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Montez Press
Anna Thew - Words, Words, Words
June 02, 2016

This month we celebrate Anna Thew as the first artist to perform in a multi-screen installation and performance of Blurt at Tate Modern's star auditorium as part of the larger programme "Real to Reel, Women and Feminism at the London Film-makers' Co-operative: Trapped in Language". The event incorporates a mobile Super 8 projection of a TV boxing match between famous fighters Bugner and Frazier and a live performance of a Kabuki howl in front of the screen by Anna Thew herself.

For this occasion we are delighted to be able to feature an excerpt from Yann Beauvais' article LIKE A SONG, concerning Thew’s use of language in film:
Language, in all its forms, is seen as an essential element of Anna Thew's cinema, manifesting itself either in the shape of the sound or as graphic sign, such as in Blurt (1983) and Blurt Roll 2 (1987). Word and language - but here we should speak of languages, infiltrating every element of the films. But if language invades the film space, it is done in an exceptional way. We are never in the presence of a voice which would overwhelm or provide the image with its meaning. Rarely does the voice dominate, excepting in the "conversations" with Steve Moore in Assemblage for Eye Drift (1996), or with the mother's voice in Hilda. The voice is always plural and functions according to the classical polyphony found in the Fugues of J.S. Bach.
Anna Thew's work in sound is marked by the multiplicity of languages spoken, sung, or written. This multiplicity highlights the distinctiveness of each of these languages, their scansion, their dynamic, and their poetry. This collision of languages in the body of the film, whether it is Italian, German, or French, in the same breath, questions the insularity of the dominant language. English becomes one language amongst so many others.
The film-maker speaks by means of this polyphony. Consequently the original version is also plural, in the manner of the pieces of music and film from which she composes her works. Each film is coloured by the places, the towns which the film-maker passes through, the memories, the men, her desires, which she documents in a distinct way and which she assembles in mosaics from which the joins, flare outs and scratches are not discarded. The film must be understood as a body, and consequently a body which is malleable, endlessly transforming itself. This constant renewal reveals itself in Anna Thew's films in the re-cycling of sequences from one film to another. This method acts on the notion of motifs as much as it performs as a rhythmic element, permitting the films to be seen as cinematographic poems which, from individual experience, are freed to make way for other songs.