EMMEDIA presents:
A screening of Feminist Video Art by Canadian Women
Curated by Sharon Stevens

Wednesday, October 26, 2011 @ 8 – 9:30PM
EMMEDIA Screening Room
Admission is FREE

[Click here to view the program brochure with Sharon Stevens' curatorial essay and artist biographies]

Connective is a short, curated program of feminist media artworks by Canadian women. The program will merely touch the surface but will showcase a zap of inspiration, tenure a tingly tutoring and spark conversation.

In a one hour program of shorts Connective will be the nerve that binds us to the 100’s of feminist media artworks produced in Canada since the middle 1970s.

Connective is also an opportunity to celebrate Women’s History Month and to acknowledge the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day and that on October 18th 1929 women were declared ‘persons’ by the Supreme Court (white women that is — as Asians were denied the right to vote until 1947 and Indigenous people couldn’t vote in Canadian elections without giving up their treaty rights until 1960).


Mulberry Red, #17 by Kelly Ann Beaton
(6:00 min, 1999, 16mm)

A person’s life can be measured in a number of ways – minutes, days, years… and even lipsticks. Mulberry Red, No. 17 tells the story of women’s lives as chronicled by a lipstick. Making a film reflecting women’s lives from a common dominator like lipstick was a herland favourite. We met in St. Johns NFLD at the Womens Film Festival in 2000 and I’m pleased to include this film in the Connective program.

Before Two Portraits of My Mother by Lorna Jamison
(1:44 min, 2005, 16 mm)

An interpretation of Émile Nelligan’s poem Before Two Portraits of My Mother, this piece uses old footage compiled with new and projected. It’s a wonderful use of performance with film. Lorna was a graduate of the 2005 In:Camera Film Production Workshop. Women-led and women-only, the intensive ten-day workshops graduated 62 women in 6 years.

India Hearts Beat by Leila Sujir
(14:00 min, 1988, Video/Super 8 )

The lives of three women from different generations and cultural backgrounds are woven together in an electronic tapestry, using real and surreal landscapes. The narrative conveyed through performance and text by Ruth Horricks-Sujir, Rachna Joshi, and Leila Sujir, focuses on notions of homesickness and cultural displacement – travelling not as a tourist, but as a foreigner. The film footage, shot in India, is reprocessed, making a river of images that becomes a place of memory and imagination, encircled by the fabric of the narrative and the video itself.

Pugnacious by Sandi Somers and Brigitte Dajczer
(6:00 min, 2000, Video)

Sweaty men may be sexy men, but are sweaty women glorified in the same way? As the two characters challenge themselves physically and mentally, the viewer can’t help but be torn by the raw, seeming loss of their “femininity”, contrasted with a beautiful boxing dancer in the knockout sequence that follows. With nothing but the sounds of the ring, these female fighters unknowingly deconstruct the pop culture bullies we often dream of being. Glamourized aggression is placed into a context emptied of ever-present mass media stereotypes. Visceral and intriguing, Pugnacious offers the viewer six minutes of intense curiosity, involvement, suspense and yes….a final champion.

Part of a trilogy and installation called Exploring the Bully Within, this was an incredibly powerful video installation work that was exhibited at The New Gallery in 2000. One of the video pieces was installed in an old arcade game while others were projected on the wall. There was boxing, underwater fighting (there were moments in this piece when it almost looked like underwater ballet, it was both violent and beautiful) and a fight between Barbie dolls with Brigitte dressed up in a cow outfit and Sandi dressed as a cowgirl. – Tammy McGrath

Drawing the Line by Lorna Boschman
(7:30 min, 1992, Video)

A tape about the photo exhibition of the same name created by Kiss & Tell, a group of lesbian artists including Persimmon Blackbridge, Lizard Jones and Susan Stewart, a Vancouver-based collective whose work examined lesbian sexuality and censorship. Spectators, participants or voyeurs were invited to write comments about images depicting a range of sexual practices between women. The soundtrack is equal part girls making out, and the voices of women who produced and/or experienced the show. Chock full of opinions about the most fiercely debated aspects of erotica and porn, Drawing The Line steps into the fray as a solid documentation of a pulse-taking art event.

I think that Kiss and Tell was VERY important to the lesbian community during the identity politics of that time and it started a movement. I believe at that time the women’s / gay/ lesbian book store (Little Sister’s Books, Vancouver) was being forced to shut down due to censorship and confiscation of their books due to gay content. There were a lot of battles happening then. It was a revolutionary time for queers. – Sandi Somers

Tee Hee Hee by Ling Chiu
(3:32 min, 1995, 16mm)

A student of the film program at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Ling Chiu makes a powerful statement in Tee Hee Hee. It was essential to include a piece on the Montreal Massacre in this program and Tee Hee Hee is stirring memorial to the women killed at L’École Polytechnique on December 6, 1989. Screened at herland in 1995, the piece and is simple and thought provoking without being dramatic or documentary in style. It is certain to leave viewers with a lasting impression.

herland reflected and responded to harsh realities and served to politicize women at a time when feminism was being neutralized, if not delegitimized. The much-heralded death of feminism took a horribly literal turn with the Montreal massacre. It was in this period, in this hostile climate, that herland sprouted, was nurtured and grew. – Mutriba Din and Sandy Dobrowolsky, The Herland Chronicle, 1999

Spirit of the Bluebird by Xstine Cook
(5:49 min, 2011, Animation)

Xstine Cook lives in the house behind the spot where Gloria Black Plume was murdered in 1999. For 11 years, she sought contact with Gloria’s family and searched for an artist to create a memorial mural. This film is the result of that search. Using spray paint on a fence and garage where the Aboriginal mother and grandmother was brutally killed, Cree artist Jesse Gouchey creates a large scale animation of a bluebird in flight. The beauty and freedom of the bluebird’s motion is contrasted with memories of Gloria’s surviving family members, who provide an emotional glimpse of a woman lost to violence and the injustice of the legal system.

