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  • An Interview with Chick Strand

Figures


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Figure 1.

Chick Strand, 1986. Photo by Neon Park.


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Figure 2.

Chick Strand, circa 1970. Photo by Neon Park.


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Figure 3.

Still from Artificial Paradise, 1986. Photo courtesy Chick Strand.


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Figure 4a.

Hedy, in Soft Fiction, 1979. Photos courtesy Chick Strand.


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Figure 4b.

Hedy, in Soft Fiction, 1979. Photos courtesy Chick Strand.


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Figure 4c.

Hedy, in Soft Fiction, 1979. Photos courtesy Chick Strand.


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Figure 5.

Chick Strand, circa 1970. Photo by Neon Park.


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Figure 6.

Amy Halprin, filmmaker, in frame from Soft Fiction, 1979. Photo courtesy Chick Strand.


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Figure 7.

Amy Halprin, filmmaker, in frame from Soft Fiction, 1979. Photo courtesy Chick Strand.


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Figure 8.

Frame from Soft Fiction, 1979. Photo courtesy Chick Strand.


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Figure 9.

Production still, Anselmo, 1967. Photo by Neon Park.


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Figure 10.

Production still, Mujer de Milfuegos, 1976. Photo by Neon Park.

Chick Strand was born in San Francisco in 1931. She made her first film as a mother of two at the age of thirty-four. In the early sixties, she was instrumental in the early days of Canyon Cinema, closely aiding Canyon’s founding filmmaker Bruce Baillie in the operations of that ground-breaking organization. In 1976 she had her first east coast screening as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s Cineprobe series. Today she has eighteen finished films to her name.

Soft Fiction (1979), a fifty-four minute black-and-white film, weaves together five different narratives that are visually constructed as first person testimonials. The first narrative is a woman’s sensual experience with an inanimate object. The second is a woman reading another woman’s letter. In the letter the woman writes about her sexual experiences with many different cowboys while taking their photographs at a rodeo. In the third, a long shot of a woman cooking her breakfast is accompanied by a female voiceover which describes her sexual experience with her grandfather. The fourth, shot in close-up, is a woman’s story of addiction and her desire to be immersed in a total experience of either sex or narcotics. The final narrative is that of a Polish immigrant who was a child during the Nazi occupation of Poland. In Soft Fiction, sexual activity is primarily represented through verbal description. Fever Dream, a 1979 film by Strand, concentrates on the sensual, outdoor experience between two women. The voiceover is a poem by Chick Strand.

Strand is unique in her decidedly outsider position in the art world. In her career she never has identified with the Women’s Movement and decisively places herself outside of that discussion. Strand does not explain her work through historical or theoretical paradigms. Instead, she discusses it in terms of personal vision and a commitment to developing her own aesthetic. While this antagonistic relationship to feminism might undermine a feminist reading of Strand’s work, she consistently produces compelling portraits of female characters. As she actively elides the classification of “feminist artist,” Strand [End Page 107] insists on a position often retrospectively reserved for males and denied women artists: that of an autonomous, creative producer motivated by formal investigations rather than political necessity.

I interviewed Chick Strand at her home in Tujunga, California on May 16, 1997.

Kate Haug:

Let’s start with this question: what does it mean to make something? Do you want to start with that?

Chick Strand:

Yeah, that’s an interesting question. Because you are implying it doesn’t just apply to making films. It’s a handmade anything which I think is really fun. I do a lot of that. I get obsessed by things. For instance, I used to do collages and I did photography. Right now...

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3354
Print ISSN
0160-6840
Pages
pp. 106-137
Launched on MUSE
1998-01-01
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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