Water as a verb: A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea, by Stan Brakhage

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A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea is the first part of the series Vancouver Island Films, Stan Brakhage’s latest large-scale project which he filmed after making several hand-painted movies, as well as creating his largest studio in just one location: the ocean, filtered by means of an imaginary biography of his wife Marilyn.

In 1988, Stan Brakhage started a cycle of films inspired by his wife: Marilyn’s Window, Untitled Film (For Marilyn) or the series Vancouver Island Films, which evokes the topography of a place, the ocean around Victoria and the stages of Marilyn’s life refracted in the fabric of the sea. A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea relates to her childhood, The Mammals of Victoria to her adolescence and The God of Day Had Gone Down Upon Him with her mid-life crisis.

In A Child’s Garden..., Brakhage returns to the discovery of world events and initial glimpses: the body’s waves and tides combine with the interaction of light and water, matching their ripples and currents, changing the surfaces from opaque to transparent. With cuts and black fadeouts or different types of film, speed, exposure or emulsion, tamed nature (gardens and playgrounds) and the marine primary state, they are evenly transfigured between the first and second person.

A Child’s Garden and the Serious Sea, Stan Brakhage, 1991, 16 mm, silent, 73 min

12 February 2019


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