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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. Mass

    "Mankind’s irrational destruction of nature bothers me a lot. Mankind is slowly committing suicide, or not so slowly: each day it accelerates – producing all kinds of wastes: corporeal, industrial, atomic, poisoning the earth, the sea, the air…What a piece of work is man! No other animal would be so stupid." ―Luis Buñuel

    "Massive global habitat destruction and irreversible pollution are based on the unsupportable idea that we have somehow been given free license over all other species to degrade and destroy this planet."―Greg Graffin

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

    'Mass,' a video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster.
    Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  2. Superluminal Time Travel

    “Like our subconscious dreams, the cinema allows us to freely time travel. Science suggests that traveling backwards in time may be possible through 'superluminal' motion - moving faster than the speed of light. ‘Superluminal Time Travel’ is a surrealistic shaman ritual film that evokes both nostalgia and potential for annihilation of the past, wherein toxic history and images are consumed by paradoxically cleansing smokestacks. It is a cleansing film.” ―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    Below is some interesting reading, especially the mention of 'an image pair annihilation event.' "Can You Really Go Back in Time by Breaking the Speed of Light?" by David Russell, suggests that one can go back in time and potentially 'erase' historical events that lead to the future destruction of the planet, for example. It is an interesting scientific line of inquiry, to say the least; I have made it more concrete here in 'Superliminal Time Travel.' Here is the article by David Russell:

    pbs.org/wgbh/nova/blogs/physics/2015/08/can-you-really-go-back-in-time-by-breaking-the-speed-of-light/

    “Superluminal Time Travel” is a détournement, made from materials in the Public Domain, or released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    Music Track - "The Hours," by Scott Gratton
    Attribution Noncommercial CC license. Free Music Archive.

    "Superluminal Time Travel" is a détournement collage by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  3. Have Fun / Keep Out

    "I feel like I've never had a home, you know? I feel related to the country, to this country, and yet I don't know exactly where I fit in ... There's always this kind of nostalgia for a place, a place where you can reckon with yourself."―Sam Shepard

    "An amusement park sign invites us to 'Have Fun.' Just a few feet away another sign says 'Keep Out.' That about sums up the immigrant experience for many. The cruelty and heartlessness of much of the current rhetoric against immigrants and refugees makes me despair; but it also summons a nostalgia for times when immigrants and refugees were welcomed.

    Like most Americans, I grew up listening to stories about the refugee immigrants in my own family history; the hopes and the funny stories related and recalled, along with the hurting, danger, and dashed dreams. Nostalgia for the mythic American dream is something so many of us share, along with myriad communal memories and images.

    I find it unusual and profound that newsreels and other people's home movies can potentially induce an even stronger sense of longing and nostalgia than our own memories and home movies. 'Found' images from home movies are inherently poignant; evoking both a sense of loss and the warm comfort of home."―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    "Have Fun / Keep Out" is made from "found" images in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    Music – "The Break," Monplaisir, Free Music Archive. CC0 1.0 Universal License.

    "Have Fun / Keep Out" is a video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster.
    Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  4. Desire Market

    "'Desire Market' is a punk détournement from an ugly and crass marketing point of view: a reverse angle from the clinical gaze of marketing tools that surveil you and manipulate your desires.

    The viewer looks through the eyes of 'found' marketing templates, virtually experiencing the cold mercantile subjectivity of the desire market; a (mis)appropriation of pre-fab templates designed for emotionally manipulative advertising purposes.

    The Situationists identified film as being the most effective medium for détournement. In "Desire Market" I take preexisting images (from advertising templates) and mix them together to highlight the underlying ideology of of the original images. Like "La Société du spectacle," "Desire Market" elaborates on the ways in which commodity fetishism and reification have infiltrated and colonized all areas of life, in a world of routine commodification of pleasure and desire for $profit."―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    “Remember, you’re not just selling a product. You’re selling a lifestyle. Just showing a photo of your product isn’t enough. Most people need to feel better about themselves. Templates replace fears and anxieties with desire and fantasy. Use attractive templates to create desire.”―Marketing Website

