Close Up

11 June 2016: Behind This Soft Eclipse


We’re thrilled to present a programme bringing together the film works of Austria-based, American experimental filmmaker Eve Heller in the first UK retrospective of her work.

Predominantly working with found-footage material, Heller illuminates brief moments that slip away from the viewer’s gaze, like the clear yet fragmented images of a dream. Like Tscherkassky, Heller interrogates image and form through a multitude of material processes applied both in the laboratory and in-camera. Flickering light, multiple exposures, the grain of the emulsion, repetition, and slow motion reveal and heighten latent meanings and the often-humorous poetry of the everyday.

"Heller’s semi-documentary, Astor Place – filmed with a hidden camera through the mirrored windows of a café – [also] captures this lyrical quality. The parading passers-by seem to obey a hidden choreography as if part of some secret production. Behind this Soft Eclipse, on the other hand, swings back and forth between the parallel worlds of day and night, positive and negative images, on solid ground and underwater. Here, the filmmaker reveals herself definitively as a magician of light." – Austrian Film Museum

Eve Heller will participate in a short Q&A with Juliet Jacques following the screening

Self​-Examination Remote Control
Eve Heller
1981-2010 | 5 min | Colour | 35mm

"A fragile Super 8 self-portrait rediscovered on 35mm, made by a struggling nineteen year old discontented with the pseudo-Brakhagean spectacle presented by her fellow students at the end of the 1970´s. I shot with a remote control and intercut magnetic striped passages of black to record my quandary. The paradoxical predicament of being both subject and object in myself resulted in a film that represents a perhaps obligatory phase of cinematic narcissism in the early work of an aspiring avant-garde filmmaker." – Eve Heller

Eve Heller
1978 - 2010 | 2 min | Colour | 35mm

"The first film I ever made consists of the first roll of film I ever shot, entitled One. I made it for the first film class Keith Sanborn taught, in 1978 at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Buffalo, when he was a graduate student working with Hollis Frampton. I was 17. The assignment was to make a film using one roll of Super 8 film, without moving the camera. The result is a kind of poetic/cinematic one-liner. It is in tune with the structuralist spirit of the day – to my surprise." – Eve Heller

Eve Heller
1982 - 2010 | 4 min | B/W | 35mm

"A slow motion blow-up to 35mm foregrounds the kinetic serendipity of a handhold portrait shot in 1980 and entirely edited in-camera. At the time I explored the ground-breaking portability and technical features of Super 8 to capture the wild intensity of my dog Juice as we played in a down and out neighbourhood in Buffalo, New York. In 2009 I treated the film as an object trouvé – without bettering its formal quirks and lags – documenting the so-called "amateur" nature of the medium and an unselfconscious phase of filmmaking practice." – Eve Heller

Ruby Skin
Eve Heller
2005 | 4 min | Colour | 16mm

"A found footage film that taps into the poetic tradition of the language cut-up, while taking filmic advantage of the 26-frame displacement between sound and image inherent to the optical soundtrack system of 16mm film. The magenta-shifted fragments of an educational film on "Reaching Your Reader" reveal their chemistry where the splicing tape ripped a "ruby skin" of the emulsion away from the base of the film, leaving a green tear at the edit points. Ruby Skin is a material homage to the disappearing medium and some of its idiosyncrasies." – Eve Heller

"A jarring rhythmic hiccup is introduced into the original films, impeding our cognitive ability to see through to the image, throwing us back to the filmstrip itself." – Mike Kiscinski

Her Glacial Speed
Eve Heller
2001 | 4 min | B/W | 16mm

"Unwitting constellations of meaning rise to a surface of understanding at a place outside of worldly time. This premise becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. An unexpected interior unfolds, made palpable by a trauma that remains abstract. The world as seen in a teardrop of milk." – Eve Heller

Behind this Soft Eclipse
Eve Heller
2004 | 10 min | B/W | 16mm

"The body of the film depends on a spine of interlocking contrasts in the form of negative and positive space, day and night shots, under and above water elements. These are cut on motion and qualities of light that are sometimes gentle and sometimes jarring, to convey the tender labour of hosting a balance." – Eve Heller

Creme 21
Eve Heller
2013 | 10 min | Colour | Digital

"The stars are going haywire. A vision of heavenly bodies in wild disarray recurs in Eve Heller´s Creme 21. Assembled out of found moving images procured from old features and educational movies, Heller’s film begins and ends with a tunnel vision of outer space. From the suspended state of an astronaut we return to earth, fleeting shadows animate rooms, a slime-covered man is raised to his feet. Two eyes open hesitantly; we see how they begin to see. After the silent black and white prologue, sound and colour are tuned in. Brief fragments of music and spoken commentary are strung together in the form of a cut-up, accompanied by the soft audio clicks of close to a thousand tape-spliced edit points – a symphony of shattered sentences and synthetic/exotic sound collages." – Stefan Grissemann

Astor Place
Eve Heller
1997 | 10 min | B/W | Restored DCP

"Passersby at Astor Place in New York City speak silent volumes as they move by the mirrored surface of a diner window. I wanted to capture the unscripted choreography of the street, its dance of gazes and riddle of identities. This film is informed by the work of the Lumière brothers, with an eye to permeating an authority of the static camera and establishing a question as to who is watching whom." – Eve Heller

Last Lost
Eve Heller
1996 | 14 min | B/W | Restored DCP

"A hypnotic parable about coming of age in a shifty world of slipping terms, "found" in the optically mesmerized fragments of a home market movie about a chimpanzee's high adventures at Coney Island. A new story is rendered from the filmic vocabulary of the light-hearted original by moving in on background details, slowing down fleeting actions and shifting the psychology of the frame. Last Lost is a silent film in spirit, trying to speak without words, like some dreams." – Eve Heller

running time ca. 90 min

Part of our Peter Tscherkassky and Eve Heller season