While shadows and empty spaces pervade Naomi Kawase's search for her absent father in Embracing, the images in Katatsumori are tactile and suffused in light - a stark contrast that conveys Kawase's deep affection towards her 80 year old maternal great aunt and adoptive mother, Uno. In hindsight, the implied coldness of the film's preface - a shot of a letter written by Kawase's biological mother expressing birthday greetings, a reminder to be a dutiful daughter to her father at a time of crisis, and a token gift of spending money for the occasion - serves as a foil for the reverence and tenderness that would subsequently define Kawase's animated gaze. Indeed, in its collage of fragmentary snapshots of everyday life, chance conversations, and moments of levity, Katatsumori is the converse of the terse birthday note from mother to daughter that opens the film - a love letter from child to parent (whom Kawase calls "grandma") expressed through mundane images and quotidian observation. As in Embracing, Uno is often framed within the context of her garden, linking her love of gardening with her broader role in Kawase's life as kindred spirits, provider, and protector: a figurative connection between nature and nurture that is underscored in her playful request for Uno's next pea harvest (preserved from the previous year's crop) as her present, noting the coincidental convergence of her upcoming 25th birthday and the maturation of the planted seeds in the spring. Visually, Kawase illustrates their intimacy through repeated, often extreme close-ups of her great aunt, recording the idiosyncratic gestures and contours of Uno's face with the curiosity and fascination for a shared personal history: an implied connectedness (and continuity) that culminates in a shot of Kawase filming Uno while she picks peas from a garden following Uno's pensive recording over their evolving relationship. Moreover, Kawase introduces the idea of imprint as a reflection of personal legacy, initially, in a shot of Uno scrawling her name and age on a piece of clapboard, then subsequently, in the condensation of Kawase's handprint pressed against the window as she listens to a recorded message in her great aunt's absence. Juxtaposed against a shot of the pair playfully engaging in a naming game, the assignment of names represents Kawase's own journey towards her identity as well, where the arbitrariness of fate is reinforced by an act of mutual validation.
Naomi Kawase's Embracing is both an evocation of, and disjunction from, Jonas Mekas's diaristic memory films, a journey in search of a lost past through the empty spaces and resigned silence of an unreconciled - and incomplete - present. This sense of absence and longing is revealed in the film's opening sequence: the sight of a traditional Japanese domestic setting (and reinforced by a shot montage of meal preparation), prefaced by a lighted sign for a restaurant called "Bar Happiness", that is juxtaposed against an audio recording of Kawase's unseen maternal relative who expresses her resistance at Naomi's intention to search for her biological father who had abandoned the family, briefly alluding to Naomi's separation from her mother following her parents' divorce and adoption by her great uncle and aunt, Kaneishi and Uno Kawase. By framing her well-intentioned aunt's argument for the integrity of the extended family support system that has nurtured Naomi throughout her entire life (and the potential fissures that may unwittingly be introduced into that fragile network by dredging up the past) through the image association (and dissociation) of happiness, home, and absence, Kawase metaphorically illustrates her essential disconnection with a lost, untold history. Incorporating alternating images of nature - flowers in bloom, insects in the field, and verdant landscapes - with contemporary images of her adoptive mother as the two look for information on her father's identity through family archives and photo albums, Kawase introduces the idea of nature as an eternal, but mutable representation of human cycles. This intersection is further reinforced in a picture of Kawase's biological parents, Kiyonobu Yamashiro and Emiko Takeda as a young couple that cuts to a shot of a flower in bright sunlight, that is subsequently contrasted to the image of a similar row of flowers against the darkness of forming rain clouds as her great aunt remembers the unpleasantness of her parents' break-up. Moreover, using high contrast to frame an episode featuring a little girl playing with a tadpole in a puddle of water, Kawase not only illustrates this symbiotic relationship between nature and human history, but also conveys the sense of rupture intrinsic in the idyllic image - the apparent absence of the child's mother. Revisiting her biological father's life by tracing his residential registration records over the past twenty years, Kawase places corresponding photographs from her own childhood, initially, as a figurative bridge between past and present within a depopulated landscape, then subsequently, as a reflection of the physical and emotional separation between father and daughter (a distance that is also symbolized by the recurring images of shadows against the landscape). Restless, curious, and impulsive in its fractured images, Embracing becomes an integral representation of Kawase's own search for identity: told, not through loosely interrelated pieces of an obscured personal history, but in the unarticulated silence of a brief, but transformative connection with the living present.
