International Conference on Feminism/Theory/Film

Critical Intersections in the Practice and Theorization of Experimental Filmmaker since the 1970s

This interdisciplinary conference focuses on the rich intersections and critical conversations between feminist film theory and experimental filmmaking in the German-speaking world and beyond since the 1970s. Scholars from a variety of disciplines will trace the emergence of an intersectional feminist activism as it finds expression in experimental films that reflect on the imbrication of issues of gender, sexuality, race, and subjectivity with new technologies, media, and their global infrastructures.

All events are free and open to the public.


conference schedule

Day 1 | Thursday, February 28, 2019

Giovanna Zapperi, Professor for the History of Contemporary Art, Université de Tours“Undoing the Diva: Delphine Seyrig’s Feminist Videos in the 1970s”

10:00amWelcome and Opening Remarks
LocationCrater Lake South, EMU, University of Oregon
SpeakerSonja Boos, Associate Professor of German, University of Oregon
10:15am – 12:15pmPanel 1: Video Production as Feminist Action (1970s/80s)
LocationCrater Lake South, EMU, University of Oregon
ModeratorLisa Hoeller, Dept. of German & Scandinavian, University of Oregon
PresenterGiovanna Zapperi, Professor for the History of Contemporary Art, Université de Tours
“Undoing the Diva: Delphine Seyrig’s Feminist Videos in the 1970s”
PresenterJulia LesageProfessor Emerita of English, University of Oregon
“Lessons from Practice—Making Thrifty Media”
2:00pm – 4:45pmPanel 2: (Sub)Urban Housing / Domestic Spheres
LocationCrater Lake South, EMU, University of Oregon
ModeratorRoland Spalinger, University of Zürich & Dept. of German & Scandinavian, University of Oregon
PresenterRembert Hüser, Professor of Media Studies, Goethe University, Frankfurt
“Back to the Living Room”
PresenterBenjamin Mier-Cruz, Instructor of Swedish and Scandinavian, University of Oregon
“Sweden’s New York Realness: To be Young, Queer, and Black in Swedish Women’s Filmmaking.”
PresenterDorothee Ostmeier, Professor of German, University of Oregon
“Feminine Queer Desire as Aesthetic Hyper-object: Experimental Short Films by Female Director Duo Lena Sieckmann und Miriam Gossing”
6:00pm – 8:00pmFilm Screening and Discussion with the Artists
LocationCenter for Art Research, University of Oregon: 510 Oak St, Eugene, OR 97401
Works byMiriam Gossing and Lina Sieckman
Euan MacDonal 

 Day 2 | Friday, March 1, 2019

9:30am – 12:15pmPanel 3: “Transnational, Intersectional, Digital and Embodied (Post)feminism”
LocationCrater Lake South, EMU, University of Oregon
ModeratorJeffrey S. Librett, Professor of German, University of Oregon
PresenterCarrie Smith, Professor and Chair of German Studies, Modern Languages & Cultural Studies, University of Alberta, Edmonton
PresenterJenny Lin, Assistant Professor of Contemporary Art with Asian Focus and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History of Art & Architecture, University of Oregon
“Notes on Translation: Kate Hers’ German Speaking Project and Patty Chang’s Product Love”
PresenterAngelica Fenner, Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in the Department of Germanic Languages & Literatures, University of Toronto
“Posthumanist Performativities in Nanouk Leopold’s Brownian Movement”
2:00pm – 4:45pmPanel 4: Materiality, Memory, Perception
LocationCrater Lake South, EMU, University of Oregon
ModeratorKenneth S. Calhoon, Professor of German, University of Oregon
PresenterSangita Gopal, Associate Professor of English, University of Oregon
“Women’s Media: The Feminist Roots of Video in India”
PresenterCecilia Enjuto Rangel, Associate Professor of Spanish and Dir. of Graduate Studies, University of Oregon
“The Balcony and the Beehive, Girls and Ghosts in En el balcón vacío (1962) and El espíritu de la colmena (1973)”
PresenterKate Mondloch, Professor and Department Head, History of Art and Architecture, University of Oregon
“Critical Proximity: Pipilotti Rist’s Exhibited Interfaces and the Contemporary Art Museum”
Panel descriptions

Video Production as Feminist Action (in the 70s and 80s)

