Circles and Sequences: Lis Rhodes and Elisabeth Subrin

28 November 2014 - 31 January 2015
Opening Reception 28 November 2014 7pm


Taking its starting point from the name of the women’s film and video distribution organisation co-founded by Lis Rhodes in the 1970s, this sequence of screenings engages with questions of representation, politics, language and perception.

Friday 28 November – Saturday 13 December 2014
Lis Rhodes Light Reading (1979)
B &W, 16mm transferred to video, 20’

A key experimental feminist filmmaker, Lis Rhodes fuses political intent with material  means to question the ideological underpinnings of the language of cinema, culture, society and politics. Breaking down formal cinematic structures, disconnecting sound and image, narrative and conclusion, and alluding to photography, writing, performance, collage and political analysis, she explores the authority of language. As Rhodes has stated ‘The view through the lens may be blurred or defined-–focused or unfocused–depending on what you think you know; what you imagine you see; what you learn to look for; what you are told is visible.’ In this key work Light Reading (1979) Rhodes creates a space between language and looking. A litany of words, excerpts from Gertrude Stein, questions of ‘she’ and descriptions of moments and acts of looking and reading, plays out against a black screen and juxtaposed with fragmentary letters and numbers, collages, measurements and images. The film insistently addresses questions of female representation, personal drama and female subjectivity.

Lis Rhodes is an artist and filmmaker. After studying Film and Television at the Royal College of Art, she pursued a career as a cinema programmer at the London Filmmakers’ Co-op in the 1970s, cofounding ‘Circles: Women’s Work in Distribution’, the first British organization to distribute women artists’ film and video works. Her films have been screened internationally since the 1970s. Recent exhibitions include; Light Magic, The Tanks, Tate Modern, London, Dissonance and Disturbance, ICA, London (solo) (both 2012). Select screenings include; In person: Lis Rhodes, Film Museum, Vienna, 2009; Essentials: Expression: The Secret Masterpieces of Cinema, Tate Modern, 2008; WACK!: Art and The Feminist Revolution, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, 2007. She lives and works in London, UK.

Tuesday 16 December – Saturday 10 January 2015
Lis Rhodes A Cold Draft (1988)
B & W/Colour, 16mm transferred to video, 30’

Made ten years later, A Cold Draft (1988) engages with the rights of women and broader civil rights in the increasingly privatized environment of Thatcher’s Britain in the 1980s. The voice is employed, in contrast to fragmented collages of still and moving images of landscapes, streets, interiors, industrial exteriors, as well as words and drawings, to speak of the conflicts and uncertainties of a universal female experience.

Tuesday 12 January – Saturday 24 January 2015
Elisabeth Subrin Shulie (1997)
Colour, Super 8 to video to 16mm, 36’ 30”

Elisabeth Subrin engages in a wide range of genres, forms and contexts to create conceptually driven projects in film, video, photography and installations. Her work seeks intersections between history and subjectivity, investigating the nature and poetics of psychological ‘disorder,’ the legacy of feminism, and the impact of recent social and political history on contemporary life and consciousness. In this work Shulie (1997) Subrin remade, almost shot for shot, a rediscovered 1967 film produced by four male graduate students about a young female art student, 22 year-old Shulamith Firestone, in an attempt to create a portrait of the ‘Now’ generation. Two years later, Firestone would write The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution (1970), a key radical in North American feminism, but there are few traces of this future act, and the documentary remained unfound until the mid-1990s. In this layering of the past, 1967 in 1997 vice versa, and re-presenting this film Subrin addresses the legacy of the past within the present moment, have we changed or has progress been made, and if so to what extent? As Kristin M. Jones writes “Shulie is a portrait of one young woman, but it ripples with ghosts and reflections.”

Elisabeth Subrin received a BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute, Chicago. Her award-winning work has been exhibited widely including solo screenings at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Vienna International Film Festival, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Harvard Film Archives, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and in group exhibitions, film festivals and museums internationally including The Whitney Biennial, The Guggenheim Museum, The Walker Art Center, The New York Film Festival, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Select recent exhibitions include; Damage Report, ICA, Philadelphia, (2014, solo); Lost Tribes and Promised Lands, Vox Populi, Philadelphia (solo) (2013); Anti-Establishment, The Hessel Museum at Bard College, Henceforth and Forever Free, The Haggerty Museum of Art (both 2012); Neighbo(u)rhood, The Mattress Factory Art Museum, Pittsburgh, Shulie: Film and Stills, The Jewish Museum, New York (all 2011); Elisabeth Subrin: Compulsion to Repeat, Sue Scott Gallery, New York (solo); Greater New York, PS1 and MOMA, New York (all 2010). A Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Sundance Institute fellow, Subrin lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches in the Film and Media Arts Program at Temple University.

Image credit: Lis Rhodes, A Cold Draft (film still), 1988. Courtesy of Lis Rhodes and LUX, London