Living on Air: The Films of Sandra Lahire

“I have used my portable 16mm camera as a light-painting pencil-in-motion” writes
Sandra Lahire in her 1995 artist statement. Lahire (1950–2001) was a central figure in
the experimental feminist filmmaking community that emerged in the UK in the
1980’s. She was a dedicated member of the London Film-Makers’ Co-op (now LUX)
and feminist film and video distributor Circles (now Cinenova), and her
collaborations with other artists such as Tina Keane, Lis Rhodes and Sarah Turner
were integral to her filmic practice and feminist politics. She utilised the optical
printer at the co-op to make stunning 16mm films that explored illness, lesbian
identity, environmental concerns and the anti-nuclear movement. Integral to all her
work is the relationship between the body and the materiality of film, registers of
violence and proximity to harm. Her films merge documentary, performance,
animation, superimposition – both in-camera and with the optical printer. Her body
of work includes two trilogies: the anti-nuclear films in the 1980s that look at the
social and environmental effects of uranium mining and nuclear power, and in the
1990s ‘Living on Air’, the life and poetry of Sylvia Plath. She died in 2001, aged 50,
after an enduring struggle with anorexia. This loss was felt keenly by her community
of friends and collaborators. This, along with the unknown status of the artist's
archive and original film materials, has contributed towards a lack of visibility of her
work until recent years. Seen in the contemporary context, Lahire's work remains
prescient, still enduring and deeply impactful.

Organized with Support from LUX

Introduced by Charlotte Procter, Collection & Archive Director at LUX and member
of the Cinenova Working Group

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