Cultural Bulletin
Exploring Film, Music, Design, Art and the Wider Cultural Themes that Surround Them

SHORT FILM: Anémic Cinéma - Marcel Duchamp

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Marcel Duchamp (1887 – 1968) was a French-American painter, sculptor, chess player, and writer whose work is associated with Cubism, Dada, and conceptual art. 

In 1926 he made Anémic Cinéma (notice that the title is a near palindrome), a surrealist film that consists of ten 'Optical Disks' alternating with nine other disks inscribed with puns - Duchamp called them Rotoreliefs. It has been said that by including this movement (the disks turn in different directions and at varying speeds), his intention was to deny the vision of art as contemplation.

Part of the simultaneous joy and frustration felt when watching Anémic Cinéma lies in the deliberately confusing word play. The first issue is that for non-French speakers, they’re all in French. Added to that, the puns are difficult even for native speakers. The spirals and words allude to sex: through their visual pulsation and through the sexual connotations within the word play.

The film is signed off by Rrose Sélavy, Duchamp’s female alter ego.

Enjoy the short film below (with attempted English subtitles):