Abigail Child uses home-movie aesthetics to reconstruct a life in a time when film still had to be invented. Based on diary notes by Mary Shelley (1797-1851) and her stepsister Claire, she filmed the problems of love, pregnancies, babies who died and the written work of these women, who were very emancipated for their day. Child focuses primarily on Mary’s intense love affair with Percy Shelley in the years when she was also writing her classic gothic novel, Frankenstein (1818).
The form of A Shape of Error is playful and adventurous, with split screen shots filled with doublings and mirrors, chronological facts in inter-titles and Mary’s poetic voiceover. For Child, the authenticity of the home video is a way to create intimacy. At the same time, her film is a self-reflective investigation of this authenticity, as she previously did in The Future Is Behind You. A Shape of Error is the first part of a trilogy about women and ideology, in which Shelley’s biography tackles Romanticism. –IFFR
Abigail Child is a film and video maker whose work in montage and sound/image relations pushes the envelope of film/video with humor and ephemeral beauty. Her films explore mixed genres and strategies for rewriting narrative, as well as investigating public space through memory and history.
Recently, Child has turned her signature vertical montage to installation, creating prismatic interruptive and haunting narratives at galleries across the country and world. These include The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota, (March 2006); Philosophy Box, New York City, (June 2005); Radcliffe Institute, Agassiz House (May 2006); and in Manchester, Leeds, Norwalk and Sheffield UK this fall and winter 2007-08 as part of the “Dziga Vertov Project”.
Child began filmmaking in 1970 as a documentarian, producing seven independent 16mm documentaries between 1970 and 1976, among them the award-winning Game (1972) and Between Times (1975). In the mid 70s, Child began to produce experimental… read more