Sunday, 10 November 2013

Michel Zimbacca

Square du Temple/ The Invention of the World / Neither Eve Nor Adam – Michel Zimbacca – A series of rarely seen short surrealist films, screened at the Star and Shadow Cinema. The first film (Square du Temple) paralleled the aristocratic history of a grand house’s tenants (specifically their love lives) with the shuffling courtship of two pigeons on a telegraph wire. After the male pigeon briefly mounts the ruffled submission of the female, we are shown a group of boys playing in a nearby park. One boy is inspecting a small rifle. Before the pigeon has a chance to finish any post-coital cigarette (that I imagined…no avian smoking is shown…unfortunately) or apologise for the brevity of his performance, we see his lifeless body drop from the trees, shot down by the boy. The camera lingers on a bloodstain left on the ground, after a passing policeman removes the feathered corpse. We see the boys gather for an unexpected photo-like a troop of underexperienced hunters posing for an akward trophy portrait.
The second film (and longest): The Invention of The World was more of a crude film essay, a montage of tribal artefacts, with a voiceover detailing the notion of some vague evolution of symbolism-or a kind of global formative mythology. This was combined with a very intriguing soundtrack of hypnotic drums and repetitive mantric sound – half way between abrasive and transcendental. The film uses the words of surrealist poet Benjamin Péret, producing some beatufully absurd and aresting lines: ‘we implore the wind blown ostrich’; ‘I, the bear’; ‘I am the crow bride, the wings open each side of my head’; ‘the moon nibbled by a rabbit in the rain’. Several phallic spearheads later, one looping climax of discordant chimes and drumming (as we watch the rotating statue of some elaborate, many limbed deity) and it’s over. Although the fetishised worship of odd and beguilling objects is well accounted for by Breton, his ideas of ‘objective chance’ and trips to the flea market ending in strange purchases brimming with latent revelation…it is still hard to dispell the suspicion of a disquiting imperial tourism, in this veneration of tribal artefacts.
 The last film: Neither Eve Nor Adam (1969)  was my favourite. A couple entwined in bed turn to the side of the bed and pull out a large mirror. After staring at themselves, as a conversational pre-requisite to much meditative indulgence, the woman declares she wishes to be immortal. The man gets out of bed, climbs beneath the bed and then begins to produce bones-which he piles beside the bed. In the corner of the frame we are shown the date, revealing the passing of years, in which time an entire skeleton is produced-from where, and how, is cheerfully unclear. This is all done by the man, in pursuit of immortality for his wife, so that, he explains: ‘your skeleton isn’t waiting for you’ (obviously). After this impressive effort by the man (in which the concept of ‘boning’ is re-defined), he returns to bed, whereupon the woman promptly asks him to ‘rape’ her. It’s around about here we encounter a particularly inspired phrase: ‘Ravish my dream, rape my life’. Dynomite. What follows is a brilliant and theatrical hallucination of a grave-side rape. This sounds far more brutal and morbid than the sequence actually is. It involves the artist, Jean Benoît,  in a camp and highly elaborate costume-playing the ‘Necrophilliac’. He looks essentially like a large castle piece from a game of chess, with the make up of a Halloween devil. The woman from the bedroom swoons lasciviously in his arms, beside her own open grave. Meanwhile, the soundtrack machine gun fires with the non-diagetic sound of a pneumatic drill…all very penetatrive…and enteratining!

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