Marie Menken Arabesque for Kenneth Anger 1961

  • Not on view

While traveling through Spain with fellow filmmaker Kenneth Anger in 1958, Menken shot this work in a single day at the Alhambra, a fortress complex in Granada. Later she added composer Teiji Ito’s soundtrack of classical guitar, castanets, and hand clapping; the percussive rhythm intensifies the alternating flashes of graphic patterning and long panning shots that trace the Moorish buildings’ ornate curvature. Menken’s experimentation with movement was innovative, the filmmaker Stan Brakhage recounted: “This is one of the first films that took full advantage of the enormous freedom of the hand-held camera. In the history of cinema up to that time, Marie’s was the most free-floating hand-held camera short of newsreel catastrophe shots.”

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