Fuses, with The Bed and Fly
Dir. Carolee Schneemann. 1967, 22 mins. New digital restoration. Drawing on documentary footage of her and her lover’s love-making, it builds a strongly poetic texture of feeling and experience by subjecting the film strip to the most violent experimentation (soaking it in acids and dyes; baking, painting, and scratching it) and dissolving narrative continuity into a continuum of non-sequential, polymorphous, and strongly “pornographic” imagery. Nevertheless, as Gene Youngblood observes in his Expanded Cinema: “This is a home, not a whorehouse” and the filmmaker’s sensitivity and authenticity never let us forget it.
Dir. James Broughton. 1968, 20 mins. 16mm. With Florence Allen, Gavin Arthur, Imogen Cunningham. The entire cast of this delightful, wise manifesto of counter-cultural sensibility performs in the nude. An ornate bed, magically located in a meadow, provides, as always, the stage for man’s most significant moments; birth, sex, death. While even avant-garde nudity seems often to betray an absence of joyful or uncomplicated sex, The Bed displays a smiling, polymorphously perverse eroticism.
Dir. Yoko Ono. 1970, 25 mins. 16mm. With Virginia Lust. A hypnotic juxtaposition of predatory insect and beautiful body, with neither party performing according to rules, thereby disrupting the reality game. For 25 minutes we see a very pretty girl, deeply asleep, over whose nude body creeps a diligent fly that never takes off but explores her fully, including pubic hair and sex. The film is almost entirely in close-up, with nipples appearing as mountain tops, the fly as climber, the girl’s body as the fly’s universe.
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