(both articles from www.filmref.com)
the guillotine at the prison in fresnes, right beneath paris, that was used until 1978 "to make execution more humane".
a prison cell in 1930 in france.
a female prisoner in a straitjacket.
a radio built by a prisoner hidden inside a cigar box.
a rope braided by a prisoner.
a tattooing device made by a prisoner.
"Mara Mattuschka makes films, plays, sings, paints. Bulgarians, she says, have a tendency to do everything. Mara Mattuschka comes from Bulgaria. She studied painting and animation with Maria Lassnig. She boasts a wide variety of artistic styles. Her work lives to the fullest, her characters are usually naked and psychologically open-hearted. Truth has many sides. She refers to herself as a post-post modernist – she likes to play, but also somehow addresses truth.
In the twenty first century, the need to experiment and break rules is over. There is a new renaissance, a return to humanity, for whom a discussion about gender roles has actually already begun. This new renaissance could be wonderful, as she hates the word “creativity”. Her work is extremely versatile, and she is so full of energy. She takes breaks between works in café houses—a truly Viennese tradition during which she takes a breather from the (Kasachok) dance of life. (wh/jn)" (quoted from castyourart.com)
i think mara mattuschka is one of the coolest, most daring and interesting contemporary filmmakers. her film she did together with chris haring, "burning palace", was the only film in the entire film program at the film festival in oberhausen this year that really really blew me away.
she effectively achieves to "make it new", to be "absolument moderne" (rimbaud). her use of the body, of the face, of space, of play, of staging is incomparable.
the two films above are old films from her twenties. but still genius.
ode to mara mattuschka.
"Die herkömmliche Handlungsstruktur löste sie in einzelne Szenen auf und verknüpfte sie mittels Collage und Montage in thematische Zusammenhänge. Der Ausgangspunkt ihrer Stücke war die einzelne Geste, das Darstellen und Äußern eines bestimmten Gefühls, diese innere Bewegung wurde von Pina Bausch erfragt und von den Tänzern mit einer erinnerten Handlung beantwortet. Unbeschwertheit und Ausgelassenheit kontrastierte sie mit dramatischen Szenen und rührte so an die letzten Fragen des Menschseins, was das Publikum häufig in intensiver Weise miterlebte.
Die Bedeutung von Bauschs Werk lässt sich nicht auf eine Erweiterung des Tanzes mit anderen Genres und Medien sowie dem Verzicht auf eine bestimmte Form beschränken, sondern gewinnt erst durch seine Menschlichkeit an künstlerischer Größe. Das Mitfühlen und Mitgefühl war die wichtigste Motivation zu ihrem Lebenswerk. In einem ihrer seltenen Interviews äußerte sie einmal: „Es ging und geht mir immer nur darum: Wie kann ich ausdrücken, was ich fühle?“
Bauschs Stücke waren Collagen und Montagen, Bilderfolgen an der Grenze zwischen Realität und Traum, mit vielen Parallelhandlungen, die gleichzeitig auf der Bühne ausgeführt wurden. Auch die Wiederholung einer Handlung war bei ihr ein wichtiges Stilmittel, so forderte z. B. das mehrfache Wiederholen der immergleichen Szene (wodurch gerade die Abweichungen besonders betont werden) in Blaubart vom Zuschauer ausgesprochene psychische Belastbarkeit und die Fähigkeit, Nuancen wahrzunehmen.
Die revueartigen Stücke folgten einer inneren Logik, einem Bewusstseinsstrom und nicht einer äußerlich zusammenhängenden Geschichte. Sie arbeitete äußerst akribisch und sagte von sich: „Meine Stücke wachsen nicht von vorne nach hinten, sondern von innen nach außen.“ (J. Schmidt 1992, Tanztheater in Deutschland). Das führte dazu, dass die Szenenfolge manchmal bei der Generalprobe noch nicht ganz feststand. Die letzte Entscheidung traf Pina Bausch dann oft sehr spät."
