In the films of Manon de Boer personal narration and musical interpretation form both subject and method. She insistently probes the interplay between image and sound and subtly changes our usual perception of film. This way, she questions the power of pictures and their claim to truth. Most of the protagonists of her films, which always constitute some kind of portrait, are actors and actresses, musicians, dancers, and intellectuals. The characters gradually assume definite shape as their recollections unfold, and even then conceal at least as much as is revealed.
In Presto, Perfect Sound, composer and violinist George van Dam, who collaborated on all of the music in this program, plays Béla Bartok’s sonata of the same name for violin solo. Out of six film recordings, Van Dam cut and pasted the ‘perfect’ soundtrack, a common method in classical music, but de Boer then synchronized it to their original images. We see small jumps in the image, but do not hear them.
The traditional dominance of image over sound is also inverted in Dissonant in which dancer Cynthia Loemij improvises on three sonatas for violin solo by Eugène Ysaÿe – a piece that holds vivid memories for her. De Boer reloads the 16mm camera three times when it runs out of film, while dance and sound continue. In this brief interval, a black screen challenges the viewer to, just like the dancer, fill in empty spaces or to project the image themselves. Like Presto, Dissonant is equally a portrait of an artist during a moment of complete creative concentration, almost out of sync with the world around him.
In Attica, the slow movement of the camera mirrors the disorienting circular structure of the eponymous 1972 composition by American composer Frederic Rzewski. Like ‘Coming Together’, which opens the film, this composition was inspired by the uprising in the Attica state prison in New York, specifically the release of one of the inmates.
Sylvia Kristel – Paris and Resonating Surfaces are two portrait films, not only of ‘strong’ women – the Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel and the Brazilian psychoanalyst Suely Rolnik, respectively – but also of their cities, intellectual environments and attitude to life. We only hear their voices when we don’t see them and vice versa. Their image and story never completely converge. At first glance, the super 8 footage of Paris seems to have been shot during the period Sylvia Kristel talks about in the two sessions that were recorded one year apart, and of which de Boer places the most recent and least detailed one first. Certain inconsistencies in the process of remembering and recounting are revealed. For de Boer, it are the shifts and changes that occur in doubling and repetition that are the most telling, whether she is working with a musical score or a personal narration.
• In the presence of Manon de Boer
• The program consists of two parts with an intermission after the third film.
• Exceptionally, all films from the selection are shown on their original format! A unique opportunity to see some of de Boer’s 16mm and 35mm work on film.
• This is the first in a series of three evenings that OFFoff devotes to the films of Manon de Boer on the occasion of the exhibition ‘Blindsight – Manon de Boer in dialogue with Latifa Laâbissi and Laszlo Umbreit’ at Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (February 13 – May 22) in Deurle. The other evenings take place on Monday April 11 and Sunday May 15.
• The three film programs are free for holders of a ticket of the exhibition. Conversely, a film ticket provides free access to the exhibition.