Giovanna Zapperi’s paper looks at Delphine Seyrig’s video production in the 1970s and her use of video as a political tool. Seyrig was both one of the leading actresses of 1960s–1970s French cinema, and a media and feminist activist working collectively with other filmmakers such as Carole Roussopoulos, Ioana Wieder and Nadja Ringart. Her videos (mostly filmed and edited collectively) such as Scum Manifesto, Sois belle et tais-toi [Be beautiful and shut up] and Maso et Miso vont en bateau [Maso and Miso go boating] (all 1976) are exemplary of a disobedient media practice combining humour, social critique and the emergence of a feminist gaze. Moreover, Seyrig’s meditation on her work as an actress, as well as on the patriarchal structures sustaining the film industry, strongly resonates with recent debates prompted by the #metoo movement.

Julia Lesage’s paper will reflect on her adult life as a Marxist/Feminist activist, journal publisher, and video maker. She will speak about how this work always came alongside her academic life, when she had a job, or was paid for by her unemployment check, when she didn’t. Lesage had middle class married woman’s privilege, that is, someone to pay the household bills. She would like to take this time to reflect on the political artist’s relation to money, or perhaps just the independent media artist’s, and also that of the political activist, especially in the historical period that encompasses dher life. She will argue that thrifty artistic media is  artisanal, has to be made with the long view in mind since a project may take a long time to complete, and requires the ability to put in hours of unpaid work. That’s why lots of folks working in this way may need a job that gives health insurance, or else a mate who has one. Similarly, in the seventies and eighties, anti-Vietnam-War organizers (we called them Movement organizers) often lived in the houses of like-minded friends who gave them free room and board. Times have changed, and future academics become burdened with debt as students; they may not have this kind of time for big artistic or political commitments. Lesage’s own conviction is that politically committed art and other media projects should eschew grants, which compromise independence and waste precious time.

Sangita Gopal’s paper will focus on the avant-doc in India especially its connections to the feminist movement of the 1970s/1980s with particular emphasis on video as an alternate source of news that generates data for feminist action. The 1970s witnessed the beginnings of alternative media practices in India and anchoring this new media revolution was pioneering embrace of video technology by the women’s movement. Though video – a new technology at this time – did not necessarily acquire the countercultural vanguardist status it had elsewhere in the world, Gopal will argue that video did de-centralize and democratize media production through collectives such as Yugantar and CENDIT. These collectives’ conception of the political documentary was fully anchored by the connections between media and feminist action being forged by filmmakers such as Yugantar founder Deepa Dhanraj, CENDIT member Akhila Iyer, feminists Kamla Bhasin and Anjali Monteiro. They sought to capture through video events not being reported by “big” media that could then be used as “evidence” for feminist activism. But they also used video virally – to create networks of information and action. Gopal will also touch upon the first artistically insurgent uses of video produced by the collective, MediaStorm, that used the “low-tech” pirate aesthetics of video to create media that repudiated not only the economic but also the aesthetic regimes that the state and media industries had used to figure gender as an object of social attention.

(Sub)urban Housing / Domestic Spheres

Rembert Hueser’s paper will examine how in the 2010s, the alleged specialists of the domestic sphere go back home again in order to analyze the public sphere. They do not really care about the bedroom, and they do not really care about the kitchen – those famous boring sites of religion and childcare. What they want to understand, in the very first place, is the living room and the way it is furnished. So they start to look for furniture that is lost and that may help one understand what is going on, in political terms, in Germany at the moment. Hueser’s paper will look at experimental investigations into schizo-fantasies of separate spheres and Systembauweisen in the films of Alex Gerbaulet, Susann Maria Hempel and Henrike Naumann.

Benjamin Mier-Cruz’s paper focues on films shot nearly forty years apart by two white Swedish women filmmakers travelled to New York City and documented black youth. In Inger Marklund and Anders Ribbsjö’s documentary Lekplats Broadway [Playground Broadway] (1977), Swedish narration and subtitles overlay images of precocious children of color living in the inner city, as they reflect on the contrasts between urban and rural environments, criminality and morality, and the differences, if any, between humans and animals. In Kiki (2016), Sara Jordenö documents the self-made families, called Houses, by LGBTQ+ youth of color within the drag and voguing scene known as ball culture. The children’s daily fear of losing their lives and housing in Lekplats Broadway and the survivalist familial house-building in Kiki stand in stark contrast to the Swedish welfare state founded on the idea of folkhemmet (the people’s home), the social democratic idea that envisions the whole of society as a small family unit that excludes no one and looks after one another. Additionally, the vocal and physical presence of the Swedish women filmmakers in both films contribute to the historical casting of black bodies as the object of the ‘double-sighted’ sympathetic and interrogating white gaze. Mier-Cruz’s paper will explore the parallel ‘do-it-yourself’ rehabilitation of urban living and loving by black youth and Swedish women filmmakers.

