Tag Archives: history

Maya Deren Forum – Spiel und Ritual

For all those in or around Wuppertal, Germany

Donnerstag, 9. November 2017, 19:00 Uhr, Eintritt frei

2017 wäre Maya Deren 100 Jahre alt geworden. Die 1917 geborene Avantgarde-Filmemacherin, Tänzerin, Poetin, Autorin, Anthropologin und Ausgangspunkt dessen, was kurz darauf als Choreo-Cinéma benannt wurde, hat Künstler und Denker verschiedenster Hintergründe gleichermaßen beeinflusst; insbesondere im Experimentalfilm und in der Verbindung von Film und Tanz.

Vortrag und Film-Screening
Referenten: Florence Freitag and Dr. Claudia Kappenberg

Wo:

Neuer Kunstverein Wuppertal

Hofaue 51 (Kolkmannhaus)

42103 Wuppertal

www.tanzrauschen.de/maya-deren-100/

Die Veranstaltung ist eine Kooperation von Tanzrauschen e.V. Wuppertal und Neuer Kunstverein Wuppertal e.V.

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British dancefilm in Brussels festival

I spent a couple of days in Brussels, where I attended the 6th International Dancefilm Festival L’Art Difficile de Filmer La Danse, which runs 4-7 October at the Cinematek, Danscentrumjette and Argos. The artistic directors are Stefanie Bodien and Wolfgang Kolb, who run the festival together with Roxane Huilmand.

This festival always has one day where it focuses on a particular country, and this time it showed a selection of historical and contemporary British films. Roxane Huilmand and Wolfgang Kolb visited the UK earlier this year where they viewed films at the Lux and the BFI, and met with Gitta Wigro and others. The final selection and curation of the screenings was done by Wolfgang Kolb and Stefanie Bodien, who invited Simon Whitehead to perform at the opening night and asked me to give an overview of dance film in the UK and to introduce the films.

The list of films is included below. It was a great pleasure seeing this selection of films that began with Mime Dance, a 2min film by Ms Mary Montgomery from 1928,  and proceeded via Len Lye’s work for the British, General Post Office (GPO) from the 1930’s and a film by the Rambert Dance Company from the 1970s to work from artists of the London Filmmaker’s Coop, to the more familiar screendance by Peter Anderson, Miranda Pennell and Lloyd Newson, to visual artist Mark Lecky’s Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), and finished gloriously with Charles Atlas and Michael Clark’s collaboration Hail the New Puritain (1986). The films were organised into four programmes which we watched one after the other, from 3pm to about 10.30pm. It was a feast and most engaging selection and we left hungry for more!

There were some unusual or even controversial works, in particular Dirty (1971), Steven Dwoskin, in which the camera scrutinises two female bodies not unlike most of his other work. A deliberately rough soundtrack and grainy image interfered with the visual consumption of the images to some extend, but more than any other work this film raises questions as to the cinematic gaze and our visual pleasure. Within the 20 or so films and historical narrative, this work was useful though to challenge our spectating. Another intriguing work was Imprint (1974), by Clive Meyer & John Chesworth and the Rambert Dance Company. The 70’s really did take the viewer on a journey and examined the film frame in spectacular ways. I had not seen this film and I found it spellbinding. A film like Boy (1995) by Peter Anderson and Rosemary Lee, perhaps demonstrates the excellence of the area of British TV screendance, and a few other projects could have been included here. But time was limited and finishing the screening with the exhuberant and fantastic Atlas/ Clark collaboration was a brilliant choice in that it embedded dancefilm in a wider cultural context, in this case post-punk London, and played with numerous registers of human frailty and extravagant performance.

Once again I am reminded how important curation is and how much it can open films to new readings and contexts. This programme would be worth taking on tour, to other festivals and other continents. Any takers?

