DWOSKINO: Stephen Dwoskin from New York Underground to London Artist’s Moving Image

DWOSKINO: Stephen Dwoskin from New York Underground to London Artist’s Moving Image

Stephen Dwoskin, Video Letter (Dear Robert) (still), 1998. Courtesy of LUX, London.

DWOSKINO: Stephen Dwoskin from New York Underground to London Artist’s Moving Image
Book launch, shorts, and post-screening discussion

Admission is free

May 7, 2022, 5pm
172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Join us at e-flux Screening Room to celebrate the launch of DWOSKINO: The Gaze of Stephen Dwoskin, published by LUX, co-edited by Rachel Garfield and Henry K. Miller, and designed by Sara De Bondt.  

DWOSKINO is the culmination of a three-year funded research project, The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin, at the University of Reading, United Kingdom, where his archive is housed. The book is a unique visual distillation, richly illustrated, of Dwoskin’s life and times, with hundreds of never-seen-before images taken from his archive and texts by, among others, Laura Mulvey, Raymond Bellour, Raymond Durgnat, and Dwoskin himself.

The book’s most important contribution is to highlight the breadth of Dwoskin’s creative collaborations … unfixing the persistent stereotype of the lone underground filmmaker and filling out a life that was deeply engaged in the making of art and community.
—Sophia Satchell-Baeza, Sight and Sound

To celebrate the launch of this inspiring new book, Rachel Garfield and Jenny Chamarette (both members of the Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin’s Personal Cinema project) have curated a series of shorts from Dwoskin’s early career in 1960s New York, and late career in London of the 1990s and 2000s.

After the screening there will be a short discussion between Rachel Garfield and Jenny Chamarette (University of Reading, UK), chaired by Mara Mills (NYU), and a Q&A.

There will also be an opportunity to buy the book.

Screening list

Alone 1964, 12 minutes
A series of mostly static, often discontinuous shots of a girl alone in bed, “half-heartedly trying not to masturbate” as Raymond Durgnat put it, Alone set the pattern for half-a-dozen of Stephen Dwoskin’s shorts, and was the culmination of a series of attempts with at least two different actors. The girl in the final version was Zelda Nelson, roommate of Beverly Grant, one of the stars of the New York underground. (Henry K. Miller)

Alone is a major departure into projecting feelings and senses of loneliness, timelessness, and the sensual self. The film presents moments that are passing tones in any life, yet far from registering a passive despair, it protests against a traditional culture which is unable to confront such moments and passes them by as both trivial and obscene. (Stephen Dwoskin)

Me Myself and I 1968, 14 minutes
A couple confined in a bathroom, while away the day. “In a film like Me, Myself and I the presence of the camera is by the consciousness of avoidance. Equally, in all these films the “themes” are about relationships (with each other, with the self; with the self, the camera and the other–which becomes the viewer!) (I think it’s [these] combinations that [bring] into play a “dynamic of glances” that Paul Willemen (and Laura Mulvey) theorised as a fourth look!).” (Denis Bouvier)

Asleep 1961, 3 minutes
Stephen Dwoskin’s first film, made in New York, of the feet of his then wife Suzanne Dwoskin during a whole night of sleep contracted into three minutes.

Video Letter (Dear Robert) 1998, 20 minutes
Between February and June, 1991, Robert Kramer and Stephen Dwoskin exchanged several video letters (four by Kramer, three by Dwoskin) shot in Hi8. Kramer’s first three are entitled Hi, Steve, and the fourth, Robert to Steve. Dwoskin’s three letters are entitled Dear Robert.
On the video letters, Dwoskin has said: “It was more like writing, in that you didn’t have to involve anyone else in it. Not including editing was again like doing a written letter—you don’t really edit your letters when you write to friends —so the idea was simply to just do whatever we could in the camera.”

Some Friends (Apart) 2002, 24 minutes
A short and lyrical film about looking, and how that look shapes the relationship between those people whom we call friends; some gone, some found, but all at a distance. This film, a partner to his next film Lost Dreams, is first in a series where Dwoskin reworks older footage, manipulating the shots in Final Cut Pro to transform the visual language in an exploration of the digital software as much as the “look” that preoccupied him throughout his life’s work.

Grandpere’s Pear 2003, 5 minutes
The film is a witty reworking of family found footage that Dwoskin manipulated by repeating and changing its speed. It is formed around a party trick Dwoskin’s favored grandfather performed to the children, peeling a whole pear in one curly tail of pear skin.

