The Machine that Kills Bad People

A bi-monthly film club at ICA, London, organized together with Maria Palacios Cruz, Beatrice Gibson, and Ben Rivers.

The Machine That Kills Bad People is, of course, the cinema—a medium that is so often and so visibly in service of a crushing status quo but which, in the right hands, is a fatal instrument of beauty, contestation, wonder, politics, poetry, new visions, testimonies, histories, dreams... It is also a film club devoted to showing work—“mainstream” and experimental, known and unknown, historical and contemporary—that takes up this task.


October 2023: Martine Rousset’s Un vent léger dans le feuillage (1994) and Haneda Sumiko’s Ode to Mount Hayachine (1982). Commissioned essay by Ricardo Matos Cabo.

September 2023: Jeanne Liotta’s Observando el cielo (2007) and Annik Leroy’s In der Dämmerstunde – Berlin (1980). Commissioned essay by Amina Cain.

June 2023: Sylvia Schedelbauer’s Way Fare (2009) and Ruth Beckermann’s Paper Bridge (1987). Commissioned essay by Rebecca Jane Arthur.

April 2023: Barbara Hammer’s Audience (1982–83) and Lizzie Borden’s Regrouping (1976). Commissioned essay by Laura Guy.

March 2023: Assia Djebar’s La nouba des femmes de Mont-Chenoua (1977) and Sarah Maldoror’s Assia Djebar (1987). Commissioned essay by Corina Copp.

December 2022: Alice Guy’s Madame a des envies (1906) and Ildiko Enyedi’s My 20th Century (1989). Commissioned essay by Juliet Jacques.

October 2022: Malena Szalm’s ALTIPLANO (2018) and Nina Menkes’s The Bloody Child (1996). Commissioned essay by Alice Blackhurst.

July 2022: Rose Lowder’s Quiproquo (1992) and Manuela Serra’s The Movement of Things (1985). Commissioned essay by Teresa Castro.

May 2022: Dorothy Arzner’s Anybody’s Woman (1930) and Bette Gordon’s Anybody’s Woman (1981). Commissioned essay by Janique Vigier.

April 2022: Manon de Boer’s The Untroubled Mind (2016) and Shireen Seno’s Nervous Translation (2017). Commissioned essay by George Clark.

January 2022: Marguerite Duras’s Les Mains négatives (1978) and Marie-Claude Treilhou’s Simone Barbès ou la vertu (1980). Commissioned essay by Eileen Myles.

November 2021: Safi Faye’s Selbe et tant d’autres (1982) and Trinh T. Minh-ha’s Reassemblage (1982). Commissioned essay by Xiaolu Guo.

September 2021: Alice Rohrwacher’s Corpo Celeste (2011) and Nina Danino’s Stabat Mater (1990). Commissioned essay by Andréa Picard.

April 2020: Alanis Obomsawin’s Incident at Restigouche (1984) and Sandra Lahire’s Serpent River (1989). Commissioned essay by Tendai Mutambu.

January 2020: Friedl vom Gröller’s Photo Session (2010) and Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends (1978). Commissioned essay by Courtney Duckworth.

November 2019: Angela Schanelec's Places in Cities (1998) and Alexandra Cuesta's Piensa in mí (2009). Commissioned essay by Daniella Shreir.

September 2019: Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman (1996) and Shai Heredia and Shumona Goel’s I am Micro (2012). Commissioned essay by Jemma Desai.

July 2019: Samira Makhmalbaf’s Blackboards (2000) and Forough Farrokhzad’s The House is Black (1962). Commissioned essay by Sara Saljoughi.

June 2019: Babette Mangolte’s The Sky on Location (1982) and Deborah Stratman’s O’er the Land (2009). Presented at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Commissioned essay by Erika Balsom.

May 2019: Peggy Ahwesh’s Martina’s Playhouse (1989) and Doris Wishman’s Nude on the Moon (1961). Commissioned essay by Ara Osterweil.

March 2019: Margarethe von Trotta’s The German Sisters (1981) and Joyce Wieland’s Rat Life and Diet in North America (1968). Commissioned essay by Lucy Reynolds.

January 2019: Where I am is Here (shorts programme). Commissioned essay by Genevieve Yue.

November 2018: Larisa Shepitko’s The Ascent (1977) and Ute Aurand/Ulrike Pfeiffer’s Umweg (1983). Commissioned essay by Laura Staab.

