fbpx Biennale Arte 2022 | Maya Deren
La Biennale di Venezia

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Maya Deren

1917, Ukraine – 1961, USA

  • TUE - SUN
    23/04 > 25/09
    11 AM - 7 PM

    27/09 > 27/11
    10 AM - 6 PM
  • Central Pavilion
  • Admission with ticket

“The beginning is the end,” written on a woman’s forehead, wraps around a pentacle – an occult, star-shaped symbol conjuring magical phenomena. The line can be read in a loop; a mantra, perhaps, for experimental filmmaker Maya Deren, who cast actress Pajorita Matta to wander from one ritual to the next in her short film The Witchs Cradle (1943). This is one of Deren’s lesser-known works, made just before Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), which is regarded as one of the most influential experimental films in American cinema history. Avoiding standard narrative arcs and comprehensible place and time, the connective thread in this unusual story weaves its way from one covert hand to a dark room, snaking up a blazer’s collar and back into open hands. From a close-up of Matta’s nose and lips the film quickly jump-cuts to a man, played by Marcel Duchamp, with string entangling his fingers; then to a beating heart – a lingering shot – making the audience suddenly aware of their own internal rhythm. An integral member of the Greenwich Village bohemian scene, Deren made works that are unflinchingly feminist, anti-establishment, spiritual, and curious and which traversed film, dance, poetry, photography, and theory. Deren died at age 44, but her work left a permanent mark for generations of artists and cinephiles to come. 

Isabella Achenbach


Maya Deren, The Witch’s Cradle (still), 1943. Film, 12 mins 40 sec.
Courtesy The New America Cinema Group, Inc./The Film-Makers’ Cooperative

Central Pavilion
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Biennale Arte
Biennale Arte