(today only in german.)
i found this montage of two wonderful films (pina bausch´s "die klage der kaiserin" and pier paolo pasolini´s "teorema") on youtube and was quite intrigued.
pina bausch died some weeks ago of cancer.
she must have been a wonderful person.
i really like the idea of cutting up two films like this, deconstructing the syntax and constructing a new one out of parallels, clashes, sychnchronicities and asynchronicities. it´s like taking the letters out of their order in the sentences of the film and showing the alphabet, the bare elements, that by chronology, or just simple time, become this hallucinating vision at night, a film.
-what is that supposed to be anyway "40 years on the moon"?
they haven´t been up there 40 years
the other one:
-it sure cost a whole lot of money that nonsense.
the first one:
-they did it for television.
sell more american dreams.
i again and again remark that people, certainly those who are regarded to be the "simple" people, living "simple" lives in "simple" places, are not even slightly "ignorant" or without their own idiosyncratic reflections and personal eloquence, -the way they are always presented like on television by the true mediocre and arrogant media people who don´t know how to listen and stop their stupid, biased, normalizing, prejudiced and pretentious comments and opinions on everything and everybody.
the smartest thing i heard today was those two old grandpas chatter about the ridiculousness of celebrating 40 years on the moon.
after the war and 17 million deaths, most of the bankrupt and mutilated officers and soldiers that had survived and lost everything became beggars in the streets. this former soldier is waiting in the streets of berlin in 1923.
it was the first war that had systematically used toxic gases. these blinded british soldiers are waiting for the treatment of their eyes.
theoretical problems posed by these readings. What would it mean to comply with power
through “anticipatory conformity”? We would certainly try to act according to what
power expects from us, but we would only do so because we would be aware of the
possibility of being observed. We would act differently if given the opportunity to escape
power’s eye. We would resemble “docile bodies”, but our docility would only be
apparent, a mask that we carried as long as we thought we were being observed.
To put it differently, we would internalize power’s eye but we would not identify with its
values. In reality, instead of an unfolding of ourselves in consciousness and its object, our
conduct, we would experience a threefold partition of our interiority. We would distance
ourselves from our behaviors and look at them with power’s internalized eyes. However,
there would be an additional detachment: a part of ourselves constituted by our
consciousness and desire would be sheltered from power’s eyes.
Concretely, we would act considering the possibility of observation and posterior
punishment and objectify our conduct accordingly, but we would not believe that by
acting thus we would be doing what is best for us. Self-surveillance would be, in fact,
experienced as surveillance of an internalized, but identified, other upon us.
(...) leave out the inner monologue, what I say to myself. They leave out
self-discipline, what I do to myself. Thus, they omit the permanent
heartland of the subjectivity. It is seldom force that keeps us on the
straight and narrow; it is conscience (Hacking, 1986: 236).
These peripheral beings, these marginal and exterior existences produced by power
relations constituted the interiority of the ‘normal’ individuals. As they tried to ascertain
their nature and value, they compared themselves to the incarnated abnormal. The norm
possessed a feedback mechanism: if a norm of behavior comes to exist in reality, it is
reinforced by the fact that no one desires to be outside it (Hacking, 1990: 5). Individuals,
then, fear potential abnormality not only in others but also within themselves, and thus
refrain from doing what would characterize them, in their own eyes, as abnormal. The
norm becomes the object of individuals’ desire instead of being only externally imposed.
After all, where can the norm extract its value if not from that which it tries to negate?
For instance, where would the merits of a sexuality confined to the limits of genitality
reside if the pervert, as a ‘sick’ soul with ‘repulsive’ passions, did not exist in reality?
Through the creation of an impersonated ethical negativity and the subsequent
internalization of potential abnormality by every ‘normal’ individual, normalizing power
attains two major effects. On one hand, the subjection to power’s gaze and scrutiny is
consented insofar as figures of power embody the functions of caring and ensuring the
‘normality’ of those they watch over. On the other hand, self-surveillance is part of the
necessary care of the self, with this care assuming the form of an effort to constitute
oneself as a normal citizen.
To make the soul suffer, rather than the body (Foucault, 1979: 179, 181) – this is the
logic of a power that, instead of repressing an a-historical subject, constitutes a subject
that judges and condemns his or her own acts, intentions, desires and pleasures according
to ‘truths’ that are historically produced. The suffering of the soul is not that of a
repressed consciousness, but one of guilt, ‘bad consciousness’ (Nietzsche, 1968: 505): its
pain is experienced when moral failure resides in its deeds and sensations.