September 2018: Claire Denis’s Nénette et Boni (1996) and Mati Diop’s Big in Vietnam (2012). Commissioned essay by Leo Goldsmith.

July 2018: Anocha Suchwichakornpong’s Mundane History (2009) and Mary Helena Clark’s The Dragon is the Frame (2014). Commissioned essay by May Adadol Ingawanij.

May 2018: Barbara Loden’s Wanda (1970) and Laida Lertxundi’s Cry When It Happens (2010). Commissioned essay by Elena Gorfinkel.

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Cut the Line

Beursschouwberg, Brussels, 25–28 October 2023

A selection of films opening up a conversation about feminism, historiography and nonlinear temporalities of remembrance.

“The pattern is defined. Cut the line and chronology falls in a crumpled heap. I prefer a crumpled heap, history at my feet, not stretched above my head.” — Lis Rhodes

Films by:

Claudia von Alemann, Sara Gómez, Han Ok-hee, Paper Tiger Television

An Oceanic Feeling

Monokino, Oostende, 27 October 2023

Gunvor Nelson’s Moon’s Pool (1973) and Sharon Lockhart’s Eventide (2022)

A Swedish woman in America, an American woman in Sweden. Two very different films made nearly fifty years apart, both exploring the choreography of bodies in relation to water and the night sky.

Gunvor Nelson’s Moon’s Pool is a kaleidoscopic film that evokes psychic and corporeal unboundedness through the submersion of the filmmaker’s own body in water. Nelson dissolves the clarity of the image into deep blue undulations that glimmer and flow with intimate intensity. Plunging into a fluid and expansive realm, Moon’s Pool draws out affinities between sexuality, the aquatic, and the cosmic.

Sharon Lockhart’s Eventide is a single 30-minute take of the Gotland seashore at dusk. As the light fades into inky darkness, the camera remains still, its gaze unwavering as a woman enters the scene, flashlight in hand. In time, she is joined by five others. What are they searching for? Meteors shoot through the sky above them. Lockhart’s deceptively simple film is a plea for careful looking, a reckoning with what cannot be seen, and an act of grieving – all caught between the ordinary and the miraculous.

No Master Territories: Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image

Co-curated with Hila Peleg

Open City Documentary Festival, London, 6 – 12 September 2023

A selection of films from “No Master Territories: Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image” (HKW Berlin, 2022) by:

Byun Young-joo, Sara Gómez, Grupo Chaski, Krystyna Gryczełowska, Olga Khodataeva/Nikolai Khodataev, Robin Laurie/Margot Nash, Marilú Mallet, Gunvor Nelson/Dorothy Wiley, Newsreel (Bev Grant/Karen Mitnick Liptak), Angelina Vásquez

Bez Mistrza, Bez Pana: Ruchomy Obraz i Feministyczne Tworzenie Światów (No Master Territories: Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image)

Co-curated with Hila Peleg

Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, 12 May - 16 July 2023

Millennium Docs Against Gravity Film Festival, Warsaw, 12 - 21 May 2023

Contributions by:

Peggy Ahwesh, Helena Amiradżibi-Stawińska, Marjorie Beaucage/Rebecca Belmore, Berwick Street Film Collective, Lizzie Borden, Ann Carney/Barbara Phillips, Gardi Deppe/Barbara Kasper/Brigitte Krause/Ingrid Oppermann/Tamara Wyss, Maya Deren, Assia Djebar, Katherine Dunham, Safi Faye, Sara Gómez, Grupo Chaski, Krystyna Gryczełowska, Gwendolyn, Barbara Hammer, Han Ok-hee, Mona Hatoum, Zora Neale Hurston, Ana Victoria Jiménez, Sandra Lahire, Robin Laurie/Margot Nash, Nalini Malani, Barbara McCullough, Helke Misselwitz, Tracey Moffatt, Gunvor Nelson/Dorothy Wiley, Newsreel (Bev Grant/Karen Mitnick Liptak), Paper Tiger Television, Letícia Parente, Alice Anne Parker (Severson), Claudia Schillinger, Gundula Schulze, Delphine Seyrig, Esfir Shub, Milica Tomić, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Agnès Varda, Joyce Wieland

