Chick Strand, Soft Fiction (16mm, 1979)
Soft Fiction uses the ethnographic tool of the informant interview as a jumping-off point for a provocative and sensuous exploration of female sexuality and spirit, while raising questions about storytelling, memory, and the performance and preservation of self.
“Chick Strand’s Soft Fiction is a personal documentary that brilliantly portrays the survival power of female sensuality. It combines the documentary approach with a sensuous lyrical expressionism. Strand focuses her camera on people talking about their own experience, capturing subtle nuances in facial expressions and gestures that are rarely seen in cinema. The title Soft Fiction works on several levels. It evokes the soft line between truth and fiction that characterizes Strand’s own approach to documentary, and suggests the idea of softcore fiction, which is appropriate to the film’s erotic content and style. It’s rare to find an erotic film with a female perspective dominating both the narrative discourse and the visual and audio rhythms with which the film is structured. Strand continues to celebrate in her brilliant, innovative personal documentaries her theme, the reaffirmation of the tough resilience of the human spirit.” – Marsha Kinder, Film Quarterly.
Hito Steyerl, Lovely Andrea (video, 2007)
Lovely Andrea relates to the search for a photograph taken in Tokyo around 1987. The photo shows the artist half naked and tied up, a bondage picture in the nawa-shibari style, characterised by women bound and suspended in the air. Today Japanese bondage is a subgenre of pornography. But it developed from the martial arts, hojojutsu being the act of using of a rope to capture, transport and torture criminals. An aesthetic act from the start, only in the late 19th and early 20th centuries did it acquire a sensual and erotic dimension.
“But in a wider context, there is bondage all over the place”, the video states at one point, to the accompaniment of a montage of Japanese bondage girls, the American superhero Spiderman and bound captives in the US-detainment camp at Guantanamo Bay. By associatively linking desire and bondage, voluntary subjection and captivity, dependencies, networks, complicity, and cliques, Steyerl creates a polysemous play of thought: Who are the string pullers? Who are the puppets? How do things stand with the pictures? Bondage in Lovely Andrea is a universal metaphor. – Manuela Ammer.