Our work is so close to us it isn’t work – it’s a way of rendering life at its fullest. And in puppetry your hands do a lot of thinking.
– Screenings – All films used with the permission of the Quay Brothers.
Quay Brothers: A Programme of Short Films SUN 23 NOV u 12 NOON u DUKE OF YORK’ u FREE SCREENING
Exhibition & screenings
SAT 22 NOV–SAT 20 DEC University of Brighton Gallery
‘The Street of Crocodiles’, Bruno Schulz, 1934.
10am–8pm free entry Sat 10am–5pm closed on sun
SAT 22 NOV – SAT 20 DEC University of Brighton Gallery, faculty of arts & architecture, Grand Parade, brighton, bn2 0jy. 10am–8pm free entry Sat 10am–5pm closed on sun Parental Guidance is advised as the exhibition contains some adult content
A Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip Reading Puppets
This is a collection of wonder-cabinets designed by the Quay Brothers. Each one is small world of puppets, objects and scenery related to one of their films including Street of Crocodiles and Institute Benjamenta. Every box is a carefully designed three-dimensional environment of mystery and imagination.
Stephen and Timothy Quay were born in Norristown, Pennsylvania in 1947 and studied illustration first at the Philadelphia College of Art and then at the Royal College of Art. From the late 1970s, and with initial support from the British Film Institute, they began to make stopmotion animated films filtering arcane visual, literary, musical, cinematic and philosophical influences through their own distinctive sensibility.
Since then they have produced short films, features, advertisements and idents for television, music videos and collaborated with opera, theatre and ballet companies. A comprehensive survey of the Quay Brothers’ work including a bibliography and filmography can be found at www.screenonline.org.uk This year CINECITY celebrates the work of the Quay Brothers through an exhibition and screenings. Inventorium – The Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip Reading Puppets – is the exhibition at the University of Brighton Gallery. It brings together two installations designed by the Quay Brothers. Dormitorium is a collection of film decors from their films including Street of Crocodiles and Institute Benjamenta. Eurydice – She, So Beloved… is a multi-media installation inspired by the tale of Orpheus. Accompanying the exhibition is a set of Polish Posters drawn from the Design Archives at the University and the Quays’ own collection. Full details of the screen programme are found in this pamphlet and on the CINECITY website. The Quays will be ‘in conversation’ at the Duke of York’s Picturehouse on 3 December. www.cine-city.co.uk
DORMITORIUM: Film Décors of the Quay Brothers
“Matter has been given infinite fertility, inexhaustible vitality, and, at the same time, a seductive power of temptation which invites us to create as well. In the depth of matter, indistinct smiles are shaped, tensions build up, attempts at form appear. The whole of matter pulsates with infinite possibilities…”
The Quay Brothers’ visionary and poetic cinema has established them as among the most respected and imitated of international animation artists. Their highly stylised visual worlds are enigmatic and other-worldly, a landscape of bizarre fairy-tales and strange dreams. Caught between myth and nightmare, they take us to forgotten rooms and lost streets where we find oddly constructed puppets, broken doll parts and peculiar machines. Their work is informed by the culture of Eastern and Central Europe, especially by the expressionist and surrealist characteristics found in the work of Polish author Bruno Schulz whom the Quays describe as, “the secret catalyst of (all) our work.”
EURYDICE – SHE, SO BELOVED... Created to mark the four hundredth anniversary of Monteverdi’s Orfeo, EURYDICE – SHE SO BELOVED... combines an optical box with an anamorphic painting and a video projection. Inspired by the classical story of love and loss as Orpheus enters the underworld in an attempt to bring his deceased young bride Eurydice back to the world of the living, the installation is a collaboration between the Quays and the choreographer Kim Brandstrup, the Royal Ballet’s Zenaida Yanowsky and the opera singer Simon Keenlyside. Commissioned by Opera North Projects and Capture with the Culture Company.
Still Nacht I–IV 12 1988–1933
A suite short black and white films, three of which were commissions; an ‘art break’ for MTV the Quays turned into a homage to the writer Robert Walser and two music videos for His Name his Alive.
In Absentia 12 2000
The Quay’s visualisation of a 20 minute piece by Karlheinz Stockhausen made for the BBC’S Sound on Film series of collaborations between composers and film-makers.
