Director: Michelangelo Antonioni
Cast: Monica Vitti, Paolo Bonacelli, Franco Branciaroli
Italy, 129’, 1981, color
Italian with Turkish subtitles
Intrigued by the possibilities presented by the then-new format of video, Antonioni made this experimental work, based on the Jean Cocteau drama The Two-Headed Eagle and starring a regal Monica Vitti. “Respect the etiquette, the ceremonial,” notes a somber character in the story of a queen, trapped in self-exile in a crumbling castle, and the poet/assassin she falls in love with. At times Antonioni stays true to this injunction, lovingly dwelling on every impossibly decorative costume, set, and theatrical pronouncement as if paying homage to his compatriot Visconti. At other times, as if expressing the longings of Vitti’s queen, Antonioni willfully destabilizes the narrative ceremony, using his new technological tools to experiment with color shifts, foregrounded imagery, and other dizzying visual techniques. For Antonioni, video represented “a new world of cinema . . . using color as a narrative, poetic means . . . with absolute faithfulness, or, if so desired, with absolute falseness.”
Among the most interesting themes in the oeuvre of Prassinos are cypresses, trees, and Turkish landscapes. The cypress woods in Üsküdar he saw every time he stepped out on the terrace of their house in İstanbul or the trees in Petits Champs must have been strong images of childhood for Prassinos.
In 1998 Ben Jakober and Yannick Vu collaborated on an obvious remake of Marcel Duchamp’s Roue de Bicyclette, his first “readymade” object. Duchamp combined a bicycle wheel, a fork and a stool to create a machine which served no purpose, subverting accepted norms of art.
Nam June Paik was video art’s pioneer (1932 –2006). It is interesting that while Warhol and Nameth were experimenting with psychedelic happenings that combined rock, film and performance, the video art pioneers Nam June Paik, Stephen Beck, Eric Siegel and Steina Vasulka were researching in a similar direction.
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