Susan Mogul: A "Work-in-Progress"

By James Moran
January 1, 1994

Article from Scratching the Belly of the Beast catalogue, 1994

Histories of film production in Los Angeles, typically constructed as stories of "great men" responsible for innovations in studio management, formal techniques, and audio-visual technologies, frequently overlook the accomplishments of the city's independent cinema community. This marginalization of non-commercial experimentation is, perhaps, not merely a reflection of the industry's bias toward classical narrative, but also symptomatic of the ways in which traditional historiography in general writes out the contributions of women. Such an oversight is indefensible in any chronicle of artistic production in Southern California, where female film, video, and performance artists have not only initiated the avant-garde movement in this country, but continue to redefine and test its conceptual boundaries. The pioneering work of filmmakers such as Maya Deren (Meshes of the Afternoon, 1943), Sara Arledge (What Is a Man?, 1958), and Chick Strand (Soft Fiction, 1979) illustrate the underlying content of much of women's cinema: the exploration of identity in relation to the self, the other, and art.

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