MoMA presents the world premiere of a series of experimental films the artist Maria Lassnig made in New York City in the 1970s. Maria Lassnig: Films in Progress is a selection of newly discovered and restored films that examine ways of looking and seeing bound up in bodily sensation. If Lassnig’s paintings endeavored to convey what she called “body awareness”—a sense of how the world felt from within her own skin—her films amplify and extend this sensation to the viewer through the use of animation, sound, and poetic voiceovers that encourage entry into the artist’s internal world. As the artist reflected in her journals, “My intention was to paint sensuality—but this time, with the camera."
Two of Lassnig’s well-known and widely distributed films, Selfportrait (1971) and Kantate (The Ballad of Maria Lassnig) (1992), will be screened alongside Kopf (c. 1976) and Stonelifting (1971–74), two never-before seen filmic self portraits showing the artist transforming her own body into a highly calibrated sensory organ. Alice (1974), Hilde (1972–74), and Bärbl (1973) are portraits of other women that join Lassnig’s already distributed filmic portrait Iris (1971) to round out a series she called “Soulsisters,” while Moonlanding (1971–72) superimposes a recording of the 1969 landing of Apollo 8 with a Janus-like portrait of one of Lassnig’s lovers.
Maria Lassnig: Films in Progress highlights both finished films and film fragments, all produced using 16mm, 8mm, and Super 8. They comprise live action footage, animated drawings, animated paper cut-outs, and documentary footage of the artist’s studio and her surroundings in New York, including an escapade on the set of Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. The films presented here have been newly restored by the Maria Lassnig Foundation under the guidance of the artist’s longtime steward and collaborator, artist and Boardmember of the Maria Lassnig Foundation, Hans Werner Poschauko, in collaboration with Lassnig’s longtime colleague, Austrian filmmaker, painter, and performance artist Mara Mattuschka. The screening will be accompanied by a comprehensive presentation by Poschauko and Mattuschka detailing the restoration process, which was carried out in close collaboration with the Austrian Film Museum under the directorships of Alexander Horwath and Michael Loebenstein, who were indispensable to the restoration of these documents that attest to core principles of Lassnig’s thinking and practice across canvas and celluloid.
Program approx. 90 min.