Or, everything really is cinema, more or less: part one in an ongoing series
|Your humble correspondent pausing|
a moment to pose alongside a
prostrate Otesánek, who, doubtless a mite
peckish, is just biding his time...
Some of what follows – whether for better or for worse, I cannot say – will adopt certain of the characteristics of a travelogue. This is somewhat unavoidable as this post's central cases in point were the stuff of recent adventures abroad, for, not so terribly long ago, I was summoned to my beloved city of Prague to sit on a jury at Mezipatra, the Czech Republic's wonderful queer film festival, or at least for the Prague leg of it. Now, to either side of my gleefully adopted Mezipatra duties – not to mention right smack-bang in its midst as well, of course (samozřejmě!) – I had me some (extra-)cinematic adventures, as demonstrated below and which will link to my corresponding part in Senses' 2012 world poll, as and when it's live.
By the way, wrapped up in all the pictorial splendour and waffle below lies in wait an allusive announcement, whose time I can comfortably say has almost now come, with respect to a project of mine and certain esteemed others set to launch in mid-2012 and shake up stuffy old Melbourne town, where too many film festivals is never enough...
But let's deal with one horse before its cart at a time – on with the picture show – roll camera!
|Here's the rather de Chirico-esque big-screen backdrop above the stage at Kino Lucerna ahead of this year's Mezipatra closing ceremony. Should I hasten to add that de Chirico was cinema? After all, I've just watched Alain Robbe-Grillet's Eden and After (1970) (thank you thank you thank you! the Slovak Film Institute, for releasing this on DVD!), and if those scenes in the Eden nightclub weren't de Chirico all over (if also a few parts Mondrian, after a '60s Godardian fashion), then my name isn't Cerise Howard, and nor has it always been.|
(Mezipatra's website hosts a fab gallery covering its closing night, which was altogether rather busier and more glamorous than my photo above would suggest, and in which I make a few appearances.)
"Jan Švankmajer: Dimensions of Dialogue – Between Film and Fine Art"in the House at the Stone Bell in Prague's Old Town Square
(26 Oct 2012 – 3 Feb 2013)
Per my world poll contribution, "Dimensions of Dialogue" is "room after Rudolphinian room a-glut with Švankmajeriana. Magical, obsessive, capital-S Surrealist objects abound, all riffing on relationships, direct or indirect, with Švankmajer's 48-year-long filmic output, with one film, whether long- or short-form, looping in its entirety in each room, and the exhibition's great plenty of uncanny objects organised correspondingly. Magnificent!"
Please find here following a corroborating, annotated gallery:
This is a room devoted to Conspirators of Pleasure (1996), which also featured a number of "tactile portraits", object-characters from the film and, centre-frame, its unforgettable masturbation machine, which had in fact been switched on for the exhibition. (On which note, Prague's Sex Machines Museum is just a hop, skip and a wank away from the House at the Stone Bell and the Old Town Square, but I don't recall it having anything half so elaborate, nor half so modern, let alone half so amusing, as the Conspirators of Pleasure machine amongst its offerings. If anything, as memory serves – I visited it several years ago – its exhibits are not terribly far removed from those in Prague's cheesy mediaeval torture museums...)
|Natural enemies in the wild?|
|The scenes in this and the preceding image have more than just a little in common with Salvador Dalí's 1936 painting, "Autumn Cannibalism". See also the second section of one of my favourite Švankmajers, his final short film, Food (1993).|
|A tableau familiar from Alice (1988). This, like so much of JS' work, is equal parts Švankmajer and Švankmajerová.|
|Characters and sets from Švankmajer's Alice.|
|Waiting in the wings with some of the cast from Švankmajer's Faust (1994)|
|Some of the cast atop and within a set from Faust.|
|Several of the oversize puppets from Faust, and one oversize human from Wellington, by way of Melbourne.|
|Otesáneks, and parts thereof, galore. As seen in Little Otik (Otesánek) (2000).|
"Slovanská epopej" ("The Slav Epic", Alfons Mucha, 1912-1928)Now hanging permanently, if not without controversy, at Veletržní Palace, a campus of the National Gallery in Prague
Now, I may have made some slightly contentious claims in my poll contribution, if, I would argue, not really either as specious nor as spurious as all that, for Czech Art Nouveau godfather Alfons Mucha's 20-colossal-canvas-strong magnum opus "The Slav Epic" as cinema...
Here follow only a meagre few photos – my photography simply hasn't done these magnificent pictures justice – in under-substantiated support of certain aspects of my flimsy hypothesis. Happily, much better quality reproductions of Mucha's magnificent masterwork can be found all over the Web, and they do my lunatic theorising far prouder than my own underwhelming photography here can hope to.
|This is the 2nd canvas in "The Slav Epic" – now, I ask you, is that a big screen, or wot? (Refer relative size of awestruck, darkened space-inhabiting gallery patron to artwork.) This is "The Celebration of Svantovit in Rügen" (1912).|
|This is a detail – almost a close-up, even – of that same canvas, from centre bottom. To stand but a foot away from the painting is for mother and child to fill "the frame". This woman's eyes have haunted me ever since I laid mine upon them.|
Eyes no less haunting – a detail from the 1st canvas of the Slovanská epopej, "The Slavs in Their Original Homeland" (1912).
|An awful purdy doodad which wouldn't be at all out of place in Argento's Suspiria (1977) but which is in fact merely a detail of the 5th canvas in "The Slav Epic", "King Otakar II of Bohemia" (1924).|
Further postcards from Europe to prop up one's claim that everything is cinema
And now for a little more photographic everything-is-cinema-ness, surplus to requirement as addenda for my contribution to the 2012 Senses of Cinema world poll, as I in no way alluded to the following in my poll text, nor need have. But I no got worry.
I'll let the photographs, if necessarily aided to some extent in each instance by their captions, speak for themselves...
Also from that same room. I haven't figured out which films these gorgeous images pertain to – something by Martin Frič, perhaps? Anyone, any leads?
|The Wiener Riesenrad – which is to say, this is the Ferris wheel seen in The Third Man (d. Carol Reed, 1949) in Vienna's nowadays impossibly kitsch Prater amusement park.|
|Kitsch? The Prater? With this photo, I rest my case.|
Still: what is this post if not a paean to the "Magic Dreamland" that is the cinema, anyway? And is that really any less naff a term than "Dream Factory", that popular epithet for Hollywood?
But wait – a pledge! Yes, I hereby pledge, contrary to all recent indications, that this blog will actually regularly feature new content in 2013. Truly!
Let's see then if I'm not yet as good as my word. (And here I'll confess to knowing something you don't, at least, not for very much longer – my year in film in 2013 will be a very busy one, and it'll sure need some documenting and ballyhooing here. Stay tuned!)
Toodles for now then,
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