Cabinets of Curiosity PG + Quays In Conversation WED 3 DEC u 6:30PM u DUKE OF YORK’S
To complement the exhibition Inventorium, a rare opportunity to see a Quay Brothers selection on the big screen: ‘Street of Crocodiles’ (1986) 20 mins; Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies (1989) 14 mins; The Comb (1990) 18 mins. Followed by an in-conversation between the Quays and film writer Gareth Evans.
Institute Benjamenta PG
FRI 5 DEC u 11.30PM u DUKE OF YORK’S Starring: Mark Rylance, Alice Krige, Gottfried John, Daniel Smith. GB 1995. 104 mins
The Quay Brothers assured feature debut is an extraordinary live action ‘fairytale’ inspired by the writings of Swiss writer Robert Walser. Subtitled “This Dream People call Human Life”, the film is set in the eponymous Institute, a run down school for servants, where Herr Benjementa (Mark Rylance) and his melancholy sister Lisa make their pupils go through a ridiculous, banal and humilitating regime.
Quay Brothers: Dance Shorts PG
SUN 7 DEC u 12 NOON u SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE
The Quays’ films have always been shaped by the dynamic inter-relationship between music and the choreography of objects. In recent years they have created a number of dance films inspired by myths and fairy-tales. Part of the Dance for Camera Festival. In this special programme are: Duet
1999 15 mins Zenaida Yanovsky and Adam Cooper dance to Arvo Part’s music; choreographed by William Tuckett.
2000 43 mins Based on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story; choreography: William Tuckett; music: Janacek.
Eurydice – She, So Beloved... 2007 11.30 mins
Ladislaw Starewicz The Magic World of Starewicz SUN 30 NOV 3.30PM u SALLIS BENNEY THEATRE u FREE SCREENING Town Rat and Country Rat 1932 13 mins The Old Lion 1932 10 mins The Mascot 1933 20 mins Fern Flower 1949 25 mins
Complementing the Quays’ programme is a screening of work by the pioneer of stop-motion animation, Ladislaw Starewicz (1882–1965). Fascinated by entomology and natural history, his early films told stories using animated beetles and elaborate sets. His later works are wonderful fairy tales employing puppets, insects and intricate animated objects. His film The Mascot (1933), a favourite of the Quays, tells the story of a little toy dog whose adventure takes him to the Devil’s party.
Selected Bibliography www.screenonline.org.uk Overview with introductions for a selection of films and a bibliography www.zeitgeistfilms.com Overview of the Quays and their films Buchan, S., 1996. Shifting Realities: “The Brothers Quay – Between Live Action and Animation” [Online], Animation World, Available at: http://www.awn.com/ mag/issue1.3/articles/buchan1.3.html Buchan, S., Spring 1998. “The Quay Brothers: Choreographed Chiaroscuro, Enigmatic and Sublime”, Film Quarterly, 51 (3), pp. 2–15. Goodeve, T. N., “Dream Team: Thyrza Nichols Goodeve Talks with the Brothers Quay”, Artforum, April 1996, pp. 82–85, 118, 126. Greenaway, P., “Street of Crocodiles”, Sight and Sound, Summer 1986, pp. 182–183. Habib, A., “Through a Glass Darkly – Interview with the Quay Brothers”, 2001, www.sensesofcinema. com/contents/01/19/quay.html Romney, J., “The Same Dark Drift”, Sight and Sound, March 1992, pp. 24–27. Romney, J., “Life’s a Dream”, Sight and Sound, August 1995, pp. 12–15. Rose, J., “Stephen and Timothy Quay”, 2004/05 introductory article with references and filmography www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/directors/04/ quay_brothers.html
Selected Work by the Quay Brothers Filmography Nocturna Artificialia (1979) Punch & Judy (Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy) (1980) The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer (1984) This Unnameable Little Broom (1985) The Street of Crocodiles (1986) Rehearsal for Extinct Anatomies (1987) Dramolet (Stille Nacht I) (1988) The Comb (From the Museum of Sleep) (1990) De Artificiali Perspectiva or Anamorphosis (1990) The Calligrapher Parts I, II, III (1991) Are We Still Married? (Stille Nacht II) (1991) Tales from the Vienna Woods (Stille Nacht III) (1992) Can’t Go Wrong Without You (Stille Nacht IV) (1993) Institute Benjamenta (or This Dream People Call Human Life) (1994) - feature Duet - Variations for the Convalescence of ‘A’ (1999) The Sandman (2000) In Absentia (2000) Dog Door (Stille Nacht V) (2000) The Phantom Museum (2002) Jenny Jones (2003) The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (2005) - feature
Installations Dormitorium (2006) Eurydice - She So Beloved (2007)
Decors for the Theatre and Opera Directed by Richard Jones
Prokofiev’s ”The Love for Three Oranges” ”Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear” Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa
