more strong;
    I loved and guessed at you, you construed me
    And loved me for what might or might not be –
    Nay, weights and measures do us both a wrong.
    For verily love knows not ‘mine’ or ‘thine;’
    With separate ‘I’ and ‘thou’ free love has done,
    For one is both and both are one in love:
    Rich love knows nought of ‘thine that is not mine;’
    Both have the strength and both the length thereof,
    Both of us, of the love which makes us one.
    ―by Christina Rossetti (1830–1894)

    Part of The Eros Trilogy. See all three videos in the trilogy:

    *Eros Sleeping: vimeo.com/202575235
    *Eros and Psyche: vimeo.com/201958267
    *As One: vimeo.com/204575300

    'As One' is fashioned from recycled and repurposed images and sound in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    "As One" ― Music and Video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster.
    Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  2. The Prisoner [A Fairy Tale]

    Atrabilious Experimental Film Festival, March 29/30, 2019.
    #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing 2018.
    Liminal Ethereal Space, ERC, MoHA,Texas, 2018.
    Festival X-12, Gainsborough, UK. 2017.

    One Woman Shows:

    Studio 44, Stockholm, 2018.
    OT301 CInema of the Dam'd, Amsterdam, 2018.
    Filmhuis Cavia, Amsterdam, 2018.
    Foster Queer Pride, Salto TV, Netherlands, 2018.
    BWA Contemporary Art Museum, Poland, 2018.
    Lys d’Or International Art Gallery, Rome, 2018.
    Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, 2017.
    Museum of the Future, Berlin, 2017.

    An intersectional feminist exploration of cis-white privilege and beauty as a form of imprisonment masquerading as entitlement. A genderqueer feminist détournement of found advertising materials refashioned as a Marxist feminist critique of the commodified female body and white beauty standards in advertising as well as Princess fantasies of white female entitlement based on class, exterior beauty and cis-white privilege.

    "Fairy tales are the origins of our childhood. At the same time, they are projections into the unknown. As little girls, they allowed us to voyage to the unknown." ―Catherine Breillat

    “Everyone thinks of fairy tales in terms of poisoned apples and glass coffins, and forgets that they represent girls who walked into dark forests and remade them into their own reflections.”
    ―Seanan McGuire

    "It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the original classic fairy tales. We do not need puritanical censors to tell us what is good or bad for us." ―Jack Zipes

    “There are fairy stories to be written for adults. Stories that are still in a green state.” ― André Breton

    "Fairy tales are mirrors - abstract and reflective by nature. Fairy tales project on us, just as we project onto them."―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    "The Prisoner [A Fairy Tale] is a feminist intervention and détournement that exposes the dark side of fairy tales. The tropes of fairy tales often revolve around beauty and Princess fantasies - fantasies of cis-white hetero-privilege based primarily on exterior beauty. Sometimes they show us ways out of the prisons of gender, prisons of class, prisons of entitlement, and prisons of sexuality. There is often power invested in golden hair and fair skin, but gendered beauty can be a trap. I am drawn to fairy tales is that they can be endlessly retooled, reinterpreted, and retold from a modern feminine (and feminist) perspective for a new generation of children of the 21st century.

    The earliest fairy tales are dark and magical, full of conundrums and puzzles, and written for a smart audience. They are open to interpretation and full of Surrealism. They truly are magical, ritualistic, and enchanting. Fairy tales pass along female knowledge, wisdom, and experience in a remarkably fluid genre that they can take on many forms and morph endlessly. - Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    See also Fairy Tale [Excerpt] vimeo.com/248345182

    "The Prisoner" is made from material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license. "The Prisoner," by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  3. The Passenger

    Experiment in self-portraiture using found footage. Color study and homage to Pierre Bonnard, Les Nabis, and Iggy Pop.

