1st W.I.S.S.PE.R. Workshop

W.I.S.S.PE.R. – “Women’s Impact on Silent Screen PErformance Reloaded” presents Dance, Acting, Movement and Gestural Patterns in Silent Cinema (Amsterdam, Eye Collection Centre, April 20-21, 2023): a workshop organised in collaboration with Eye Filmmuseum (The Netherlands) and the CiASp Research Centre of Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB).

The tri-fold programme is available here.

This is an overview of the two-day workshop.

To watch W.I.S.S.PE.R.’s playlist from the Eye Filmmuseum Collections, follow this link. The playlist also includes the Dutch version of the film Shoes (Lois Weber, 1916), preserved as found in 1990, and the first preservation (1992) of the film Maudite soit la guerre (Alfred Machin, 1914).

Please find below a brief biographical profile of the workshop organizers and speakers. The videos of all the speakers’ presentations are available below.

Workshop Organizers:

Elisa Uffreduzzi is Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellow Université Libre de Bruxelles, for the accomplishment of the research project W.I.S.S.PE.R. – Women’s Impact on Silent Screen PErformance Reloaded. In 2016 she joined the Media Ecology Project (Dartmouth College) for the digital analysis of Florence Lawrence screen performances. From 2018 to 2021 she has collaborated with the University of Rome “Tor Vergata” and from 2019 to 2021 she has worked for the national film archive (Cineteca Nazionale, Rome), participating in the project of the Ministry of Culture “Cinecensura.com”, about Italian film censorship. She has written widely on dance in silent cinema and her publications include the book La danza nel cinema muto italiano (Aracne: 2017) and the essay “Dance and Futurism in Italian Silent Cinema” (AUP, 2017). During the workshop, Uffreduzzi also presented about Stacia Napierkowska: an actress-dancer. Please find below the video of her presentation.

Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi is the Curator of Silent film at Eye Filmmuseum. After graduating from Univ. of Amsterdam, Film&TV Studies in 1997 she completed the Archimedia course in 1998. Since 1999 at Eye, she has worked on the discovery, restoration and presentation of many presumed lost films, often starring forgotten actresses such as Rosa Porten, Olive Thomas, Valeria Creti, Constance Talmadge, and more. Rongen-Kaynakci is directly involved with the programs of international archival festivals Il Cinema Ritrovato and Le Giornate del Cinema Muto and other events dedicated to silent cinema. She has served on the steering committee of the WFHI (Women and Film History International) from 2015 to 2022, and co-organized the 2019 Women and the Silent Screen Conference at Eye. She is also one of the three curators of ‘Cinema’s First Nasty Women’; a DVD-box with 99 films, released in December 2022 by Kino Lorber.

Workshop Speakers:

Rachel Morley is Associate Professor of Russian and Soviet Cinema and Culture at University College London (UCL). Her research interests span Imperial Russian, Soviet and contemporary Russian cinema (from the 1890s to the present), with particular focus on issues of gender, sexuality and identity. She is the author of Performing Femininity: Woman as Performer in Early Russian Cinema (Bloomsbury, 2017), published in Russian as Izobrazhaia zhenstvennost´: Zhenshchina kak artistka v rannem russkom kino (Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2023). Her work also been published in Apparatus: Film, Media and Digital Cultures in Central and Eastern EuropeKinoKulturaSlavonic and East European ReviewStudies in Russian and Soviet Cinema, and various edited volumes. Her current research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, examines contemporary women filmmakers working in the Russian Federation. During the workshop, Rachel Morley presented about “Let’s Watch a Little How She Dances”. Ballet and the Ballerina in the Cinema of the Russian Empire. Please find below the video of her presentation.

Laurent Guido (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle) is a film historian and Professor in Film and Media. He previously worked at the Universities of Lausanne and Lille and was a visiting professor at the Universities of Montréal (UdeM), Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense and Bruxelles (ULB). By associating aesthetics with socio-historical issues, he mainly works on the relations between film, corporeality and music, as well as on the theories of the spectacular in the context of mass culture. His publications include L’Age du rythme (Payot, 2007; rééd. 2014), Rythmer/Rhythmize (Intermédialités, 2010, avec M. Cowan), Between Still and Moving Images (J. Libbey/Univ. of Indiana Press, 2012, with O. Lugon), Aux sources du burlesque cinématographique (AFRHC, 2010, avec L. Le Forestier), Jane Feuer. Mythologies du film musical (Presses du réel, 2016, avec M. Chabrol). Loin des yeux… le cinéma. Images médiatiques des techniques de télécommunication et surveillance (L’Age d’Homme, 2019, with A. Boillat), De Wagner au cinéma (Mimesis, 2019), Cinéma, mythe et idéologie (Hermann, 2020). During the workshop, Laurent Guido presented about Some Remarks on Dance in Segundo de Chomon’s Films. Please find below the video of his presentation.

Mary Simonson is the Daniel C. Benton ’80 Endowed Chair in Arts, Creativity, and Innovation and Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Women’s Studies at Colgate University, where she directs the Film & Media Studies program. Her scholarship explores performance across media in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, particularly in American filmic, musical, and cultural contexts. Her book, Body Knowledge: Performance, Intermediality, and American Entertainment, 1907-1917 (Oxford University Press, 2013) explores the interplay of the live and the mediatized in turn-of-the-century American musical, dance, and film cultures, and her current book project examines vocal performance and technologies in American silent films and their exhibition in the 1920s. Her work has also appeared in journals and edited volumes including the Journal of the American Musicological SocietyAmerican MusicScreening the Past, and The Oxford Handbook of Dance and the Popular Screen. She serves as the chair of the Society for American Music’s Music, Sound, and Media Interest Group, and leads the Mellon Humanities Corridor Performance/History Faculty Working Group. During the workshop, Mary Simonson presented about “Picturesque Effects”, Movement and the Politics of Looking. Please find below the video of her presentation.

