An evening with three masterworks of animation by the Brothers Quay on 35mm: In Absentia, The Comb and Street of Crocodiles.
In Absentia (2000, UK, 20 min) – A collaboration with the celebrated avant-garde composer Karlheinz Stockhausen, who composed and conducted original music for the film. Shot in black and white and color and projected in CinemaScope, IN ABSENTIA combines live action and animation with dazzling use of light to convey the mindscape of a woman alone in a room repeatedly writing a letter with broken off pieces of pencil lead, while outside her window vistas of ever changing light register her every emotion. The film is dedicated to “E.H. who lived and wrote to her husband from an asylum.” IN ABSENTIA was produced by Keith Griffiths at Koninck for the BBC and Pipeline Films’ series of short music films “Sound on Film International.”
The Comb (1990, UK, 18 min) opens in the shadowy bedroom of a sleeping beauty and seems to enter her mind and burrow into her dreams. Based on a fragment of text by the Austrian writer Robert Walser, THE COMB is an exploration of the subconscious visualized as a labyrinthine playhouse haunted by a doll-like explorer. A mesmerizing and resonant blend of live action and animation, THE COMB is set to a sensuous score of violins, guitars and attic room cries and whispers, and bathed in a gorgeous golden glow.
Street of Crocodiles (1986, UK, 21 min) – This Quays’ masterpiece is adapted from a short story by Polish writer Bruno Schulz and was their first film shot on 35mm. A museum keeper spits into the eyepiece of an ancient peep-show and sets the musty machine in motion, plunging the viewer into a nightmarish netherworld of bizarre puppet rituals among the dirt and grime.
“On display in a deserted provincial museum is an old viewing Kinetoscope machine with a map indicating the precise district of the Street of Crocodiles. Lodged deep within this wooden oesophagus lie the internal configurations and mechanisms of the Street of Crocodiles like some quasi-anatomical exhibit. The anonymous offering of human saliva by an attendant caretaker activates and releases the Schulzian theatre from stasis into permanent flux. Myth stalks the streets of this parasitical zone where the mythological ascension of the everyday is charted by a marginal interloper who threads himself through this one night of the Great Season. No centre can be reached and the futile pursuit concludes in the deepest rear rooms of a slightly dubious tailor’s shop.” –The Quay Brothers.
An evening curated in collaboration with the Holland Festival for which the Quays designed an impressive video background for Theatre of the World, Louis Andriessen’s new opera.