November 7 – November 12
This long-overdue retrospective surveys the career of Holly Fisher, a filmmaker who since the late 1960s has been as prolific, as free in her exploration of different cinematic forms, and as adventurous in her embrace of new technological tools and ways of seeing as any of her peers, but without enjoying the degree of attention and acclaim that her work richly deserves.
Fisher’s filmmaking career began in the documentary realm, in partnership with Romas V. Slezas, with whom she made vérité-inflected short- and feature-length non-fiction films from 1965-71, and she has continued to work as an editor on documentaries by Camille Billops, Christine Choy, and Camilla Motta, among others. But her own films depart radically from the linear approach of these collaborative projects, most often adopting a densely multi-layered visual style and allusive editing framework that combine to create highly personal and intuitive reflections on the warp and weave of memory and time.
Her body of work has grown to encompass films of vastly different scales and visual textures – including bravura experiments in optical printing (GHOST DANCE and HERE TODAY GONE TOMORROW), hypnotic orchestrations of photography and sound (EVERYWHERE AT ONCE, featuring images of and narration by Jeanne Moreau), witty collisions of imagery and text (THIS IS MONTAGE and ‘t h i n k t a n k’), and urgent, media-refracted meditations on social-political transformations (DEAFENING SILENCE, one of several films culled from footage shot in Myanmar). Unifying all these works is Fisher’s searching, deeply engaged sensibility, her commitment to and knack for finding visual and rhythmic structures that serve to break through to new realms of thought, feeling, and perception.
This extensive retrospective includes a carefully chosen selection of her own moving-image works – short- and feature-length, analogue and digital, photographed and found-footage-based – as well as films representing her documentary roots and her work as an editor. Fisher will be here in person throughout the retrospective!
“Juxtaposition and contrast is my modus operandi, and editing is where my real creative work happens. […] It is rare that I set out to make a film ‘about’ this or that. Rather, I am driven to explore some formal or psychological question that intrigues me – like how to sustain a flow of ideas within the broken continuity of non-linear structuring. Or, how to analyze time and motion by exploring the space between one frame and another. Trauma, memory, and perception are issues that come up repeatedly in my work…. Whether the issue is diabolic human rights abuse, or filmic play with light, shadow, and my own nude body, I will use every sort of maneuver to open space for the viewer to think and imagine – and will subvert every convention of narrative that obscures the possibility of making personal meaning. Whatever is my sleight of hand, my intent is to lead the viewer toward one’s own private insight, metaphor, or other deepest reverie.” –Holly Fisher
This retrospective has been made possible thanks to support from Barton Byg, Penny Duncklee, Vincent Grenier, Susan & Arthur Holcombe, and Alan Rinzler. Very special thanks to Holly Fisher and Ha-Yang Kim.
Unless otherwise noted, all film descriptions are by Holly Fisher.