Joyce Wieland

Joyce Wieland – Rat Life and Diet in North America (1968)

Rat Life and Diet in North America is a short film that tells a story about rats (actually pet gerbils) held as political prisoners in the United States (their jailer a cat), who make a heroic escape to Canada. Although this narrative is recounted through wryly worded intertitles, Wieland’s film nonetheless conveys a sense of menace and urgency. For these protagonists “Canada” becomes a utopian destination, promising abundance, pleasure, and peace. The film was created in 1968, a time of international student protests against the military and capitalist establishments, the rise of the New Left, and worldwide demonstrations against the Vietnam War; many young American men were fleeing to Canada to avoid being drafted into the military. Read More »

Joyce Wieland – Cat Food (1967)

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Cat Food
Canada / 13:30 min. / 1967
sound / color

“In Catfood Wieland shows a cat devouring fish after fish for some ten minutes. There seems to be no repetition of shots, but the imagery is so consistent throughout–shot of the fish, the cat eating, his paw clawing, another fish, the cat eating, etc.–that it is just possible the shots are recurrent. There is no question that Wieland has a unique talent.”- P Adams Sitney, Film Culture

“A cat eats its methodical way through a polymorphous fish. The projector devours the ribbon of film at the same rate, methodically. The lay of Grimnir mentions a wild boar whose magical flesh was nightly devoured by the heroes of Valhalla, and miraculously regenerated next morning in the kitchen. The fish in Wieland’s film, and the miraculous flesh of the film itself, are reconstructed on the rewinds to be devoured again. Here is a dionysian metaphor, old as the West, of immense strength. Once we see that the fish is the protagonist of the action, this metaphor reverberates to incandescence in the mind.” – Hollis Frampton Read More »