Dorothee Ostmeier’s paper will focus on short films by female director duo Lina Sieckmann und Miriam Gossing to explore the cinematographic layers that link the films’ documentary agenda to surreal visual montages and poetic feminine voice-overs. Selected films will be placed in dialogue with Timothy Morton’s concept of the “hyperobject.” Can these films be viewed as aesthetic hyperart/hyperexpression? The theoretical framework will highlight the tensions between the films’ powerful aesthetics and feminine queer desire as they decenter socially ingrained dualisms. Film clips and excerpts from interviews with the artists will accompany the presentation and add a personal perspective towards negotiating authenticity in working with the
medium of film and the complex realities of the film industry in Germany and America. Theodor Adorno’s concepts of the culture industry will guide this discussion. 

“Transnational, Intersectional, Digital and Embodied Feminisms"

Carrie Smith’s will explore the creative interchange between performance art and digital feminisms on the basis of activist-oriented video that explicitly leverages the digital medium, whether intended for website publications or social-network dissemination. Leaning on Jasbir Puar’s theorization of the term vitality as fusing the corporeal with the transnational as well as Johanna Drucker’s conception of the performative materiality of digital technologies, I will look to recent works by Germany-based activist-artists such as Reyhan Şahin, Milo Poiré and Noah Sow. Their use of digital video to conceptually challenge notions of race, whiteness, and sexual violence at the foundation of contemporary German society also mobilizes the messiness,
discord, and creative possibilities inherent to the virtual medium.

Jenny Lin’s paper presents experimental art projects created within/about German culture by Asian American women artists Kate Hers and Patty Chang. The diverse projects both utilize a prismatic cross-cultural lens to explore, embody, and deconstruct identity formation within German cultural and linguistic contexts. In the durational performance and conceptual art piece, The German Speaking Project (das deutschsprachliche Projekt) (2008), Berlin-based Korean American artist Kate Hers speaks only non-native German for multiple months, revealing how language informs self-construction and transnational identification. LA-based Chinese American artist Patty Chang’s video installation, The Product Love (Die Ware Liebe) (2009), employs character actors and translators to reenact and translate a 1928 meeting and interview between German philosopher Walter Benjamin and Chinese American actress Anna May Wong. Lin will explore how Hers and Chang investigate the tricky terrain of translation, while illuminating the problems and critical potentials of cross-cultural understanding.

Angelica Fenner’s paper will explore the significance of a both phenomenologically-inflected and intersectional worldmaking that emerges in the work of German actress Sandra Hüller, one in which whiteness, embodiment, and changing norms of (bourgeois) femininity in the contemporary era, gain significance, not least in relation to postfeminism. Drawing on feminist (film) theory, phenomenology, posthuman and affect theory, Fenner will focus, in particular, on Hüller’s performances of the sexual maternal body and sexual non-reproductive (post)femininity, with an eye to how these respective emplotments implicate the affective in coordination with the corporeal, even creaturely. In turn, she will assess how these emerging personae function to variously assimilate or resist projects of nationhood and/or racialized, patriarchal and hegemonic politics.

Materiality, Memory, Perception

Brigid Doherty’s paper will focus on Rosemarie Trockel’s videos from the 1990s and her larger engagements with the history of art / painting, and with philosophy and psychoanalysis. Doherty will link the videos back to Trockel’s wool pictures of the 1980s, and to Andy Warhol’s Oxidation and Rorschach paintings from the early to mid-1980s. 

