Abigail Child's Artist VITA

Karen L. Schiff, Fragment Fiesta [pdf]

Tom Gunning, Introduction to This
Is Called Moving: A Critical Poetics
of Film

Gary Morris, Abigail Child's B/Side [pdf]

Charles Borkhuis, Abigail Child [pdf]

Abigail Child is a media artist and writer whose original montage pushes the envelope of sound-image relations with sensitivity, smarts and passion. In the words of LA Weekly, she makes “brilliant exciting work…a vibrant political film that’s attentive to form.”
Her work in the 1980s explores gender while focusing on strategies for rewriting narrative, creating the cult classics “Mayhem” and “Covert Action” while her 1990s productions recuperate documentary to poetically explore public space: B/SIDE (1996) and BELOW THE NEW (1999). In the 21st century, her films DARK DARK (2001), SURFACE NOISE (2000), and digital works CAKE + STEAK (2004) and THE FUTURE IS BEHIND YOU (2005) investigate the awkward drama of everyday, often utilizing archival material to examine the past.

Her feature video documentary ON THE DOWNLOW (2007), an intimate look at a little viewed underground scene, premiered at Tribeca in 2007, and was broadcast on LOGO. She is currently finishing another feature documentary RIDING THE TIGER: Letters from Capitalist China while continuing her series of “Foreign Films” which combine text with image. The latest of these, (If I Can Sing a Song About) LIGATURES (2009) premiered at the NY Film Festival in October 2009 and was featured at Ann Arbor and Oberhausen Festivals spring 2011. Child is currently completing a feature A SHAPE OF ERROR: Imaginary Home Movies from the life of Mary and Percy Shelley, filmed in Rome last year while Child held a Rome Prize Fellowship.

Simultaneously, Child has turned her vertical montage to installation, creating prismatic and interruptive multiple screen narratives at galleries across the world. These include The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis 2006; Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University 2006; Wake Forest University Haynes Gallery 2009; the American Academy in Rome 2010; Spazi Aperti at the Romanian Academy Rome: June 2010; and at the Complesso Monumentale di Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome, in The Road to Contemporary Art, 26-30 May 2010.

Child has had many solo shows with mid-career retrospectives: including Braga Portugal (09), EXIS in Seoul Korea (08), Switzerland (08), Harvard Cinematheque, (07), SF Yerba Buena Center in California (2000), in NYC at Anthology Film Archives, in Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts, and most recently at Reina Sofia, Madrid (June 2010) and Cinoteca, Sala Trevi, Rome (Nov. 2010). Her award-winning art is exhibited in important group shows, including The American Century, 1950-2000 at the Whitney Museum, Art at the End of the Century 1980 -2000 at the Museum of Modern Art NY, and two Whitney Biennials (1989 + 1997).

Her awards include a Rome Fellowship (2009-10); a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (05-06), a Ford Media Grant (05), a Guggenheim (95-96) and Fulbright Fellowships (92-93). Her films are in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Pompidou, Paris among others, and Harvard University Cinematheque has created an Abigail Child Collection dedicated to preserving and exhibiting her work.

Her films are featured in chapter-length articles in a number of recent books, including: P. Adams Sitney’s Eyes Upside Down. Chap 13. “Abigail Child: Textual Reliance” (Oxford 2008); Women’s Experimental Cinema, ed. Robin Baetz. Duke U. Press (2007); Scott MacDonald’s Critical Cinema: Volume 4 (UC 2005); Jeffrey Skoller, SHADOWS, SPECTERS, SHARDS on Child’s B/side. 2006 Minnesota; Wanda Balzano, “Abigail Child’s Mirror Worlds: Feminist Reflections” in MILLENNIUM FILM JOURNAL,winter 2011. An ABIGAIL CHILD MONOGRAPH of Critical Articles + Dvd was published by MetisPress, Geneva Switzerland this April 2011 and will be launched October 14th this fall.

Child is the author of 5 books of poetry (A Motive for Mayhem, Scatter Matrix and Artificial Memory among them) and a book of critical writings: THIS IS CALLED MOVING: A Critical Poetics of Film from University of Alabama Press (2005). Child has taught film/video production and history at various schools and is currently Senior Faculty at SMFA, Boston. Her home is in NYC.

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