The Film Forum run of Our City Dreams is only through the 17th, but the film's website lists a schedule of upcoming film festivals and theatrical engagements. (What it doesn't provide are pictures of the artists, so for this report I have pulled them from various sources and credited the images.)
How does a Muslim woman from Cairo express herself? On the face of it, with 'women’s work'--embroidery. Looking more closely you see that her many overlapping layers of linear images explore the erotic life of women. The filmmaker and her subject toggle between Cairo and New York, showing Amer with her family there and in her studio here. "We are proud of her," says her father, a former diplomat--even if she makes "bad woman," as her mother calls them. The wilfully loose threads would seem to be a metaphor for women’s lives, unclipped and unfettered, as they should be lived in any culture.
Installation from Breathe Into Me, Amer's solo exhibition at Gagosian Gallery, 2006
Image from emediawire.com
Using her body as her medium, Abramovic has pushed herself to extremes. She has starved herself and carved herself, subjected herself to fire and ice. While she has explored the limits of what a body can endure, she has at the same time simply ritualized the activities of everyday life, like cleaning. Abramovic, who was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, has had an international career. She now resides in New York.
There's a scene where we see Abramovic preparing for a performance, her hair in rollers and her makeup being applied. Given the extremes at which she operates, it's a bit of a shock to think of what she's doing as show business, and yet that is, in essence, what performance of any kind is. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
Marina Abramovic in performance. Image from New York Magazine
Image from the Walker Art Center
"There are no images of middle-age women," says Smith during the course of her segment. Now squarely in her mid-50s, she calls 50 "a marker." She's been taking stock of where she's been and thinking about how she wants to live her life. "Now I want to make middle-age women." Given that her life's work is poetic, ethereal and allegorical, I suspect that the spirit will continue even if the flesh as rendered in clay or on paper appears slightly less firm.
Spero's mosaic murals on the #1's 66th Street subway stop. (Ths stop for the Metropolitan Opera, if you're wondering about the images.) This image and the one of the artist from Art21