Vivienne Dick: the experimental feminist film-maker digs back into New York's 1970s no wave scene

Mar 16, 2020, 07:30 AM

Vivienne discusses the importance of place, her work with punk-poet Lydia Lunch, her unique approach to cinema, defying categorisation, and being creative in her seventies

"Often women artists do all their best work when they're older
You feel stronger, you feel like you've got nothing to lose"


Experimental film-maker Vivienne Dick moved from Ireland to New York in the late-70s and was at the heart of a scene called no-wave, an avant-garde music and art movement where people like director Jim Jarmusch, artist Basquiat, photographer Nan Goldin and musicians Sonic Youth and Debbie Harry mingled together.

Inspired by this DIY community downtown, she picked up a Super 8 camera and started shooting the women around her, in films like Guerillere Talks and She Had The Gun All Ready. Lydia Lunch, one of the most charismatic of Vivienne’s subjects, described No Wave as a “collective caterwaul that defied categorisation and despised convention."

Presenter Kate Hutchinson first heard Vivienne’s name in the song Hot Topic by dance-punks Le Tigre, which reels off a list of artists, writers, activists and feminist firebrands, putting her alongside the likes of Yoko Ono and Sleater-Kinney. 

Vivienne is still an experimental film-maker to this day and has never sold out her vision. The Last Bohemians visited her at her Dublin home, as she was putting the finishing touches to her latest film New York, Our Time, which has since won the Film Critics Circle Award for Best Documentary. It transports Vivienne back to the city she left in 1982 and sees her reconnecting with some of her old friends. 

Our story starts, however, in Donegal, Ireland, where a young Vivienne couldn’t wait to leave...

This episode was produced by Ali Gardiner.

Music in this episode (sourced via Bandcamp, freemusicarchive.org and archive.org):
Tryad – The Rising
Blue Dot Sessions – Campfire Rounds
Fields Ohio – Anti-Saloon League
Gallery Six – Moel
Plastic Sunday – No Tomorrow
Chocolate Billy - Assedic No Wave
Lee Rosevere – Ennui
Revolution Void – Someone Else’s Memories
Phlox.s – Obey The Sun
Gallery Six – Hydroscope
Chris Zabriskie – Virtues Inherited, Vices Passed On
Chris Zabriskie – Heliograph
Chris Zabriskie – Candlepower
Chris Zabriskie – Oxygen Garden