Stephen Dwoskin (1939–2012) began his filmmaking career in the New York underground scene of the early 1960s, then moved to London in 1964 on a graphic design Fulbright scholarship. In London he became a leading figure in avant-garde film, and was one of the founders of the London Filmmakers Co-operative (now LUX). Many of his works critiqued the “male gaze” by interrogating power relations through the camera and revealing cruelty and violence in films such as Dyn Amo (1972). Laura Mulvey wrote that he “opened a completely new perspective for me on cinematic voyeurism” and his work was a major influence on her influential work on the male gaze in cinema. From the mid-1970s, several of Dwoskin’s key feature-length films dealt directly with disability such as Behindert (1974), Outside In (1981), and Face of Our Fear (1992). He collaborated with Allan T. Sutherland in 1981 to co-curate a groundbreaking season of films at the National Film Theatre (now BFI) in London, entitled Carry On Cripple. He wrote prescient polemical texts as a disability activist and editor of the Disability Arts Magazine in the 1990s.  Particularly in the period between the late 1960s and early 1980s, Dwoskin’s films were heavily supported by funders such as the TV stations ZDF in Germany and Channel 4 in the UK.  He has had ongoing critical and popular support across continental Europe, winning significant prizes such as the Solvey Prize in Knokke, Belgium (1967), the Gold Ducat in the Mannheim Festival, Germany (1971), and the Bunuel prize for Cinema (1981), and was the first DAAD Artist in Residence for film (1974). In the US, he won a Fullbright (1964) as well as The Rockefeller Foundation Intercultural Film/Video Fellowship (1994). In the 1980s and ’90s, Dwoskin turned to making personal documentaries about disability and diaspora, including Ballet Black (1986) and the autobiographical Trying to Kiss the Moon (1994). Then in the 2000s, increasingly limited in his movements, but liberated from the demands of patrons, he returned to the underground, and to his erotic obsessions, making a series of digital works culminating in The Sun and the Moon (2008), described by Raymond Bellour as an “absolute masterpiece.” Over the course of his half-century-long career, Dwoskin’s path crossed with those of J. G. Ballard, the Ballets Nègres, Bill Brandt, Gavin Bryars, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Ron Geesin, Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann, and Andy Warhol.

–Two flights of stairs lead up to the building’s front entrance at 172 Classon Avenue.  
–For elevator access, please RSVP to program [​at​] e-flux.com. The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space. 
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the Screening Room and this bathroom.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

Disability, Publishing, Art Collectives

Jenny Chamarette is a writer, researcher, and curator. She is Co-Investigator on the interdisciplinary AHRC-funded project The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin’s Personal Cinema and Senior Research Fellow in Art at the University of Reading in the UK. She has articles forthcoming in 2022 in Film Quarterly and MIRAJ (Moving Image Research and Art Journal) on Dwoskin’s disability techno-activism, crip sexuality, and cultural legacy. Her creative non-fiction memoir, Q is for Garden, on queerness and cultivation, was shortlisted for the Fitzcarraldo Essay Prize and longlisted for the Nan Shepherd Prize 2021. Her next monograph, Museums and the Moving Image: Cinemuseology, Cultural Politics, Film is forthcoming with Bloomsbury in 2023. With Creative Director Gaylene Gould and The Space To Come, she is currently curating How Do You Feel Cinema?, a participatory research project for Research England, developing “feeling experiences” for film in collaboration with the British Film Institute and the University of Reading. She sits on the editorial boards of the Film Section for Modern Languages Open, MAI Press (an imprint of Punctum Books) and MAI: Journal of Feminism and Visual Culture.

Rachel Garfield is an artist. She is Professor in Fine Art at the University of Reading and Principle Investigator of a large AHRC funded grant (2019-2021) entitled The Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin’s Personal Cinema. She is author of Experimental Film making and Punk: Feminist Audio Visual Culture of the 1970s and 1980s (Bloomsbury, 2022) and with Henry K. Miller, co-editor of Dwoskino: The Gaze of Stephen Dwoskin (LUX, 2022). Exhibitions and screenings include, The Whitechapel Gallery, The Hatton Gallery, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall, Focal Point, London Short Film Festival, Open City Doc Festival, The Babylon Cinema Berlin, Espaciocentre, Tenerife Espacio De Les Artes, Oranim, Haifa, CCA Santa Fe, Arizona State University Museum, and Aqua Art Fair Miami. Garfield’s work has featured in Amelia Jones, “An ‘Other’ History: Feminist Art in Britain Since 1970,” eds. John Slyce and Phoebe Adler, Contemporary Art in the United Kingdom (Black Dog Publishing, 2015); Julia Steyn, “In the Hinterlands: Identity, Migration & Memory,” eds. Juliet Steyn and Nadja Stamselberg, Breaching Borders: Art, Migrants and the Metaphor of Waste (Tauris, 2014).

Henry K. Miller is the author of The First True Hitchcock, published by University of California Press in 2022, and editor of The Essential Raymond Durgnat, published by BFI/Palgrave Macmillan in 2014. He is a senior research fellow at the University of Reading, and co-editor of DWOSKINO, published by LUX (2022) as part of the Legacies of Stephen Dwoskin’s Personal Cinemaproject. He is a contributor to Sight and Sound and the Times Literary Supplement, and his research has appeared in journals including Screen and the Hitchcock Annual.

Mara Mills is Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. She is co-founder and co-director of the NYU Center for Disability Studies, where she is currently PI for the NSF-funded project How to be Disabled in a Pandemic (link) and co-PI (with PI Simi Linton) on the Mellon and Ford-funded project Proclaiming Disability Arts (link). She is also co-founder and editorial board member for the journal Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience. Most recently, she is the co-editor of Testing Hearing: The Making of Modern Aurality (Oxford, 2020), Crip Authorship: Disability as Method (NYU Press, 2023), and a special issue of Osiris on “Disability and the History of Science” (2023). With Jonathan Sterne, she is writing a book on the history of time-stretching.

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