Maya Deren
Guy Lochhead, 11/02/12
American artist of the new avant-garde. Deren used film, dance and writing to explore a new, highly personal yet abstracted and choreographic post-war aesthetic. Her most famous work is ‘Meshes of the Afternoon’, a short film made in 1943 for $275. Her last film marked a change from her normal style and working process – she was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in order to record vodoun dance rituals in Haiti. She died in 1961, aged 44. Deren was way ahead of her time in her understanding of the “language” of film, and her experimental shorts are important for this reason and the fact they were made by a woman at a time when few were. For me, however, the most important of her works is her pioneering visual documentation of Haitian vodoun practice. The story of that film is a thing in itself, and I will write about that in another post. As for including Deren, I think she is an interesting but angsty and easily romanticisable figure, and her beauty and early death have contributed to her popularity outside of avant-garde circles. I think this has given a particular sort of longevity, but I don’t feel much need to include her here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *