[[Maya Deren]]'s, //Meshes of the Afternoon//, is to this day still considered the Ambassador of Avant-Garde Film Making. Established as a filmmaker of the 1940s meant breaking into a predominately male dominated industry during World War Two. Deren explained in an interview that she wanted, “To put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to record the incident accurately”[[(Costas)->Work Cited]]. It is easy to see evidence of the [[Cultural Context; Feminist Movement]] through her own work which echoed her own experiences with sexism. She reflects on women in American Society feeling iolated,during and before WWII [[(Costas)->Work Cited]]. After immersing herself in a male dominated industry she came out to be one of the most highly regarded artists of her time.
A constructive [[Film Analysis]] of //Meshes of the Afternoon// shows how her background in poetry separated her film as analytically driven masterpiece. Striving to separate her work from literature as well as traditional theatre, Maya Deren combines compositional elements from both traditions of story-telling to create her own way to communicate with her audience.
<img src="https://html2-f.scribdassets.com/37divpl4cg3p8vtj/images/1-c5f3f193f4.jpg" width="500" height="700" alt="Two foxes">
(Jenna and Ilish)[[Meshes of the Afternoon]]
[[Cultural Context; Feminist Movement]]
[[Cultural Context; Occult]]
Freeman, Nate. “The Devil in the Details: Kenneth Anger, the Inventor of a Celluloid Avant-Garde, Nears 90.” ARTnews.com, Penske Business Media, 23 Feb. 2016, www.artnews.com/art-news/artists/the-devil-in-the-details-kenneth-anger-the-inventor-of-a-celluloid-avant-garde-nears-90-5880/.
Admin. “Aleister Crowley.” US Grand Lodge, US Grand Lodge, 21 Mar. 2013, oto-usa.org/thelema/crowley/.
Martha Rosler, Semiotics of the Kitchen, 1975, single-channel video, black and white, sound; 06:09 minutes, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the Ford Motor Company, 2008.21.7, © 1975, Martha Rosler
Rosler, Martha. “Semiotics of the Kitchen.” Smithsonian American Art Museum, americanart.si.edu/artwork/semiotics-kitchen-77211.
Everything has its first time. “Martha Rosler - Semiotics of the Kitchen 1975.” YouTube, YouTube, 18 Oct. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuZympOIGC0.
“The Women's Rights Movement, 1848–1920: US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives.” The Women's Rights Movement, 1848-1920 | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives, history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/WIC/Historical-Essays/No-Lady/Womens-Rights/.
Tate. “Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968.” Tate, www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/marcel-duchamp-1036.
“Alexander Hammid: A Memorial Salute.” The Museum of Modern Art, www.moma.org/calendar/film/930?locale=en.
O’Pray, Michael. “1940s: American Mythology” Avant-Garde Film: Forms, Themes, Passions. New York, Wallflower Press, 2003
Learning, Lumen. “Sociology.” Lumen, courses.lumenlearning.com/alamo-sociology/chapter/reading-the-womens-movement/.
J. Costas, Nicolás. “Images and Themes in Meshes of the Afternoon.” Academia.edu, Academia, 2002, www.academia.edu/6817442/Images_and_themes_in_Meshes_of_the_Afternoon.
“Meshes of the Afternoon.” Meshes of the Afternoon, 2 July 2014, nicxavier.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/meshes-of-the-afternoon/.
“Stan Brakhage: Experimental Cinema Wiki.” Experimental Cinema, expcinema.org/site/en/wiki/artist/stan-brakhage.
Cherry, Kendra. “What Is the Unconscious (and Why Is It Like an Iceberg)?” Verywell Mind, Dotdash, 13 May 2019, www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-unconscious-2796004.
“Visit - Calendar - Films by Stan Brakhage.” Museum of the Moving Image, www.movingimage.us/visit/calendar/2018/01/27/detail/films-by-stan-brakhage.
(Jenna and Ilish)Formally a poet early on in her career, Deren defines that trail as being a “poor poet,” but seeing her thoughts in the form of images, she was able to transform those ideas into cinematic works. Deren’s films were intentionally silent. Deren was born in Russia during the revolution in 1917, and escaped the Ukraine in 1922 when the anti-semetic programs were emerging. During the 1940s, the United States was at war with Europe and Japan [[(Doneson)->Work Cited]], and Deren’s work depicts American society alienated, especially its women. Deren’s early works were especially influenced by [[Legacy; Kenneth Anger]], [[Influences; Stan Brakhage]], and other major experimental filmmakers of her time. [[Influences; Alexander Hammid]], Maya’s first husband, had a background in the film industry and partnered with Deren to achieve some of her most successful films. Although Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) was Maya Deren’s first film and acting role, it established Deren in the avant-garde film movement.
Maya Deren started as a poet but defines that part of her career as being a “poor poet,” because she “thought in terms of images;” therefore, when she entered the world of cinema, she “came home” [[(Costas)->Work Cited]]. Since she struggled with words and thought in images, she utilizes symbolism through objects and scenes to create a story/message. It is argued that Maya Deren is not a surrealist artist [[(Costas)->Work Cited]].
