Screenings of Cinenova’s immense Women’s film archive are few and far between. At their recent exhibition at the Showroom Gallery, ‘Reproductive Labour’, archival excerpts occupied the space and almost the entire catalogue could be viewed on a small television screen on request. Auto Italia’s collaboration with Cinenova is rather different. In a temporary screening room films are shown on a large scale, with booming sound and in darkness. The archive display, at the former show, alluded to the increasingly shadowed narratives of the films in the catalogue and that of Cinenova, questioning the condition of the archive- does it preserve histories for longevity or simply allow them to disappear’ In contrast, Auto Italia’s series of screenings create a space for the archive to be used and interpreted.
Each screening takes on a different theme, putting together films and thus expanding and changing the narratives they hold through juxtaposition. In Sunday’s session four films which take HIV as their subject (selected by the makers of ‘Life, Love and HIV’’ a film developed by adults living with HIV at UK charity Body and Soul in collaboration with artist Lucy Pawlack) presented different perspectives on the body-politics surrounding the disease. From American artist Zoe Leonard and Catherine Sallfield’s activist ‘Keep Your Laws of My Body’ to Greg Bordowitz’s parodic, ironic reclamation of the voice of HIV sufferer, to ‘Mouthing Off’ a film made by Leeds City Council in the early 90s which presents women talking about what HIV and sex meant to them. Finally, the members of Body and Soul presented their own film; a flux of internet images accompanied by voiceovers. The voices cut through the mundane images that are presented, or lend them emotion momentarily; the film allows the speakers to talk over one another, to present individual narratives and to speak in unison. Their multiple voices speak of difference rather than continuity for HIV sufferers.
Although human difference is an important aspect to all the films, there is a clear shift in the politicised body and sexual politics of the earlier films and the empowering, consciousness raising tone of the latter. On the other hand there is over twenty years separating their production. This is one of the most important aspects of the screenings; four films can be shown in series presenting narratives which may have been erased from mainstream history, or rarely have space for expression and allowing them to create a history. These screenings open up and enliven the archive allowing the diversity of its contents and narratives to be revealed at the flick of a projector switch.