Maya Deren, Ritual in Transfigured Time, 1946. Film, 14'27''
Carolee Schneemann. Fuses, 22'22'' (1967)
Marie Menken. Lights, 6'05'' (1966)
Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid. Meshes of the Afternoon, 14'12'' (1943)
Maya Deren. Ritual in Transfigured Time, 14'27'' (1946)
William K.L. Dickson, Annabelle Serpentine Dance, 45'' (1895)
William K.L. Dickson, William Heise & James White. Annabelle Dances And Dances, 5'20''
The selection was made from YouTube.
Adapting excerpts from Søren Aabye Kierkegaard's book Repetition, these selected shorts suggest getting our cognitive and moral bearings not through prompted remembering, but quite unexpectedly as a gift from the unknown, or as a revelation from the future: as 'repetition'. The shorts are viewed as an epiphany that sometimes makes the old new again, sometimes grants something radically new.
Repetition is about the hope that we might regain love. In a less than ideal case, the hope would be that we would 'get over' our attachment and thereby regain a guiltless outlook. The broad question these shorts pose is how a sense of meaning and direction in life can be regained as we suffer its absence.
Reversing the usual flow of meaning-carrying passions will undo a false valorisation of choice and unqualified autonomy. The dominant modern image has meaning flow outward, projected from a source in the autonomous self to adhere to others and the world. ('You are what I make you to be, or as I construe you!') The inversion of that image gives a pre-modern or non-modern picture. Meaning arrives in an incoming flow from a source 'without' - from the other, the world, the divine. ('I acknowledge and accept who you are; what you are shapes my responsiveness.') Meaning installs itself, breaching autonomy.
If we need love, we 'think back to' or 'recollect' a reassuring, timeless essence already there to revive us. We have 'known love' all along, but have momentarily forgotten. We try to recall a first love, when all was alive and exciting. In 'repetition', meaning gathers before our front-facing receptivity. Musical meaning is about to peak in a phrase not yet uttered by the cello. Whether it will (or not) is nothing we can control. We await something momentous, gathered as the future unveils it to us. We tilt forward in anticipation, in a hope for the gift of 'repetition', for we half-know what to expect. Without 'repetition' or recollection, all of life is dissolved into an empty, meaningless noise. We need the openness to the possibility that a lost world might be regained, whether as a marriage to it or freedom from it.
Repetition's love is the only happy love, as it is not disturbed by hope nor
by the marvelous anxiety of discovery. Neither, however, does it bear the sorrow of recollection. It has instead the blissful security of the moment. Hope is new attire, stiff and starched and splendid. Still, since it has not yet been tried on, one does not know whether it will suit or even if it will fit.
Curated by Yazid Anani