Last night I took the time watch the 2008 documentary film, Our City Dreams. It's directed by Chiara Clemente, daughter of renouned artist Francesco Clemente. Clemente's experience growing up in the art world inspired her to become a filmmaker. She creates documentaries which allow the public a semi-private view into the lives of artists.
This film follows the working lives of five female artists within a two-year time span. (Official Website) The artists included are Swoon, Ghada Amer, Marina Abramovic, Kiki Smith, and Nancy Spero.
Although each of these women approach their work differently, they are all concerned with issues that are relevant in the lives of women with diverse backgrounds around the world today. In an article by Giovanna Masselli, she describes Clemente's vision, and how her personal experience influenced her view on art.
What interests me most about the film is that it takes an intimate look into each artist’s process and their feelings behind what inspires and motivates them in the studio and in their lives. Clemente was able to piece interviews together in a way that allows viewers to feel a personal level of engagement with the artists. I was happy to find that this film is currently streaming on Netflix.
Here is a little background information on the five artists included in this film, in the order of their appearance.
1. Swoon, (birth name Caledonia Dance Curry) born 1977, Daytona Beach, Florida, USA.
Swoon works mostly with large paper prints and cut-outs in public urban spaces. She also makes good use of installation in a gallery space, and has also worked on community projects. Her art is characterized by a sensitivity to the personalities of the people in her representations. She is mostly concerned with the dynamics of human connection.
Gender and sexuality are central thematic elements in Amer's work. She first received international recognition for her embroidered pieces. She is currently working as a multimedia artist and includes drawing, painting, sculpture, performance, and installation in her repertoire. She addresses contemporary issues of women living in a modern society.
|And the Beast, 2004. Acrylic, embroidery, and gel medium on canvas.|
Collection of the artist, courtesy of Gagosian Gallery
3. Marina Abramovic, born 1946, FPR Yugoslavia.
Amer is a performance-based artist dealing with gender, ego, identity, and the dynamics of relationships and behavior between people. She tests the boundaries of human nature and the body itself in her performances. She works both on location and within the walls of a gallery space.
|Marina Abramovic and Ulay, Imponderabilia, 1977 |
4. Kiki Smith, born 1954, Nuremberg, Germany.
Smith works within the broad parameters of gender, identity, and social issues. She uses a wide variety of media and techniques in her art, which includes print, sculpture, and installation. She is featured on the PBS Art21 series, which highlights the work of contemporary American artists.
5. Nancy Spero, born 1926 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, died in 2009 in New York City.
Spero had a prolific career, and was one of the first notable female artists involved in the women's movement of the 20th century. Her work deals with cultural issues, politics, and gender, with a focus on the female experience in society. She is also featured on the PBS Art21 Series.
|Israeli Women Soldiers, 1966-70 |
I know you'll enjoy Our City Dreams as much as I did, whether you're an artist, or someone who enjoys art. It's an inspiring, interesting look into the lives of five artists who are successfully communicating their ideas. I enjoyed the rare opportunity of being able to share the experience of these women from their inner world.