Storm de Hirsch
Peyote Queen (1965)
1965, sound, colour, 8 mins, 16mm.
'A journey through the underground of sensory derangement, where the mysteries are enacted in the theatre of the soul.'
'Among my favourite...beauty and excitement.'- Jonas Mekas
'Like a ritual of incantation with its drum punctuated visual changes.'-Sheldon Renan.
'A very beautiful work...the abstractions drawn directly on film are like the paintings of Miro moving at full speed to the rhythm of an African beat.'- Dominique Noguez.
Storm de Hirsch was a very important player in the New York Avant-Garde film scene of the 1960s, though her biography and work are generally left out of the history.
Like many experimental filmmakers at the time, she did not begin her artistic career as a filmmaker. She had been a poet and published a number of works in the early 60's. She wanted to find a new mode of expression for her thoughts that went beyond words on the page, which is when she turned to filmmaking. Despite lack of recognition, she was very present in the underground film movement and socialized with every big name on the scene, filmmakers such as Stan Brakhage, Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke and others. She mentions Jack Smith, Ingmar Bergman, Gregory Markopoulos, Michaelangelo Antoniono, Vittorio De Seta, Ken Jacobs, Federico Fellini and Jonas and Adolphus Mekas as her favorite film-makers.
Much of her work is abstract and employs a number of experimental techniques. In an interview with Jonas Mekas on the making of Divinations she says "I wanted badly to make an animated short and had no camera available. I did have some old, unused film stock and several roles of 16mm. sound tape. So I used that - plus a variety of discarded surgical instruments and the sharp edge of a screwdriver - by cutting, etching, and painting directly on both film and tape." Sometimes these animations are superimposed over live-action footage. Her films are clearly influenced by her poetic background, and continued publishing books of poetry throughout her life. Her films also reveal an interest in eastern religious practices and rituals. Her work explores the possibilities of light and is concerned with spatial elements. In one film, Third Eye Butterfly, she uses a two-screen projection with split-screen frames to create a kaleidoscopic effect.