The protagonists of Earthquakes are reflected in those of Rilke’s poem - Orfeo is Filesberto; Eurydice is Malvina whilst Hermes is Droz. Eurydice and Malvina are both women of significant beauty who are inextricably bound to Opera but frozen in death whilst Orfeo and Filesberto can be considered to be interlopers for they are both characters who enter a mysterious and forbidden world in an effort to rescue a loved one. Filesberto is invited into this realm, whereas Orfeo must gain entry himself: having looked into the Underworld through a dirty pane of glass, he kneels at a small but ornate aperture and sings. So tragic is his song that he is granted entry by the Gods. Within the Quays’ interpretation, the Underworld is, like the derelict Street of Crocodiles, an industrial space of sheathed scaffold; its covers loose and rippling in the wind. A dark, turgid river flows beneath while high above an animated crane reaches out into the darkness. Orfeo (baritone Simon Keenlyside, who also performs the beautiful and powerful accompanying soundtrack), stands amongst this wreckage and, looking down upon his bride, continues to sing. Eurydice lies all but still, her arm slowly rotating from the shoulder in a movement that recalls the deathly unwinding of the puppets in The Street of Crocodiles. It is as if she were clockwork, the mechanism slowly unwinding, the semblance of life breaking down into this one fractured movement. It is painful to watch for it is in some sense a betrayal – Eurydice may be revived by the emotion of the song but it may be for only the briefest of moments. Until now the film has been presented in black and white but upon the stirring of Eurydice the film slips momentarily into muted colour. Life is made suddenly evident by these pale tones and Eurydice’s movements become more pronounced. She moves her head back and forth, gracefully shifting her body until Hermes (Kenneth Thrap), like Doctor Droz, steps out of the darkness and draws her back into her deathly state with a gentle touch of his hands. Undeterred, Orfeo continues his song as he works his way through this Underworld, eventually coming to rest at the side of his wife. There is silence and the couple touch. But this is Orfeo. Unable to resist their desires, Eurydice casts one final look upon her husband.
Polish Poster design is one of the 20C most distinctive art forms. From the 1950’s film posters produced by various art studios for the national film distribution system. Unlike their American counterparts, photographs of film stars were rarely used and instead artists were commissioned to make eye-catching poster designs employing a whole new arsenal of graphic interpretation.
On their very first day at Philadelphia College of Art, the Quay Brothers encountered, There will be a display at the Booth Museum of Natural History featuring extracts from Starewicz and the Quays.
exploring the world … walking in the street, we’re always taking photographs of strange still-lives, the con-junctions
Throughout the Quays’ work there is always some sense of visual disturbance within the image, either through optic effects such as shallow focal planes or soft focus through to the more extreme disruption through anamorphosis: here the image is distorted through altering the lines of perspective which can only be rectified by viewing the image from a certain angle. So preoccupied with this visual quality, the Quays accepted a commission to make a short animated film, Anamorphosis, concerning the historic use of the technique for The Program for Art on Film. Within She, So Beloved… the viewer is required to look through one of the smaller peepholes embedded within the optical box in order to correctly perceive the distorted image on the far wall - Orfeo playing his lyre. The painting acts as both a physical and symbolic device which connects the two depictions of the Underworld and reinforces the relationship between Orfeo and the viewer – he sang to gain entry into the Underworld whereas the viewer gains their entry through their enquiring gaze. Throughout their growing body of work the Quays have often adapted existing works (The Street of Crocodiles is based upon Bruno Schulz’s book of the same name) or taken influence from a diverse range of literary sources and infused it with their own narratives (as with Earthquakes whose influences range from Roussel’s Locus Solus to Casares’s The Invention of Morel) in order to structure their imagery. Although this interpretation, a response to and adaptation of an opera, continues this trend the very nature of the commission and source material has created something wholly unique within the Quays’ oeuvre. It is a work in which the viewer may fully interact with as opposed to merely view. For once, and perhaps at last, the audience can physically enter the space in which the Quays’ imagination occupies. And that, like all their work, is a moment of immense but terrible beauty. Eurydice – She, So Beloved... was commissioned by Opera North Projects and Capture in association with Leeds Art Gallery and The Culture Company and was first exhibited at the Leeds Art Gallery in 2007.