    Pierre Bonnard - known for his radical use of color and the transient expressions of his elusive subjects. Bonnard was a member of Les Nabis, an avant garde group of Post impressionist artists who wished to revitalize painting and were themselves inspired by Japanese art, aesthetic metaphors, and symbolism. Also inspired by Iggy Pop's song of the same name.―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, queer bisexual nonconforming artist.

    While there are many ways of reading them, the following three films form a trilogy of found self portraits, all détournements from archival imagery; "found selves" so to speak:

    "Standing Up" vimeo.com/204817552
    "Smile / Wave" vimeo.com/224574518
    "The Passenger" vimeo.com/205097372

    A related video is "She Smiled," vimeo.com/203713247

    'The Passenger' is a found self portrait, a détournement fashioned and remixed from found appropriated images in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    Music by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. "The Passenger" by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster.
    Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  4. Membership Has Its Privileges

    "This film is an abstract critique of various types of privilege: cis privilege, white privilege, class privilege, and heterosexual privilege, for example.

    These forms of privilege are NOT unconnected.

    Forms of privilege intersect and support one another and must be dismantled by intersectional disruptions and intersectional interventions.

    'Membership Has Its Privileges' is a détournement and (mis)appropriation of found images (in this case advertising templates). Popularized by Guy Debord and the Situationists, détournement is borrowed from French and roughly translates to 'overturning, highjacking,' or 'derailment.'

    'Détournement' is a process whereby an artist appropriates and alters existing media artifacts - found images that the audience is already familiar with (such as advertising) in order to give them potentially subversive meaning."―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    Dedicated to Brandon Teena

    #gender is obsolete #end cis privilege #end hetero-normativity # end white privilege #end economic privilege #Gwendolyn Audrey Foster #bisexual queer trans-questioning feminist artist #white privilege #class privilege #hetero-normative privilege #cis-privilege #détournement #punk feminist #punk film #advertising commodifies bodies #(mis)appropriation, #found advertising templates, #intersectionality #Situationists #Guy Debord #political art #unpleasant films #in memory of brandon teena #binary privileged at the expense of others #stop coerced straight cis norms #end white privilege #end het privilege #gender norms prison #question all forms of prvilege

    “Membership Has Its Privileges” is a détournement of repurposed materials and sounds in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    "Membership Has Its Privileges" Music & video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  5. Refugees

    "Refugees," music and video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, a collage and détournement from found images; advertising templates abstracted into a political activist filmpoem.

    At least 3,800 migrant refugees died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in 2016 to escape deadly violence and persecution, often both.

    Thousands more fleeing refugees drowned in the Mediterranean Sea in 2017, including many teenage girls, pregnant women, and newborn children. The Mediterranean is the most dangerous sea crossing in the world for refugees and migrants.

    Yet, 'the compassion deficit seems to be a global plague.' -- Steve Symonds, Amnesty UK Refugee Programme Director.

    If people were able to see refugees not as faceless masses, but as individual human beings, perhaps compassion and empathy (in the collective human heart) might be more effectively moved. --Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    See "Tenderness," on the same theme:
    vimeo.com/185327438

    “Refugees" is a détournement from repurposed images and ads in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    "Refugees," Music and video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  6. Joy

    A non-objective meditational abstract; an experiment in color, visuality, and the liminal space found between analog and digital aesthetics and sound. A visual celebration of life.

    “Listen carefully to first criticisms made of your work. Note just what it is about your work that critics don't like - then cultivate it. That's the only part of your work that's individual and worth keeping.”―Jean Cocteau

    "Embrace mistakes. There are no mistakes."―Andy Warhol

    "Don't impose. Don't obstruct. Allow the images to emerge as they wish."―Wheeler Winston Dixon

    "We do not take a trip; a trip takes us."―John Steinbeck

    I am grateful for my most creative and spontaneous collaborators: the magical trinity of chance, happy accidents, and subconscious automatism. ―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    Created from recycled and repurposed images and sound in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    'Joy'― Music and video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

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