Gunvor Nelson – Personale

Fri Jan. 18, 2019, 18:30 h
Österreichisches Filmmuseum

The filmmaker Gunvor Nelson wants her works to be called "personal films"; "avant-garde" or "experimental" sound too cool to her. Born in Stockholm in 1931, she went to San Francisco in the early 1950s to study art and painting. There she met her future husband Robert Nelson and, like him, was an important figure in the West Coast art scene, but was not accepted into the male-dominated canon of New-American Cinema. She made her debut in 1966 with Schmeerguntz, a juxtaposition of media-mediated images of womanhood with the reality of young mothers that still seems drastic even today. She taught at the Art Institute for more than twenty years before deciding to return to Sweden in 1993. Since then she has worked primarily with video and installations, and has returned to painting. The closeness to painting is evident in many of her films; she understands film as a medium capable of modeling, which is expressed in her fascination for collages, for working with ink and color, the rhythmization of image and sound in montage, cross-fades, and the play with light and shadow. Gunvor Nelson's films revolve around her family, the Swedish landscape and the observation of nature. In doing so, she seeks to show the ambivalence of life and its phenomena in a stylistically varied way: in its beauty, its transience and complexity. Due to her advanced age, Nelson is unfortunately unable to travel to Vienna; the invitation from sixpackfilm and the Film Museum came too late. (Brigitta Burger-Utzer)

Gunvor Nelson 1 Fri: 1/18/2019 / 6:30pm Schmeerguntz (with Dorothy Wiley) (USA 1966, 16mm, bw, 15 min) Time Being (USA 1991, 16mm, bw, silent, 8 min) Red Shift (SE 1984, 16mm, bw, 50 min).

Together with her friend Dorothy Wiley, Gunvor Nelson presented Schmeerguntz, an amusing, grotesque attack on the ideal of the American woman: a collage of television images from pageants and commercials supplemented with images of her own disgusting share of everyday life as a housewife. With Time Being she says goodbye to her old dying mother, a brutal, precisely conceived and at the same time touching film. RED SHIFT - Nelson's opus magnum - is about herself, her mother and her daughter, three generations of women and their recurring rituals, conflicts and familial bonds. Fragments of faces, bodies, small gestures, pieces of furniture and objects in the family home in Kristinehamn are on display. Calamity Jane's unsent letters to her daughter, whom she gave to foster parents, are heard. (bbu)

Gunvor Nelson 2 Fri: 1/18/2019 / 8:30pm My Name Is Oona (USA 1969, 16mm, bw, 10 min) Take Off (USA 1972, 16mm, bw, 10 min) True to Life (SE 2006, video, F, 38 min) Tree-Line (SE 1998, video, F, 8 min).

A portrait of the daughter mixes with fantasies of her own childhood in My Name is Oona. The sound - looped speech created in collaboration with Steve Reich - counteracts the beautiful images. In the animated film Take Off, Nelson deconstructs the striptease of an already elderly lady, an early bravura burlesque. The playful exploration of one's garden, especially its details and surfaces, follows the natural progression of the seasons from spring to winter in True to Life. The extreme close-ups of the plants and insects, the complex sound design and the constantly moving camera create a tension and identify the filmmaker as an intruder. Her pleasure in now being able to work with digital video and computer software and the immediate possibilities of transforming a minimal source material are expressed in Tree-Line. A short sequence of a moving train and a photograph of a tree are all that is needed for this rhythmic, masterful clash of acceleration and standstill. (bbu)

The Personale takes place in cooperation with the Austrian Film Museum.

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