Carolee, Barbara and Gunvor is an exquisite dance shared by filmmakers and their literal and metaphorical lenses. It’s also a wonderful journey of nostalgia. The look of the 8mm and 16mm film paired with the subject matter easily takes the viewer back to the innovative first moments of women’s experimental filmmaking.
The extensive experimental and North American film tradition, which is interwoven with the history of documentary filmmaking and deeply rooted in political struggles, is full of names to be (re)discovered, in most cases women who continue the formal, poetic and political explorations of the avant-garde film, but broadening the space of what can be filmed and rewriting, in their own way, the old school feminist moto: “the personal is political”. Lynne Sachs’ case, friend and collaborator of the French filmmaker Chris Marker (she worked with him in Three Cheers for the Whale), is symptomatic of a certain kind of cinema that has been for years focusing on intimate spaces as places in which social issues can resonate.
By revealing flashing images of contemporary Buenos Aires, Lynne Sachs presents four girls who reminded me of Gummo’s Bunny Boy (Harmony Korine, USA, 1997), but instead of cars they have trains, and instead of pure decadence these girls project pure life.
Olesker and Sachs zoom in—at a microscopic level—on the idea of the melting pot. It’s an astonishing image: a skein of fibers and threads badly woven together. So much so that there isn’t anything left to do but send the whole mess to the laundry. What follows is an attempt to make sense of a nebula of colors that run circles around themselves, an image that, by its centrifugal force, creates an illusion of homogeneity.
“I could make the inside of myself show on the outside,” Barbara Hammer says in Lynne Sachs’s documentary Carolee, Barbara & Gunvor (2018), explaining how a lighter movie camera, developed in the Sixties, helped her convey intimacy, and thus became a useful, malleable tool of expression.
Sachs has a really well-attuned photographic eye, and she captures the trio in a series of easygoing domestic situations. The three artists discuss their artistic lives, how they came into their practice, how their gender identities factor in, where their work comes from.