L’Inhumaine. 1924. France. Directed by Marcel L’Herbier

Nuts and Bolts: Machine Made Man in Films from the Collection

November 1, 2009–January 2, 2010 The Museum of Modern Art

In his essay “The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism,” published February 20, 1909, in the French newspaper Le Figaro, Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876–1944) called for a mass cultural movement that would reject the sober and genteel conventions of the bourgeois world and embrace the speed, technology, and dynamism of the early 20th century. Thus was born the cultural, political, and ideological movement known as Futurism. The Futurists—a loose collection of painters, writers, musicians and filmmakers—promoted an unsentimental aesthetic perception inspired by technology and the machine age. In his manifesto, Marinetti breathlessly announced the coming Futurist revolution, in which the heretofore dark night is “illuminated by the internal glow of electric hearts.” His veneration of a machine age continued in “War, the World’s Only Hygiene” (1911–15), wherein he averred that automobiles, trains, and vast machines driving the technology of his day possessed “personalities, souls, or wills,” and presaged the “nonhuman and mechanical being.”

Throughout cinematic history mechanical creatures—robots, androids, cyborgs—have reflected both the discord and the connection between man and machine. Inspired by the centenary of the founding of Futurism, and in celebration of Performa 09’s November programming, Nuts and Bolts presents films from MoMA’s collection that reflect Marinetti’s vision of the mechanical being in the machine age: endlessly energetic, productive in the factory, free from sentimentality, immune to disease and death, and yet somehow reflective of the human condition.

Organized by Anne Morra, Assistant Curator, Department of Film, in collaboration with Performa, for Performa 09.

With sincere thanks to Sony Pictures Entertainment, Toho Co. Ltd., Lana Wilson, and RoseLee Goldberg.

Licensing

If you would like to reproduce an image of a work of art in MoMA's collection, or an image of a MoMA publication or archival material (including installation views, checklists, and press releases), please contact Art Resource (publication in North America) or Scala Archives (publication in all other geographic locations).

All requests to license audio or video footage produced by MoMA should be addressed to Scala Archives at firenze@scalarchives.com. Motion picture film stills or motion picture footage from films in MoMA's Film Collection cannot be licensed by MoMA/Scala. For licensing motion picture film footage it is advised to apply directly to the copyright holders. For access to motion picture film stills please contact the Film Study Center. More information is also available about the film collection and the Circulating Film and Video Library.

If you would like to reproduce text from a MoMA publication or moma.org, please email text_permissions@moma.org. If you would like to publish text from MoMA's archival materials, please fill out this permission form and send to archives@moma.org.

Feedback

This record is a work in progress. If you have additional information or spotted an error, please send feedback to digital@moma.org.