Samira’s Presentation: Influences, Writers

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Home Movies and Family Albums

Michelle Citron, Home Movies and Other Necessary Fictions

“Herein lies a paradox: spontaneous and directed, authentic and constructed, documentary and fiction. This paradox is revealed every time we look at an image with which we have a personal relationship.”

From  her film Daughter Rite (1978).

From her film Daughter Rite (1978).

Michelle Citron has made numerous media pieces including the interactive narratives; As American As Apple Pie, Cocktails & Appetizers, and Mixed Greens, and the films What You Take for Granted…, Leftovers, and Daughter Rite, a ground breaking experimental narrative about mothers and daughters.

Her work has been shown in museums and film festivals around the world including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney, the American Film Institute and the New Directors, Berlin, London, and Edinburgh Film Festivals. Her films are distributed worldwide and are in over 200 permanent collections.

She has received two National Endowment for the Arts Filmmaking Grants, a National Endowment for the Humanities Media Grant, and Illinois Arts Council Fellowships for Filmmaking, Screenwriting, and New Media.

Her book, Home Movies and Other Necessary Fictions (University of Minnesota Press), won three awards, including a Special Commendation from the Krasza-Krausz International Book Award, which cited the book for being “an extraordinary blend of autobiographical and film writing which offers a radical new way of thinking and writing about film.” She is Chair of the Interdisciplinary Arts Department, Columbia College Chicago. She holds an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in cognitive studies and aesthetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Read more.

Karen L. Ishizuka, Patricia Rodden Zimmermann, Mining the Home Movie: Excavation in Histories and Memories

The first international anthology to explore the historical significance of amateur film, Mining the Home Movie makes visible, through image and analysis, the hidden yet ubiquitous world of home moviemaking. These essays boldly combine primary research, archival collections, critical analyses, filmmakers’ own stories, and new theoretical approaches regarding the meaning and value of amateur and archival films. Editors Karen L. Ishizuka and Patricia R. Zimmermann have fashioned a groundbreaking volume that identifies home movies as vital methods of visually preserving history. The essays cover an enormous range of subject matter, defining an important genre of film studies and establishing the home movie as an invaluable tool for extracting historical and social insights.

Annette Kuhn, Family Secrets, Acts of Memory and Imagination

“Memories evoked by a photo do not simply spring out of the image itself, but are generated in a network, and inter text, of discourses that shift between past and present, spectator and image, and between all these and cultural contexts, historical moments. In this network, the image itself figures largely as a trace, a clue: necessary, but no t sufficient, to the activity of meaning making; always pointing somewhere else.”

Marianne Hirsch, Family Frames, Photography Narrative and Postmemory

Family photographs –snapshots and portraits, affixed to the refrigerator or displayed in gilded frames, crammed into shoeboxes or cataloged in albums –preserve ancestral history and perpetuate memories. Indeed, photography has become the family’s primary means of self-representation. In Family Frames, Marianne Hirsch uncovers both the deception and the power behind this visual record.

Fictions and Poems

Alison Bechdel, Are You My Mother?

As if it were a deck of playing cards, Are You My Mother? deals many hands. In part it’s a memoir of Ms. Bechdel’s mother’s life. She’s a brainy woman, very much still alive, who was forced to put her career aside (she’d been an actress) for her husband’s.

In part it’s a meta-memoir, a meditation on the ethics of dumping your family’s darkest secrets onto the page for strangers to sort through.

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In part it’s a stroll through the literary history of thinking about mothers and daughters. In part it’s a book about the therapeutic process. There are many, many drawings of Ms. Bechdel, head in hands, engaged in the talking cure. There is a whole lot of emoting about literature’s least interesting subject, healing.

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Read more.

Alice Munro’s, short stories

“When I was away from her, I could not think what my mother’s face was like, and this frightened me. sitting in school, just over a hill from my home, I would try to picture my mother’s face. Sometimes I thought that if I couldn’t do it, that might mean my mother was dead. But I had a sense of her all the time, and would be reminded of her by the most unlikely things-an upright piano, or a tall white loaf of bread. That’s ridiculous, but true.” Progress of Love.

Elizabeth Bishop’s poems and fictions

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Bishop’s poems are the first poems written by and american poet that I’ve read so far. I believe her poems are magic. She says that a poem should have the element of surprise in it and I really find myself surprised while I read her poems. What is so interesting about her work is that she makes the most familiar things around us unfamiliar. even the most familiar moments of everyday life becomes strange in her poem. Freud called this effect uncanny, which points to the process of defamiliarizing something, someone or a situation and I think it’s one of the most powerful techniques in art. The Waiting room is one of her most famous poems which is about a girl waiting for her aunt in the waiting room of a clinic. While she is sitting there, looking at a magazine she realizes that she is at threshold of adulthood. She feels something. Maybe she is becoming a woman. In The Table she depicts a family sitting at a table and having dinner. Little by little we discover the unfamiliarity behind this familiar scene as watching a scene from our family’s home movie several times. After a while we’ll find a strange unexplainable quality in it.

In the desert of Itabira.
things come back to life,
stiflingly, suddenly,
The market of desires
displays its sad treasures;
my urge to run away;
naked women; remorse.
But he didn’t say anything.

Stepping on books and letters
we travel in the family
Marriages; mortgages;
the consumptive cousins;
the mad aunt; my grandmother
betrayed among the slave-girls,
rustling silks in the bedroom.
But he didn’t say anything.

From Travelling in the Family.

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