Soft Fiction (1979)
16mm transferred to video, black and white, sound, 54 minutes
26 March until 15 April 2016
Screening at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm
1 April 2016, 7–9pm
(film begins at 7:30pm, with an introduction by Kunstverein München film curator Vincent Stroep and Chris Fitzpatrick)
It’s a polyphonic disclosure of erotic and taboo experiences, told from embodied female perspectives. American filmmaker and educator Chick Strand’s 54-minute, black-and-white masterpiece Soft Fiction (1979) is structured around a series of interviews with five women. All artists and thinkers, the women recount fantasies, sexual adventures, or traumas directly to the camera, with a profound intimacy and sincerity only Strand could solicit.
Drawing from her studies in anthropology, Strand (1931–2009) produced what she called ‘ethnographies of women’. This unique field of inquiry made her a key figure within experimental and independent film movements, as did her idiosyncratic maneuvering of the camera, her use of appropriated materials, her blending of avant-garde techniques with the conventions of documentary and ethnographic film, and her ability to convey the experiences of others despite a profound knowledge of the camera’s affective presence — the abstraction, voyeurism, and fictionality inherent to any documentary account or testimony.
Indeed, with Soft Fiction Strand traverses the ‘soft’ complicated borders between desire and abuse, confession and construction, fiction and documentary. The ‘softness’ of soft-core pornography is also recalled through the film’s atmospheric soundtrack, but Strand’s use of music and symbolic non-diegetic audio furthers the sense of an interconnected narrative emerging from her point-blank framing, unusual vignettes, and rhythmic editing.
Soft Fiction isn’t soft. Strand starkly counters the lingering objectification of women and their sexuality in cinematic representation, yet the rawness is difficult to witness: objectophilia, oral sex, incest, drug addiction, WWII. From that weight, a complex relationship between the five subjects emerges, with each woman’s words affecting how the others are understood. What culminates is affirming and inspiring — a collective story of passion, exploration, resistance, redemption, and survival.
SOFT FICTION /
FILM BY CHICK STRAND (c) Copyright by Chick Strand, 1979 /
DEATH AND THE MAIDEN /
GO BY ME, AH, GO BY ME GRIM REAPER. /
DON’T DENY ME THE DREAMS OF MY YOUTH. /
GIVE ME YOUR HAND, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR FROM ME. /
I COME AS A FRIEND NOT AS AN AVENGER. /
BE OF GOOD HEART AND SLEEP FREE IN MY ARMS /
FAR FROM DANGER /
IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE AMY HALPREN BEVERLE HOUSTON KAREN AMEND MELISSA LOU BEAL SIMONE GAD JOHANNA DEMETRAKIS SNOOPY CATHY FREEMAN HEDY SONTAG VICTORIA MUDD CYNTHIA MAC ADAMS /
HOLLYWOOD TUJUNGA 1976-1979