Elevate Difference

Our City Dreams

A film is the best way to showcase stories in motion—literally and figuratively. Our City Dreams is a combination love letter to overtly feminist artists and the city—New York City—in which they reside. Representing a range of women artists whose age and work span nearly six decades, the film’s scope never becomes too wide or convoluted. Throughout the movie, the lives and careers of the women shift, as some find new success, some take time off, and several celebrate their own artistic retrospectives and milestone birthdays. At the end of each artist’s vignette, the audience is left sated but also curious as to what happens next in the lives of the individuals.

SWOON's wheat-pasted street art silhouettes resemble a happy threesome between legendary graffiti enigma Banksy, contemporary collage silhouette artist Kara Walker, and punk rock illustrator Cristy C. Road. Kiki Smith, the daughter of American artist Tony Smith, is a multimedia artist most well known for her sculptures. Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović is known for her grueling, lengthy productions, which have included public masturbation and allowing her audience to harm her with various weapons. Originally from Cairo, Ghada Amer focuses on erotic embroidery, as well as painting and drawing. Nancy Spero, an American collage artist and activist, has been in New York the longest; she is a resident of the city since 1964.

None of the women lead particularly conventional lives; while Spero is the widow of painter Leon Golub, all of the others are unmarried. Most live in seemingly transient spaces, traveling often. All of the women make art with distinctive motivation and all migrated to New York City for unique but overlapping reasons. Amer, who made art to overcome depression, explains that while she used to wish desperately to belong somewhere, she now believes she can be “very comfortable in New York because no one fits.” Smith, who now explores being a “culturally neutered” middle-aged female artist, came to Manhattan for the artistic community and says even now, “I don’t know anyone who’s not an artist.”

SWOON introduces the film by saying that New York is the “biggest, loudest, dirtiest, most intense city that we have, and that’s just where I needed to be.” She feels it is a good time to be a female artist, that now more than ever, people are ready to accept and love the unconventional work of women in the arts. In the end, after witnessing the powerful, profound, and distinct style and vision of each woman, the question we are left wondering is: how much does NYC actually facilitate their accomplishments?

As much about showcasing exquisite shots of the creation and destruction of the city, _Our City Dreams _is a film about discovering your artistic passion at any age, about living authentically in a fractured world, and the importance of women in art.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, March 13th 2009