Although Deren is associated with surrealism, it has been stressed that there are major differences between Maya Deren's cinematic work and that of the classic [[Cultural Context; Surrealists]] filmmakers. It is common that her films convey a psychological aspect concerning the uncovering of the meaning of a dream and/or the subconscious; however, to support the distinction that separates the two, Deren has declared herself as a, "classic and methodological artist" [[(Costas)->Work Cited]]. To add, Deren vs. the surrealists treat the "dream state" in opposing manners. The surrealist perverts reality with the presence of new forms through objects and persons within their dream state, whereas Maya Deren formulates an unconventional relationship between objects and the symbolism those objects possess. There even exists an unfinished ﬁlm, made by Maya Deren and the famous [[Influences; Marcel Duchamp]]. Who is well known for breaking the boundaries between object, artist, and viewer.
(Ilish)Also considered to be a founder of Avant-Garde Cinema, Kenneth Anger was more widely known as an [[Occult->Cultural Context; Occult]] figure who first popularized Gay Cinema. Breaking into the world of Cinema at the age of 20, Anger created his first mature film //Fireworks// [[(Freeman)->Work Cited]]. Although popularized through screenings at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, a California Supreme Court case regarding the possible violation of the obscenity statute in the Motion Picture Production Code of 1934 was what really publicized the film. A large inspiration to Anger was, Dr. Alfred Kinsey the famous sexologist, who viewed this work at a film festival in Biarritz. Kinsey was attracted to //Fireworks// for its representation of Carnal Desire. Kinsey invited Anger to work on his famous sexology studies in London which ultimately exposed him to [[Aleister Crowley->Cultural Context; Occult]] the famous occult hero and founder of Thelema. From this point forward no longer was Kenneth Anger simply experimenting in Avante-Garde filmmaking, but strongly pursuing the occult scene and using it as fuel for his future films such as //Scorpio Rising//, //Inaugaration oif the Pleasure Dome//, //Invocation of My Demon Brother//, and //Lucifer Rising//.
Also for more information on Kenneth Anger's <a href= https://homi.neocities.org/2019/t/apeterson1_Scorpio_Rising.html target=“_blank”>Scorpio Rising</a>look at Anna Peterson's AnalysisAlexander Hammid was already a well established Cinematographer before Maya Deren's //Meshes of the Afternoon// premiered in 1943 [[(MoMA)->Work Cited]]. He created many films in his lifetime outside of his collaboration with his at the time wife Maya Deren, //Meshes of the Afternoon//. He has a focus in Documentary Shorts that he began producing in 1930 with his film Bezucelná Procházka [[(MoMA)->Work Cited]]. His Lifetime of work was recognized in 2006 by The Museum of Modern Artin //Alexander Hammid: A Memorial Salute// [[(MoMA)->Work Cited]].
The photo below was taken by Maya Deren.
<img src="https://monoskop.org/images/c/cd/Alexandr_Hackenschmied_c1942-43_photo_Maya_Deren.jpg" width="500" height="500" alt="Two foxes">
Citation for Image [[(MoMA)->Work Cited]]
(Jenna)The Feminist Movement is broken down into two formal parts, First Wave Feminism and Second Wave Feminism. First Wave Feminism began in the 1920s, although can be traced back to 1848 in Stanton, New York[[(House of Representatives)->Work Cited]]. The Seneca Falls Convention was organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Quaker abolitionist Lucretia Mott[[(House of Representatives)->Work Cited]]. Over a group of about one hundred people, Stanton stated a "'Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions' that echoed the preamble of the Declaration of Independence: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal'"[[(House of Representatives)->Work Cited]]. The strong influx of fighting for Womens' suffrage within the 1920s was focused around Womens' Right to Vote. Fredrick Douglas contributed largely to this movement, due to the Slavery Abolition Movement running along side[[(House of Representatives)->Work Cited]]. The legal battle form women's right to vote was bound to the Slavery Abolition Movement due to the desire for //ALL// women to have true legal equality.
[[Maya Deren]] is inevitably included within First Wave Feminists due to her being one of the first women to break the mold of Cinematic work only being respectfully created by men. Women were not even given opportunities to properly learn the cinematic arts, but Deren's first husband [[Influences; Alexander Hammid]] taught her all that he knew, and gave her a window into his world of film. One woman who was inspired by Deren's work as a strong female filmmaker was Martha Rosler who created [[Legacy; //Semiotics of the Kitchen//]].
To see another film that was culturally influenced by the Feminist Movement look at Diego Keen's <a href= https://homi.neocities.org/2019/t/I_Was%20A_Teenage_Serial_Killer.html target=“_blank”>I Was a Teenage Serial Killer</a> AnalysisThe Surrealist movement began in the 1920s [[(Cherry)->Work Cited]]. Surrealist filmmakers have been described as incorporating shocking, provocative, and exaggerated imagery in a Freudian dream realm to explore the human subconscious[[(Cherry)->Work Cited]]. Freud believed that dreams were a look into one’s unconscious mind that kept our true desires, feelings, urges, and instincts. The Surrealist filmmakers used satire in their filmmaking to pronounce their stance on contemporary politics or issues.
