Friday, May 7, 2010

intriguing impulse

Maya Deren's narcissism remains throughout beguilingly unaware: she writes that Erzulie also manifests herself as "a cosmic tantrum" (and the film-maker was well-known for her wilful, tough independence, which famously made her erupt). Such projection can't help but make the reader smile. Deren was a legendary photogenic beauty, with a cloud of red hair, pale complexion and firm, rounded body, and the many celebrated photographs of her taken by Alexander Hammid, her second husband, show how carefully and well he had looked at the lighting and composition of André Kertész and Man Ray (like himself émigrés from central Europe). Deren was his Kiki de Montparnasse, and her self-fashioned charisma powerfully enhances her screen presence. Her "glamour" - to be taken in the strong sense of magic power - still inspires: in a recent issue of Strange Attractor, the writer and film historian Kevin Jackson ingeniously shuffles the letters of her name to come up with ten mystical anagrams (An Ayre Dame to Me Day Near).

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