Klonaris/Thomadaki

at the MoMA
MUSEUM of MODERN ART

11 West 53rd St.
New York, NY 10019

"TO SAVE AND PROJECT:
THE THIRD MOMA INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF FILM PRESERVATION"

May 26th - June 20th 2005

Every year, the member institutions of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) preserve hundreds of motion pictures, working together to find the best-surviving materials for each film. Spanning the history of the moving image, these preserved films are vivid reflections of the diverse cultures that produced them, making this annual Festival a tribute to the passion and commitment of film conservators and archivists around the world. The films in this third edition of "To Save and Project" were preserved through the collaborative efforts of FIAF archives, as well as commercial studios and distributors. Virtually all are having their New York premieres, and some are shown in versions never before seen in the U.S.

A DIPTYCH FROM THE "PORTRAIT SERIES"
by KLONARIS / THOMADAKI
PRESERVED BY
LES ARCHIVES FRANCAISES DU FILM / CNC
RESTORATION IN 35mm SUPERVISED BY THE ARTISTS

"SELVA. Un portrait de Parvaneh Navaï" by MARIA KLONARIS
&
"CHUTES. DESERT. SYN" by KATERINA THOMADAKI

 

SCREENINGS:

Friday, May 27 at 5:30 p.m. (T2)
Saturday, May 28 at 4:30 p.m. (T2)

introduced by KATERINA THOMADAKI in person

 

The two films by Maria Klonaris & Katerina Thomadaki restored by Les Archives Françaises du Film/CNC are a diptych from their "Portrait Series". They are part of the rare films they sign individually in their long carrier as a "double author".

For an extensive biography and filmography of the artists see
Web Site Klonaris/Thomadaki, Rétrospective virtuelle / Virtual Retrospective 1975-2012
http://www.klonaris-thomadaki.net


ABOUT
MARIA KLONARIS
&
KATERINA THOMADAKI

Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki are cutting-edge exprimental filmmakers, the founders of the "Cinema of the Body", protagonists of projection environments, instigators of innovative approaches to photography and pioneers in media crossover. The conviction and theoretical thrust of their work highlight a need to rethink contemporary art in the light of new technological tools, as well as of today's scientific, social and philosophical concerns.
Christian Gattinoni
Art Press International, No. 275, 2002


Klonaris/Thomadaki
The "Cinema of the Body" (Le "Cinéma corporel")

Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki are the artists and theorists who established the "Cinema of the Body". Emerging in 1976, with their film "Double Labyrinth", the "Cinema of the Body" became a topic of discussion as early as the first screenings of the film, acquiring a theoretical and poetical form in the numerous manifestos and texts the two artists published ever since. The "Cinema of the Body" is the cornerstone of their art as well as an extraordinary proposition, one totally unprecedented in the modern history of the cinema and of the visual arts.

Claiming complete independence regarding production and distribution, the non-narrative "Cinema of the Body" was above all a vigorous opposition to the industry of commercial filmmaking. Filming in Super 8, an ultra-light format, the two filmmakers made the technical and political choice to face production costs as well as to assume full control of their work in the '70's-'80's. Based on this format, which they redefined as a privileged tool of visual creation, they developed a rigorous visual aesthetic which exercised considerable influence on avant-garde film. Operating in complete creative freedom, Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki assume all the technical roles in their films (filming, lighting, editing, screening). They develop a language beyond pre-established structures, decisively personal, without any concessions. Each one of their works is characterised by astonishing stylistic invention. They reinvent non-narrative feature film. Above all, they introduce and develop an interdisciplinary approach. Looking at the cinema through performance and the visual arts, the artists created a new cinematic aesthetics, on the meeting point of these three arts. In their creative career, they mastered all the techniques of the still and moving image always with the same passion, exploring their potential with an unmitigated curiosity and elaborating innovative propositions.

In the development of Maria Klonaris' and Katerina Thomadaki's work, the "Cinema of the Body" marks their filmmaking practice after their arrival from Athens to Paris in 1975. Observing their purely filmic oeuvre, the "Cinema of the Body" corresponds to the successive and intermingling series of "The Body Tetralogy" (1975-79), "The Cycle of the Unheimlich" (1977-81), "The Hermaphrodites' Cycle" (1982-1990) and the "Portrait Series" (1979-1992). But if we follow the artists' interest in mutation and hybridic mixing of media, the "Cinema of the Body" spans their entire production in the field of the moving image, including, their video works from the '90's ("Requiem for the 20th Century", 1994, "Personal Statement", 1994) and, after 2000, their digital moving image works. Their latest films, "Pulsar" (2001) and "Quasar" (2002-03), mark an impressive return to the practice of self-representation. The digital micro-cinema and its magic having replaced the light Super 8 camera and the alchemy of the cinema.