No Master Territories: Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image

Co-curated with Hila Peleg

TIFF Bell Lightbox, Toronto, 3 – 26 March 2023

A selection of films from “No Master Territories: Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image” (HKW Berlin, 2022) by:

Claudia von Alemann, Berwick Street Film Collective, Lizzie Borden, Byun Young-joo, Essie Coffey, Gardi Deppe/Barbara Kasper/ Brigitte Krause/Ingrid Oppermann/Tamara Wyss, Assia Djebar, Sara Gómez, Grupo Chaski, Krystyna Gryczełowska, Gwendolyn, Haneda Sumiko, Han Ok-hee, Robin Laurie/Margot Nash, Helke Misselwitz, Kate Millett, Tracey Moffat, Trinh T. Minh-ha

La lotta non è finita: Italian Feminism and 1970s Experimental Film

Co-curated with Hila Peleg, organised in conjunction with Nuova Orfeo and Goethe-Institüt Palermo

Cinema Rouge et Noir, Palermo, 3 February 2023

A selection of films from “No Master Territories: Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image” (HKW Berlin, 2022):

Collettivo femminista di Cinema Roma, La lotta non è finita (1973)

Annabella Miscuglio, Rony (1973–76)

Annabella Miscuglio, Paula (1973–76)

Anna Carini, Rony Daopulo, Paola De Martis, Maria Grazia Belmonti, Annabella Miscuglio, Loredana Rotondo, Un processo per stupro (1979, excerpt)

No Master Territories: Feminist Worldmaking and the Moving Image

Co-curated with Hila Peleg

Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 19 June – 28 August 2022

At a time when feminism is enjoying a mainstream resurgence but must be reclaimed from a neoliberal emphasis on individual success, and when the hybridization of documentary and artists’ film occupies a vital place in the landscape of contemporary practices, the exhibition No Master Territories makes a strategic return to the past. By revisiting the period of the 1970s to 1990s, it aims both to pay homage to the important work that has come before and to respond to the urgencies of the present.

Bridging the fields of documentary and artists’ film, No Master Territories assembles a plurality of practices to offer an expansive, intersectional account of underappreciated encounters between feminism and the moving image. Across a polycentric, global geography, it maps how artists and filmmakers have explored the nexus of gender and power and charts sites at which feminism connects to other struggles for justice.

Contributions by:

Peggy Ahwesh, Chantal Akerman, Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, Claudia von Alemann, Helena Amiradżibi, Michal Aviad, Marjorie Beaucage, Berwick Street Film Collective, Camille Billops/James Hatch, Susana Blaustein Muñoz, Tabea Blumenschein, Lizzie Borden, Dionne Brand/Ginny Stikeman, Byun Young-joo, Gloria Camiruaga, Anna Carini/Rony Daopulo/Paola De Martis/Maria Grazia Belmonti/Annabella Miscuglio/Loredana Rotondo, Ann Carney/Barbara Phillips, Sheba Chhachhi, Essie Coffey, Jo Davis/Lis Rhodes, Zeinabu irene Davis, Maricarmen de Lara, Gardi Deppe/Barbara Kasper/Brigitte Krause/Ingrid Oppermann/Tamara Wyss, Maya Deren, Deepa Dhanraj, Assia Djebar, Loredana Dordi, Katherine Dunham, JoAnn Elam, Safi Faye, Frauenfilmgruppe München, Michie Gleason / Kathy Levitt / Christine Mohanna, Sara Gómez, Grupo Chaski, Krystyna Gryczełowska, Gwendolyn, Barbara Hammer, Han Ok-hee, Haneda Sumiko, Mona Hatoum, Zora Neale Hurston, Idemitsu Mako, Ana Victoria Jiménez, Tina Keane, Olga Khodataeva/Nikolai Khodataev, Ketty La Rocca, Sandra Lahire, Maria Lassnig, Robin Laurie/Margot Nash, Angelika Levi, Mirentxu Loyarte, Nalini Malani, Sarah Maldoror, Marilú Mallet, Cecilia Mangini, Barbara McCullough, Kate Millett/Sophie Keir, Annabella Miscuglio, Helke Misselwitz, Tracey Moffatt, Kitico Moreno, Mira Nair, Gunvor Nelson/Dorothy Wiley, Ulrike Ottinger, Paper Tiger TV, Letícia Parente, Parituh (Kim Soyoung), Alice Ann Parker (Severson), Pratibha Parmar, Qiu Miaojin, Yvonne Rainer, Mirha-Soleil Ross/Mark Karbusicky, Jocelyne Saab, Valeria Sarmiento, Claudia Schillinger, Gundula Schulze Eldowy, Delphine Seyrig, Esfir Shub, Cauleen Smith, Penelope Spheeris, Chick Strand, Khady Sylla, Leslie Thornton, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Abisag Tüllmann, Angelina Vásquez, Agnès Varda, Vidéa, Drahomíra Vihanová, Joyce Wieland

