Films by Joyce Wieland

Nine short works by the Canadian avant-garde filmmaker Joyce Wieland, most of them completed in New York between 1963 and '68. At once fancifully humorous and quietly poetic, her work uses imagery to build a loose, open sense of space: in Catfood (1968) a cat consumes several dead fish while “natural” wave sounds suggest the fishes' former habitat and ironically parallel the cat's rhythmic munching, and Hand Tinting (1967) shows a group of women seen mostly against bare walls, the editing and tinting transforming them into larger-than-life figures. Rat Life and Diet in North America (1968) is one of the oddest and most moving films of the avant-garde: it shows rats being kept captive by cats, then escaping to Canada, where they take up organic gardening. An allegory about Vietnam-era draft resisters, it ultimately becomes a meditation on freedom, but what makes it affecting are the free-floating relationships between images—and images and text.

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