Women Artists

New York’s women on film

Chiara Clemente's "Our City Dreams" at Art Basel

“I want to back away from traditional documentaries on artists, which are talking heads plus work.” Those were the words of director Chiara Clemente—whose film “Our City Dreams” opened the Art Basel Art Film programme in Basel on Sunday—to The New York Times last year. Her comments were made while she was still working on her film, a portrait of five generations of artists, all of them women, living and working in New York City. The completed project is not the radical kick in the pants that her remarks anticipated, but proved to be an engaging and life-affirming celebration of the artists’ lives that gives them the space to explain who they are, why they do what they do and why in particular they felt they had to do it in New York. Clemente followed the five—Swoon, Ghada Amer, Kiki Smith, Marina Abramovic (above) and Nancy Spero—for two years, documenting the progress of their careers alongside private moments with friends and families. “Our City Dreams” was a feel-good film to start the programme. And given some of the more demanding inclusions in the selection—particularly Isidore Isou’s rediscovered Letterist manifesto “Venom and Eternity” from 1951— a suitably positive introduction to the week. The producers are hoping to get it onto forthcoming film festival schedules and a DVD release is expected soon for all those who missed it.

Appeared in TAN Daily - Basel , June 2008