JOYCE WIELAND The Passionate Director(ess)
What attracted me the most to the works of Joyce Wieland is how they're reminiscent of the popular TV show, The Simpsons, critiquing the problems of a nation in such a witty and ready-to-swallow form. Yet it was this feminist punch that underlay these political advocations throughout her films that truly struck the apple of my eye. A painter, sculptor, quilt-maker and film-maker, Toronto-born-and-raised Wieland was the first female artist to challenge the male-dominated art world of the '50s and '60s, eventually becoming one of the country's most productive and acclaimed artists, the first female ever to be recognized with a solo exhibit at the National Gallery during her lifetime. Having suffered an unfortunate childhood---she was 7 when her father died and 10 when she lost her mother -her art was surprisingly joyous, but not without an irreverent edge. As an experimental film-maker, Wieland was a ceaseless innovator.
In 1963, Wieland moved to New York City to join the Structuralist filmmakers and there she lived an unconventional life with her husband, the well-known artist, Michael Snow making experimental films. In Rat Life and Diet in North America (1968), she cast her pet gerbils as American draft dodgers who take up organic gardening. And although The Far Shore (1976)--her attempt to make a mainstream drama about love and landscape--failed, it continues to fascinate even after her death in 1998 due to its contradictory nature as are her other films.
There's been talk about her work being either structuralist or feminist, an argument served quite right during the pre-feminist period whence these articles were written as her films only subtly gave the sense of feminist punch; a woman's cry veiled by parody. But to recent critics it is obvious that she had indeed feminist intentions; some...