The DVD covers short art films by Maria Lassnig from the 70's, dealing with themes such as love, the body, and Maria herself.
Index DVD sent me this collection with the message that I should watch it if I want to see more of Maria Lassnig's work, or wish to become an expert in Austrian female filmmakers. I'm not looking to be an expert, but I like to think of myself as someone trying new things all the time. So I said yes, of course. Maria Lassnig had a short film on the DVD "As She Likes It" that I reviewed, and that was "Maria Lassnig Kantate", which is featured on this DVD as well. Because I already covered that one I will skip it completely from this review.
The best way to describe the first short, "Baroque Statues" is with the words "Baroque statues". It features statues from the Baroque period filmed with shaky camera. A nice tune playing in the background, reassuring us that we're indeed looking at something from (or of) another time. It cuts to a woman dressed as the statues and doing the same thing as they do, which is writing something in a book. Some of the statues look quite bizarre, but overall it feels more like a trip to the museum than anything else. The bits I enjoyed the most were those of the woman, as they were also shot in a beautiful green scenery. Not to mention she looks surprisingly much like a statue. It gets trippy towards the end where she is dancing and weird filters are added, featuring some parts that actually would look quite fantastic as paintings. But no, I can't say I am a fan of this particular short film. Is she just trying to recreate art with dressing her like a statue, or is she trying to say something?
"Iris" is the title of the second one. It starts off with an awkward song in the background. Laundry is spread over a bed, and stop-motion animation moves it around a bit in a short sequence, finally revealing a female breast. The weird music continues on top of close-ups of different body parts - at one point even making a simple shot of a leg looking unreal because of the way it was shot. It switches between a bunch of other body shots, from face, to arms, to ass, to stomach, and so on. I'm always interested in this kind of "body art" - the human body is quite perfect to use in art. I wouldn't say this is a particularly attractive woman to me but yet there's a beauty in it. The short eventually gets sort of drug-inspired, or at least that's the best way of describing it once mirrors and reflections in metal is brought into it.
"Chairs" is definitely more in tune with the title of the DVD: "Animation Films". I can't really say much about it but it's basically a 2 minute short of a chair that transforms into odd shapes, or in some cases the people on the chairs transform. A fun short that features some cool designs, but one that doesn't really leave you with any thoughts. Which is probably fine - I'm not sure this specific film wants to say much.
It's always fun to see how different artists decide to portray themselves in self portraits. "Selfportrait" is the fourth short on this DVD and it features a drawing of Maria Lassnig talking to the camera. She's talking about the picture we're watching in a way of trying to figure out what it means. And while she does that the self portrait starts taking its face off, after which it turns into wooden drawers (yes, it turns into drawers!) and she continues to talk about her self portrait: "Or not to become a woodhead. A machine. A camera...". There's no doubt that this is a short film with some luggage - to me it's about accepting what you are and what you're not. Something we all have to do at some point in our lives. Even if it's not as abstract as saying you're not a camera.
It's just a coincidence that the films I ended up writing something about for this DVD were the four first films. Even though I think maybe some of the films I left out have more to do with the title of the DVD, the first four were the ones that either spoke to me the most, or that stuck out in the bunch. The DVD overall seems to be very often about Maria herself, about man and woman, about the body, about love and about the self. It quite often seems to bring up either Maria's own experiences, or at the very least it tells the story from lives (since I don't know Maria's own life story). It's remarkable that many of these were made in the early 70's and I have stopped being surprised by what some people manage to create with so little. Maria Lassnig is a unique artist worthy of your attention. She has something to say and something to show. Even if you can't relate to all of it, it's obvious when she is saying something, which I can't say about most artists. Her films are simple, the animations mostly look the same, but I think they're interesting. Yeah, it might not really be my sort of films but I definitely appreciate it still. And if I didn't, I doubt Maria Lassnig would give a shit.