Structuring Strategies Welcomes Experimental Filmmaker Martha Colburn

Myth Labs

Film still from Martha Colburn's 'Myth Labs'

Martha Colburn is a New York-based filmmaker best known for her experimental animation that mixes pop culture and politics. She’s tonight’s guest artist for the Structuring Strategies class and lecture series in CalArts’ Bijou Theater.

There will be more than a dozen films screened, including:

  • Spiders In Love: An Arachnogasmic Musical (2000, 2:30 min, 16mm): Fabulous legs and intricate dance numbers, or Busby Berkeley meets National Geographic. In this complex animated exploration of the world of she-spiders, chorus girls dance and dash about with ghoulish and gorgeous expressions of lust and consuming hunger. The soundtrack is by Red Balune, Jad Fair and Jason Willett.
  • Skelehellavision (2001, 8 min, 16mm): Recycling fragments of found pornography and literally scratching skeletons over the footage frame-by-frame, Skelehellavision attempts to realize the world that may await us after death. We enter into a lust-filled Hell where the beauty of flesh is no more, populated with ass-licking bats, seething snakes, dancing lizards, and frightful females. Composed by the filmmaker, the soundtrack is a carnivalesque cut-and-paste of sounds and spooky movie sound track singing.
  • Myth Labs (2008, 7:30 min, 16mm original – dv cam): The film interweaves Puritan visions, folk art, religious allegories and victims of the current methamphetamine epidemic. This is a film about fear, paranoia, faith and loss of faith and salvation.

Her work includes collage, hand-painted films and puppetry on 16mm, and while other filmmakers have worked with those materials, writer Max Goldberg explains in a 2009 Cinema Scope magazine article how Colburn moves beyond the typical mashup:

What makes Colburn’s collage-animations remarkable is that they do not stop with juxtaposition. Whether comic, horrific or, in the case of her latest work, epic, the films present complex circuits of repetition which deny any hope for easy catharsis. In Skelehellavision, for instance, the reiterations of the skeleton motif come to seem an act of demonic possession. The fanaticism of Colburn’s process is both the condition and consequence of her inexorable subjects. This willingness to risk total exhaustion strikes me, above all, as brave.

Structuring Strategies: Martha Colburn’s Collage and Handpainted Films
CalArts’ Bijou Theater
Tonight (Tuesday, Feb. 15)
7 pm Free

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  1. Sam Stein // //

    I am a great admirer of Martha Colburn’s work. Another of her exhibitions – Dolls vs Dictators – is still on at the Museum of Moving Images in Queens, NY.
    I think it ends April 10 – make sure you see it!