Viewfinder: Women’s Film and Video from the Smithsonian archives

January 11, 2021
Joan Jonas, Left Side Right Side, 1972. Single-channel video (black-and-white, sound). 8′ 50”. © 2020 Joan Jonas / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York / Brussels.

Since the invention of the moving image, women have created films and videos that have changed how people see and experience the world. Throughout 2021, the Smithsonian will celebrate the breadth of women-made films and videos through a monthly program series called “Viewfinder: Women’s Film and Video from the Smithsonian.”

On the first Thursday of each month, the Smithsonian will host a free online screening of rarely seen short films and videos from its collections followed by live conversations with the artists and Smithsonian curators. Each screening will include an audience Q&A, and a recording of the program will be available for the remainder of each month on

“One of the great strengths of the Smithsonian is in the powerful connections that are found across its vast collections that allow us to tell complex stories and amplify our shared experiences,” said Stephanie Stebich, chair of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative and the Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “As the COVID-19 pandemic has closed the doors to the Smithsonian’s physical spaces, we have opened our digital doors even wider. The ‘Viewfinder’ series will bring media art from across the Smithsonian out of the dark and into people’s homes around the world, highlighting the interdisciplinary depth and diversity of the collections.”

The selected works featured in “Viewfinder” will explore different themes that connect collections across several Smithsonian museums. The first six programs of the year will feature works that examine inner worlds­—a timely topic as the global pandemic continues to confine many people to their homes.

Monthly programs will be hosted on Zoom at 5:30pm ET, with live closed-captioning available; advance registration is required. The public can find information about upcoming screenings and register for each program on the American Women’s History Initiative website.

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