It’s no secret that Marnie Weber is much loved on this blog so it’s with great excitement that her 2007 16mm film Sing Me a Western Song (featuring another afterlife tale by the Spirit Girls) is available to watch on MOCAtv as part of their West Coast Video series. Includes a personal introduction by Weber to boot!
Marnie Weber’s The Night of Forevermore is a static space housing monsters, demons, witches, human-animal hybrids; all of which come alive with slow, repetitive gestures and sound. It’s a Hieronymous Bosch painting brought to life, a haunting world with creatures familiar and strange, each with their own woe, purpose, and revenge. Bosch’s paintings are infamously crowded, layered with forms of life and death co-mingling in this liminal boundary between heaven and hell. It is an area of foretold ghosts. And retained within the picture plain and filmic frame, Weber’s animated sculpture remain spread across the entire tableau but firmly placed on an individual stage.
Of course, the activating power that elevates the concept of a painting into a moving image in The Night of Forevermore is the camera itself. Through the all-seeing eye of Weber’s lens, the viewer is shown this world of dreams and nightmares beginning with a static shot where movement begins individually, slowly, and then all at once. This overview pans away, purposefully, to show the action and the function of each creature – the musician, the crying pig, the riding witch, the executioner – giving the audience privileged mobility. It’s the opposite of Bosch’s chaotic evocation of confusion where our eyes dart maniacally across the surface. Weber’s calculated pacing lends the bizarre, gruesome, and monstrous scene an elevated other worldly aura. The strangeness becomes tactile.
Weber’s films themselves are like dreams, with images floating from space to scene in non-linear time as her representational figures suggest eternal ramifications for questionable deeds. The protagonist in The Night of Forevermore is a young and innocent girl (played by Weber’s own daughter, Colette Rose Shaw) shown her own dreamlike/nightmarish journey to escape the darkness. She is the only one with the freedom to move, her ability traverse through these alternate realms only being because she is still fighting the evil damnation the witch (played by Weber) has subjected her to. Hers is an unexpected reality, confronting a devilish figure, escaping the witch’s clutches, waking up in strange alternate universes. Similar to the horror film heroine (aka the Final Girl), her experience is a visualize metaphor living through life into adulthood. The Night of Forevermore is a late 15th century morality tale made contemporary through the influence of moviemaking.
However, as is typical with Weber’s tales, her monsters are not safely relegated to the spiritual (film) world. Instead, the gallery space functions as a portal through which Weber brings forth these beings through objects. The painting and collage on wood works (a first) provide a literal weight to what I’ve always associated as her unique version of film stills. Furthering the narratives in the film and withholding the freedom of movement the film provides, these collage pieces segues perfectly into the sculptural versions of select characters. Haunting us with their presence, the old witch sits still in a rocking chair while watching us watch the film, a bed of fruitless trees lurk nearby. One almost expects them to begin moving, just a twitch, as the film has shown us that even paintings, even creatures in the night, can come alive, seek us out, and steal our souls.
The second part of The Art of Fear artist film exhibition is this Wednesday (October 19) in the upstairs lobby at Nitehawk Cinema! The event is free and starts at 7pm with films beginning shortly after – the program will be shown twice. See you all there!
Ghost Stories, the second program of The Art of Fear, features surreal tales of love, life, and death that are brought back from the afterlife in the bizarre and haunting works of My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon and Alexandro Segade, Los Angeles), Aïda Ruilova (New York), and Marnie Weber (Los Angeles). Horror affect and narrative style are huge influencers in these films with inspiration deriving from Rod Serling’s Night Gallery television series, cult figures like Jean Rollin and Karen Black, and the theatrical monstrous characters from early Hollywood. Importantly, The Art of Fear is showing the New York debut of Marnie Weber’s most recent film, The Eternal Heart (2010).
