Sharon Green's short film Self Portrait of a Nude Model Turned Cinematographer (1971) represents a collision of incipient cinefeminism and autobiographical filmmaking. Containing a blend of still photographs and subjective moving-image shots of her body, the work has largely been overlooked because of a reductive framing of it as mere homage to male avant-garde artists such as Stan Brakhage, for whom Green was a nude model. By analyzing aspects of visual form, production, and exhibition, this article performs a corrective “microhistory” that reclaims Green's film as an important hybrid of erotic self-portraiture and social critique. It also situates Green in relation to proximate artists Carolee Schneemann and Yvonne Rainer. Despite ongoing neglect of the work, Green's Self Portrait remains a potent visual archive that reveals the power hierarchies of the 1970s film community in Pittsburgh, while it questions the masculinist assumptions that underlie avant-garde media and historiography.
Silenced Images, Fragmented Histories: Sharon Green's Self Portrait and the Gendered Dynamics of Avant-Garde Filmmaking in 1970s Pittsburgh
Benjamin Ogrodnik is a PhD candidate at the University of Pittsburgh in film studies and the history of art. He is writing a dissertation on avant-garde filmmaking in Pittsburgh in the 1970s and 1980s. He is especially interested in highlighting the innovative careers of women filmmakers in the city during those decades, including Peggy Ahwesh, Stephanie Beroes, Sharon Green, and Steffi Domike. An earlier version of this article received Honorable Mention in the 2018 Society for Cinema and Media Studies Women's Caucus Graduate Student Writing Prize.
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Benjamin Ogrodnik; Silenced Images, Fragmented Histories: Sharon Green's Self Portrait and the Gendered Dynamics of Avant-Garde Filmmaking in 1970s Pittsburgh. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2019; 5 (2): 211–239. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2019.5.2.211
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