Hybrid spheres materialise, where lifeless dolls move – or rather, are moved, by the Brothers Quay – along with lively machine-like creatures and a host of objects in stop-motion technique to the tones of New Music, such as Stockhausen. Things are seemingly brought to life, as are hands: in the film IN ABSENTIA the latter appear without a body attached, magnified in close-up, transformed into protagonists themselves.
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The legendary artist duo Brothers Quay works in the liminal zone between animated and documentary film, openly embracing the predicament that only one of many perceptions can be realised in speech and mise-en-scene. The animated filmmakers seek inspiration in literature, for instance that of Robert Walser, upon whose work INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA OR THIS DREAM PEOPLE CALL HUMAN LIFE is based. The first feature-length film from the Brothers Quay (from 1995) treats the story of Jakob von Gunten, who resolved to become a servant.
“It is as if the Quays for example took a literary source into themselves, encoded it in their own personal language and threw it back out into the world cinematically in images, symbols and collages. It is nearly impossible to transform this process back into language, since they add a non-linguistic element to the mix,” explains programme curator André Eckardt, who will be welcoming the brothers to Brothers Quay Night*footnotes for a screening and talk on Friday, 1 November.
The cinematic worlds of the Brothers Quay can rarely be grasped as reality, although their contents appear to be material, recognisable and not particularly symbolic. The audience is challenged to supplement the perspective of the hybrid protagonists with their own personal experience, resulting in emotional, atmospheric impressions more than self-contained narratives.