Natural Features (1990)

Swedish artist Gunvor Grundel Nelson was born in 1931 in Stockholm, Sweden. She has worked as an experimental filmmaker since the 1960s. Some of her most widely known works were created while she lived in the Bay Area in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, where she became well established among other artists in the avant-garde film circles of the 60s and to the present (Gill, 28).As of 2006 she has to her credit twenty films, five videos, and one video installation (Holmlund, 67).She obtained a Master of Arts degree from Mills College in Oakland, California.Her work has been featured in numerous European and North American festivals, one-woman shows, and she has been the recipient of several awards and grants. Some of these awards include: a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, as well as a Rockefeller Foundation grant (Holmlund, 84). Nelson’s films were shown quietly in the underground circuit on the West and East coasts of the United States, until the mid-70s when she began to get press from sources that ranged from Playboy editors to Pauline Kael. This increase in national press coverage of her films was in part due to the notable Take-Off, a memorable satire on the performance of the striptease (Gill, 28).In many of her major works she addresses subjects such as: childhood, memory, the idea of home/homeland and displacement, aging and death, and the symbolism of natural forces — particularly in relation to female beauty and power. Her talents for editing what is often dreamlike imagery, combined with fine attention to the effects of language and sound on the moving image, serve to enhance the consistent aesthetic of her experimental films. Nelson often creates what she termed “personal films” rather than “experimental” or “avant-garde” films.