Project Lead: Lydia Antoniou and Angela Blanc

Number of participants: 15

Duration: 3 days

Project Outline:
While Standing in Line for Death, we initiate a temporary feminist salon during Across RCA week. Drawing from CAConrad’s book title, we get together to present screenings of Feminist filmmakers and artists, while hosting some of them to participate in the conversation and introduce their latest work. Each of the films unfolds a non heteronormative perception of suppressed quotidian themes like female desire, motherhood, illness and aging within patriarchal societies. Incorporating the nature of a salon, the films will be screened during a different meal-time of the day in the Senior common room where food and drinks will be available. During the first session, texts that respond to the topics of the films will be available to the group. For the second and third session, we encourage people to bring their own piece of material of any kind to contribute to the conversation. The objects will constitute a documentation of the event, resulting in a publication.


Day 1: Tuesday 5th November:
Breakfast with Zoe Williams and Agnes Varda
Agnès Varda, Plaisir d’amour en Iran, 1976
Zoe Williams, Sunday Fantasy, 2019

For our first session, we are having breakfast with Zoe Williams and Agnès Varda, while talking about female desires, the male gaze, sexuality and eroticism. How to talk about love while staring at an Iranian mosque or talk about architecture when in bed? Varda’s film is dedicated to two characters from ‘One sings, the other not’ that starts from the observation of Agnès Varda that “in Isfahan in Iran, religious architecture is sensual, even sexual”. It is not difficult to imagine a secret file storing all the gestures which came after the final kiss of the stars of classical cinema, concealed by a subtle movement of the camera or in fade to black, always off-screen. In fact, it might be said that this file exists, although with other actors and safeguarded, for many years, by the rival of narrative cinema, the cinema of pure visual stimulus. The first cinematographic pornography was developed, broadening the field of the representable, although in order to do so, it had to remain underground. As Foucault warned us with the conseptualisation of scientia sexualis, knowledge of sexuality in western culture is constructed on the basis of scientific exploration of the human body and its measurable sexual responses. The containment of desire and the perception of the female sexuality through a male lens are notions that are introduced through Williams’ work, portraying heroines that are self-sufficient in generating their desire and pleasure, facilitating objects and spaces for the purposes of their erotic fantasies, while disrupting the normative process of producing erotic films.

Day 2: Wednesday 6th November:
Lunch with Beatrice Gibson and Mounira Al Solh
Beatrice Gibson, I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead, 2018
Mounira Al Solh, Now Eat My Script, 2014

For our second session we are having lunch with Beatrice Gibson and Mounira al Solh, while thinking about motherhood, precariousness and the disruptive fluid process of a body undergoing pregnancy. We are not equipped to talk about charged issues such as motherhood or pregnancy, but we do realise through Beatrice Gibson’s work how these can be treated through a feminist perspective as interconnecting forms of affective and biological labour. Situating the notion of motherhood in a larger context of issues of reproductive work and togetherness, escapes the predominantly male concept of the male genius, who sits alone in his study making brilliant films. We are thinking of the pregnant body as a body in transition, experiencing a queer process of transformation with a profound relation to otherness – a disruptive process of the heteronormative discourse. Togetherness within the process of film making, offers a rich and complex response to the current contemporary condition of individualism, exclusion, competition and vulnerability subjectivities experience, contributing towards an expanded cinema that is more discursive and less superficial. Distracted from writing a script “about how you shouldn’t be pregnant, penetrated, proto-feminist or post-feminist, and horny, all at the same time,” Al Solh reflects on her artistry, impending motherhood and feminism in the light of the current war and violence in the Middle East. However, the script just doesn’t want to become fiction and through the vulnerable and fluid state of being pregnant Al Sohl’s narrator unfolds stories within stories where the text roams between cities and memories that cannot find a proper place and does not become proper fiction. The fluid, condensed story is one of contradicting, dissolving and collapsing contexts where individual narratives intertwine through the fluidity of the pregnant body and construct a collective hybrid.

Day 3: Thursday 7th November:
Dinner with Barbara Hammer and Patrick Staff
Barbara Hammer, The Art of Dying (Palliative Art Making in the Age of Anxiety), 2018
Patrick Staff, Weed Killer, 2017

For our third session we will be having dinner with Barbara Hammer and Patrick Staff, inviting Beatrice Gibson to join the table. Hammer’s ’The Art of Dying’ and Staff’s ‘Weed Killer’ are the departure point for the conversation we wish to facilitate in our salon. Hammer a feminist, lesbian filmmaker and activist, reflects the need for creatives to explore their curiosities and challenges, to question the unquestionable and create through oppressions that bodies undergo within the process of their practice and lives. The notion of confronting unpleasant quotidian themes and suppressed narratives that the mainstream is hesitant to discuss, through a feminist perspective, is put in a direct conversation with Patrick Staff’s ‘Weed Killer’. Unraveling the semiotics of a body’s gender transition and the transformation that occur to it within the pharmacopornographic regime, in relation to the transformation that a body undergoes throughout cancer treatment, Staff is bringing to the conversation, the proximity to violence, illness, ageing and exclusion as durational processes that are imposed on the contemporary body. Over this session, we want to talk about our mortality, our sexuality, ageing, and death, transition conditions of our bodies and the rights to survive on one’s terms.