Centred on the issue of the feminine body and its representation, the "Cinema of the Body "is also an (auto-) biographical practice according to which the two artists film their identity in order to question the very concept of identity. They create filmic frescoes permeated by a complex symbolism of the self. Similarly, their self-portraits and their ritualised portraits interrogate the cinematic language and pose essential questions: how to represent the feminine body "outside of the narrative codes and the established images of femininity?" What happens to the image when confronted with the reality of the subject? How to encourage new types of reading of the non-narrative projected image?
Thus, the "Cinema of the Body" of Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki mobilised an ethical and political reflection on the image in general and on the film medium in particular. What it puts forth is a double movement of perturbation and of recreation of the cinema through the body. The image reinvents the body and the body reinvents the image in a process of mutual regeneration. This unique body/image dialectic was made possible by the fundamental datum of their work: the presence of two artists, two women, and the fact that their images are the meeting point of their respective universes.

More than a mere series of films, the "Cinema of the Body" is therefore, as the artists themselves define it, an "apparatus". An original apparatus of dialogue, of creativity, of theoretical reflection, of public intervention. It is also—and this is a unique case in the whole history of the cinema—an oeuvre conceived and realised by two women according to a very clear system of equality and interchangeability of roles. Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki become a "double author" —defying the cult of individuality in the creative practice.

In their respective contexts, the reflection and practice of Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki deliberately break down conventions, established representations, admitted concepts. Merging the techniques, using multiple cognitive fields, incorporating mythology to contemporary problematics, uniting antagonisms, transcending taboos and taking ideas further, they create a unique, unclassifiable and truly pioneering oeuvre.

The remarkable fact is that this problematic, extending across disciplines and media for three decades now, has anticipated essential current developments, both from the point of view of the concepts explored (the feminine, inter-sexuality, the "angel," transversality, transculturalism, arts and sciences crossovers), and from the point of view of technology practice (the breaking of conventions and the crossover of media languages ). The two artists have therefore taken cinema to a new territory: beyond the dualities and rigidities of modernist thought, which privileges categories and specific fields, they established hybridization of forms and concepts, proposed fluidity and complex dialectics and put forth the principles of a "post-modern" thought, preferring fusions and mutations to static frames. In every respect, Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki have heralded major movements in art and contemporary culture and contributed to their development and interpretation.
Cecile Chich
London, 2004
In "Homage to Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki: Cinematic Cosmogonies",
45th Thessaloniki Festival Catalogue


"SELVA" & "CHUTES. DESERT. SYN"
TWO FILMS FROM THE "PORTRAIT SERIES"
BY MARIA KLONARIS AND KATERINA THOMADAKI
RESTORED BY THE ARCHIVES FRANCAISES DU FILM/CNC

The filmic oeuvre of Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki is part of the cinematic heritage by virtue of its originality, its precursory and innovative character and its importance in the history of avant-garde film.

Multifarious visual artists in terms of their expression, Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki work with film, video, photography, installations, performances, and sound, and they write theoretical texts. In the 70's they initiated the "Cinema of the Body" ("Cinéma corporel"), incorporating into their artistic language the "political dimension of the female identity". They have made many films, and their extensive practice of expanded cinema , has led them to multi-media installations and to projection environements as early as the beginning of the eighties. They have founded A.S.T.A.R.T.I. for Audiovisual Arts in 1985 and held the International Conference of Film Art, Video Art and Computer Art, a landmark for all those engaged with the moving image.

Wishing to preserve their pionneering filmwork, the Archives Françaises du Film listed two films, the feature length Selva and the short Chutes.Désert.Syn, as priorities in our proposals to the Committee of Cinematic Legacy, in order that they are included in the programme of restorations initiated by the Ministry of Culture in 1990 and conducted by the Archives Françaises du Film. Thanks to this programme more than 10 000 films were preserved, made mostly before 1955 in inflammable material. These films belong to patrimonial collections composed of feature length or short fictions, documentaries, newsreels, animations, etc.
Within this programme were also restored some more recent films films from the 70's and the 80's, due to their historical significance and the critical state of the original material. The Archives Françaises du Film proceeded to a severe selection because of the high cost incurred by the restoration.

The restoration of "Selva" is the first blow up from Super 8 to 35mm of a feature length non narrative film undertaken by the Archives Françaises du Film. The short "Chutes.Désert.Syn" followed. Both films were restored by technical processes defined through a close collaboration between the filmmakers and the technical team. The entire restoration work was supervised by Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki. This extremely demanding work was made possible thanks to the multiple competences of the two artists (filmmakers, visual artists, video creators) and their remarkable precision and reliability.

