‘The Young & the Beautiful’ is an ongoing series in which young filmmakers relate to the experimental canon. Margarita Maximova rises to the challenge by not only presenting a selection of her own work next to that of Rose Lowder but also by reacting to some her films with a live soundtrack.
The French-Peruvian filmmaker Rose Lowder (1941) devised her very own, unique way of filming. With a 16mm Bolex camera, she composes her images frame by frame but not sequentially, leaving certain frames blank. Rewinding the film in the camera, she then only exposes the in-between frames previously left empty, often doing so at a later time (sometimes years) or in a different place. Using this method, she manipulates and transcends reality to create a new viewing experience in which different situations are viewed simultaneously even if they’ve not been shot this way. In her cinema of perception, she patiently interweaves images, time and sometimes space to let elements from different moments or places, recorded on contiguous photograms, interact on the screen and in the brain of the spectator. Filmed in the same area at different times, her famous Bouquets consist of a series of one-minute compositions whose (1440) frames are interlaced so that each bouquet of flowers also becomes a bouquet of images.
Trained as a sculptor and painter, she gradually fills in the canvas, skipping back and forth. This way of working requires extremely meticulous control. In order to avoid double exposures and to keep track of what has been filmed and where it is situated on the roll, she uses the counter on the Bolex but especially her own very precise hand-drawn charts, which she calls ‘scores’. Graphically complex, semantically rich and visually stimulating, each of these designs reveal the complexity of Lowder’s technique. She doesn’t fall back on an optical printer but finishes the films in the camera.
Lowder films modest, simple things, for a long time at cycling distance from her home in Avignon. Flowers and water being recurrent motifs in her work, Lowder’s personal visual language expresses both the beauty of the landscape around her and the magic of cinematic vision.
When filmmaker and theoretician Peter Gidal suggested that Lowder’s work is part of a movement towards a dispersed rather than focused identity, towards subjectivity rather than objectivity and towards a woman’s rather than a man’s sensibility, she responded: “In my films, you’re not exactly sure where anything is.” The work of the Belgian-Russian artist Margarita Maximova often shares this ‘out of this time’ sensation, expressing digital as well as geographical or psychographic displacement. Although Maximova’s ‘landscapes’ are created with fast, sometimes very basic digital techniques, they appear as a dominant, sensitive, almost sublime visual element, that appeals on the psychological receptivity of the spectator making it emotionally his own.
In Maximova’s films nature ‘stutters’ for different reasons than in Lowder’s work. A continuous filmic whirlpool of a whole other kind, Sway a way is made up of footage from a cell phone falling down an aircraft, GoPro cameras getting lost in the ocean, tumbling down rivers or getting picked up by birds. The spiral of life seems to merge with the vortex of the internet. In Just Call Him and See If He Picks Up, we follow a digital chat between two sisters, entirely typed out against a background of something that at first seems like a dull monochrome road movie. The two perspectives of the siblings in this film might resonate with Lowder’s Certaines observations, a work in which two 16mm projectors create one superimposition and on the Pont d’Avignon subsequently open up to two screens before coming back together.
Currently living and working in Berlin, Margarita Maximova (1990) was born in Moscow, and grew up and studied in Belgium (LUCA School of Arts Gent) during which time she also worked as a volunteer at Art Cinema OFFoff! Outside the film theatre on a separate screen, Maximova will be screening Bird (2011). Shown for the first time publicly, this film was made while still studying at LUCA. An image of a bird filmed in Riga was endlessly imported and exported at different frame rates until it became abstract and started to break down. Seemingly at odds with the extremely controlled practice of Lowder, this instinctive way of working was Maximova’s first introduction to experimental film. In a way, it foreshadows her silent film The Vast, The Land, The Liquid where the sky, mountains and waves get stuck and the ability to accurately show the landscape can be questioned.