The shorts by Hollis Frampton and Joyce Wieland on this program are among the oddest (for their eccentric use of on-screen text, among other things) and yet most moving of avant-garde films. Wieland’s Rat Life and Diet in North America (1973) is partly a period piece, with its references to Che Guevara and, as the opening title says, the “military structure of the global village”; its fanciful narrative has rats being kept captive by cats, then escaping to Canada where they take up organic gardening. The story is an allegory about Vietnam-era draft resisters, but what makes it affecting are the free-floating relationships between images–and images and text. The lyrical burst of nature imagery following the first Canada title has a spatial openness that’s mirrored in other elements of the film, which ultimately becomes a meditation on freedom. Frampton, best known for making “structural” films, reveals his emotional side in Gloria! (1979), a memorial to a recently deceased woman. Much of the film shows text on a computer screen that recounts the woman’s life; it’s only as these facts unfold that we realize they’re all describing a single person–Frampton’s grandmother. Gloria! ends with a fragment from an early film showing a supposedly dead person surprising those around him by coming back to life. This amusing little story suggests Frampton’s own desire to resurrect his grandmother, revealing how much he mourns her loss. Also showing is Zack Stiglicz’s God the Pugilist–The 13th Protocol (1996). School of the Art Institute, 112 S. Michigan, 13th floor, Thursday, December 19, 4:30, 312-345-3588.

–Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Still (a dedication) from Gloria!.