I am currently a doctoral researcher at the University of Westminster and am in receipt of Techne funding.
My project rehabilitates the London-based feminist film distributors Circles and Cinenova, through archival research and my own film and performance art practice. Founded in 1979, Circles was a volunteer-run collective dedicated to promoting and distributing the work of women artists and film-makers working with media which did not fit conventional models of filmmaking, such as video, tape-slide and performance. Joining with fellow feminist film distributor Cinema of Women to become Cinenova in 1991 the organisation fulfilled a
vital role in promoting feminist concerns through film and video until it lost funding, in 2000.
My project will undertake primary research in the Cinenova archive and through interviews with key figures involved in its operations. My aim is to bring to attention Circles’ and Cinenova's significant role, and its continued relevance, for current feminist scholars and artists, and more widely. Another principal concern of my research is the safeguarding and dissemination of archival materials, which I argue can offer a unique insight into feminist culture in the UK between 1979 and 2000.
Through my archival research, I will interrogate how Circles and Cinenova reflected critical changes in feminist infrastructure and concerns as the decade progressed. How did its touring film programmes and educational initiatives engage new audiences and promote a more intersectional feminism? How did the organisation survive and function in the face of changing economic pressures? I will use my own art practice to question how the works distributed by Cinenova brought methods of formal experiment to feminist politics, developing on my recent artwork such as my tape-slide commission Welcome to Coventry for Vivid Projects, Birmingham. Working across a number of the analogue media they utilised, such as tape-slide performance, Super-8 film and Umatic
MRes Art: Moving Image
Circles was a feminist film distributor specialising in the promotion of artist film/video, works by early women filmmakers and performance art. It was set up circa 1980 by several women who had made and distributed their films through London Film-Makers' Co-op. After taking on Cinema of Women's catalogue in 1991, Circles became Cinenova and still operates as a volunteer-run organisation.
In my thesis Circles: An Investigation of Women’s Work in Distribution, I assessed how successful the women’s film and video distributor Circles was as a feminist project. Focusing on Circles’ beginnings as a volunteer-run organisation in 1980 through to their loss of Greater London Council (GLC) funding in 1987. I looked at Circles’ various promotional strategies, such as feminist research into historical films by women, acquiring such works and programming them alongside the contemporary films and videos in their collection, with particular reference to the touring programme ‘Her Image Fades as Her Voice Rises’. Circles’ specific strategies of promotion and programming are investigated, focusing on the promotion of performance and performative works and women-only screenings. I also analysed how works were framed for promotion, how programmes and packages were put together and to whom they were marketed, using Arrows 1984 as a case study. I investigated the strategies Circles used to acquire and to promote works made by women of colour from the UK and around the world, and how Circles responded to the needs of women of colour by creating an environment in which they were happy to work and/or to place their films for distribution, focusing on Sari Red (Pratibha Parmar 1984). I used three case studies to chart various points in Circles development and how they reflect changes in feminism.
Through attending the MRes Art: Moving Image pathway at Central Saint Martins (in association with LUX), I gained an excellent foundation in the study of artists' moving image. The MRes also helped me to establish significant contacts in the field. I have done voluntary work at the British Artist Film and Video study collection, which is also where I have undertaken the bulk of my self-initiated research since graduating. I have helped LUX with a research project on Artists' Moving Image in Hackney, researching films, locations, interviewing artists and using archives. I have also done voluntary work for Professor Julia Knight on her film and video database.