The Quays’ masterpiece, Street of Crocodiles (1986) is adapted from a short story by Polish writer Bruno Schulz, and was their first film shot on 35mm. Set in a talior’s shop, a museum keeper spits into the eyepiece of an ancient peep-show and sets the musty machine in motion, plunging the viewer into a nightmarish netherworld of bizarre puppet rituals among the dirt and grime.
Of all the Quays films, She, So Beloved… visually links most with The Street of Crocodiles (1986) and Anamorphosis (1990) whilst in terms of narrative makes strong connections to their second live-action film The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (2005): within this narrative, opera singer Malvina Van Stille seemingly slips into a death-like state during a performance and is taken away to a remote island by the diabolical Doctor Droz. There she remains, existing as a woman of immense beauty waiting to be woken. Droz later hires Filesberto, a piano tuner, to service the seven automata he has placed around his island. As Filesberto repairs these devices he becomes aware of Malvina and resolves to both awaken her from the trance and free her from Droz.
In typical Quay fashion, the film ends with elegant calligraphic credits – words not written or printed but carved and chipped, a font constructed in relation to the narrative itself. The credits momentarily stop and the audience are granted one more image of Eurydice: she lies still, swathed in black velvet. Her mouth briefly opens and we hear her speak with the voice of Death: a single caw of the crow comes from deep within her throat, a sharp crack sounding out in the darkness. It is a voice that confirms her death and one that binds her to this Underworld. An abrupt cut and the credits continue. Physically the Optical Box, with its coffin-like shape and multiple peepholes, recalls the wooden boxes seen in The Street of Crocodiles and Anamorphosis as well as the broken automata of Earthquakes. Within each of these narratives, they present a clockwork moment, an instance of a narrative fractured from its surroundings. Movement is active within them, solitary moments and gestures that implicate or betray some sense of story or emotion. Within She, So Beloved… the mechanism has long unwound and the moments contained within this funerary are locked in time. As the Quays’ themselves state in reference to Rilke’s poem (`She had become all root`), within this box Eurydice has “taken root” in death and we see her likeness and beauty depicted within a static puppet made of gnarled branch and bark. She is simultaneously dead and alive, organic and frozen.
Street of Crocodiles PG
on scale: from miniature sets to the projected film When you look at puppets on a TV set, you quantify the puppet as a puppet. It is six inches high, even smaller. When it goes up on a big screen, you violate the scale but then you’re suddenly winning because the puppet takes on a human scale, even larger. On a large screen, an object seen in close-up is disorienting, and it’s very powerful and beautiful.
It is worth noting that the act of looking is compounded in the film’s concluding images: when Orfeo finally reaches Eurydice she reaches out and touches his hand. It is a tender moment, silent and still. Eurydice continues to caress him until her hand rests upon his cheek and then she turns, casting her gaze upon him. There is a piercing sound then only mist - in this Underworld the cost of looking upon the desired is death. This ending makes the implications of Rilke’s poem obvious as much echoing the many bleak endings of the Brothers films.
SAT 22 NOV–SAT 20 DEC Booth Museum of Natural History, Dyke Road, Brighton
We’re appallingly open to the chance encounter. We always have a drift, an arc, for a project, we know where we’re going – but it’s a thread, a shimmering web. Things happen as we go along. We’ll discover things.
The dramatic nature of the myth unfolds in a three-part installation – a film ballet (choreographed by Kim Brandstrup) connects to an optical box via an anamorphic painting. It is appropriate that the Quays combine dance with film, animation and painting to form a coherent whole, for opera itself brings together emotive lyric with voice, music, performance and stage. In addition to this, the visual devices are essential elements of any work produced by the Quays, implying that She, So Beloved… functions as both a celebratory commission and an extension of the Brothers ongoing practice: the optical box is another manifestation of the Bachelor Boxes or the arcane mechanical devices that frequent their films. The anamorphic image continues their preoccupation with such image distorting effects whilst the elegantly choreographed movements of Eurydice (played by dancer Zenaida Yanowsky) correlates to the movements made by so many of the Quays’ puppets. These connections open up deeper and more fertile grounds for interpretation, and suggest that the installation can be seen as a further autueristic marker within the Quays oeuvre.
