Thursday, March 22, 2012

Maya Deren

Maya Deren is an avant-garde filmmaker (also critic, writer, dancer, actor, academic etc) from mainly the 40s. She did some stuff in the 50s before she died but was ethnographic film - a lot different from her more surrealist/expressionist stuff. Lots of people were angry that she went down this kind of documentary route but they didn't have much time to be grumpy cos she died from a brain hemorrhage brought on by malnutrition. She was also taking lots of amphetamines at the time for something I can't remember but wikipedia does.

These two are her most popular films (i think) and they are my favourites too. I also like the ones called The Very Eye of Night and A Study in Choreography for Camera. 

If you look up pics of her or watch the films (she is the lead) you can see how beautiful she was/is. I read that she was a Russian Jewess. She had three husbands. One of them did the sound for Meshes later on after she died maybe. Another one does the cinematography for it. There is a movie she did with one of her husbands about their cats. A lot of the films are shot in their own apartment. She was real good friends with Anais Nin too. They first met when Deren was shooting At Land with Hammid (her hubby) on the beach and Anais Nin was walking along it (maybe with Henry Miller ????!!) and they stopped and watched for a bit then kept walking then found out about her later and they all hung out and had a good time. They were pretty good mates with André Breton and Marcel Duchamp too.

In terms of avant-garde cinema she's more like the Russian constructionists/futurists I think than Dada and Surrealists. She likes form too much. In an article she wrote she talks a lot about the 'art instrument' though doesn't feature much machinery in her films. I dunno then. Seems like the body and movement is her 'machine'. She explores lots with space and time and I think that is one of the things I like most about her. Also identity. I disagree with her take on reality though and objectivity of the photographic image. But that's cool. Her films are real good I think and that's all that matters, really.

 Meshes of the Afternoon (Maya Deren, 1943)

At Land (Maya Deren, 1943)

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