My Barbarian – Night Epi$ode: Curatorial Purgatorial (Pilot)
2009, Single channel video, 12 minutes, Color, Sound
Aïda Ruilova – Life Like
2006, Single channel video, 5 minutes, Color, Sound
Aïda Ruilova – Lulu
2007, Single channel video, 5 minutes, Color, Sound
My Barbarian – Night Epi$ode: Yoga Matt and Veronika Phoenix
2009, Single channel video, 13 minutes, Color, Sound
Aïda Ruilova – Meet the Eye
2009, Single channel video, 7 minutes, Color, Sound
Marnie Weber – The Eternal Heart (see trailer below)
2010, Shot on Super 8 and 16mm, digital projection, 28 minutes, Color, Sound
I’m so excited to announce The Art of Fear, a two-part artist film program I am curating at Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn. Featuring moving image works influenced by horror cinema, it is the first manifestation of my research on horror film and contemporary art presented in New York (look out for a major upcoming exhibition in Los Angeles) and I’mthrilled to be working with such truly incredible artists. Please come support artist film, cinema, and horror this October!
The two-part screening features works by Takeshi Murata, Darren Banks, Jaime Shovlin (October 5) and My Barbarian, Aida Ruilova, Marnie Weber (October 19).
Performance, music, and art have deep roots in the unique creative landscape of Los Angeles. New experimental power trio (Marnie Weber, Dani Tull, & Doug Harvey) Faüxmish is sure to be a part of this legacy.
Faüxmish is a Los Angeles art-rock supergroup that came together over a shared engagement with American spiritual sects who remove themselves from established social norms and create their own culture as outsiders.
Taking as their motto “Simplicity Through Noise,” Faüxmish have developed a practice rooted in improvisational ensemble playing using electric guitars (played with rubber mallets and other extended as well as traditional techniques) and vintage synthesizers, in various combinations of three.
Initially conceived as a ‘wall of sound,’ the group’s music rapidly developed a complex and idiosyncratic audio vocabulary drawing on the members’ widely divergent individual musical backgrounds, which range from noise to prog, post-punk to film scores, and 90s alt-rock to improvisational audio collage. The results range from dreamy ambient soundscapes to theatrical rock songs.
Last night I watched George Franju’s Les yeux sans visage / Eyes Without a Face (1960) on the big screen (thanks BFI) and was struck by how the aesthetics of Christiane Genessier’s mask resonated so strongly in relation to the work of Gillian Wearing and Marnie Weber. There is clearly an in-depth exploration waiting on how the mask functions in horror cinema and art, particularly in relation to women and identity. In the meantime, here are some images:
Final scene in which Christiane Genessier has set things ‘right
Still of the Spirit Girls from Marnie Weber’s Sing Me a Western Song (2007)
Christiane calling her fiance.
Gillian Wearing’s Self Portrait at Three Years Old (2003)
My interview with the amazing Marnie Weber featured on Lux.
Marnie Weber creates fantastical worlds that, quite frankly, I want to live in or, at the very least, pay a visit. Her atmospheres are an aesthetic mash up of Victorian, 1970s commune, and gritty punk filled with the kind of unsettling creatures that would scare the pants off you if they weren’t somehow totally endearing. Indeed, there is something very magical and intangible about her film, collages, and installations. Weber expresses the theatricality of old Hollywood, bringing forth our own nostalgic tendencies through the expression of death and dreamscapes. Her images are touching, luscious, and melancholic; reflecting another world placed firmly within our own.
For the past six years, Marnie Weber has woven together fictional narratives about the post-mortem adventures of the Spirit Girls, taking us on their bizarre and uncanny journey through the afterlife. Earlier this month at the Mountain View Cemetery & Mausoleum in Altadena, California, Weber put an end to their perpetual mourning and opened up a new avenue for exploration. Eternity Forever, presented by West of Rome Public Art, was inaugurated with a funeral processional and the debut screening of Weber’s film The Eternal Heart where the Spirit Girls, in their last performance, played the live score. This exhibition, which also features a new series of collages, represents the death and re-birth of Weber’s ongoing relationship with her monstrous characters.
Image: crowd at the Eternity Forever opening. Courtesy of Marnie Weber and West of Rome.