Date: Thursday November 5, 2015, at 10.00 hrs
Location: Aula of the Minderbroedersberg 4-6, Maastricht
Title: ‘Pandaemonium: Ken Russell’s Artist Biographies as Baroque Performance’
Supervisors: Maaike Meijer, Karel Vanhaesebrouck and Jack Post
Registration: no registration; free entrance
Ken Russell (1927-2011) was a renegade talent and the self-styled enfant terrible of British cinema. His legacy as a film-maker consists of a large number of films on the lives of artists, mainly composers. But Russell’s approach to artist biography was highly unorthodox: rather than reconstruct a factual account he offered a deeply personal interpretation of artists’ lives based on his own understanding of their work. In a programmatic text for his film on Mahler (1974), Russell explained that his films ‘evolve through a stream of consciousness in which the man and the myth, the music and its meaning, time, place, dream and fact all flow and blend into the mainstream of the film itself’ and that ‘my film is simply about some of the things I feel when I think of Mahler’s life and listen to his music’. Van Eecke’s research is an attempt to explain what that statement means and to unpack its implications for the practice of life writing. It takes a baroque approach to performance and performativity to show how Russell not simply made highly inventive films on other artists, but also constructed those films as a kind of self-portrait. Russell’s work then becomes a performance of self through art.
Pandaemonium: Ken Russell’s Artist Biographies as Baroque Performance can be accessed as a free e-book via this link.