Filmmaker Amy Ruhl curates a provocative program of Kinetic Cinema that examines how the female body, under the unique technology of cinema, has been the primary source of spectacle since the beginnings of film.
Ruhl’s work engages with sources ranging from George Meliès’ “trick films,” to Nazimova’s Salome (Dance of the Seven Veils) to Vera Chytilova’s phantasmagoria scene in Daisies, one of the most lauded Czech new wave films. She will present examples of these influences and discuss how they have informed her latest short film, How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body which was made in part by collaging early film footage together with live action animation.
The program will also feature works by two contemporary experimental filmmakers, Kerrie Welsh and Amy Greenfield, who will be in attendance and join the discussion.
We will be presenting the following works:
Program runtime 60 minutes
How Mata Hari Lost Her Head and Found Her Body by Amy Ruhl
Ruhl’s work is an imaginary biography of a real historical figure: the erotic dancer and courtesan executed by firing squad for double espionage in World War I. Reinventing the archetypal femme fatale according to her corporeal afterlife – Hari was decapitated after her execution, her body donated to anatomical study and her head displayed at the Musee d’Anatomie – Ruhl imagines her as a striptease artist whose ability to remove her head takes Belle Époque Paris by storm. Using Oscar Wilde’s Salome as a site for narrative and historical interaction, the film draws upon the cultural phenomenon of “Salomania” among largely lesbian and bisexual female performers in order to engage with an era when Orientalism sold, scandal became success, and deviant desires equaled a crime punishable by death.
Peter, Peter… by Kerrie Welsh, 16mm color sync sound. 7 minutes, 2002
A dark retelling of the children’s rhyme “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater,” illustrates the disparity between the narratives we construct and the realities they represent.
Wildfire by Amy Greenfield, 12 minutes, 2003, digital projection
The final film in Greenfield’s acclaimed Club Midnight film cycle depicts women “clothed” in electronically generated flaming colors, reincarnating Thomas Edison’s 1894 hand-tinted film, Annabelle Dances.
Kinetic Cinema is a regular screening series curated by invited guest artists who create evenings of films and videos that have been influential to their own work as artists. When artists are asked to reflect upon how the use of movement in film and media arts has influenced their own art, a plethora of new ideas, material, and avenues of exploration emerge. From cutting edge motion capture animation to Michael Jackson music videos, from Gene Kelly musicals to Kenneth Anger films, movement in media has made a great impact on the culture at large. Kinetic Cinema is dedicated to the recognition and appreciation for “moving” pictures. We have presented these evenings at Collective: Unconscious, Chez Bushwick, Interborough Repertory Theater, University Settlement, Launchpad, Green Space and The Tank in New York City, as well as at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.
Pentacle’s Movement Media programming is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.
KINETIC CINEMA is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.