(quoted from: http://www.surveillance-and-society.org)
i have a tendency not to be too interested in people who are interested in me. i am interested in people who do not know that i exist.
what is the common denominator? they are all ridiculous don juan macho father figures (don juan macho father figures have miserable endings. wisdom is with me). they have all motivated my work. i had a bone of contention with each of them and i am out to call their bluff and still am.
he disappeared into complete silence.
le désir de plaire
to do things you are afraid of
the style makes the man. the way you do something is more important than what you do. the way you do something signals you as an entity.
i want to: eat, sleep, argue, hurt, destroy.
-why do you?
-my reasons belong exclusively to me.
as for mathematics, i gave it up for art when i realized there were no certainties in mathematics: you´re told that two paralles never meet, and then you learn that in a non-euclidean geometry they can easily come together. i was disappointed and deeply disturbed, and i turned toward the certainties of feeling rather than those we are tought. if you accept inner certainties you become responsible for your own fate, you no longer depend on directives from the outside.
favourite word today: CRUCIAL
crucial crucial crucial crucial crucial
like a paper wave hitting againt shells of porcelaine.
or a sea on fire dripping down the duct of an elevator.
one of my favourite title sequences. the movie is definitely not cassavetes´ best, rather comme ci comme ca and rather conformist, but this title sequence is beautiful.
i´ve been looking at some self portraits lately.
a few things i noticed:
-on social network sites, girls and women often take pictures of themselves in mirrors with a strange kind of inanimate expression, a mask-like doll face).
-on the same social network sites, boys and men often portray themselves with other girls surrounding them. usually they don't use a mirror as a device but look straight into the camera with an expression often seeming "knowing" or "capable".
-artists´self-portraits often display scepticism, gravity and earnestness. they never smile and often look at themselves in pretended shock, hypocritical contempt and vain aversion.
the three self-portraits above are from gustave courbet, jenny saville and egon schiele.
what i like about saville´s and schiele´s self-portrait is that they show their bodies as face. distorted, strange and instinct driven, unintentional bodies.
what i find so strange and kind of awkward when looking at all these self-portraits is all the intention, design and meaningfulness in the facial expression.
мечтающую на размягченном мозгу,
как выжиревший лакей на засаленной кушетке,
буду дразнить об окровавленный сердца лоскут:
досыта изъиздеваюсь, нахальный и едкий.
У меня в душе ни одного седого волоса,
и старческой нежности нет в ней!
Мир огромив мощью голоса,
иду – красивый,
dreaming on a softened brain,
like an over-fed lackey on a greasy settee,
with my heart's bloody tatters I'll mock again;
impudent and caustic, I'll jeer to superfluity.
Of Grandfatherly gentleness I'm devoid,
there's not a single grey hair in my soul!
Thundering the world with the might of my voice,
I go by – handsome,
(From the prologue of A Cloud in Trousers)
That night was to decide
if she and I
were to be lovers.
no one would see, you see.
I bent over her, it’s the truth,
and as I did,
it’s the truth, I swear it,
like a kindly parent:
“Passion’s a precipice –
so won’t you please
(Attitude to a Miss, 1920)
-you have to watch all of the parts on youtube. this is so cool!
i love this.
i´ve noticed this phenomenon when i have the tv on without sound and play music on my stereo.
but this is so dang cool.
wangechi mutu, born 1972 in kenya.
"There's the private art-making, the haven of thinking and creating and unraveling. And then there's the other part, where you have to deal with the public: where you go out and you have to be a woman, you have to be black, you have to create a stance--it's a performative thing. So I use the body as a metaphor and as a focal point from which to engage people in this discussion of, What is your war mask and battle uniform? What is your persona when you leave and enter the world of structures? What do people expect of you? That's how the drawings came about. I took all of these psychological issues and my own personal stories and the stories of other women, and I manifested them as body injuries or mutilations or malformations or exaggerations or prostheses, as a way of talking about the need to extend, perforate, change, or shape-shift your body in order to exist. For an immigrant, there's an added layer because you're very aware--especially when you first get to the country of exile, your new home--that you've infested or invaded a place where you don't belong. The only way to keep moving around this body that is society is by mutating, so that you're not constantly the target of questions like, "What did you say?" or "Why are you here?" It's not all negative, but it can become a lot to continuously contend with being "the other." That's where these chimeras, these creatures, these women warriors come from--they're not me, per se, they're human conditions."
