1. Throughout this essay I will use the term experimental or avant-garde interchangeably. I am familiar with all the arguments regarding these terms and that some would prefer to call it underground, personal, art cinema or other terms. I myself prefer the term artisanal—meaning one who practices skilled labor in the arts—but will persist in using the most commonly understood terms despite their inadequacy. [return to page 1 of essay]
2. The term art world is drawn from Howard Becker (1982) whose theory of art worlds begins with the assumption that the production of an art work is the result of not just the artist or artists, but of the cooperation of a network of individuals, from those who produce the materials that the artist uses, to the artist(s) themselves, to those who show the work or buy it, and everyone in between. Becker considers art or art works to be the result of collective activity, not only in its creation/production/distribution but also in its reception/consumption. Thus an art world is “the network of people whose cooperative activity, organized via their joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things, produces the kind of art works that an art world is noted for” (Becker 1982: x).
3. The MadCat Women’s International film festival ran for 13 years out of Ariella Ben-Dov’s very small San Francisco Apartment hosting screenings at the El Rio outdoor cinema. The last festival in San Francisco was held in September of 2009 although rumors of a travelling festival of the same name have been circulating. Currently Ms. Ben-Dov resides in New York City and is programming the Margaret Mead Film Festival. [return to page 2 of essay]
4. In the intervening years more established experimental filmmakers have gone to gallery presentation of their work in some cases making specific objects to sell. For example, Jonas Mekas has been working with the Maya Stendahal gallery for many years producing limited edition objects (such as an iPod with his films on it) for them to sell.
5. Although I concur with MacDonald that Lockhardt’s films are works of art and should be valued on par with her photography, the mechanism for valuation being strictly financial places the film work outside the community of practice of experimental film because the work is held apart from the regular routes of circulation and distribution of avant-garde work in order to keep it scarce and save its value.
Ann Arbor Film Festival. 2005. About the Festival–Award Descriptions. Electronic document, accessed June 23.
Bayma, Todd. 1995. "Art World Culture and Institutional Choices: The Case of Experimental Film." Sociological Quarterly 36(1):79–95
Becker, Howard. 1982. Art Worlds. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Bourdieu, Pierre. 1979. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. London: Routledge.
———. 1993. Field of Cultural Production. New York: Columbia University Press.
Brakhage, Stan. 2001. Essential Brakhage: Selected Writings on Filmmaking. Kingston, NY: Documentext at McPherson and Company Publishing.
Deren, Maya. 2003. Essential Deren: Collected Writings on Film. Kingston, NY: Documentext at McPherson and Company Publishing.
Film Society Lincoln Center. 2010. “Avant-Garde Poll” in Film Comment. May/June 2010. Accessed online 6/3/2010.
Gell, Alfred. 1998. Art and Agency. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press.
Gupta, Akhil, and James Ferguson, eds. 2001. Culture, Power, Place: Explorations in Critical Anthropology. 3rd edition. Durham: Duke University Press.
Halter, Ed. 2005. "People Person: Hyphenate Hipstress Miranda July Infiltrates Indiewood." Village Voice, 50:20 [June 14th 2005].
Horak, Jan. 1998. Lovers of Cinema: The first American Avant-Garde, 1919-1945. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.
Johnson, Randall. 1993. "Editor's Introduction: Pierre Bourdieu on Art, Literature and Culture." In The Field of Cultural Production, edited by R. Johnson. New York: Columbia University Press.
MacDonald, Scott. 2005. A Critical Cinema 5. Berkeley, Ca: University Of California Press.
Marcus, George. 1992. Lives in Trust: The Fortunes of Dynastic Families in Late Twentieth Century America. With Peter D. Hall. Boulder: Westview Press.
Munn, Nancy. 1986. The Fame of the Gawa: A Symbolic Study of Value Transformation in a Massim (Papua New Guinea) Society. London: Cambridge University Press.
New American Cinema Group. 1961. The First Statement of the New American Cinema Group in Film Culture, nos. 22-23 (Summer 1961)
Ramey, Kathryn. 2002. “Between Art, Industryand Academia: The Fragile Balancing Act of the Avant-Garde Film Community” in Visual Anthropology Review, Vol. 18, Issue 1, p. 22-36.
____2006. Is the Film Avant-Garde, Avant-Garde? Economics and Culture of Artisanal Moving Image makers. Unpublished Dissertation, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University.
Strathern, Marilyn. 1988. The Gender of the Gift. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Van Camp, Julie. 2006. Freedom of Expression at the National Endowment for the Arts. Accessed 6/4/1010.
Zryd, Michael. 2006. The Academy and the Avant-Garde in Cinema Journal 45, Number 2, Winter 2006, pp. 17-42.
versionJC 52 Jump
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.