The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo and the Seville European Film Festival are presenting the work of the Austrian experimental filmmaker Martin Arnold (Vienna, 1959). It is a sample of the work by one of the most outstanding filmmakers on the current scene, where the spectator is led to reflect through the avantgarde visual effects which lead him to “play in order to produce new meanings” in the image. In Arnold’s work mention must also be made of his experiments and re-elaborations with found footage.
The aim of the pieces exhibited in this exhibition are to destabilize the spectator with their “distinctive film deconstruction”. In his re-appropriation of the classics, Arnold uses very familiar films as raw material –mainly Hollywood films and Disney cartoons- seeking to unearth hidden patterns by means of a distinctive manipulation that produces results that are almost supernatural in their strangeness, and that reveal the dreams, hopes and taboos of the era and the society that created them.
In the words of the theorist Steve Anker “Dark ironies run beneath all of the work by Arnold, who in his most recent works disembowels the sinister entrails of one of the most popular forms of family entertainment: animation”. His pieces are composed of fragmented figures whose anatomy is already unrecognizable to the point that they seem like remote controlled puppets. Hands that twist, tongues that dance, eyes that blink and mouths that snore, moving like ghosts against a black background like an abyss, into which parts of the body disappear and reappear disturbingly. Harmless scenes that become nightmarish sequences which contain frustration, fear and aggressiveness, as well as a disconcerting erotic component and a certain vulnerability.
“All of the Mickey Mouse films are based on the idea of leaving home to learn what fear is”, said Walter Benjamin about the similarities between cartoons and horror films. Thus Arnold’s installations abandon the home of all that is familiar and comfortable, to venture into the terrifying depths –which are not lacking in a dark sense of humour – beneath the crystal clear surface of those cartoons with which we all grew up.
Martin Arnold (born in 1959 in Vienna, Austria) is an experimental filmmaker and a founder member of the Austrian film distribution company Sixpack Film. He studied Psychology and Art History at the University of Vienna. He lectured in film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Art Institute of San Francisco, the Academy of Fine Arts in Frankfurt, the Art Institute of Kansas City, Bard College, and SUNY Binghamton.
Martin Arnold is one of the most outstanding filmmakers who represent the transition between experimental film and video-art. In the mid-1990s, Arnold started working with digital editing which allowed him to do his work with archive material and work intensely on repetitive sequences. His first “digital short” project was Solo: Life Wastes Andy Hardy (1998), using archive material featuring Mickey Rooney’s character, Andy Hardy, from a series of popular films of that time.