Maria Giovanna Cicciari's Noi (tra me e te) studio#3 (2015)
Jeanette Iljon's Focii (1974)
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Caterina today is Lucia Aspesi and Irene Revell presenting Jeanette Iljon’s Focii (1974) and Maria Giovanna Cicciari’s Noi (tra me e te) studio#3 (2015)
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Lucia Aspesi and Irene Revell introduce the films
Dance Quote Unquote: An introduction to Jeanette Iljon’s Focii (1974) and Maria Giovanna Cicciari’s Noi (tra me e te) studio#3 (2015)
The idea of watching these two films side-by-side came from a conversation between us. Irene wanted to share the films of Cinenova (1) with Lucia, who immediately identified Jeanette Iljon’s work within the collection. In return Lucia shared various interests, of which Maria Giovanna Cicciari’s project appeared to immediately speak back to the former.
Watching both films together started to raise questions about the nature of these performances: the relationship between the performer and the filmmaker; to what extent is the camera / filmmaker also a performer? Maria Giovanna Cicciari and Annamaria Ajmone improvise together, and their improvisation gives shape to a sort of collaboration, presented in real time, as if it were happening without cuts or editing. Thinking about Focii there is a more singular form of address to the camera, if one that is inherently fractured by the continuous presence of the mirror, then literally multiplied. Definition of identity is at play in both the works and comes as process based on the respective exchanges.
In Focii again, the mirror is an editing tool, and ultimately comes to form a central part in defining the intimacy between performer and filmmaker. In Cicciari’s film space is used as a such a tool, that interacts and affects: the two main objects in the background of the video (the curtain and the black board) aren’t directly shown, but as the mirror in Ijon's work, they act as a frame, cutting the space of the image, standing as threshold. The sound in Noi (tra me e te) studio#3 heightens this sense of exchange, in an attentive listening to the other. We were fascinated by the moments in which you could hear the noises of Cicciari's footsteps while moving to follow the dance of Ajmone. It is especially these fragments that seem to give shape to their relationship, defining Ajmone in the duality of the action. The silence of Focii, then seems all the more remarkable too: muteness seeming to reinforce the claustrophobia of the mirror.
Marina Vishmidt says of Focii (2)that it is “[a]n intriguing exploration of the impact film can have on the dance performance, it shows that it need not only act as a means of documentation but can provide a toolkit of expressive possibilities”. In this case we feel the proposition could equally be inverted. In the spirit of Jill Johnston’s term "Dance Quote Unquote" - the expanded field of dance that she describes as the ‘conundrum of the 60s’ in her eponymous essay (3) – we might ask, what is the impact dance makes on the film performance? Particularly the extent of the interchangeability of the camera and the body: in doing something with the camera that changes the body’s movement.
(1) Cinenova is a collection of feminist moving image based in London, with over 300 titles in active distribution spanning nearly 100 years www.cinenova.org
(3) Johnston, J (2003). Dance Quote Unquote. In S. Banes and M. Baryshnikov (Eds.) Reinventing Dance in the 1960s. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press
Jeanette Iljon's work is interested in resolving conflict between imagination and accessibility. She has made a series of films, starting with Focii (1974), including Mantra (1976 ) and That’s Entertainment (The Conjuror’s Assistant) (1979) that are in the collections of LUX and Cinenova, and multimedia collaborations such as tape / slide piece IGiselle (1980) made to be shown with Jackie Lansley’s eponymous production and Dirt (1982) with choreographer Anna Furze and company. Since the 1980s she has lived in New Zealand where she taught video at Wellington Art Centre, and in several other countries with teaching as the basis of her work. In 2005 she made a video project with the participants at the Sydney Theatre Company, working with the extras in a production of "Far Away" by Caryl Churchill, based on their personas in the play and actual biographies. In 2013 she returned to England to complete a second MA in World Cinema at Birkbeck.
Maria Giovanna Cicciari (Milano, 1983) is an independent filmmaker. Her projects stay on the border between art and cinema. From 2011, after the MA at Accademia di Brera, she made Dora Gaia, a documentary presented at Filmmaker Doc16 (Milan), In nessun luogo resta (2012) winner of the Jury Prize at Torino Film Festival and included in the catalogue of the Collectif Jeune Cinéma and Hyperion (2014) an Italian-Greek co-production.
Annamaria Ajmone is a dancer graduated at Scuola di Arte Drammatica Paolo Grassi in Milan. She worked as a performer for several italian and foreign companies. In 2013 she made, as choreographer, [In]Quiete finalist of Premio Equilibrio 2014 and in 2015 Tiny presented at RomaEuropa Festival and Danae. She participated at Biennale College of Venice 2015 with the project Būan and at Umano | Cantieri internazionali sui linguaggi del corpo e della danza with the project Trigger.
After their meeting, which took place during the squatting of the skyscraper Torre Galfa in Milan the two artist have experimented different and possible encounters between dance and moving images. The results of these experiments are collected in a blog: http://annamariagiovanna.tumblr.com/
Lucia Aspesi is a Film Curator and Researcher. Since 2011 she has been in charge of the film section of the Archivio Marinella Pirelli, Varese and works as Assistant Curator at HangarBicocca, Milan.
Irene Revell is Director of Electra, London and member of the Cinenova Working Group.