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Five Women Artists Rushed Through Our City Dreams

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Our City Dreams
Directed by Chiara Clemente
First Run Features
Opens February 4, Film Forum

Like rushed gallery-hopping, Chiara Clemente's doc on five multigenerational, multinational women artists, all living in New York, provides only a cursory view of what's on display. The director—daughter of painter Francesco, the focus of her first film, the short Three Worlds—starts with the youngest of her subjects, the Gen-Y cutout artist Swoon, and works backward to pioneering second-wave feminist octogenarian Nancy Spero. The women who bookend Clemente's film are, coincidentally, the only two offering a sense of how New York has affected their practice—supposedly the uniting theme in Our City Dreams. Marina Abramovic, who moved to NYC in 2004, appears to have no connection to the city other than performing at the Guggenheim; Ghada Amer talks about house-buying jitters on an MTA bus; Kiki Smith is filmed briefly on an East Village block. A Gotham resident since 1964, Spero (creator of the fantastic glass-mosaic murals in the Lincoln Center subway station, captured fleetingly in the doc) gives the most forthright assessment of the agony and the ecstasy of trying to sustain life as an artist here, noting that she, painter husband Leon Golub, and their tykes settled first in Paris in the '50s as a more hospitable location. For even more candor, seek out the women who are barely able to pay rent on their studios in Sunset Park, Long Island City, or Red Hook.

 
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