The House Is Empty, 2020, 09:56, iPhone, Super 8mm and 16mm film
An environmental disaster film that portrays, to the ovations of a billion cicadas, a cockroach, a woman, and a dramatic encounter in a closet—from the roach's point of view. Inspired by The Passion According to G.H. (1964) by Clarice Lispector. The house is “played” like an instrument by A.J. McClenon. This is the finale of the Catalogue series.
REDCAT, Los Angeles
Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin at the Louvre
Fisura International Experimental Film and Video Festival, Mexico City
Festival international Signes de Nuit-Paris
Antimatter Film Festival, Vancouver
Experiments in Cinema, Albuquerque
GLAZOK platform of the Moscow International Experimental Festival
Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin
Crossroads, San Francisco Cinematheque
FLIGHT/Mostra internazionale del cinema di Genova
I wanted the music to be disruptive and delirious—in fact, a waltz drives the edit of the first part, the “Roach-eye view.” This section isn't actually cut, it's "scratched." That is, I shot a long pan around the room, a circle. I’m not sure how a cockroach would look around a room and I imagined it would be frenetic, but contained—very like the form of Lispector's novel. In the novel, time is gradually destabilized, even irrelevant. Once I had the clip in the editor, I screen-recorded the monitor while I scrubbed back and forth on the timeline to the beat of the waltz, just like a DJ.
Clarice Lispector was a Brazilian novelist of the 60s, a favorite of the theorist Hélène Cixous, who was influential to me as a young artist. Lispector's novel, The Passion According to G.H., describes at its climax a moment of fellow-theorist and feminist Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection, where the inside crosses the boundary to the outside—the guts of the smashed roach ooze out—and cross another boundary when the woman puts the mess into her mouth.
The setting for this great adventure of the soul is domestic, even claustrophobic. Everything
happens in the maid's room at the back of the elegant apartment. But that may be the point.
Only the jolt of seeing herself through the eyes of her former maid can set G.H. on the road to freedom. Lispector's cunning mixture of Sartrean and Christian terms carries a strong social
message. In a master-slave relation, neither is free. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Liberation
for the penthouse can only come from the favela. G.H.'s education in the maid's room has
at least a poetic justice, as a stand-in for the missing social justice in Brazil.
—By Suzanne Ruta, New York Times
The last section is inspired by Chick Strand’s 1986 film Artificial Paradise and the sound by John Smith's Girl Chewing Gum.