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Screening Programme

Riddles of the Sphinx (mirror)

Screening Programme: Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen

Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen
Urgency and Possibility: Counter-Cinema in the 70s and 80s

Screening Programme: 29 September – 7 October 2017

Cooper Gallery presents, Urgency and Possibility: Counter-Cinema in the 70s and 80s, a two-week screening programme of the collaborative film works by influential film theorists and filmmakers Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen. The programme, selected with Laura Mulvey, includes the pair’s experimental shorts, features and documentary, which instigated Counter-Cinema in the 1970s. These works will be shown in a series of evening and weekend screenings. Tickets are free, please register on Eventbrite.

Informed by their ground-breaking essays – Wollen’s Godard and Counter Cinema: Vent d'Est and Mulvey’s Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema – Mulvey and Wollen made six films between 1974 and 1983 that dealt with the discourse of feminist theory, semiotics, psychoanalysis and leftist politics in an attempt to work against the formalist and ideological domination of Hollywood cinema.

The screening programme at Cooper Gallery features Mulvey and Wollen’s first film Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974), which represents an experimental British venture into territory pioneered by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard and explores concerns central to Mulvey's writings: the position of women in relation to patriarchal myth, symbolic language and male fantasy. The screening programme presents their most influential film, Riddles of the Sphinx (1977), considered a key work of avant-garde film to have emerged from Britain during the 1970s for its visual accomplishment and intellectual rigour. The screenings also include the rarely seen films; AMY! (1980), Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1981) and Crystal Gazing (1982).

Talk by Laura Mulvey: 29 September, 7pm

To mark the opening of the programme, Laura Mulvey will give a talk on 29th of September discussing the political context and critical approach in her collaborative film works with Peter Wollen and the importance of alternative energies and activities that are emerging in response to the difficult times in which we live. Dr. Ana Salzberg will introduce the event and moderate a Q&A with Laura Mulvey after the screening of Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s film AMY! (1980)


Screening times

Friday 29 September, 7 – 8.30pm
Talk by Laura Mulvey and screening of AMY!, 1980 (33 mins)
Book tickets here

Saturday 30 September, 2 – 4.30pm
Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons, 1974 (98 mins)
Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti, 1981 (30 mins)
Book tickets here

Thursday 5 October, 6 – 8pm
Riddles of the Sphinx, 1977 (91 mins)
Book tickets here

Saturday 7 October, 2 – 3.30pm
Crystal Gazing, 1982 (92 mins)
Book tickets here


The programme follows on from Cooper Gallery’s Two Chapter Exhibition and Event series, Of Other Spaces: Where does gesture become event?, in which Laura Mulvey gave a keynote talk during the International Symposium, 12hr Action Group at Cooper Gallery in December 2016.



Laura Mulvey is Professor of Film and Media Studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. She was Director of Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image (BIMI) from 2012 to 2015. She is the author of: Visual and Other Pleasures (Macmillan 1989; second edition 2009); Fetishism and Curiosity (British Film Institute 1996; second edition 2013); Citizen Kane (BFI Classics series 1992; second edition 2012); and Death Twenty- four Times a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (Reaktion Books 2006). She made six films in collaboration with Peter Wollen, and two films with artist/filmmaker Mark Lewis.

Peter Wollen is a radical filmmaker, film theorist, and screenwriter, whose book, Signs and Meaning in the Cinema (1969/72/98), continues to challenge and provoke. He co-wrote the screenplay for Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975) and subsequently worked outside mainstream cinema, collaborating on six films with Laura Mulvey. His only solo feature, Friendship’s Death (1987) stars Tilda Swinton as an extraterrestrial. His expansive interests included organizing paradigm-shifting art exhibitions, such as Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1982) and On the Passage of a Few People Through a Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International (1989).

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