The Feminine in Experimental Film


These are edited notes on The Feminine in experimental film.  


I use Julia Kristeva’s concept of the ‘semiotic’ [1]  to make an analogy with the poetic or ‘semiotic’ as a register in experimental film which is founded on a physical engagement with material and which often incorporates aspects of rhythm and sound.  I use the analogy of ‘the feminine’,  for this register which is the production of an irreducible ‘extra’ that is not locatable to any one source but is invested in the film as a text and in its enunciation.


The ‘feminine’ then is a structure which resists codes of stable language and symbolic and totalising representations. The feminine as a modality in experimental film can be part of the ‘subjective’ when it is understood as not just a stable construction of a fixed autobiographical subject but mediated through material engagement and often the need to speak in, within and through film as a material. 


At the LFMC, experimental film practices engaged with analogue aesthetics based on the ontology of film as a medium and the experimentation with visual forms and I am calling this intersection of material engagement and subjective inscription, the ‘feminine’ in experimental film. 


The ‘feminine’ is also a structure which emerges through the process of the engagement with material in a deep and close work with representation as a form of ‘pressure’ on the image and which produces representations which convey intensity which in turn communicate with the viewer.  


The ‘feminine’ register in experimental film is produced from the relationship of the material engagement within the ethos of the LFMC combined with an emphasis on subjective and a psychic investment in this process.     [2]  These signifiers create representations of an ‘intense subject’ signaled through the tropes of the subjective but still interruptive of linear narrative through techniques of fragmentation, repetition, editing, speed, intercutting, juxtaposition, unstable spatialisation etc., which can be deployed to perform a rhetoric of authorship.[3] 


The ‘feminine’ therefore as I conceive of it is a structure of intersecting signifiers that can combine all or any moment; production methods, material engagement, often display of virtuoso skill, authorial enunciation as a form of self-inscription which is necessary for the artist.


©Nina Danino  2019

[1]  See: Julia Kristeva (1984), Revolution in Poetic Language, New York: Columbia University Press.

[2] See Stabat Mater (1990),  Neon Queen (1982),  Night Dances (1994), Light Readings (1984). “Now I am yours” (1992), Eros Erosion (1990) and others.

[3] See Nina Danino (2002), ‘The Intense Subject’  in Nina Danino, Michael Maziere (eds ), .The Undercut Reader: Critical Writings on Artists’ Film and Video, London/New York: Columbia University Press, p. 11.