Cecilia Enjuto Rangel’s paper will focus on En el balcón vacío (1962), the first film done by Spanish exiles (Jomi García Ascot and María Luisa Elío) in Mexico on the traumatic experience of the children of the Spanish Civil War and their exile. Enjuto Rangel will argue that in the fragmentary and nostalgic nature of the film, the poetic metaphors of a lost time and a torn personal memory are tied to a discourse of solidarity with the victim or the persecuted, as part of the film’s political and ethical statements. Connecting García Ascot’s En el balcón vacío with one of the most well-known, and highly praised films in Spanish cinema, Víctor Erice’s El espíritu de la colmena (1973), Enjuto Rangel will focus on the representation of the female child protagonist; and how monsters or ghosts are evoked in both films to conceptualize even before the end of the Francoist dictatorship how spectrality and haunting determine the politics of memory of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. In both films, their elliptical, experimental aesthetics, their use of photography and montage, their respective poetic metaphors of the balcony and the beehive, serve to express a nuanced political critique to the repercussions of the Spanish war and postwar society.

Kate Mondloch’s paper takes up the challenge of theorizing feminist new media art in the wake of prior cinema-centric and language-based models of social constructionism and ideology critique. It proposes that analyzing the conditions of the body-technology interface enacted in a given work of art best assesses the critical contributions of post-1990 new media installation art
practices. It also details why this approach yields special gains in ascertaining the transformative role of the contemporary art museum for new media art spectatorship. One of the most celebrated artists of her generation, Pipilotti Rist’s (Swiss, b. 1962) iconoclastic videos, sculptures, and installations have tested the prevailing critical frameworks for assessing media art and feminism. Through extended analysis of Pour Your Body Out, particularly as it compares to her closely related feature film Pepperminta (2009), Mondloch demonstrates how the art gallery exhibition situation, including material and psychological conditions of spectatorship, facilitates a range of productive opportunities to experience and evaluate the myriad interactions
among viewing bodies, digital media, and other forms of materiality that tend to go unnoticed outside of an art exhibition context.

Film & filmmaker descriptions Macdonald, born Edinburgh, Scotland, 1965, is based in Los Angeles. He has had numerous solo shows in international museums and galleries including ASU Art Museum; The Hayward Gallery, London; Kunstbunker Kinstverein, Nuremberg; and Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp Belgium ; as well as major group shows at The Henry Art Gallery, Seattle; Sculpture Center, Queens, NY; Irreducible,The Wattis Center for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; MAT Contemporary art center, Nagoya, Japan Seville Biennale, Gimme Shelter, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; Fresh, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; and 010101: Art in Technological Times, SF MoMA.

In Macdonald’s video work ‘Healer,’ the power of belief is in question: is psychic healing a kind of trickery or, can viewers allow themselves to believe that they are witnessing a magical moment; that this woman is capable of emitting psychic energy that has the power to heal? As Giorgio Verzotti notes, “Macdonald’s art seems to question the real meaning of things, beginning with the presupposition that their images are inherently deceptive, indeed that they are all connected within a single network of relationships based on illusions.” 


Miriam Gossing and Lina Sieckmann have studied at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne under Matthias Müller, Phil Collins, Sophie Maintigneux and Beate Gütschow, as well as at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf under Rita Mc Bride. As an artist duo they have made several experimental films on 16-mm film, in which urban and private architecture, hyper-staged environment, and the notion of desire are examined – combining documentary imagery with fiction and found footage.Their work is shown internationally in exhibitions and film festivals (e.g. Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart Berlin, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Videonale, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Anthology Film Archives New York City). They have been awarded with numerous prizes and scholarships, amongst them the Wim-Wenders-Stipendium, the German Short Film Prize and the Nomination for the Preis der Nationalgalerie für Filmkunst.'Desert Miracles’(2015) is a cinematic exploration of a commercialized architecture of desire. Across 22 different tableaus the film meditates upon the interiors of Nevada’s wedding chapels, considering how the excessive scenery opens up to constitute a cultural organisation of “Love”. A woman’s’ voice is heard reading out an ambiguous letter to an unknown lover in which she finds herself troubled by the challenges of modern relationships, unable to negotiate a balance between self-fulfilment and optimization. The text is based on anonymous posts by different women in various internet wedding forums. One fictional female character is composed out of many assembled perspectives on desire, relationships and social expectation.





This conference is organized by the Department of German & Scandinavian and the German Studies Committee, and co-sponsored by:

  • the UO College of Arts & Sciences
  • the Oregon Humanities Center
  • Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD)
  • The Center for Art Research
  • the Department of Romance Languages
  • the Department of Cinema Studies
  • the Department of Comparative Literature
  • the Department of English
  • the Department of History of Art and Architecture