Claudia Kappenberg (Image above: What People Do, Andrew Bar McKay 1981)

List of screened films: 

Memories of Mirrors Ursula Mayer 4’ 9

Mime Dance by Miss Mary Montgomery 2’ 9

Rainbow Dance Len Lye 4’ 9

Between Two Worlds Guy L. Côté 19’ 9

Imprint Clive Meyer & John Chesworth 45’ 9

 

Mantra Jeanette Iljon 6’ 10

Dirty Steven Dwoskin 14’ 10

What People Do Andrew Barr McKay 22’ 10

Falling Under Nicola Baldwin 15’ 10

Pointillist Dance David Leister 14’ 10

 

Dance House n° 2 Tim Albery 6’ 11

Dance House n° 3 Peter Mumford 6’ 11

Boy Peter Anderson/ Rosemary Lee 5’ 11

Lounge Miranda Pennell 7’ 11

Fiorruci Made Me Hardcore Mark Leckey 15’ 11

The Cost Of Living Lloyd Newson 34’ 11

 

Hail the New Puritan Charles Atlas/ Michael Clark 85’ 12

 

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Panorama British Screendance

On the 11th May I will be presenting two film programmes in Bordeaux as part of an International Panorama of Screendance organised by L’UNIPOP, Université Populaire Cinéma in association with the Cinéma Jean Eustache Pressac.

Screendance is still relatively unknown in France, both as art practice and as a term (despite the Festival in Bourgogne that is run by Marisa Hayes and Franck Boulègue). French artists tend to speak of Videodance, Vidéodanse, which is not a very useful term and can send out the wrong signals. But apart from that, to an audience who does not know what this practice consist of, what kind of historical, British narrative would you propose and what works would you select for a screening?

I decided to start with the wonderful and groundbreaking structuralist filmmaking and artist’ moving image we have in Britain, to make a link with how movement was explored in these works and how it has developed more recently within screendance. Of course one could build many different programmes with this premise and thereby highlight different approaches and areas of choreographic and editorial interest. Below are the two programmes I will be screening in Bordeaux.

Programme 1 (Historical Perspective): Berlin Horse (1970) Malcolm Le Grice and The Whirlpool (1997) Jayne Parker, followed by Tattoo (2001) Miranda Pennell; Boy (1996) Rosemary Lee and Peter Anderson; Snow (2003) David Hinton and Rosemary Lee; Stand in (2009) Becky Edmunds; El Fuego (2007) Becky Edmunds; Snoplog (2014) Chien-Ming Chang and Katy Pendlebury; Edits (2013) Marisa Zanotti and Lea Anderson.

Programme 2 (Choreocinematic Sensibilities):  You made me Love you (2005) 4 minutes, video, Miranda Pennell; Human Radio (2002) 9 minutes, Super 16mm to video, Miranda Pennell; All This Can Happen (2012) 50 min, video, Siobhan Davies and David Hinton.

I look forward to seeing this body of work and to the ‘conversations’ that will emerge between the films.

Claudia Kappenberg

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Email and ipads in ancient Rome?

I spent a day with IT4Arts, the London City-based Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (a Guild) which provides free advice and training for non-for-profit Arts organisations such as the Screendance Journal, but also big established institutions such as, the Roundhouse, the Royal Albert Hall, Tate, and BBC etc.

A most fascinating talk was given by Tom Standage from The Economist, author of Writing on the Wall (2013). Applying current, social media vocabulary to the means of communication amongst the Romans and in the Middle Ages, he argued basically that they had networks of communication that functioned much like our social media, with messages and news that were sent from person to person, and with news that were trending across networks and others that faded away quickly.

According to Standage there are three phases of media development, with Really Old Media from 60BC through to 1833, Old Media until 2000, and New Media since then. The Really Old Media included paintings as a form of selfies, letters on papyrus delivered by slaves and copied to others as a sort of email equivalent, a whole system of messengers (tabelari) as broadband, and a culture of copying books and adding books to personal libraries as an equivalent to person to person distribution. An example of a social media savvy person as suggested by Standage is the Evangelist Paul, who wrote letters to key churches, such as his letter to the Colossians, knowing that they would be copied time and again until eventually every church would hold a copy and hear about his ideas. Strategic blogging and tweeting, in other words, is not exactly a new idea.