The result is unique and exemplary for our Institution. The very formal constitution of the films called for non traditional restoration methods using up to date techniques of great precision which do not correspond to the habitual archival criteria. This exceptional restoration endeavor, unique in the world of the archives members of the FIAF (International Association of Film Archives), has won the admiration of numerous Archives and Cinémathèques worldwide.
Eric Le Roy
Chef du Service Accès, Valorisation et Enrichissement des collections
Archives Françaises du Film/CNC


ABOUT THE FILMS

MARIA KLONARIS
Selva. A Portrait of Parvaneh Navaï"
(from the "Portrait Series")

Original in Super 8 colour, 70min, stereo soundtrack, 1981-83
Conception, direction, image, sound design : Maria Klonaris
Featuring: Parvaneh Navaï
Editing: Maria Klonaris, Katerina Thomadaki
Sound engineering: Michel Créïs, Monique Burguière, M. Klonaris, K. Thomadaki.
Restoration in 35mm (supervised by the filmmakers): Les Archives Françaises du Film/CNC, 2002-2003.
Technical crew: Violette Baton, Michel Gonthier-Morin, Martine Jaudronnet (GTC Laboratories), Eric Sithavaja, Benoît Morvan (Excalibur).
Collection: Archives Françaises du Film/CNC
Distribution: A.S.T.A.R.T.I., Paris. E-mail: klon.thom.astar@wanadoo.fr

I consider the film portrait as an encounter of two subjects : the filmmaker and the person filmed. In front of my camera, Parvaneh Navaï becomes a mediator who enters in contact with and immerses into the energies of Nature, while her own energy radiates and echos in the forest ("selva").
The camera amplifies and expands her presence, transforming the forest into an imaginary space. The camera becomes a painter's brush.
Trance dances and out of body projection. "Selva" is the portrait-journey of a woman that I encounter within the unconscious.
Maria Klonaris
Filmnotes, 1983

The extraordinarily beautiful "Selva" was a real revelation for me - the most impressive film I was able to see in Nicole Brenez's important French experimental film retrospective at the Cinémathèque Française, and one of the most rewarding non narrative features I can recall ever seeing anywhere.
It would make me happy as a filmgoer and as a critic if it became possible for more people to see this film, and for me to see this film again.
Jonathan Rosenbaum
July 18th, 2000

What Deleuze was missing in the eighties, was a body of film works running from the chronophotographic films of Marey to "Selva" by Maria Klonaris.
Xavier Baert
Cahiers du Cinéma, avril 2000


KATERINA THOMADAKI
"Falling. Desert. Syn"
(from the "Portrait Series")

Original in Super 8 colour, 16min, silent, 1983-85
Conception, direction, image, editing: Katerina Thomadaki
Body movement, improvisations: Syn Guérin
Assistance in post-production: Maria Klonaris
Restoration in 35mm (supervised by the filmmakers): Les Archives Françaises du film/CNC, 2002-2003.
Technical crew: Violette Baton, Martine Jaudronnet (GTC Laboratories), Eric Sithavaja, Benoît Morvan (Excalibur).
Collection: Archives Françaises du Film/CNC
Distribution: A.S.T.A.R.T.I., Paris. E-mail: klon.thom.astar@wanadoo.fr

A portrait risked, "Falling. Desert. Syn", in which I film Syn Guérin. Initially conceived as a study of body movement, of falling to the ground, the film suddenly revealed itself to me as a portrait. A dance suspended yet a harsh ordeal. This has to do with suicide and crime. Does she faint or is she being shot? What invisible force annuls the existence of this body to the world? Violence and undulation, always rebounding, getting up to fall again, fulfilling a circular destiny of deaths and resurrections.
Katerina Thomadaki
Paris 1986
Film Portraits of Women by Women, The Funnel eds, Toronto 1986

In "Falling. Desert. Syn" there is the body of repetition—not of tautology but of smooth resurrection; a body dying and being resurrected in a dance without suffering. A body of the desert, which is not deserted, but instead possessed by a force of attraction towards the sky, a force as strong as the one towards the earth. A body for the stars, the same one which plunges into the underworlds.
Marie-José Mondzain
Catalogue Rétrospective Klonaris/ Thomadaki, Paris, Galerie J&J Donguy-A.S.T.A.R.T.I., 1985

The bodies—human bodies, celestial bodies, spectators' bodies—have the ability to fly in the films of Maria Klonaris and Katerina Thomadaki. This is evident in "Falling. Desert. Syn", in which a woman enacts a piece of choreography whose upward movements are enhanced by image relations. Struggling to escape gravity, the body jerks, jumps, falls. The image processing multiplies movement or superimposes its various phases. The acceleration of the image agitates the body, taking it beyond its constraints, breaking into a frenetic dance. Take-off, escape from time: I might even say suspension.
Véronique Mauron
Thessaloniki Film Festival Catalogue, 2004

 

La Série Portraits

Selva. A Portrait of Parvaneh Navai

Falling. Desert. Syn

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Copyright texts: the authors. Copyright photos: Klonaris/Thomadaki. All rights reserved /TDR