The act of looking through and into is another repeated element within the Brothers work evident within this installation. Many of their characters – be that puppet of actor – involve themselves in the solitary and secret act of observation. Be it in an attempt to see the forbidden or to merely witness what lies outside, looking empowers these characters with new knowledge. Within the installation the viewer becomes complicit with this act for they are invited to look into the optical box via a series of peepholes where upon they see a version of the filmed Underworld. By looking into this space the viewer becomes character – Orfeo – for they mirror his acts of looking and see only what he has seen.
SAT 22 NOV–SAT 20 DEC NEW CHURCH ROAD
We can bluff a storyboard, but we know from experience that when you’re confronted with the physical space itself (whether it’s puppet space or live action), the space blossoms. You might say, Let’s use a 50-millimeter lens here, but by mistake the camera has a 105-millimeter lens on, and you say, “That’s it!” We have a great belief in accidents. We sort of nurture them and trap them and build upon them.
The Quay Brothers’ Eurydice – She, So Beloved… is a new work commissioned to mark the four hundredth anniversary of Monteverdi’s Orfeo – the first opera ever produced. This tragic narrative tells of Orfeo gaining entry into the Underworld in an effort to bring his wife, Eurydice, back to the land of the living. Using the opera as a reference, the Quays chose to develop their response through the character of Eurydice which led them to Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem ‘Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes.’ Rilke subtly inverts the myth by placing emphasis upon Eurydice’s state and suggests that within the Underworld she has become a ‘treasure’, a ‘sweet fruit of darkness’, implying she would rather stay with Death than return to life.
Starewicz and the Quays at the Booth
In Institute Benjamenta, what is most magnetized is the space itself. The Institute is the main actor, or the main character, and as a character it exerts a dominion and sway. We wanted it to carry the essential mysterium of the tale, as though it had its own inner life and former existences, which seemed to dream upon its inhabitants and exert its conspiratorial spells and undertows on them. We were looking for that Walserian notion of a world half awake, half asleep, in between.
process and accidents Our work is so close to us it isn’t work – it’s a way of rendering life at its fullest. And in puppetry your hands do a lot of thinking.
The Quays at Hove Museum & Art Gallery
creating poetic spaces With the puppet films, we came to terms with conceiving of space: whether it was to be stylized (the great privilege of animation) or realistic, a metaphysical space or a fantastic, non-geographical space, a mental configuration. There could also be analogic spaces, created in the editing process, or abstract spaces, created by massive close-ups and deficient depths of focus – by violations of scale. Whatever form the space took, it was always firstly a poetic vessel through which the fiction would course. We’ve tried to explore different aspects of space in all our films.
The material is generated, not invented. We just see it. People do sort of want to stick the label ‘surrealist’ on us, but the world gives these things up to us – they really happen. Mostly, we want things to remain true to themselves. The object can speak in whispers if you let it.
Eurydice – She, So Beloved… An Installation by the Quay Brothers
To complement the Quay Brothers’ exhibition INVENTORIUM, CINECITY presents a selection of film posters from the Quays’ own personal collection complemented by posters from the archive of International Council of Graphic Design Associations held by Design Archives at the University of Brighton.
We rely on music to propose certain things we would have never foreseen. For us music is the bloodstream and like any choreographer we compose our visual narrative through music – it almost co-writes the scenario. We’d like to achieve a musicalisation of space, and would prefer our work to follow musical law rather than a dramaturgical one.
Street of Crocodiles was just us documenting Poland, the Krakow and Warsaw of 1974 to ‘86. We’d walk around and photograph, say, a little shop window, empty except for a high-heeled stiletto with little cleats going around it. We generate material just by walking about. An event happens and we tuck it away.
University of Brighton, Grand Parade – Foyer Gallery
We’re failed composers. What we try to do is create a visualization of a musical space – we want you to hear with your eyes and see with your ears. It’s like saying, what kind of décor, in what parallel world, would evoke that music?
and little epiphanies that life supplies. You can miss them but you shouldn’t. We want to uncover those quiet, elusive moments, those drifts that just go off.
Polish Film Posters
the relationship between animation and music One reason why our work doesn’t deal in narrative is that the form doesn’t lend itself readily to character and dialogue in the usual sense. Puppet animation is much closer to dance and music, which are our biggest sources of inspiration.