More information here

Fluid Labours

Rieveld Academie Studium Generale conference, Oceanic Imaginaries; 25 March, 2022

In his 1957 book Mythologies, Roland Barthes casts the ocean as a blank space, a traceless void that paralyses the production of meaning: ‘In a single day, how many really nonsignifying fields do we cross? Very few, sometimes none. Here I am, before the sea; it is true that it bears no message. But on the beach, what material for semiology! Flags, slogans, signals, signboards, clothes, suntan even, which are so many messages to me.’ The ocean’s salty expanse will never quench the semiotician’s thirst for signs. The films of Fluid Labours confront the ocean’s difficult relation to signification yet challenge this perspective, conceiving of the sea not as an empty space but as an inhabited realm that is a site of work, contingency and relationality, as well as a place of fraught encounter between the human and other-than-human. Beginning in 1895, at the birth of cinema, and extending into the present, this selection explores how nonfiction filmmakers have mobilised diverse strategies to represent the myriad forms of labour that take place on the water. They call for a reprisal and revision of Barthes: here I am, before the sea, and it is true that it bears many messages – messages of fantasy and necessity, exploit and exploitation, tradition and modernity, life and death.

Films by:

Louis Lumière, Rebecca Meyers, Hira Nabi, Francisco Rodriguez, Tsuchimoto Noriaki

More information here

Peggy Ahwesh: Vision Machines

Co-curated with Robert Leckie

Spike Island, Bristol; 25 September 2021 – 16 January 2022

Kunsthall Stavanger; 24 February – 29 May, 2022

Vision Machines is the first survey exhibition in the UK by American artist Peggy Ahwesh (b. 1954, Pennsylvania, USA) and includes single-channel films and video installations made between 1993 and 2021.

Since the early 1980s, Peggy Ahwesh has forged a distinctive moving image practice in the ruins of originality and authority. Whether by working with nonprofessional performers, especially children, or by repurposing existing images — such as a decaying pornographic film, the video game Tomb Raider, or computer-animated news coverage — Ahwesh embraces improvisatory strategies that probe the critical potential of play. With keen attentiveness to the materiality of bodies and media technologies alike, her works articulate a feminist commitment to the marginal and the minor.

Even as Ahwesh rejects the notion of style as authorial signature, her concerns with sexuality, subjectivity, and troubling the boundary between the animate and inanimate have remained constant across the decades. Focusing on a selection of works that explore the relationship between the body and the technologized image, the exhibition at Spike Island spans issues and ideas as diverse as gender, climate change and war.

Shoreline Movements

Co-curated with Grégory Castéra (Council) for the Taipei Biennial, “You and I Don’t Live on the Same Planet,” curated by Martin Guinard and Bruno Latour, 21 November 2020 – 14 March 2021

Shoreline Movements is a film program that approaches the threshold between land and water as a material environment and as a provocative metaphor for the uncertainties and conflicts of worldly existence. Across eighteen works of cinematic non-fiction made between 1944 and 2020, Shoreline Movements explores how artists and filmmakers have addressed the manifold encounters that take place in the littoral zone, broaching issues of environmental crisis, indigeneity, coloniality, community, and otherness. Presented within a space designed by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, across six cycles that come and go like the tides, these films search for ways to render sensible the particularity and complexity of reality, embracing filmic and verbal language as nontransparent mediators that aid in this task.

