Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jan Svankmajer Dimensions of Dialogue: Part 1 and Part 2: A Brief Critique

Jan Svankmajer, a Czech Surreal artist (September 4, 1934) creates humorous though worrisome animated stop-motion images mixed with live action scenes in more recent films. Inanimate objects, clay, and food become living assemblages and create fantastic but dreadful and dreamlike psychological narratives about human interaction and behavior. Some of Svankmajer’s creations remind me of Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimbaldo’s food portraits, and I’ve included Summer painted in 1573 below.

Once banned by Czech communist authorities (1972) -Svankmajer remained unknown in Western countries until the 1980’s – today he is considered one of the preeminent animators worldwide.
I must admit to little knowledge in the field of animation, and I stumbled across Svankmajer while doing a totally unrelated Web search. However, I was immediately fascinated by the bizarre imagery and sound in his films. Specifically in Dialogue, Part 2, claymation allows the total assimilation of the subjects each by the other and so beautifully describes two persons becoming one through loving intercourse. At the same time Svankmajer cautions that the same two persons may completely destroy one another as he creates a shocking stop-motion sequence that demonstrates deconstructive processes working in human intercourse. Unfortunately, as I viewed more of his films I became aware that emotional destruction is too often the underlying theme of Svankmajer’s films. Thus, his oeuvre while deserving of its reputation left me depressed.

* Arcimbaldo, Giuseppi, Summer Non copyrighted image, found atRay’s Attic on line at, 9:00 A.M., Thursday, May 14, 2009

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