Jan vankmajer enjoys a curious sort of anti-reputation: he is famous for being obscure. Unapologetically surrealist, vankmajer draws on the traditions and techniques of stop-motion animation, collage, montage, puppetry, and clay to craft bizarre filmscapes. If these creative choices are off-putting to some, they have nonetheless won the Czech filmmaker recognition as a visionary animator.
Keith Leslie Johnson explores vankmajer's work as a cinema that spawns new and weird life formshybrids of machine, animal, and non-organic materials like stone and dust. Johnson's ambitious approach unlocks access to the director's world, a place governed by a single, uncanny order of being where all things are at once animated and inert. For vankmajer, everything is at stake in every aspect of life, whether that life takes the form of an object, creature, or human. Sexuality, social bonds, religious longingsall get recapitulated on the stage of inanimate things. In Johnson's view, vankmajer implores us to reprogram our relationship with the vital matter all around us, including ourselves and our bodies.
"Keith Johnsons Jan vankmajer is a triumph: a bold, synoptic, and elegantly written conceptual survey that brings fully to life the animating ideas of the Czech surrealist artist-filmmaker. Attending to the work of animation as a philosophy of life rather than an aesthetic technique alone, Johnsons book lucidly presents vankmajers art as the bearer of 'a vital, emergent, biopolitical, ethical, and ecological outlook.' Featuring detailed analyses of the artists full body of cinematic, artistic, and curatorial work, as well as an illuminating set of interviews, Jan vankmajer presents the Czech artist in vital, living color."--Jonathan Eburne, author of Surrealism and the Art of Crime
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