Improvisational music performed by Rob Schwimmer on piano, theremin and Haken Continuum to accompany four seminal works by pioneering Ukrainian experimental filmmaker Maya Deren.
Maya Deren (1917-1961) was an avant-garde filmmaker, photographer, dancer, writer, poet and theorist. Born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1917, Deren is considered one of the most important and influential avant-garde filmmakers in the US. Maya Deren’s work still reverberates today with many filmmakers—and in particular, women filmmakers—and those working in an experimental mode. Her debut work, the 14-minute Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), is a surreal, unsettling and dreamlike experience that is often credited with kickstarting the American avant-garde movement. Deren’s films have been called ‘choreocinema’ for their frequent incorporation of dance and ritual; they are also heavily informed by voodoo.
Rob Schwimmer is the master of his own musical kingdom where he, playing alone, conjures a sound world created by his singular virtuosity at the piano, theremin (on which he’s considered to be one of the world masters) and Haken Continuum — a rarely heard combination which allows him to bring audiences to beautiful and mysterious new sonic territory and perhaps find new or re-connect with forgotten feelings. A veteran player who has worked with beloved legends like Stevie Wonder, Simon and Garfunkel, Wayne Shorter, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, as well as celebrated young contemporary artists such as Esperanza Spalding and Gotye, Schwimmer leads us on an organic and musically rich journey from the pensive to the thrilling, with many musical ports of call in between.
For tonight's special program, Schwimmer will perform improvisational soundtracks for three of Maya Deren's most celebrated films: Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) as well as At Land (1944) and Ritual in Transfigured Time (1946) Additionally, he will perform music to accompany Deren’s unfinished short Witch’s Cradle (1946), which was filmed in Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century Gallery and features Marcel Duchamp.