Hail Marys

The following was printed in a program for a screening event in Berlin by LUNAR, a film curational project by Christina Demetriou (August 2016).

MA

Celia Rowlson-Hall, 2015 ~ 80 mins

is the award-winning silent feature film by American filmmaker Celia Rowlson-Hall. There is no official Biblical narrative for the Virgin Mary. Hers is a story rarely articulated; she is never the protagonist, but rather a vessel, a walking womb, for a Him. Rowlson-Hall grants Mary a narrative in the form of Ma. Androgyny and non-verbal articulations complicate a gendered burden. Kitsch Americana is this film’s holy iconography. Like all ‘silent’ films – Ma is not truly without sound. Its sonic landscape often communicates the affect the characters cannot/do not verbalize. A kind of dynamic ventriloquism is at work; the film’s skillful combination of non-verbal sound and choreography makes it so that the viewer never misses words. Some of the most human sounds heard in the film come from a hotel television set. Ma acts out the sounds – laughing, crying, screaming – as if performing (taking on) the emotional labour for the bodiless voices inside the TV. Everything in Ma is bursting at the seams: sand spills out of the walls, ice cream melts and candy slush drips. The stark landscape of the American Southwest is in a state of eruption. Just as Ma’s body strains and contorts in motion, so nothing in this film is static – nothing (no body) can be contained.

 

(m)OTHER

Miloš Trakilović, 2015 ~ 4 mins

is a video art piece by Berlin-based artist Miloš Trakilović. It is a roiling black and white image. The piece is a syncopated soliloquy, a stream-of-consciousness mediation on language, a four-minute-long Freudian slip. It shatters the maternal image into shards; it is an inarticulate articulation, a pulsating digital womb, an interrogation of maternal self-annihilation and absorption in an Other.

 

IN TANDEM

~ 80 + 4 mins

Where Ma spills over with quiet embodiment, m/Other stages the disembodiment of language. Ma is told through the movement of silent bodies, and m/Other is a non-narrative, bodiless exploration of verbality. Both works are preoccupied with the maternal image and the distortion of a problematic narrative. The two together are a re-assemblage of dislocated parts, a convergence of subversive articulations.