This was a somewhat spontaneous one-day symposium in Basel on the 20th May 2017, organised by Prof. Dr. Ute Holl, with and for students of the ‘Seminar Medienwissenschaften’ (Media Research Seminar) at the University of Basel, CH.
Convened in order to celebrate 100 years since the birth of Maya Deren, it aimed to explore the relation between dance and trance and cinema. Guest speakers included: Ling Ji Hon (who started the day of with a Tai Chi session), Christine Noll Brinckmann, Mathilde Rosier, Claudia Kappenberg, Moira Sullivan, Florence Freitag. The setting was suitably magical, hosted by Neues Kino Basel, a community-led romantic old building complete with Berlin-style ‘Hinterhof’, screening room, large kitchen diner and ample hang-out spaces.
Ute Hall invited everyone to fully immerse themselves in discussions, and to be flexible around timings and programming. This – and the delicious food – led to a lovely, relaxed and conversational atmosphere. Presenters had also been invited to mix academic discussions with more creative approaches and to screen personal work if suitable, which allowed for new connections to emerge between then and now and between different practices. My favourite was a presentation / screening by Mathilde Rosier, whose work has both visual rigour and a magical, playful character.
And guess what, Maya Deren’s footage and sound recordings from Haiti will feature in this year’s DOCUMENTA in Kassel, together with photos by Deren biographer Martina Kudlacek, work by the Haitian artist Andre Pierre and paintings by Amrita Sher-Gil. The exhibition is curated by Natasha Ginwala. See you there?!
Deren’s work clearly continues to fascinate and entrance people, and is perhaps more relevant than ever.