Video Playlist: A Space For The Thing I Am Given

Museum of Contemporary Photography

About The Event

Video Playlist: A Space For The Thing I Am Given
Curated by Jennifer Reeder

Featuring work from:

Hu Wei
April Simmons
Sinziana Nicola
Kirsten Stoltmann
Chema Garcia Ibarra
Vladimir de Fontenay


Video playlist is a reoccurring series of one-night public video screenings guest curated by artists whose practice engages with topics connected to MoCP exhibitions.

The title for this program comes from a poem by Sylvia Plath called "Thalidomide". This poem, like so many others written by Plath, is maternally oriented and presents a complicated view of motherhood. "Thalidomide" tells the story of a pregnant woman torn between feelings of disgust for her atypically formed fetus–“your dark amputations crawl and appall”–and the deep love she has for the tiny life growing within her—“all night I carpenter a space for the thing I am given”.

Plath’s poetry is often analyzed under the provisions of “women’s writing,” a term coined by French feminist Helene Cixous. Cixous describes women's language as cyclical, non-linear and emotionally funded. She suggests that this approach is an active resistance to a phallocentric structure—the masculine, the paternal. Cixous further asserts that "Woman must write her self: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies." This theory is accurate for Plath who is so closely identified with her own aesthetic of “writing with milk and blood”.

A similar theory can be applied to the seven films in this program, which seem crafted with a kind of maternal sensitivity and bodily awareness. The filmmakers, both men and women, take on motherhood in ways that disrupt our expectations of how we are accustomed to seeing mothers portrayed cinematically. These are stories about loss, regret, pathos and coping among other subjects and the perspective shifts between the internal and the external. The films, which come from all over the world including Spain, Romania and Tibet, present rich and impactful narratives about something we all have in common, the maker of milk and blood, the mother.

Jennifer Reeder is a filmmaker and visual artist from Ohio.  She constructs personal stories about relationships, trauma and coping. Her award-winning narratives are unconventional and borrow from a range of forms including after school specials, amateur music videos and magical realism. She has made over 40 film/video projects and written 12 scripts. Her work is shown consistently around the world. Her most recent short movie, "A Million Miles Away", premiered at the 2014 Rotterdam Film Festival and was nominated for a Tiger Award. In addition to her many exhibitions and awards she has also recently founded a social justice initiative called Tracers Book Club.

Still from Mysterio, Chema García Ibarra. Courtesy of the artist.