    "Morning and evening
    Maids heard the goblins cry:
    'Come buy our orchard fruits,
    Come buy, come buy.'"
    ―from Goblin Market (1859)
    By Christina Rossetti

    A brief blog on Desire Market - by Sarah Tremlett
    directedbywomen.com/crucial21dbw-desire-market-directed-by-gwendolyn-audrey-foster/

    “Desire Market” is a détournement of (mis)appopriated advertising templates found in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  5. The Leisure Class

    Festivals and Group Shows:

    Another eXperiment by Women Festival (AXW) "Entitled" Anthology Film Archives, NYC, 2019. axwonline.com/april-17-2019-entitled/
    "Wake America! MoHA, ERC, Austin, 2019
    Atrabalious Film Festival, Amsterdam, 2018
    Ethereal Liminal Space, Austin, 2018.
    Festival X-12, Gainsborough, UK. 2017.

    One Woman Shows:

    Studio 44 (Stockholm) 2018
    Filmhuis Cavia (Amsterdam) 2018
    BWA Contemporary Art Museum (Poland) 2018
    Maryland Institute College of Art, 2017
    Museum of the Future (Berlin) 2017

    "The Leisure Class" is a punk queer feminist détournement of a wedding template: a critique of cis privilege, class privilege, white privilege, bridal fantasies, enforced hetero-normativity, the wedding industry, excess consumption, and coerced gender 'norms.'

    All too often, wedding fantasies are used to market privilege, moreso than commitment and love.

    “Happiness is often at its most intense when it is based on inequality.” —James Salter

    “The greatest country, the richest country, is not that which has the most capitalists, monopolists, immense grabbings, vast fortunes, with its sad, sad soil of extreme, degrading, damning poverty, but the land where wealth does not show such contrasts high and low, where all have enough — a modest living— and none is made possessor beyond the sane and beautiful necessities.” —Walt Whitman

    "The wedding industry rakes in about 500 billion dollars a year. Studies show that the number one issue married couples fight about is debt; often wedding debt. There is an insistence that weddings result in a 'perfect' visual record of the 'perfect day,' which results in falsity, forced smiles and garish displays of implied wealth, based on credit and debt. Meanwhile, it is estimated that a person dies of hunger or hunger-related causes every ten seconds, and children die most often. Just eight billionaires own as much combined wealth as over half the human race, yet people worship the wealthiest and mimic their behavior. Weddings are rituals in which couples pretend they enjoy vast wealth, a form of class-passing. Wedding fantasies often reinforce and uphold cis normativity, hetero-normativity, class privilege and white privilege.

    Expensive bridal 'princess' fantasies are exploited in order to commodify human emotions, while paradoxically exposing anxieties of class, race, and gender.

    False consensus insists that expensive hetero-normative public rituals of conspicuous consumption set us free, but nothing could be further from the truth."—Gwendolyn Audrey Foster

    For more on class passing and white privilege, see my books, “Class-Passing: Social Mobility in Film and Popular Culture” and “Performing Whiteness: Postmodern Re/Constructions in the Cinema.” For more information visit: gwendolynaudreyfoster.com

    “The Leisure Class” is a détournement made from recycled images in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    “The Leisure Class”― Music and video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

  6. Smile / Wave

    “When you are a child - in your mind - you are not a child. You are a person, a person who has an equality with an adult.”―Catherine Breillat

    "As a woman, I am often reminded to smile, as if it is part of my job as a female. It starts when you are a little girl. Lately it occurs to me that women are forced to perform as little Princesses from a very early age. 'Smile! Wave! Look Pretty!' Think about it. Total strangers do not ask men to smile. Take it from me: women don't like being constantly reminded to smile."―Gwendolyn Audrey Foster, queer bisexual feminist nonconforming artist.

    While there are many ways of reading them, the following three films form a trilogy of self portraits:

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

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

    "Smile / Wave" is made from recycled and repurposed images in the Public Domain, or material released under a Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain license.

    "Smile / Wave" Music and video by Gwendolyn Audrey Foster.
    Copyright © 2017 Gwendolyn Audrey Foster. All rights reserved.

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