'Daisies' & Jennifer West
Daisies, 1966, dir. Věra Chytilová. 35 mm print.
Introduced by Jennifer West
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,
Harold M. Williams Auditorium, December 7, 2014
Screened as part of the J. Paul Getty Museum's Film Series: Czech Film and the Prague Spring, in conjunction with the exhibition Josef Koudelka: Nationality Doubtful.
Daisies is an ebullient and mischievous film, and the most dazzling experimental effort of the Czech New Wave. With its cycle of whimsical scenes, it simultaneously disregards and embraces traditional narrative structure as a farcical parable told through a kaleidoscope. The surrealism achieved by its collage and optical effects is matched in absurdity only by the satirical misbehavior of its two irreverent heroines. One blonde and one brunette and both named Marie, they engage in a game, asking each other “Vadi?” or “Does it matter?”, only to declare “Nevadi!” - “It doesn’t matter!” as they cause feminist and anarchy fueled debauchery.
Director Vera Chytilová made Daisies in collaboration with her husband, cinematography wizard Jaroslav Kucera, and Ester Krumbachová, an artist who infused the sets and script with her romantic, radical style. The avant-garde nature of the film made the communist government nervous, and it was immediately banned, and Chytilová was barred from working for nearly a decade.
Daisies breaks down the walls of reality with an array of jarring collage techniques that permeates everything from the visual world captured on film, to the surface of the film itself. Together with collage, hyper-real color and a sardonic aloof tone turn innocuous and lighthearted scenes, such as silly dancing in a bar or a food fight, into weapons against society’s false norms under patriarchy and the Soviet-controlled state. They are strategies that resonate with Dada, Happenings, Pop art, and the emergence of a psychedelic counterculture, all of which pry open the mundane to reveal new truths. — Sarah Cooper
Daisies was introduced by Los Angeles artist Jennifer West. West’s concept-driven films and installations employ performance and a laundry list of everyday and experimental materials to create unique alchemical phenomena directly on celluloid. Her work has shown internationally in galleries and museums such as Tate Modern, London; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; High Line Art, New York, NY; Contemporary Art Museum, Houston; and Transmission Gallery, Glasgow: and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, among many others.
Photos courtesy of Ateliery Bonton Zlin. A. S.
Jennifer West on Věra Chytilová at the Getty Center on December 7, 2014.