Conquered


Still from the film

(BW; hand tinted blue with cracked surface.)

Filmed entirely at the Akademie Schloss Solitude, this film comes from the depths of a submerged self. She incorporated her own imagery with found material from German industrial films most notably a film about a youth prison. She also ended up using images from a film she brought from the states entitled "The Epic of Everest" that summarized the attempt to reach the summit by mountain climbers, George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924. Mallory's body was just recently discovered below the North face, killed after a fall, his innards subsequently eaten out by Goraks. Amidst the controversy of whether Mallory made the summit or not, her intent in using the Everest imagery was to describe a feeling of a frozen landscape as emotional state. As she was awestruck at its extreme beauty and chill, she felt that it perfectly portrayed an immobilized, catatonic state analogous to the darkness, and the snow covered quietude. She was interested in simultaneously describing a psychic voyage combined with an interior vision of a distorted mindscape. Matter becomes transformed into a morass of material incoherence. She wanted the viewer to become lost in the imagery, and to feel as though they were being dangled precariously over the edge of a precipice. She merged the materials: celluloid base with alchemically, manipulated surface and found a way to crack the emulsion to yield a fragile, encumbered palate--a veritable testament to the forces of organic catalysts in motion. Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain is evoked as the spectator is drawn into a confined, consumptive state. When she returned home for the holidays, she would joke with the relatives that she had, "Just come back from the sanitarium. I mean the castle." X-ray imagery of a ribcage in the film alludes to this need to see beneath the surface to encounter and probe the recesses, evoking a 19th century melancholic, tubercular state. Illness or the illusion of illness becomes the manifestation of the unbalanced cacophony. Cinema becomes the only means of escape from an unstable worldview seen one million miles from the self.
--K.L.

Kerry A. Laitala Work