“I’m an artist, so you believe art can change the world. I don’t know how it will change the world. I just hope that people remember her. People have memories of her being a happy and loving person, so for her life to end like that is so wrong.” – Xstine Cook, Film review by Craig Palmer, “Spirit of the Bluebird animation soars”, FFWD Weekly, September 22, 2011.

Your Name in Cellulite by Gail Noonan
(6:00 min, 1995, VHS/35mm/Animation)

A wickedly funny satire about the disparity between a woman’s natural beauty and the ideal promoted by the mega-billion dollar advertising industry, this animated film shows how far we will go to change the shape of our bodies to meet the demands of an impossible image. However, our heroine can only maintain her picture-perfect exterior if she restrains her body’s natural spontaneity. Your Name in Cellulite ponders visually the point at which the body will say “Enough is enough!” and take matters into its own hands. Humour is an effective way to reach, teach and connect, and Noonan’s work embodies this with outrageous animation that dispels misconceptions about women. As Noonan explains, “Society often promotes the notion that women don’t exist as they are created, they are made.”

Super by Shawna Dempsey and Lori Milan
(2:44 min, 2009, Video)

What would a feminist superhero look like? Could she leap tall buildings in a single bound? Could she bend steel with her bare hands? What would her name be? Would anyone remember it? Commissioned by the Art Building Community Symposium of the Winnipeg-based organization Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art, performance artists Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan have created an aging superhero with unusual powers. Watch as the spandex-clad hero wrestles the notion of “super” to the ground! In light of reality TV and celebrity culture, where everyone who wants to be a superstar, can be, does “super” still exist at all?


CONSPIRACY AGAINST CANCER: Raise Money in the Red Room
Free Masons Temple – 330 12 Ave SW
5:30 – 7:30PM
$40.00 cash at the door

Intrigued to know what lies behind the locked doors of the Free Masons Temple? Join the Conspiracy against Breast Cancer and experience the mysteries of the inner sanctum for yourself … and support women in breast cancer treatment. Just $40 gets you into the Temple’s spectacular Red Room and into the Daughters of the Eastern Star Dining Room, where you’ll enjoy a fabulous Wine & Cheese Tasting, a short program of culcha, and the chance to score intriguing items in the Shhhhhhhhhh!!! Silent Auction. Proceeds support EAR (Elephant Artists’ Relief) Fund and women facing financial hardship while undergoing cancer treatment.

Call Sharon Stevens at 403-463-6616 for more info.


Like art, revolutions come from combining what exists into what has never existed before.
- Gloria Steinem

Sharon Stevens, an award-winning video artist and activist, is an instigator who’s made a career of integrating art, activism, feminism, and social justice into a series of projects that enlighten, enliven and entertain.

A life-long grass roots community activist, Sharon was the recipient of the William Irvine Award for Social and Environmental Justice in 2010. In congratulating the Unitarian Church of Calgary for their recognition of Sharon, the board and staff at The Arusha Centre described Stevens as, “a deeply rooted Calgarian who brings gusto to our City’s social justice and sustainability work.”

Since 1989, Sharon has worked as an independent video producer with a firm commitment to production values that include collective process and feminist analysis. She describes her interest in video and visuals as intersecting with audio to create a safe, unified, audio-visual space to “collect” stories. Her unique approach to storytelling has been evident from her earliest works such as PMS Hotline, through to her 1996 award-winning documentary, Doodlebugs: the Video, and her current projects such as Ox: Crash Course with its audio podcast walking tour, and her community engagement work with Id Collective where telephone and answering machines are used to collect stories today.

In addition to her own creative work, Sharon has served on boards for a number of artist-run centres in Calgary, including six years of volunteering for herland feminist film and video festival. During her tenure with the festival, she co-founded herland’s InCamera Film/Video Production Workshop, where she shared skills with emerging artists as one of the program’s facilitator/mentors. She currently sits on the board of the Calgary Folk Music Festival and the Alberta Media Arts Alliance.

As a feminist art practitioner, Sharon has not shied away from challenging cultural norms. Her 1991 collaborative project, Video Graffiti (with Not a Pretty Picture Productions) was screened on sidewalks from inside a newspaper box. It included Condom Nation, a short video that examined safer sexuality and PMS Hotline, a confessional exploration of menstruation and PMS. Her work is rooted in the personal, but don’t expect a Dr. Phil moment. For Sharon not only is the personal political, the political is personal and her work continues to be animated by her engagement with her community and by her commitment to work for the well-being of the planet through activism in the arts, or is it art in activism?

- Nancy Jo Cullen, poet, author, feminist

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