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A Heretic's Primer on Love & Exertion

Danièle Wilmouth

2007 00:24:45 United StatesEnglishColorStereo4:3DV video


Identically dressed, and with sibling-like resemblance, performance artists Trevor Martin and Kym Olsen shift between spoken word and athletic dance choreography in a collection of 29 scenes. Set in various locations--including a gymnasium, an abandoned hospital, and a trailer park circus--Martin and Olsen slip between a ventriloquist and his dummy, a seducer and his surrogate, a doctor and his patient, and synchronized dance partners. The film examines a complex social psychology--questioning the colonization of the human body for various political, medical and religious agendas.

Embracing the unique concerns of adapting a stage performance to the film medium, A Heretic's Primer on Love & Exertion is not documentation, but rather a reshaping of performative investigations into an original filmic work. Stealing inspiration from the live works of Martin and Olsen, attention was shifted in filming to the potential of interactive cinematography. Camera movement and discontinuous editing are used to transport the viewer to multiple locations and time frames, slipping in and out of narrative logic.

An example of this can be seen in the Oh! Game--a naughty version of Duck Duck Goose. Relying on chance and improvisation, the performers and camera follow the rules of this pseudo-erotic game in tandem, spinning & running on each other's cue. Like a campy game of 'spin the bottle'--the revolving camera stops on different people in a variety of locations, eventually winding itself into a blurred ecstatic frenzy.

"My own pantheon of "really good dance films" is very small but Heretic's Primer… went into the pantheon and has stayed there ever since." --David Hinton, Film Director

"In A Heretic's Primer on Love & Exertion, the carefully calibrated elements that orbit and contain the central double presence of Trevor Martin and Kym Olsen (rooms, chambers, fields and fairgrounds, colors and costumes, even a small populace) spring like phantom envelopes projected from the performance's innermost core. The stark visual clarity, precision of movement and speech, by turns joyful, mournful, dazzling, euphonic, protean, seem haunted by forces beyond the visible, captured from recesses of the mind. In the disquieting artifice of the film's symptomatology, the puppet becomes the puppeteer, the vanished horse persists in the rider. The camera spins dervish-like, and we with it, in measured ecstasy--a restless revelation of what film can be." --Matthew Goulish, Goat Island Performance Group

"…a highly-coloured picaresque world evolved from recurrent episodes of poker-faced text and task-based playfulness, with a movement vocabulary of clicks, swings, hops and jumps, linked and punctuated by a deftly rhythmic grammar of camera motion." --Chirstinn Whyte, "Reframing the Dance Screen", RealTime 89, Feb-March, 2008

About Danièle Wilmouth

Danièle Wilmouth is an artist working primarily in experimental and documentary filmmaking. She creates hybrids of performance art, dance, installation and cinema, which exploit the shifting hierarchies between live and screen space.

In 1990 she began a six-year residency in the Kansai region of Japan, where she co-founded "Hairless Films," an independent filmmaking collective comprised of artists from New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, and the USA. During this time, she also studied the Japanese contemporary dance form Butoh under Katsura Kan, and performed with his troupe "The Saltimbanques" for more than three years. Recently in Chicago, she has been collaborating with the performers Trevor Martin, Kym Olsen, and Joseph Ravens, as well as the sound artists and composers Lou Mallozzi and Mark Messing.

Wilmouth’s works include: Curtain of Eyes (1997), Containers (1999), Tracing A Vein (2001), ROUND (2002), Hula Lou (2007), and A Heretic’s Primer on Love & Exertion (2007). Her films and videos have exhibited in galleries, museums, film festivals, and on television around the world. She is currently a faculty member in the film and video departments of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College.