"Keep moving, keep changing what other people and what I consider to be the center, keep challenging myself, and keep making work and developing ideas that are a little bit more frightening every time--because you can become automatic."
(wangechi mutu in interview with barbara kruger)
the best video i´ve seen this year.
i love the idea of putting history and stories on a blanket.
when i die, i´d like to have the story of my life on a blanket instead of my lonely name on a lonely stone in a lonely place of town.
-pretty psychedelic dinosaur room, huh? i thought it looked like a nightmarish art installation.
"Abandoned, frightened, and completely unaware of his own identity, the monster wanders through the wilderness searching for someone who would understand and shelter him.
He finds brief solace by hiding out in the woodshed of a remote cottage inhabited by a family of peasants. While they are unaware of his existence, he learns every part of their lives by eavesdropping on their conversations and comes to think of them as his own family, calling them his 'protectors'.
One day, the creature musters the courage to finally make his presence known. He introduces himself to the family's patriarch, their blind father, and experiences kindness and acceptance for the first (and last) time. The blind man can not see his "accursed ugliness" and so treats him as a friend. When the rest of the family returns, they are terrified of the creature and drive him away. Bewildered but still hopeful, he rescues a peasant girl from a river, but is shot in the shoulder by a man who claims her.
Heartbroken, the creature renounces all of humankind and swears revenge on his creator, Frankenstein, for bringing him into the world.
The monster searches for Frankenstein relentlessly, guided by some papers which were in the pocket of the clothing he took from his creator's rooms. From these he discovers Frankenstein's whereabouts, but also discovers the horrific details of his own birth. Upon arriving near Frankenstein's village, he meets and tries to befriend a small boy hoping that the innocent youth will not be prejudiced against him. The boy is instantly frightened and threatens to call for his father, Monsieur Frankenstein, revealing to the creature that the boy is related to his enemy. The creature kills him.
Full of grief and despair, Frankenstein retreats to the mountains to find peace within himself. The monster approaches Frankenstein on top of the mountain and insists that Frankenstein hear his plight. Here the monster tells Frankenstein his story and pleads with him to create a female equivalent to himself so that he can hide from humanity with one of his own kind. Frankenstein agrees, but relents just before finishing the mate, aghast at the possibility of creating a race of monsters. Enraged, the creature swears he will destroy everything Frankenstein holds dear. The creature's final words before fleeing are "I will be with you on your wedding night!".
He later fulfills his promise by killing Frankenstein's best friend and his bride. Frankenstein's father then dies of grief. With nothing left to live for, Frankenstein dedicates his life to hunting his creation down and destroying him. The search ends in the Arctic Circle when Frankenstein loses control of his dogsled and falls into ice-cold water, contracting severe pneumonia. He is rescued by a ship exploring the region and relates the entire story to its captain before succumbing to his illness and dying. The creature later boards the ship, intent on taking his final revenge, but is overcome with grief upon finding Frankenstein dead, having lost the only family he has ever known. He pledges to travel to "the Northernmost extremity of the globe" and there burn his body to ashes, so that no man can ever create another like him. He leaps from the boat and is never seen again."
paradise lost by john milton published in 1667 with illustrations by william blake.
these two are the temptation and fall of eve and satan watching the caresses of adam and eve.
nick cave took the title of his song "red right hand" from paradise lost, also his songs "song of joy" and "let love in" refer to milton´s poem.
red right hand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUlgN__Jrxk
"did i request thee, maker from my clay
to mould me man? did i solicit thee
from darkness to promote me?"
a wonderful film by agnes varda, i´ve seen some years ago.
she goes out to visit all kind of collectors throughout france, she in turn "collects" for her film, as manifold elements to a beautiful and complex and humble and human and intriguing film mosaic.
