Close Up

11 - 19 May 2024: Close-Up on Maya Deren Programme 2


Programme 2

The Very Eye of Night
Maya Deren, 1955, 15 min

“Deren began filming The Very Eye of Night in 1952, premiered it in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in 1955, but didn’t screen it in New York until 1959 because of a financial conflict with the producer. She collaborated with one of the world’s great choreographers, Antony Tudor, who brought a young crew of ballet dancers from the Metropolitan Opera for the film. For Deren, it was a scientific and astrological film with the most beautiful abstract ballet performance, which touches on the themes of gravity and natural history. The Very Eye of Night was Deren’s last completed film.” – GK

Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti
Maya Deren, Teiji Ito, Cherel Ito, 1977, 52 min

“Between 1947 and 1954, Deren visited Haiti three times for a passionate study of Haitian culture and voodoo ritual, shooting more than 18,000 feet of original footage on her Bolex camera. Following her death, this outstanding ethnographic material was reconstructed by Deren’s second husband, composer Teiji Ito, and later his widow, Cherel, who edited it into the documentary Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. According to Deren: “Art is based on the notion that you will really celebrate an idea or a principle. You must think, you must plan, you must put yourself completely in the state of devotion and that simply gives into the first thing that come to your head.” Deren would be criticised for her participation in voodoo rituals, yet her accumulated Haitian footage represents a ground-breaking ethnographic view on the art, dance and sacred ceremonies of the island’s culture. The project is the culmination of her passionate study of the body in motion.” – GK

Showing as part of our Close-Up on Maya Deren