Structure and Narrative: Lemons, Carrots, Peas and a White Dog

Film evening

31.03.2009 19:00

Price: Entrance free!

Californian artist Diana Thater is curating her personal film programme as part of the exhibition Diana Thater. gorillagorillagorilla. Along with 16mm Structural Films by Hollis Frampton and Jack Goldstein, she is showing Samuel Fuller's feature film White Dog, which was originally withheld from cinemas due to fear of racial violence.

Every kind of filmmaking has its own poetry, says Diana Thater. Her choice of films endeavours to take a look at both narrative and abstract forms of film. In her selection, Thater seeks to promote an understanding of how films are produced and presented, and link knowledge about the two genres presented.

Structural Film is for Diana Thater one of the most significant avantgarde film movements. For representatives of this movement, which developed in the USA in the 1960s, film was not primarily a narrative medium but more a kind of material or tool. Filmmakers used the fundamental elements of film language, and made abstraction the subject of their experimental films. Unlike Hollywood directors, filmmakers such as Michael Snow, Jack Goldstein, Stan Brakhage, Paul Sharits, Tony Conrad, Ernie Gehr and George Landow included camera work, projection, editing, lighting etc. in their work, and built in the public as part of the structure. Thater considers Lemon, for example, a short by Hollis Frampton, almost a copybook example of what cinematography, colour and light are all about. The artist adopts the working methods of these directors in her work by making the apparatus used in her "neo-structuralist" installations visible, and building a relationship with the public through the subject of film. For Thater, the structure develops a relationship with the public. It becomes a living thing, changing the way we see the world.


Thater's work is about disclosure and clarification, observing animals and nature, and the insight into animal psychology gained thereby. She aims to think through and with animals. The social structures, and the way animals see themselves, their families and their friends, become components of the work structure. Humans have long acted on the assumption that they dominate nature and have the right to kill everything that gets in their way. Thater also tackles prejudices that people have towards animals and nature in general. Sam Fuller's feature film White Dog inspired her because it shows how human prejudices can be transferred to an animal. Samuel Fuller (1912-1997) was a US Army cameraman who filmed the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. This experience coloured his whole life and film output. His films are very often about people who are persecuted for the colour of their skin or other characteristics. White Dog shows extreme human prejudices being instilled in an animal. A racist in the southern states attempts to train his white German shepherd to hate blacks the way he himself does. The film was initially greeted with such controversy that the distribution company refused to take it on. It was thought that the film could encourage people to train dogs to attack black people. It was only in the early 90s that White Dog finally made it into the US art cinemas.




Introduction by Diana Thater on video (taped in Graz before the exhibition opened)


Structural Films:
16mm short films by Jack Goldstein: MGM and Shane (1975)
16mm short films by Hollis Frampton: Lemon and Carrots and Peas (1969), Hapax Legomena III: Critical Mass (1971), Gloria! (1979)
Feature Film:
White Dog (Samuel Fuller, 1982)


Programme in English.



More Information about the exhibition:
Diana Thater. gorillagorillagorilla


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