Mary Helena Clark: Dragon Is the Frame
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I want to make cinema that is both trance-like and transparent: that operates on dream logic until disrupted by a moment of self-reflexivity, like tripping on an extension cord. (Mary Helena Clark)
Between the Idea and the Reality Falls the Shadow. An uneasy wind blows through these films. With aesthetic interests in magic, illusionism and deception, local filmmaker Mary Helena Clark creates films permeated with mysterious associations, ineffably assembled according to dream logics into fragmentary formations of distant or lost lives. After Writing is a silent song of abandon, a post-linguistic elegy to an apparently lost world. Orpheus (outtakes)—citing Cocteau, referencing Keaton—conjures an “interstitial space where the ghosts of cinema lurk beyond and within” (Andrea Picard). The Plant, “a spy film,” wanders the streets of Chicago, seeking meaning but finding something more. Clark’s newest film, The Dragon Is the Frame (US premiere) is a powerful, fragmented and questing meditation on loss, in tribute to late artist Mark Aguhar. Late addition! The world premiere of The Sound of Running in My Voice.
Clark’s films resonate at a seemingly quantum level with recent films by the Baltimore-based Karen Yasinsky whose works evidence a similar interest in the fragment using puppetry, animation, cinematic quotation and hints of narrative to trigger emotive positions of discomfort and empathy. Audition—citing Cassavetes and Bo Harwood—evokes a lonely haze of distance through the persistence of repetition. The assembled images comprising After Hours contrast violence with precarious grace and dance delicately between delirious heights and abject depths of experience. Marie—a rotoscoped animation based on Bresson’s …Balthazar—is a brief assaultive animation commemorating its character’s fall from grace, while Life Is an Opinion, Fire a Fact oscillates from despair to serenity while contemplating suicide as depicted by Bresson and Tarkovsky. Finally, The Lonely Life of Debby Adams (“the movie I tried to dislike and rip apart but I just couldn’t”) is a meditation on panoptic voyeurism, performativity, privacy and objectification. (Steve Polta)