Gunvor Nelson, My Name is Oona (film still), 1969 © Gunvor Nelson

The Film Club LIVE: Gunvor Nelson

Live stream film screening

17.4 2020


The museum is closed but the Film Club is open! Take a seat at home and live stream two films by the legendary experimental filmmaker Gunvor Nelson, a Swedish pioneer in feminist film and part of the 1960’s American Avant Garde. The shortfilms ”Schmeerguntz” (1966) and ”My Name is Oona” (1969) are introduced by John Sundholm, Professor in Cinema Studies at Stockholm University. The screening and introduction will be streamed live on the museum’s YouTube channel.

About the films

Schmeerguntz (1966)

15 min
By Gunvor Nelson
16 mm film transferred to digital video

”Schmeerguntz ”, which Nelson made together with her neighbour and artist friend, Dorothy Wiley, was the film that set everything in motion. “Schmeerguntz”, coined after Nelson’s father’s non-sense word for sandwich, is a hilarious satire, a grotesque and grave attack on the public ideal of the American housewife. Critic Ernest Callenbach wrote in excitement that: ”A society which hides its animal functions beneath a shiny public surface deserves to have such films as Schmeerguntz shown everywhere”.

My Name is Oona (1969)

10 min
By Gunvor Nelson
16 mm film transferred to digital video

”My Name is Oona” was Nelson’s final breakthrough on the American avant-garde film scene. The soundscape consists of Nelson’s daughter, Oona, repeating the names of the days of the week and her saying “my name is Oona”. The latter is edited into an expressive, rhythmical structure that follows the visual, pulsating pace of the film. In this way Nelson creates a fascinating audiovisual space for the film that plunges into the experience of a child.

On Gunvor Nelson

Artist and experimental filmmaker Gunvor Nelson (born 1931 in Stockholm) was a pioneer of ”New American Cinema”. Gunvor Nelson’s earliest films are humorous yet sharply critical explorations of the stereotypical images of femininity in the media. Today, the films ”Schmeerguntz” (1966) and  ”Take Off” (1972), made together with the American filmmaker Dorothy Wiley, are regarded as milestones in feminist cinematic history. Other themes, as generation shifts, time and ageing, characterise works such as ”My Name is Oona” (1969), ”Time Being” (1991), ”True to Life” (2006).

Gunvor Nelson’s films are regularly shown in international contexts, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the 2018 São Paulo Biennale.

Gunvor Nelson studied at University College of Art, Craft and Design (1950–51) and at Beckmans College of Design (1952–53), both in Stockholm. Moved to the USA in 1953 and studied at Humboldt State College (1954–57), San Francisco Arts Institute (1957) and Mills College in Oakland (1957–58). She taught film studies for many years at San Francisco State University (1969–70) and San Francisco Art Institute (1970–92). Gunvor Nelson lives and works in Stockholm and Kristinehamn.


Tonight’s Film Club LIVE is presented by Lena Essling, curator of the collection of moving images at Moderna Museet. The films are introduced by John Sundholm, Film studies professor who’s research is focused on experimental film, at Stockholm University. Use the chat function on Moderna Museet’s YouTube channel to ask them questions.

John Sundholm

John Sundholm is Professor in Cinema Studies at Stockholm University and Head of Department of Media Studies. Among his research interests is experimental film and he has published widely, as well as programmed and presented the work by Gunvor Nelson in different contexts. He is the director of Scandinavia’s only international experimental film event, AVANT in Karlstad, since 2002; and affiliated to the PhD programme in Fine Arts at the University of the Arts in Helsinki.

Lena Essling

Lena Essling is curator at Moderna Museet, where she has realized exhibitions like Marina Abramović: The Cleaner (2017), Cindy Sherman: Untitled Horrors (2013) and Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Parallel Worlds (2012). She has produced commissions or screenings with artists including Harun Farocki, Natalia Almada and Yinka Shonibare. At the 56th Venice Biennale 2015, she curated the Swedish participation of Lina Selander.