Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 12:00 am

The Cinema of Narcisa Hirsch

Curated and presented by Federico Windhausen


992 Valencia Street (at 21st Street)

San Francisco, CA 94110

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Born in Germany in 1928 and resident in Argentina since her early childhood, Narcisa Hirsch—a filmmaker largely unknown in the United States—is a pivotal figure in Latin American experimental cinema. Hirsch focuses on the body and corporeal experience in her work, and combines her musings on spiritual and existential questions with lyrical imagery derived largely from the interior spaces of her domestic life, the rural landscapes of Patagonia and the urban environments of Buenos Aires. Marabunta captures a unique happening staged by Hirsch at the Coliseo cinema in October 1967, after a screening of Antonioni’s Blow-Up. In the mid-seventies, Narcisa Hirsch heard about Michael Snow’s 1970 film A Casing Shelved, which combines a projection of a 35mm slide showing a bookcase in Snow’s studio with a tape-recorded narration by the artist that discusses various objects within the image. Notwithstanding her inability to see Snow's film, Hirsch made Taller (Workshop), a 16mm film shot in the artist’s studio and dominated by her voice, but departing in thought-provoking ways from Snow's work. Testamento y vida interior includes a performance in which Hirsch’s fellow filmmakers carry a coffin through the streets of Buenos Aires—an action all the more striking for having been accomplished at the outset of the country's most brutal military dictatorship. In Ama-Zona, sparse meditations on female independence, eroticism, violence, and mortality are threaded through lyrical depictions of various spaces—urban and rural, domestic and public—with an eye attuned to the nuances of light, colour and shadow. Come Out makes use of a Steve Reich soundtrack and stages an encounter between two machines, camera and record player. (Federico Windhausen)

NOTE: Read Federico Windhausen’s interview with Narcisa Hirsch in Cinematograph 7: Speaking Directly! Copies available for sale at the screening!