Born in New York in 1939, Stephen Dwoskin came to London in 1964, and helped found the London Film-Makers’ Co-op, the LUX’s predecessor, two years later. He made his name with a series of short films in the late 1960s and early 1970s, some shot in New York and finished in London, the rest made in his new home in Notting Hill.
The most characteristic films of this period, Laura Mulvey has written, ‘concentrate on one woman, allowing the erotic relationship, so often implicit between camera and female performer in cinema in general, to be acted out in an overt scene of mutual fascination’.
From the 1970s onwards, Dwoskin worked at feature length, in a variety of modes – from fiction to documentary portrait to essay film to autobiography – but with clear ties to his ‘underground’ work. Having contracted polio as a child, Dwoskin had limited mobility, and several of his films, starting with Behindert in 1974, reflect on his experience of disability.
The actors, performers, and dancers he worked with include Carolee Schneemann, Jenny Runacre, Carola Regnier, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Beatrice ‘Trixie’ Cordua, and the Ballets Nègres troupe. His first films were soundtracked by Ron Geesin; during the 1970s he enjoyed a long collaboration with the composer Gavin Bryars.
In the 2000s Dwoskin returned to the underground, embracing the then new digital technology for the freedom it afforded him, culminating in Age Is… (2012), his posthumously released final film.
Henry K. Miller