My friend Chad Bennett sent me a link to A Glimpse of the Garden,
a wild little movie by the mid-twentieth-century experimental filmmaker Marie Menken.
Born in 1909 in Brooklyn, Menken was associated with the fifties underground film scene in New York that also included Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, and Kenneth Anger (considered by many to be a forerunner of queer cinema). She also appeared in several Warhol films herself. Her famously rocky marriage to poet Willard Maas, said to be jealous of her greater success as an artist, was the inspiration for the toxic relationship between George and Martha in Edward Albee's play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Yikes!
I must say that in Mike Nichols' famous 1966 film version, Elizabeth Taylor does look a little like the picture above of Marie. Maas has been identified as the off-camera presence providing fellatio to DeVeren Bookwaiter in Warhol's 1964 film Blow Job, and he also had an affair with botanist Rupert Barneby, whose lover Dwight Ripley is credited in Menken's film with giving her access to their garden.
In this five-minute film, we see only plants and landscape and hear only birdsong; the sole indication of a human presence is the camera itself, proceeding at a walking pace along paths and across lawns, occasionally pausing to focus on a particular bloom or tree, and finally gazing at sunset over the garden. Alternating between long, swooping shots, quick cuts between images, and steady-camera shots in which the only movement is the wind through the leaves and flowers, the film is formally ravishing. Menken's work is noted for its respect for the objects filmed (as is also seen in her film Lights), her desire and ability to sense (or is it produce?) consciousness in inanimate objects. This aesthetic is of a piece with the interest in materials and in abstraction of the New York School, Fluxus and Abstract Expressionist artists that formed part of Menken's circle. Her painterly sense can also be seen in the title frame, above, which might, like her film Drips in Strips, be a humorous and loving tribute to Pollock-style drip painting.
Sister artist, species fag-hag.