May 2012, arsenal cinema

Reason Over Passion. Joyce Wieland: A Retrospective with Presentations and Discussions


"I think of Canada as female. All the art I've been doing or will be doing is about Canada. I may tend to overly identify with Canada." (Joyce Wieland, 1931–1998) A sailboat passes by and the word SAILBOAT can be read: the structuralist film reflects the relationship between static text and the moving images – until Hollis Frampton casually steps in front of the running camera from off-screen and a seemingly strictly composed work briefly becomes a home movie. There, at Lake Ontario, the two of them also shot A&B IN ONTARIO (1966–84), a sort of game of hide and seek with the Bolex camera. These films, as well as Wieland's complex reflection on Canada LA RAISON AVANT LA PASSION / REASON OVER PASSION (1969) and 1933, a looped street scene in New York (1967), were obtained by deceased Arsenal staff member Alf Bold in 1993 for our collection. After Joyce Wieland herself died in 1998, we were able to use the experimental film fund bequeathed to us by Alf Bold to obtain seven further films of hers. It gives us great pleasure that the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) has now released the complete works of this outstanding artist as a DVD box-set and will be presenting them at Arsenal.

Joyce Wieland always explored her Canadian origins in critical fashion in her work and confronted genre fixations of any kind with a lust for experimentation, a certain amount of humor and political sharpness. This also included the male dominated idea of a cinematic avant-garde in 1960s New York, which she amongst other things commented on in films such as WATER SARK (1965), HANDTINTING (1967–68), or DRIPPING WATER (1969, together with Michael Snow) by elevating the perspective of the housewife to a structural element. The stop motion films PATRIOTISM and PATRIOTISM PART II (1963–65) are full of irony, as is RAT LIFE AND DIET IN NORTH AMERICA, in which gerbils play the role of political prisoners that fled to Canada. In PIERRE VALLIÈRES (1972), she visualizes the speaking mouth of the eloquent separatists of the Front de Libération de Québec (FLQ), and in SOLIDARITY (1973) the feet of the striking workers at a biscuit factory. Poetic impressions such as BIRDS AT SUNRISE (1986) also find their place in her work, as they do in her only feature film THE FAR SHORE, a melodrama no less interested in exploring Canadian and sexual identity and cinematic genres than the rest of her work.  A personal language of desire and of political resistance as well as the experimental and intelligent treatment of form characterize the artist’s work, which has until now received far too little attention outside Canada. Lauren Howes (CFMDC) and the film scholars and curators Tabea Metzel (FU Berlin), Robin Curtis (NYU Berlin) and Madeleine Bernstorff will introduce the individual films and conclude the series by discussing Wieland's entire oeuvre. Tickets for the whole three-day program are available. A collaboration with the CFMDC (Toronto) and the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. (May 1 –3)

arsenal cinema: Reason Over Passion. Joyce Wieland: A Retrospective with Presentations and Discussions

07:00 pm Cinema 1

Larry's Recent Behaviour


Patriotism Part II

Barbara's Blindness

Peggy's Blue Skylight

Water Sark

Eröffnung Shorts 1963–66:

Larry's Recent Behaviour, Patriotism, Patriotism Part II, Barbara's Blindness, Peggy's Blue Skylight, Water Sark

16 mm OV aprox. 66 min

Introduced by Lauren Howes
arsenal cinema: Magical History Tour: Two Become One

07:30 pm Cinema 2


Stagecoach John Ford USA 1939 16 mm OV 97 min

arsenal cinema: Reason Over Passion. Joyce Wieland: A Retrospective with Presentations and Discussions

09:15 pm Cinema 1

La raison avant la passion / Reason Over Passion

La raison avant la passion/Reason Over Passion Canada 1969

16 mm OV 84 min

Introduced by Lauren Howes