This documentary recounts the life and work of Canadian artist Ava Zarr. Predominantly active in the 1960s, Zarr was a key figure in the rise and development of video and performance art, and her work was a precursor to that of eminent artists such as Carolee Schneemann, Lisa Steele, Martha Rosler, and Marina Abramovic. Although highly influential in her discipline, Zarr has been overlooked - most notably because of her gender, and also perhaps because she is thought to have been mocking the art world. Ava Zarr includes interviews with art historians, artists, curators, and theorists who discuss Zarr's work, her social and political context, and her place in art history.

Ava Zarr is a faux-documentary. Both research and narrative-based, much of the information included is historically accurate and the video contains interviews with real people as well as fictional characters. The project is rooted in an interest in iconography, documentary, and the exclusivity of the art-historical canon. The work employs photography - photographs of staged moments and events, photographs that are seemingly vernacular, and photographs sourced from family albums and various internet sources - in order to question the relationship of photography to authority, identity, history, truth, and fiction. Ava Zarr aims to simultaneously adopt, subvert, honour, and critique the tropes of documentary filmmaking and photography.


Featuring interview subjects Atom Egoyan, Lynne Heller, Mark Kingwell Su-Ying Lee, Natalie Mathieson, and Lisa Steele
Featuring actors Pearl Raider and Spenser Stewart

Original images by Jess Shane, Maximilian Suillerot, and Ivana Dizdar
Original music by Samuel Bayefsky
Ava's self-portrait by Joanne Tod

Video © Ivana Dizdar, 2015