A more recent Surrealist film that is considered legacy inspired from Maya Deren's Dream Sequence was //Decoder// made in 1984. The dream sequence in this film may even be considered an anecdote to //Meshes of the Afternoon// due to its Flower motif and occult context. Similarly both films explore a [[Flower->Film Analysis]] motif or symbol communicating a message of death and fragility. Check out Taylor Wilson and Sasha Firpo's Analysis of <a href= https://homi.neocities.org/2019/t/Decoder_1984.html target=“_blank”>Decoder</a>Marcel Duchamp is most widely known for his controversial piece //Fountain// created in 1917.
<img src="https://www.tate.org.uk/art/images/work/T/T07/T07573_10.jpg" width="500" height="500" alt="Two foxes">
Citation for Image [[(Tate)->Work Cited]]
(Jenna)Infamous British Occultist, Aleister Crowley founded an occult group known as Thelema. He was widely known as an Avante Garde man of New York in the 1910s who wrote //The Book of the Law// which established Thelema as a formal religion that is still widely preacticed across Europe today [[(US Grand Lodge)->Work Cited]]. The United States Grand Lodge states that, "Crowley summarized this as “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” with its corollary “Love is the law, love under will”[[(US Grand Lodge)->Work Cited]]. These were the teachings that he passed on to [[Legacy; Kenneth Anger]], [[Maya Deren]], and many more free spirited young artists.
Samson De Brier, hosted occult ceremonies/parties within his home that attracted celebrities such as, "Marjorie Cameron and Jack Parsons, the writer Anaïs Nin, and bright-eyed, curious actors like Jack Nicholson, James Dean, and Dennis Hopper"[[(Freeman)->Work Cited]].
(Jenna)[[Maya Deren]] consistently uses symbolism and metaphor within her cinematic reflecting her background in poetry. In her 1943 film, //Meshes of the Afternoon//, for example, the strong imagery she conducts in her films displays repetative images to show importance of specific objects pertaining to the overall meaning of the work.
The white flower, specifically a poppy, that begins each loop traditionally represents purity and innocence, which is also the sphere that women in society are defined as. The flower choice was not accidental. Poppies have been a symbol of sleep, peace, and death; “represent the promise of life after death” [[(Word Press)->Work Cited]]. The flower reappears at the end of the last loop, when a man gifts her the flower. The Shadowed figure places the flower on the bed and if the flower represents a woman’s purity, then the flower and the bed introduce sexual life or a woman’s duties. Continuing with this interpretation, the poppy being placed on the bed may represent an eternal sleep [[(Word Press)->Work Cited]]. This Flower turning into a knife implies a threat to her sexual life or with her sexuality, or, alternatively, a force in the realm of her sexual identity, sexual life, sexual pleasure.
The key that she removes from her purse to unlock the door is thought to stand for femininity. When the door does not open from her pushing against it, she turns to the key; however, the key then falls out of her hand. A force is stopping her from continuing or by dropping the key, she has lost her hold on her own femininity. She must use her femininity to get in.
The bread and knife on the countertop represents her gender role in society -- as the one who cooks the meals/nourishes the family which is a similar visual remark to Semiotics of the Kitchen. When climbing the stairs, Deren appears to be clinging to the walls or the stairs due to the force keeping her from reaching the top –– women's struggle against male dominance or gatekeeping.
(Ilish)Martha Rosler's //Semiotics of the Kitchen// produced in 1975, is a strong example of Second Wave Feminism [[(Lumen Learning)->Work Cited]]. Taking place in the kitchen, Rosler interacts with utensils throughout her 6 minute video, using the letters alphabet A through Z as a framework. She interacts with the objects violently and as the Smithsonian American Art Museum describes as "unforgivingly"[[(Smithsonian American Art Museum)->Work Cited]]. She applies meaning to these household items with her aggressive behavior, contradicting the American cultural expectation of how a lady should be interacting with her kitchen. This piece is a major building block in the second wave feminist movement, stating that a woman should not be expected to stay at home, cook, clean, and smile while appreciating her place in life that men gave to her.
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Citation for Video [[(Youtube)->Work Cited]]
(Jenna)Stan Brakhage,another avant-garde filmmaker, created 378 films between 1952 to 2004 [[(Experimental Cinema)->Work Cited]]. Many consider him to be one of the most influential avante-garde filmmakers of his time. A non-Narrative filmmaker with a Celluloid, and found footage to create abstract films to create what he referred to as physical poetry [[(Experimental Cinema)->Work Cited]]. These pieces largely inspired [[Maya Deren]] to push the boundaries of what she considered Poetry and Film.
<img src="http://www.movingimage.us/images/calendar/media/brakhage-dante-quartet_550x238-detail-main.jpg" width="550" height="238" alt="Two foxes">
Citation for Image [[(Museum of Moving Image)->Work Cited]]