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Athyrium-Filix Femina

Athyrium-Filix Femina
Kelly Egan
5 min., 2016, Canada

The second in a series of “quilt films” that pay homage to the work of pioneering female artists, Athyrium filix-femina reimagines Anna Atkins’ founding work in photography as a moving image. In 1843, Anna Atkins published the first book of photography, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, an exploration of regional botany that classified different kinds of algae using direct prints of the plants. The cyanotype process was a relatively short-lived as a dominant form of photography, however, it found refuge in the domestic sphere where it was used to decorate fabric for pillows, drapes and clothing. By combining filmmaking and quilting, this film extends from the “domestication” of this photographic art by exploring experimental narrative and structural forms through the use of traditional “women’s work.” The “narrative” in this film is told through the symbolic patterning in quilt-making practices.

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