she philosophises on collecting, observes what objects are collected and what, when collected, they transform into, she listens, she thinks aloud while driving in the car to the different places, she talks about death, about her aging hands and shows them to the camera, she plays, she talks about the cats she loves, she often uses the camera herself, films herself, films herself filming even, she shows the broken walls of her house that to her are works of art, she talks about law, about the government, about films and filming, about society, she steps into the picture, she steps aside, she allows people to speek and truly truly respects. the love in her she has for things and people and doing and living is so strongly transferred when you watch her film. like a broadcasted love. but never manipulated, never calculated, not expecting or wanting to show something off, like humanitarian ideals or christian goodness, -not at all. she is enjoying what she is doing, she is living off her ideas and celebrating them. her film and she herself are modest und unpretentious, so absolutely unvain, that their unadulturatedness, unaffectedness and truthfulness are revolutionary, shocking in the best way.
very good work doesn´t allow vanity.
i love this film truly.
she told me to say: does there have to be an answer to every question?
she told me: what the fuck. nothing should keep you from doing it.
she talked about discrimination inside yourself and coming from outside.
she talked about jill magid.
about the black plague.
about the medical.
she said i was young and healthy.
she said that three times.
she talked about susan meiselas.
about "near dark" by kathryn bigelow.
about "black kats".
she said i could just as well reject what she told and proposed to me.
she talked about the durational.
she told me i was a woman and i will be told so again.
i just started watching robert kramer´s film "route one" (the first two hours i´ve seen so far) and already felt the urge in my fingertips to press these buttons in excitement and put some of my feelings about this film into words and sentences, giving them bodies of their own, something outside my head, so i won´t forget so quickly and they´ll be there, while i go on.
i love the way he starts this film, and even though i´m not such a fan of jazz music in film scores anymore (just seen too much of it, -cassavetes, malle, the beat films...), it works here and you really get into the flow of his travelling without a goal, travelling for travelling, thinking while walking, letting the events in time become the film.
the film follows "doc", the filmmaker, who has been gone for ten years and comes back to the u.s.a., everything has changed, everything stayed the same. he drives down route one with a cameraman. this is the film.
it at first reminded me of debord´s philosophy "ne travaillez jamais!" (don´t ever work), meaning of course not to work for something not in your view, not to work estranged from yourself, for something you know nothing about, that lies outside your personal sphere, that you don´t care for, something meaningless and merely functional, working for something that deprives you of living a life.
only to work for love, was the idea, for the thing itself, for the joy and pleasure and satisfaction of doing something just for the sake of it. without purpose. without future. without career. just out of desire and interest and celebration of the moment.
what i so appreciate is the way the production of the film is already the film, the way he doesn´t know where he´s heading and what he´s after, but will do it to find out retrospectively and then know and draw the lines between the dots. he doesn´t really know why he´s making this film, and he´s making it. that´s strong. he has nothing to prove, nothing to tell, has not found out some words of wisdom, he´s just travelling down a very very long street with the longing to take pictures and talk to others to record what they say. making the film is just a pretext for being able to get in contact with other people, you wouldn´t meet otherwise, a pretext to do the travelling and follow the direction of your desire. or cluelessness.
everything starts making and creating sense, one incident put next to the other. a collage of time, of aggregate states, of concrete little, lived lives and universal stories, of the past immanent in the presence, of succesions and chains, of ideas and aspirations, of things broken apart but still together. a world fallen apart into a mosaic, still a picture, but the glue between the shards being visible.
tv has turned our notions of private and public inside out, but, more importantly, the representational modes for portraying actuality and imagination have become intertwined: cnn borrows from hollywood and vice versa. the everyday talkshow has zapped the family right off their couch and into the studio. in the opposite direction catastrophe culture invades our living room.
the territory of the home overlaps with the space of tv in a much more profound and psychological way than we are possibly aware. 'dial h-i-s-t-o-r-y' ends also with a scene of a highjacked, crashing plane accidentally framed by some honymooner´s camcorder. the couple were immediately invited to be guests on larry king´s talk show on cnn to tell how they were able to shoot the footage! the dynamics of abstract capitalism thus allow the spectators to be the heroes and political issues are simply reduced to explanations of how to operate a camcorder. patricia mellencamp calls it the shift from catastrophe to comedy: 'we can´t change the world, but we can change our socks,' according to one nike ad: 'it´s not a shoe, it´s a revolution.' "
(interview with hans ulrich obrist & johan grimonprez in 1999, included in the book to the film "dial h-i-s-t-o-r-y" by grimonprez)