I believe that nothing can be more abstract, more unreal, than what we actually see. We know that… the objective world… never really exists as we see and understand it… has no intrinsic meaning of its own, such as the meanings that we attach to it.
Giorgio Morandi (1890 – 1964)
Natura Morta, 1929
It is really curious how men, whom I otherwise look upon as honest, and who in other respects are not my enemies, lie monstrously, and are hardly conscious of it themselves, when they really get into a passion. Passion has an extraordinary power. How foolish, then, is the modern seeking after system upon system, as though help was to be found there; no, passion must be purified.
Soren Kierkegaard’s Journal, 1846
Ballet Mécanique (1924) was a project by the American composer George Antheil and the filmmaker/artists Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy. Although the film was intended to use Antheil’s score as a soundtrack, the two parts were not brought together until the 1990s. As a composition, Ballet Mécanique is Antheil’s best known and most enduring work. It remains famous for its radical style and instrumentation as well as its storied history.
In concert performance, the “ballet” is not a show of human dancers but of mechanical instruments. Among these, player pianos, airplane propellers, and electric bells stand prominently onstage, moving as machines do, and providing the visual side of the ballet. As the bizarre instrumentation may suggest, this was no ordinary piece of music. It was loud and percussive –- a medley of noises, much as the Italian Futurists envisioned new music of the 20th century.
“Woman’s role in creation should be parallel to her role in life. I don’t mean the good earth. I mean the bad earth too, the demon, the instincts, the storms of nature. Tragedies, conflicts, mysteries are personal. Man fabricated a detachment which became fatal. Woman must not fabricate. She must descend into the real womb and expose its secrets and its labyrinths. She must describe it as the city of Fez, with its Arabian Nights gentleness, tranquility and mystery. She must describe the voracious moods, the desires, the worlds contained in each cell of it. For the womb has dreams. It is not as simple as the good earth. I believe at times that man created art out of fear of exploring woman. I believe woman stuttered about herself out of fear of what she had to say. She covered herself with taboos and veils. Man invented a woman to suit his needs. He disposed of her by identifying her with nature and then paraded his contemptuous domination of nature. But woman is not nature only.
She is the mermaid with her fish-tail dipped in the unconscious.”