Join us for an evening with Jeffrey Babcock where we shall explore a series of underground, almost forgotten films, that explore the themes of self autonomy that align with the motif of Grace’s exhibition.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE UNDERNEATH 1972
Directed by Jane Arden
Why is this film so unknown and neglected? Is it because of its controversial theme of anti-psychiatry, or its cutting-edge experimental film style, or because it’s directed by a woman? Probably a combination of all three, but one thing that’s for sure is male filmmakers are permitted to break the rules (like Jodorowsky, or Lynch) in ways that women are not. Instead of being praised as visionaries, women are more likely to be exorcised from the scene for their transgressions. Like the avant-garde films of Maya Deren, Arden refuses to imitate male cinema, and throws herself into the struggle of finding a new cinematic language. Society has a nasty way of editing out anything it doesn’t want to face, and female desire is one of those contradictions. In fact, after this movie was made it was quickly sent into oblivion, and was impossible to see for twenty-five years.
Director Jane Arden had participated in the anti-psychiatry wave of the 1970s that questioned whether ‘madness’ can be understood from a straight rational scientific perspective. So instead Arden throws us into a dreamworld… an expressionist, experimental approach based on raw emotional experience. It starts with a woman being pulled from a river and taken to an institution where she is treated for schizophrenia. The film gives us no safe distance from her crisis, and soon we find ourselves plunged into a hallucinatory psych-drama, flickering with smouldering images, both poetic and searing. As we plunge into the shattered psyche of this woman, instead of finding an illness deep within those cold waters, we find the fears, repressions, scars and taboos of a fucked-up society.
Jane Arden created this movie together with an all-female theatre collective called Holocaust (of which Arden was a member). The film is a real ‘journey to the end of the night’ and is set to an amazing soundtrack composed by unknown female cellist Sally Minford. A fierce critique of the power relation between patients and doctors, pumped full of crazy spellbinding imagery.