. . . F L I C K E R

New Film/Video: non-feature


Location: Vienna, Austria

Contact (be sure to replace [at] with @) : Dina Yanni, mail [at] bellydancersoftheworld.com


RITA (2015) 59:51 minutes, black & white, sound

Rita extracts a 2.3-second sequence of the movie Gilda (1946) and digitally stretches it to 58 minutes - recreating approximately 88,000 additional frames out of 68 existing ones. Due to the extreme slowing of the originally dynamic sequence, uncertainty about movement emerges and Gilda/Rita transforms into a statue that does not seem to move at all. The imperceptibility of motion shifts the focus to Rita Hayworth´s iconography and the staging of the female body.
Rita isolates a key scene, in which Gilda was introduced to the story and through which also Rita Hayworth’s star text was established. Informed particularly by movement, the scene referenced the dancer Margarita Carmen Cansino and her Spanish heritage, which has been excluded but also utilized in the Hollywood industry to associate her white image with the unknown and exotic. By digitally minimizing movement in the sequence, Rita is frozen into almost a still frame, directing attention to the ambiguity of her initially blurred and ghostly body as well as to its metamorphosis into Rita/Gilda as the movement progresses. The simultaneous stretching of the audio adds to the trance-like experience and at times makes Rita appear more machine than human. Similar to the stretching of the frame succession, the slowing of the sound exposes details that can not be recognized at regular speed. Inspired by Steve Reich’s idea of sound slow motion, the audio events in the sequence are extended without manipulating the pitch, spectrum or frequency. As a result Rita’s humming and breathing conflate into distortion with the tune „Put the Blame on Mame“, ultimately transforming into sound overload.
While Film Noir is frequently associated with the male gaze and female submission, Rita works towards the more powerful readings of Rita Hayworth’s representation. As the extreme time stretch discloses every detail and allows to discover the scene in a state of consciousness, we see Rita/Gilda not merely as an object of desire, but also as a mockery of the male gaze.
Rita disturbs the coziness of spectating by confronting the spectators endurance and focus in a near feature length format - all paired with seemingly monotonous and infinite sound stimulations. The ambiguity of motion creates a visually confusing experience, where traditional ways of seeing and defining are put to question.
Rita derives from ongoing research into techniques and counter-techniques of representation on screen, pointing to both the fluidity and negotiability of social constructs like gender and whiteness.

Source material: „Gilda“, Dir. Charles Vidor, Columbia Pictures, 1946.

URL: difazaya.net

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