Disorientation, on every level, is a powerful and disconcerting force in the work of Stephen Dwoskin. Focussing on the feature-length films he made in the 1970s, this talk will explore the productive tension (as identified by Raymond Durgnat in the ’80s) between Dwoskin’s rigorous ‘plastic aesthetics’ (of space, colour, composition, etc.) and his remarkable experimentation with narrative forms. Today, artists who work in a similar way are frequently told that their films would best ‘fit into an art gallery context’. Yet Dwoskin, in his time, held on to the project of a complex, hybrid cinema, in which disorientation is a major source of pleasure.

Film Screening 4pm to 5pm
Acting Out: Stephen Dwoskin (dir. Philomène Hoël, 2020)

The day will end with the first in-person screening of artist Philomène Hoël’s film Acting Out: Stephen Dwoskin, in which ‘Hoël plays a high-wire game with her fellow researchers, exploring the nature of their mutual obsession; filmmaker Stephen Dwoskin, whose life and fictive world bleeds into their encounter through a series of interventions in disconcerting and hilarious ways’ (Ben Cook).

Buy tickets from BFI Southbank.


Experimenta focus: Stephen Dwoskin season

A unique and challenging filmmaker whose themes include disability, sexuality, diaspora, and memory.

Stephen Dwoskin arrived in London from New York in 1964, aged 25, with a trunk of 16mm films shot in the milieu of Andy Warhol and Jonas Mekas. He became known for a series of films in which the camera’s unblinking gaze is returned by his female subjects. Laura Mulvey wrote that he ‘opened a completely new perspective for me on cinematic voyeurism’. In the mid-70s, Dwoskin turned his gaze on his own body, disabled in childhood by polio, before making a number of personal documentaries about disability and diaspora. In the 2000s, with his mobility severely impaired, he embraced the possibilities of digital technology to return to the underground and the erotic obsessions that powered his extraordinary 50-year career.

Rachel Garfield and Henry K Miller, co-programmers

For details of the entire programme, please visit the Experimenta focus: Stephen Dwoskin page.