Review: I diari di Angela - Noi due cineasti. Capitolo secondo
by Camillo De Marco
- VENICE 2019: Yervant Gianikian recounts, with archive footage, the creative and personal bond of the avant-garde filmmaking couple he formed with Angela Ricci Lucchi
Out of competition at the Venice International Film Festival is the second part of the documentary Yervant Gianikian has dedicated to Angela Ricci Lucchi, partner in life and in art who passed away at 76 years old in February 2018: I diari di Angela - Noi due cineasti. Capitolo secondo. Gianikian had brought to Venice the first part of the film, which then had a long run in the museum and festival circus worldwide, from the Viennale to the IFFR in Rotterdam, Doclisboa, Seville, BAFICI in Buenos Aires, and Cinema du Réel in Paris. Indeed, Yervant Gianikian, artist and architect from the South Tyrol region of Italy and of Armenian origins, and Angela Ricci Lucchi, director and painter who studied in Vienna with Oskar Kokoschka, were international filmmakers who lived in Milan but who were better known in Paris, New York and London. Their experimental cinema, from its beginning in the mid-Seventies, is essentially a work of “recycling” — images, abandoned films, lost material — following a found footage aesthetic. Precursors of many successive trends, the two artists use images of the past to construct ways of understanding the present, investigating the rapport between cinema and history, and in particular the violence which traversed the 20th century. “More artists than filmmakers”, insist critic Enrico Ghezzi in the first images of the documentary, “who look at a space-world with loving and ruthless precision, without false masks of austerity”.
Starting from the pages of Angela’s diaries, Yervant Gianikian recounts with archive footage their trips on the occasion of retrospectives, and at the same time, their creative and personal connection. In 1975, the couple is in London and Edinburgh; in 1981 they document their trip to the United States. In New York, they are welcomed by director, poet and artist Jonas Mekas. The first screenings — the “perfumed films”, Essence d'Absynthe — are at the Millenium. “Not many people, but some questions at the end”, Angela diligently writes in her diary. Then, Binghamton University; then the couple moves to the University of Utica; then Los Angeles and Pasadena, where they meet experimental director Chick Strand; and then San Francisco, El Paso, Minneapolis, Chicago. Yervant and Angela take pictures and shoot with a super 8 camera. Years later, they are back in New York for a retrospective at the MoMA, where they present Karagoez e Lombroso and meet other experimental artists such as Adrian Mancia and Robert Breer. In their following trips, she is in a wheelchair, now ill. “There are so many people at the MoMA,” she writes, “British historian Robert Lumley is in the room, and he wants to write a book about us.” In 2007, the couple is in Jerusalem for Good Friday. “Hot weather and religious fanaticism”, Angela points out.
I diari di Angela - Noi due cineasti. Capitolo secondo marvelously portrays the two artists of Italian and international avant-garde cinema, but only for those who already know them well. In those images, we can only guess the work of Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, re-filming the same material of the past, isolating details, colouring, decreasing the speed or multiplying the number of frames. But the documentary, though it may not reveal the essence of their artistic mission, remains a sublime act of love, and of art.
I diari di Angela is self-produced by Yervant Gianikian, with the support of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto and of Antonio Pezzano, with the collaboration of Lucrezia Lerro. Gianikian is also handling international distribution.
(Translated from Italian)
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