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Kitchen-Sink Experimentalism

FM/TRCS
Coleen Fitzgibbon

One of the gratifying side effects of contemporary media overload and its frequent inanity is a keen hunger of viewers for challenging, provocative work, and what better place to search for it than the history of avant-garde cinema? New York–based artists Sandra Gibson and Luis Recoder did just that, and came up with the experimental films of Coleen Fitzgibbon, a rediscoverd artist who produced a cogent body of work dedicated to exploring the possibilities of the medium during the early 1970s. In the four-minute Found Film Flashes (1973), Fitzgibbon, who worked under the pseudonym “Colen Fitzgibbon,” crafts an elliptical evocation of desire and sexual spectacle out of found footage, opening with fragments of black-and-white shots of a man looking downward. She then cuts to shots of various women, and the images stutter in scratchy, staccato beats, the anxiety and sexual tension in the visuals augmented by the discomfiting and glitchy irritation of the soundtrack. In the 12-minute film FM/TRCS (1974), we experience sequences of brightly colored pulsing orbs and globular shapes — a breast, perhaps? Or a hip? Fleshy thighs? A nipple? Or maybe they’re just orbs of pulsating color — it’s hard to know! Fitzgibbon destroys representation, leaving behind light, color, rhythm and texture, and yet the suggestion of the body remains. Also from 1974, Restoring the Appearance to Order opens with the sounds of running water, then an image of a dirty, paint-splattered sink. A woman steps into the frame and begins to scour, scrubbing away the paint and grime. The camera remains static; the shot continues for a full 12 minutes, ending abruptly before the task is complete, the work of art offering but a glimpse of the labor around it. The history of smart, feminist, experimental films has been sadly neglected; this program represents the brilliance waiting to be revisited. (Los Angeles Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre; Sun., Nov. 23, 7 p.m. www.lafilmforum.org.)


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