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Visibility: Moderate

Vivienne Dick
1981
45 mins Colour S8mm/ digibeta

Visibility: Moderate

A parody of a vacation film, it offers a travelogue through her native Ireland in the company of Margaret Ann Irinsky (a new wave fashion plate who resembles one of the tawdrier ingenues from The Blackboard Jungle). As this stand-in tourist visits the Blarney Stone or Belfast, Visibility: Moderate touches on a number of specific Irish issues - the sentimental mythologizing of the national past, the Americanization of the contemporary culture, the continued occupation of the British - which perhaps sets the agenda for subsequent films that Dick plans to make in Ireland.
Jim Hoberman, October issue 20, Spring 1982

Made in super-8mm with sound, as if it were the naive travel diary of a tourist, who does not fail to plant a kiss on the Blarney stone, the film delivers its overdue punches with three late scenes: the Irish nostalgia for political credibility poignantly comes through the hesitant allusions to Larkin and Connelly in the speech of a young man to our heroine; then, in the film's best moments, the agony of Ireland is encapsulated by the contrast of one woman singing a sermon on the street about the Virgin Mary and another describing her prison humiliations. By picking up on the excremental aspect of the prison abuse right after the inflated purity of the sermon, Dick demonstrates her sensitivity to the parameters of Ireland's oppression.
P. Adams Sitney, Village Voice April 1983.

Visibility Moderate is perhaps Vivienne Dick's most self-reflexive work. Although the title is taken from a weather report overheard at one point in the narrative, it could also be said to describe the prospects for avant-garde filmmaking in Ireland and the economic interdependencies between Ireland and the US. The first part of the film follows an American woman, dressed in fashionably retro clothes, on a tour of Irish landmarks and seems to take the form of a home movie. This 'tourist' poses in the ruins of Irish monasteries, visits the Puck Fair, kisses the Blarney stone and travels on a horse drawn cart, recalling images from iconic John Hinde postcards and, most obviously, the romantic landscape of John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952). The 'tour' is however, punctuated by a montage of TV ads (ranging from the amateurish animation of 'Jack Ryan truck rental' to the slick suburban fantasy offered by Blueband margarine) and by several comic interludes in which the tourist imgines herself as a 'Celt' running through a mystical rural landscape.
Maeve Connolly, 'From no Wave to national cinema: the cultural landscape of Vivienne Dick's early Films (1978-1985)', National Cinema and Beyond, Four Courts Press, 2004.
For Maeve Connolly's full article on Visibility Moderate and other films, go to 'Read More'.

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