Films and videos by:

Peggy Ahwesh, Karimah Ashadu, Joshua Bonnetta, Edith Dekyndt, Maya Deren, Patricio Guzmán, Sky Hopinka, Hu Tai-li, Johan van der Keuken, Rebecca Meyers, Carlos Motta, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Thao Nguyen Phan, Jessica Sarah Rinland, Ben Rivers, Francisco Rodriguez,Tsuchimoto Noriaki, and Zhou Tao

More information here

An Oceanic Feeling

Punto de Vista – Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de Navarra, Pamplona, Spain; 2–7 March, 2020

An Oceanic Feeling challenges the Romantic myth of the ocean as a dark, monstrous void of unknowable depths, populated by alien creatures. Through a series of six screenings of documentary and artists' films from around the world, An Oceanic Feeling explores how the seas are thoroughly imbricated in human histories of colonialism, slavery, exploration and labour, asking: what if we understood the ocean not as dividing us but as connecting us? What politics, what ethics, would follow?

Including films by:

Peggy Ahwesh, CAMP, Vittorio De Seta, Mati Diop, Jean Epstein, David Gatten, Peter Hutton, Louis Lumière, Rebecca Meyers, the Otolith Group, Jean Painlevé, Lois Patiño, Noriaki Tsuchimoto

More information here

Prophecies for the Second Machine Age

Online exhibition for Kadist Art Foundation in collaboration with VIDEOCLOOP

11 March to 11 April 2019

The five works of ‘Prophecies for the Second Machine Age’ offer imaginative responses to the problem of confronting the nonevent of prolonged injury as it occurs at the intersection of the natural and the artificial. In an era of automation and ‘smart’ machines, when rationalization triumphs and technology causes as many problems as it solves, what futures await vulnerable bodies and environments? What catastrophic pasts have they already endured? These artists turn to poetic condensation and oblique metaphor to approach these questions, cultivating mood rather than communicating information.

Including films by:

Pedro Neves Marquez, Nira Pereg, Mary Helena Clark, Diana Fonseca Quiñones, and Beatriz Santiago Muñoz

Watch the programme here

Truth or Consequences

CIRCUIT Artist Film and Video Aotearoa New Zealand 2018 Commissions

For the five artists that comprise this programme, the referential principle of the moving image is an affordance that spurs poetic inquiries into history, identity, and relations to the land. The image’s ability to capture physical reality is not trusted outright as a guarantee of knowledge or singular truth, but approached as a starting point for processes of reflection, questioning, and attunement that make a claim on the real. These works leave behind postmodern scepticism, asserting a bond to actuality even if the meaning of what is seen and heard remains open to debate. The artists embrace diverse techniques—found footage, interviews, observation, testimony—but in all cases documentary emerges as an inquiry into not simply what we know, but how we know it, as experiments with form dynamically reflect on how to rehabilitate a relationship to reality at a time when it seems everywhere in peril.

Including newly commissioned films by:

Andrew de Freitas, Jeremy Leatinu'u, Vea Mafile`o, Janine Randerson, and Bridget Reweti

An Oceanic Feeling

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth, New Zealand; 4 August – 18 November 2018

An Oceanic Feeling challenges the Romantic myth of the ocean as a dark, monstrous void of unknowable depths, populated by alien creatures. Through a series of six screenings of recent artists’ films from around the world, An Oceanic Feeling explores how the seas are thoroughly imbricated in human histories of colonialism, slavery, exploration and labour, asking: what if we understood the ocean not as dividing us but as connecting us? What politics, what ethics, would follow?

Including films by:

Peggy Ahwesh, Noël Burch and Allan Sekula, CAMP, Filipa César and Louis Henderson, Mati Diop, Maddie Leach, Rebecca Meyers, The Otolith Group, Francisco Rodriguez, Philip Scheffner, and G. Anthony Svatek.

Read the programme notes here; accompanied by the publication An Oceanic Feeling: Cinema and the Sea.

Bette Gordon

Birkbeck Institute of the Moving Image, London; 17–18 February 2017

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, New York-based filmmaker Bette Gordon produced a series of works that chart a major shift in experimental practice from the rigor of structural film to a theoretically-informed interest in fragmented narrative and subjective experience that Noel Carroll would dub the “new talkies.” With her best-known work, 1983's Variety, Gordon moves fully into the idiom of independent narrative cinema, but her concerns remain consistent: questions of sexuality, labour, and gentrification are pursued within a critical interrogation of filmic language. Hers is a cinema at once politically urgent, formally sophisticated, and emotionally compelling.

Programme 1: Variety (1983)

Programme 2: An Algorithm (1977), Exchanges (1979), Empty Suitcases (1980)

Read the programme notes here and here