Independent Frames: American Experimental Animation in the 1970s and 1980s
From morphing bodies engaged in rapturous copulation (Desire Pie) to disembodied parts (The Club, Seed Reel), artists respond to the waning sexual revolution and the women’s movement, expressing agency and stimulation while at the same time depicting complex forms of desire.
Post-screening discussion with Lisa Crafts.
Total running time approx. 72 mins.
Suzan Pitt, 1973, 16mm, 3 min, color, sound
Irene Duga, 1968, 16mm, 3 min color, sound
Don Duga, 1964, 16mm, 6 min, color, sound
Mary Beams, 1972, digital, 2 min, color, sound
Mary Beams, 1975, 16mm, 4 min, color, sound
George Griffin, 1975, digital, 4 min, color, sound
Maureen Selwood, 1980, digital, 12 min, color, sound
Lisa Crafts, 1976, 16mm, 5 min, color, sound
Suzan Pitt, 1971, 16mm, 7 min, color, sound
Adam Beckett, 1974, 16mm, 6 min, color, sound
Suzan Pitt, 1979, 35mm, 20 min, color, sound
Lisa Crafts is an animator and moving image artist based in New York, where she teaches in the Film and Video Department at the Pratt Institute. Her 1976 film Desire Pie was a pivotal work in the field of American independent and experimental animation, expressing humor, fantasy and sexuality in a complex and entertaining way. The film was restored in 2008 through the Women’s Film Preservation Fund by New York Women in Film and Television, who also selected her 1982 film Glass Gardens for restoration. Lisa Crafts’ work over the decades has focused on environmental uncertainty, sexuality, creativity and chaos. She has screened widely and received numerous grants and fellowships. In December 2017, she worked with students at the Pratt Institute to realize BLINK, BURN, a multimedia performance and collaboration with the New World Symphony which premiered at Art Basel Miami Beach.
Independent Frames is supported by the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation and the Cinema Studies Department at the University of Pennsylvania
Independent Frames: American Experimental Animation in the 1970s + 1980s
This series examines the work of a group of American artists who approached film through independently-produced, frame-by-frame animations in the 1970s and 80s. Made primarily by artists with no formal animation training, the selection of films in this programme incorporates autobiography, visual fantasy, abstraction, medium specificity and biting satire. Several works were broadcast at the time and others distributed on home video, affording these artists a level of success and reach beyond that which other artist-filmmakers of their era could attain. Building on the work of earlier generations of experimental animators such as Mary Ellen Bute, Standish Lawder, Harry Smith and Stan Vanderbeek – some of whose works are included in these screenings – this new generation of filmmakers elaborated on inherited techniques and proceeded to pioneer their own. Some artists explored cel and hand-drawn animation (Sally Cruikshank, Suzan Pitt, Mary Beams) while others explored new directions in kinetic collage (Frank Mouris, Paul Glabicki). Some used flicker and abstraction (Robert Russett, Adam Beckett, Barry Spinello) and others explored the affective potential of film through psychedelic fantasy (Sky David, Lisa Crafts). Through five screening programmes, Independent Frames: American Experimental Animation in the 1970s + 1980s highlights themes of the body and sexuality, abstraction and psychedelia, structure and composition, autobiographical reflection and the influence of commercial animation. Lending historical context to recent developments in both animation studies and the role of animation in contemporary art, the series is a timely investigation of this era of invention and energy in experimental animation, suggesting a landscape of artists whose work needs to be considered anew.
Independent Frames is curated by Herb Shellenberger.