Kristina Köhler is Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History and the Department of Media Culture and Theatre at the University of Cologne, Germany. She is author of a monograph on early 20th century cinema culture and modern dance (Der tänzerische Film. Frühe Filmkultur und moderner Tanz, 2017; English translation forthcoming with Amsterdam University Press). Her research intervenes at the intersections of art and the moving image, especially in the 19th and early 20th century, and brings together methodologies of media and art history. With a specific interest in the history and historiography of theory, she examines broader interdisciplinary aesthetics debates and the fluctuations of theoretical concepts (such as “style”, “pleasure”, “interactivity”) over different periods and contexts. She is co-editor of the German-speaking journal Montage AV – for which she has edited journal issues on “Choreography and Film”, “Hugo Münsterberg” and “Fashion Media”. She is also a series editor of Film-Konzepte, and has edited volumes on film-makers Jacques Demy and Andrea Arnold. During the workshop, Kristina Köhler presented about Looking for Footprints. Modern Dance/rs and German Silent Cinema in the 1910s. Please find below the video of her presentation.

Marketa Uhlirova is an art historian and curator with an interest in the display, representation and mediation of fashion and dress, especially in the moving image. She is a co-founder and director of the Fashion in Film Festival, and Reader in Fashion, Cinema and Visual Studies at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. Her film programmes have been hosted by leading arts venues including Tate Modern, BFI Southbank, Palazzo Grassi, Danish Film Institute and Museum of the Moving Image, New York. In 2017 she co-produced and co-edited, with Rollo Smallcombe, The Inferno Unseen (2017), a new cut of the unfinished 1964 film by Henri-Georges Clouzot, which premiered at Barbican Centre. Marketa is also the editor of Fashion in Film’s publications, including If Looks Could Kill: Cinema’s Images of Fashion, Crime and Violence (2008) and the award-winning Birds of Paradise: Costume as Cinematic Spectacle (2013), and a contributor to publications including The Oxford Handbook of Film Theory, Peter Wollen: Beyond AuteurismMaison Sonia Delaunay: Sonia Delaunay and the Atelier Simultané, Fashion Theory, Screen, Aperture, and AnOther. During the workshop, Marketa Uhlirova presented about Women’s Gestures and Movements in Early Fashion films. Please find below the video of her presentation.

Asli Özgen is Assistant Professor of Media and Culture in the University of Amsterdam’s Media Studies Department, teaching at the undergraduate level as well as in the MA in Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image. Her doctoral research, conducted at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, explored the aesthetics and politics of cinematic pedestrianism. Earlier, she studied English Language and Literature and obtained her master’s in Critical Theory. Her current research focuses on the contested and precarious film heritage of ethnicized, racialized, and migrant communities. She specializes in film historiography, particularly feminist and decolonial interventions. Ozgen-Tuncer is an internationally accredited film critic and a regular contributor to magazines, catalogues, and festivals. Since 2014, she is serving in the editorial board of Altyazi (TR), a film magazine and cultural NGO with a focus on politics of cinema and freedom of expression. Her book The Aesthetics and Politics of Cinematic Pedestrianism: Walking in Films has recently been published (AUP, 2022). During the workshop, Asli Özgen presented about Sisterhood Across Streets and Screens. Walking, precarity and feminist pedestrian acts in cinema. Please find below the video of her presentation.

Ivo Blom is lecturer in Comparative Arts & Media Studies at Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam. Besides his monographs Jean Desmet and the Early Dutch Film Trade (2000) and Reframing Luchino Visconti: Film and Art (2018), he has often published on Italian silent film and its ties with art and visual culture. He has also contributed to the crossmedial exhibitions Alma-Tadema: At Home in Antiquity (Fries Museum/ Untere Belvedere/ Leighton House, 2016-17) and Enfin le cinéma! (Musée d’Orsay, 2021-22). Forthcoming is his third monograph, Quo vadis, Cabiria and the ‘Archaeologists’: Early Italian Cinema’s Appropriation of Art and Archaeology (2023). During the workshop, Ivo Blom presented about Her/Hair Affairs. Hair and Gestures in Early Cinema. Please find below the video of his presentation.

Dominique Nasta is Full Professor of Film Studies at the Université libre de Bruxelles and Chair of the Film Studies Department. She was Visiting Professor at the Universities of Montréal (2013), Strasbourg (2015) and Buenos Aires (2019) and Principal Investigator for the European project “The Magic Lantern and its cultural impact in Belgium”. She is the author of Contemporary Romanian Cinema: The History of an Unexpected Miracle (2013) and of Meaning in Film: Relevant Structures in Soundtrack and Narrative (1992). Dominique Nasta has co-edited Revisiting Film Melodrama (2014), New Perspectives in Sound Studies (2004) and La chanson dans les cinémas d’Europe et d’Amérique Latine 1960-2010 (2019). She has published widely on Romanian cinema – most recently chapters of The Global Auteur, (2016) and The New Romanian Cinema, (2019) – on emotions and music in films, the aesthetics of silent melodramas, the cinema of Michelangelo Antonioni. She is Series editor for Rethinking Cinema a bilingual collection published by Peter Lang. During the workshop, Dominique Nasta presented about Melodramatic Patterns in Transition: acting and aural architecture in five Italian melodramas around 1914. Please find below the video of her presentation.