The Museum of Modern Art, Floor T2, Theater 2
*Shape of a Surface*. 2017. USA/Turkey. 16mm. Directed by Nazlı Dinçel. Courtesy the artist

Nazlı Dinçel’s first-person 16mm films, surveyed here in titles dating from 2009 to 2018, constitute a formidable vision for analog filmmaking within a current generation of experimental cinema artists. Dinçel’s films are rooted in the body, charting her and her lovers’ flesh across experiences of desire and dislocation. Hand-making her films—scratching, sewing, hammering, letter-punching, and typewriting all figure into the process—allows the artist to manifest intensely private subject matter in an equally physical cinematic object. Moments of carnal sublimation or self-pleasure, breakdowns of communication, and the lyrical textures of bodies in the spaces they inhabit all contribute to Dinçel’s self-described “female polemic against representations of the body.” Her work also gestures toward her upbringing in Turkey, from which she emigrated on her own as a teenager; the films’ painstaking construction evokes traditions such as rug-making, while their themes signal an urgency of self-expression without shame or reductive notions of gender. Reminiscent of Carolee Schneemann and Kathy Acker but articulated through a contemporary critical voice that is uniquely her own, Dinçel’s films are knowing, vital anthems about empowerment through art. The screening includes the world premiere of Dinçel’s newest work, Instructions on How To Make a Film, and a rare showing of her sole digital title, Untitled (2016), and will be followed by an onstage conversation.

This film accompanies Modern Mondays.