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Animist Tallinn 2023

Rapporto industria: Animazione

Ad Animist Tallinn, Dave McKean parla di creatività e ripercorre la sua carriera nel cinema e nell'animazione

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L'artista britannico ha mostrato spezzoni di alcuni dei suoi progetti e ha offerto al pubblico una lettura dal vivo del suo poema audiovisivo [N]eon

Ad Animist Tallinn, Dave McKean parla di creatività e ripercorre la sua carriera nel cinema e nell'animazione
Dave McKean (a sinistra) (© Animist Tallinn)

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On 17 August, Tallinn’s Kino Sõprus hosted a conversation with British polymath Dave McKean, whose massive body of work spans drawing, film, animation, painting, photography, collage, found objects, digital art and sculpture.

The event, part of this year’s Animist Tallinn (16-19 August), was introduced on stage by Priit Tender, the festival co-director (see the interview). McKean is also serving as one of the jurors at this year’s edition, along with Izabela Plucińska and Natalia Mirzojan.

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To begin with, McKean spoke about his very first film, a surreal short titled The Week Before (1998), ironically set “the week before the week when God created everything”. “I got some friends together, a crew of three people and two actors. [...] It’s a very simple little effort. Just try to make a film that looks like my illustrations: that was the plan.” He disclosed that the film was inspired by Django Reinhardt’s music, but the latest version of the short does not feature the Belgian artist’s compositions, as rights were denied, so he had to find a Gipsy jazz guitarist in England who could compose a brand-new score “in the style of Django Reinhardt”.

Next, McKean touched upon an abandoned project that aimed to provide an animated version of all of William Shakespeare’s sonnets. He showed the only one that was brought to fruition, Sonnet No. 138, followed by Visitors, an ambient film which sees various visitors arrive at Big Sur and Monterey on the Californian coast, although they remain unseen.

Later, he spoke about his first feature, MirrorMask [+leggi anche:
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(2005). The fantasy picture revolved around a young girl called Helena (played by Stephanie Leonidas), whose mother suddenly gets ill and ends up wandering in a dream world based on her drawings. McKean also showed a scene in which Helena is drawn to the dark side by mechanical dolls singing an eerie version of Burt Bacharach’s classic “(They Long to Be) Close to You”.

In the last part of the event, the British artist showed Whack!, a live-action and animated version of the traditional British seaside children’s puppet show, and the fascinating images of N[eon], an audiovisual poem accompanied by a passionate live reading. The story of the latter revolves around a man escaping a failed marriage and wandering through Venice, gradually becoming obsessed with a ghostly figure.

In the closing Q&A sessions, McKean ironically defined the motivation behind his numerous interests and interventions in the different artistic fields as “schizophrenia”, but also highlighted how important it is for him to work with music at all times, even when he is dealing with stories for comics, graphic novels or books.

On 16 August, McKean hosted another conversation focusing on his books and illustrations. He presented his new two-volume, 600-page book, titled Thalamus: The Art of Dave McKean Slipcased Set, “which covers a taste of everything he’s been doing”, starting from his most recent endeavours. He also touched upon other illustrated projects he is working on, including a long one focusing on the era of silent cinema (“When language was created and stories were tested for the first time”); the “conversational book” Your Move, in co-operation with Spanish artist Jorge González; and new illustrated editions of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities and Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, among others. He is also editing his fourth feature, titled Wolf’s Child and adapted from his own 2015 play.

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