No doubt there were significant changes with the invention of the Gutenberg’s printing press with movable types in around 1450, but the changes were gradual. Initially any printing was small scale and served mainly to amplify the person to person distribution. For example, when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, in protest against the Pope’s selling off of indulgences – which supposedly saved people from going to purgatory and which Luther saw as a complete con – he discovered the power of printed distribution. His first theses were written in Latin, addressing the more learned people and thereby limiting the readership. Noting the considerable interest in his theses Luther then translated them into a form of German, and it took a mere two weeks for the theses to be distributed around the whole of Germany. (A little side effect was that this nationwide distribution established a common German language.) According to Standage, Luther’s thesis can count as an excellent example of peer-to-peer distribution.

As Standage proposed, later historical social media phenomena were, for example, the coffee houses of the 1600s, which acted as debating chambers and thrived on the buzz created by the newly imported coffee. The Tudors had a thing called the commonplace books, which were personal diaries of sorts and used for noting poems and ideas. The commonplace books were shown to friends for the purpose of sharing inspiration and for copying. Occasionally, Standage added, they were circulated amongst several authors as in the court of Anne Boleyn and served to speculate and to ‘gossip’ on who was whose lover etc.

Only in 1833, Standard argued, did the press achieve the kind of mass distribution we know today, which established a radically different, controlling, and top-down circulation of the news. While in Luther’s time small printers would print, for example, a 1000 copies and remunerate the author by handing him 100 of those, from the 1800s the press was owned by the very wealthy who impose their own version of the news, temporarily overriding social media circuits.

Standage concluded that the social networks of the Really Old Media had essentially allowed for the same kind of synchronisation of opinions we experience today with twitter, blogging and Facebook, and which underpin events like the Arab Spring. Hence, the ‘new social media’ must be considered as a revival of ancient horizontal distribution systems. Current social media have amplified the reach and speed of communication  through new technologies, but they are not a new phenomenon as such. The old coffee houses – hotbeds of ideas and centres of innovation – meanwhile morphed, over time, into new kinds of businesses like insurance brokers, and fuelled collaborations and scientific discoveries.

All of this reminds me that getting together, talking and sharing ideas is absolutely vital for any culture. That was precisely the situation at the beginning of the screendance venture, when Doug Rosenberg, Katrina McPherson and I secured the funding from the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for an international Network in Screendance. The Network fund allowed us to gather a set of key people and to meet twice a year, either in the US or the UK, and to spend a few days together talking. Most crucially the Network fund had not required us to predetermine what exactly we were going to do together! Out of these intensive encounters then came the idea, that we needed a dedicated platform for the publication of debates in the field of Screendance, and that led, a mere six months later, to the launch of the Screendance Journal. It is a great shame that nowadays days most funding proposals require a fully formed plan of action and a whole set of outcomes before one has even started meeting. This disregards how ideas are formed, and how people become productive. Three cheers for the AHRC for keeping up the Network Grant.

For videos of the IT4Arts talks see Information Technologists

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Embrace your foolishness

“By avoiding dancing, Shakespeare’s Jacques refuses the embrace of his own foolishness,” writes  in the Guardian in a review on dance on the big screen. And I would add that this aspect of dancing is gaining a new currency at a time when life is increasingly measured, standardised and accounted for. Read the full article;

The glorious folly of dance on film

From Singin’ in the Rain to The Full Monty and Strictly Ballroom, dance films celebrate our human capacity for improvised, limitless joy.
Michael Newton, The Guardian, Saturday 28 June 2014
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Une idée du mouvement – French filmmaker Germaine Dulac

 

An article on French filmmaker Germaine Dulac by Marion Carrot, posted on the SCREENDANCE STUDIES blog of the Festival International de Video Danse de Bourgogne;

Une idée du mouvement – Étude de quelques figures dansées dans la filmographie de Germaine Dulac.

via Une idée du mouvement – Étude de quelques figures dansées dans la filmographie de Germaine Dulac.

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