The House Is Empty, 2020, 09:50, iPhone, Super 8mm and 16mm film
2-minute trailer for "The House Is Empty"— finale of the "Catalogue" series: A cockroach, a woman, 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.
Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin
Fisura International Experimental Film and Video Festival, Mexico City
Festival international Signes de Nuit-Paris
Antimatter Film Festival, Vancouver
Experiments in Cinema, Albuquerque
I'd never used narrative fiction before, but I needed a structure for the empty house shoot. I remembered that the novel took place entirely in an empty maid's room, which worked with the empty house idea. I wasn't intending to illustrate the novel and that is evident, it's pretty loose in relationship to the story.
On the “Roach-eye view”: the first section isn't actually cut, it's "scratched." That is, I shot a long pan around the room, a circle, which was quite dull—probably not how a cockroach would look around a room—I imagined it would be frenetic but contained, very like the form of Lispector's novel. Once I had the shot in the editor, I did a screen recording while I scrubbed back and forth on the timeline to the beat of a waltz, just like a DJ. In the novel, time is gradually destabilized, even irrelevant.
Clarice Lispector was a Brazilian novelist of the 60's, 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.