Introduction by Corina Copp
Though better known as a philosopher, Manuel DeLanda had an earlier life as an experimental filmmaker, and ISM ISM declares its intentions at the outset. “OPEN UP GAPS / IN THE PERVERSE BODY OF THE CITY, ” screams DeLanda’s neon-hued graffiti, scrawled across Manhattan buildings, “SO UNCONSCIOUS DESIRE / CAN BURST OUT / AND SHORT CIRCUIT / THE SYSTEM OF MEANING.” He achieved this directive by elaborately defacing subway advertisements, grafting bits of one model’s face onto another to yield charmingly grotesque collages. Equally punk is Guerillère Talks, the debut effort by Super-8 luminary Vivienne Dick. Her film is assembled as a suite of portraits, each the length of a complete camera roll and featuring different women from Dick’s downtown demimonde (No Wavers Lydia Lunch and Pat Place among them). Completing this trio—all distinctive works made by young expats in ’70s New York—is Chantal Akerman’s plangent News from Home, a movie enriched through its absences, wherein precisely composed street scenes are paired with recited letters from the filmmaker’s mother in Belgium. “When you see the images,” Akerman explained, “you realize that New York has nothing to do with European ideas about it. The myth doesn’t connect at all with the reality of the city.”
News from Home
Chantal Akerman, France/Belgium/West Germany, 1977, 85m
Manuel DeLanda, USA, 1979, 16mm, 9m
Vivienne Dick, USA, 1978, 25m
French with English subtitles
ISM ISM preserved by Anthology Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.