“I make my pictures for what Hollywood spends on lipstick” ~ Maya Deren
I love tiny discoveries. People or places or things that I've never heard of before that make me pause and find yet another way to see the world as a fascinating place (granted, lots of people have made these discoveries before me and I'm just coming around to it late in the game).
But they're my tiny discoveries. And like a trickle of water that gradually flows to a larger body of water, I'll be able to follow this rivulet to people or other things that will enhance my appreciation of what I've just found and make my personal world more interesting.
On Friday night, I stopped into Amoeba Records on the way home. I love to walk the length of Haight Street when I'm not too tired, from the Lower to the Upper Haight instead of taking the train. Two possible treats await me at the end of my walk: plantains and black beans (and maybe a glass of sangria) at Cha Cha Cha, and/or a video or two from Amoeba. For some reason I never buy any music there, probably because the place is so cavernous and overwhelming in its selections, but I seem to navigate my way around the DVD room quite well and always find something I want. Finding restraint at the cash register is harder.
What excites me tremendously is when I discover a fascinating person. Perhaps you've already heard of her, but I found a collection of short films by Maya Deren. I was so entranced by her work. I couldn't stop watching.
From the bio in the Harold Gottleib Archival Research Center at Boston University:
Maya Deren (1917-1961) has been called "the mother of the American underground cinema" and remains perhaps the most noted female experimental filmmaker in the United States from the 1940s until her untimely death in 1961. In addition, she was a noted theorist whose innovative writings are shamefully not as familiar as those of her male contemporaries.Eleanora Derenkowsky was born on April 29, 1917 in Kiev, Ukraine, the only child of linguist Marie Derenkowsky and her psychologist husband Solomon. In 1922, the family fled the Soviet Union to escape from anti-Semitism, settling in New York City and shortening the family name to Deren... Deren often self-distributed her films, going so far as to screen them on her living room walls. If she managed to land a booking, she often accompanied the screenings with a lecture...She received the Cannes Film Festival Grand Prix Internationale, became the first filmmaker to receive a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, which allowed her to begin research on the Voudoun ritual in Haitian culture.
Maya died at age 44. It amazes me the body of work: art, thought-- that some people can create in a such a short life. My birthday is on Tuesday. Some days I really feel like the clock is ticking...
What people or places or things have you discovered that made a lasting impression on you? Anything you'd care to share? I'm in the mood for discovery. Now that this election is over, I feel like I can breathe again.
Here is Deren's film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943). I wonder what you think of it.