Anthology Film Archives

LIVING ON AIR: THE FILMS OF SANDRA LAHIRE

July 14 – July 15

“I have used my portable 16mm camera as a light-painting pencil-in-motion,” writes Sandra Lahire in her 1995 artist statement. Lahire (1950-2001) was a central figure in the experimental feminist filmmaking community that emerged in the UK in the 1980s. She was a dedicated member of the London Film-Makers’ Co-op (now LUX) and feminist film and video distributor Circles (now Cinenova), and her collaborations with other artists such as Tina Keane, Lis Rhodes, and Sarah Turner were integral to her filmic practice and feminist politics. She utilized the optical printer at the Co-op to make stunning 16mm films that explored illness, lesbian identity, environmental concerns, and the anti-nuclear movement. Integral to all her work is the relationship between the body and the materiality of film, registers of violence and proximity to harm. Her films merge documentary, performance, animation, superimposition – both in-camera and via optical printer. Her body of work includes two trilogies: the anti-nuclear films in the 1980s that look at the social and environmental effects of uranium mining and nuclear power, and the 1990s series, “Living on Air”, which explore the life and poetry of Sylvia Plath.

Lahire died in 2001, aged 50, after a prolonged struggle with anorexia. Her loss was felt keenly by her community of friends and collaborators. This, along with the unknown status of the artist’s archive and original film materials, has contributed towards a lack of visibility of her work until recent years. Seen in the contemporary context, Lahire’s work remains prescient, still enduring, and deeply impactful.

These programs have been guest-programmed by Charlotte Procter, Collection & Archive Director at LUX and member of the Cinenova Working Group, who will be here in person to present the screenings.

Upcoming Screenings

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