The Alchemy of Film: Experiments with the Medium

James Cohan Gallery, 52 Walker St 2nd Fl, New York, NY, 10013
Still from Irene Duga's PESCA PISCA (1968).

On Friday, June 23rd, at 6:30pm, join us at the James Cohan gallery (52 Walker Street) for THE ALCHEMY OF FILM: EXPERIMENTS WITH THE MEDIUM, a stunning program of avant-garde works from our archive, curated by Julia Curl, on the occasion of Mary Grigoriadis at Cohan, that highlight women filmmakers who experiment with the physical medium.


Like Grigoriadis’s attention to the material quality of her paintings, these filmmakers intervene directly on the surface of their films, scratching, painting, tinting, and even deliberately eroding the emulsion by burying it in a landfill. Works like Storm De Hirsch’s psychedelic classic Peyote Queen (1964) and Irene Duga’s Pesca Pisca (1968) explore the female form, abstracting it in paint. Others employ inventive processes, like Carolyn Avery’s experiments with using scotch tape to pull ink off of magazines before adhering the tape to the surface of Pilgrim's Progress (1985).

This screening will take place on 16mm film and features rare vintage prints. (Photosensitivity warning: this program includes some strobe-like visuals).



  1. Storm De Hirsch, Peyote Queen (1964, 16mm, color, sound, 9 minutes) 
  2. Irene Duga, Pesca Pisca (1968, 16mm, color, sound, 4 minutes) 
  3. Katherine Bauer, Popples Feet (2017, 16mm, color, sound, 4 minutes) 
  4. Caroline Avery, Pilgrim’s Progress (1985, 16mm, color, silent, 9 minutes) 
  5. Joyce Wieland, Hand Tinting (1967, 16mm, color, silent, 6 minutes) 
  6. Olga Spiegel, Alchemy Blues (1974, 16mm, color, sound, 10 minutes) 
  7. Jennifer Reeves, Landfill 16 (2011, 16mm, color, sound, 9 minutes)

Total Run Time: 51 minutes.