Manuela De Laborde- As Without So Within

a fundraiser screening for Mirren Strahan

8pm, Saturday December 1 | 2 Kerr St, Fitzroy | Entry by Donation

Preface: A couple of weeks ago AFW was robbed during a screening. Mirren Strahan, originally scheduled to perform on violin with Lily Tait to accompany Dmitri Kirsanoff’s Ménilmontant (1926), had her laptop stolen during the second of three performances scheduled that night. This surprise screening acts not only as a showcase for an exciting new work in small gauge filmmaking but, more importantly, as a fundraiser for Mirren. As an organisation, AFW would like to stand in solidarity with Mirren to overturn the violated trust from that night in early November. We hope this violation won’t go unnoticed, and that all those who come to the screening can acknowledge and rebuke this act of dispossession. Part of tonight’s earnings will go to Mirren, and we hope that in coming to this screening, you support and are willing to aid a friend of this organisation, both financially and emotionally.


James and Giles of Artist Film Workshop


Program Notes: Manuela De Laborde

Within the sketches created to conceptualise Manuela De Laborde’s As Without So Within (2016), one page contains a tripartite plane of ochre, two-dimensional squares, strung together with a spiral that narrows with the decreasing width of each plane. Accompanying the sketch is the brief annotation; “Drawing of the film over time, a narrowing spiral cut by plateaus”.

Conceived as her thesis film during her MFA in Film/Video at CalArts (studying with Betzy Bromberg and James Benning), De Laborde’s 25-minute short first screened after two years of incessant post-production. Considering the scarcity of shooting days (no more than an afternoon) and usable footage (the entire film was shot with a single, 400’ roll of 16mm Vivid stock), the elongated period of trial-and-error editing bolsters the many formal contradictions inherent to De Laborde’s work. The spiralled sketch exists without momentum, neither forwards nor backwards, up nor down, narrow nor widening. The elongated footage is similarly directionless. Although originally filmed on 16mm negative, the footage was promptly digitised, edited via Macbook, and filmed straight from a digital monitor on 16mm, reverted to its original form. Same same, but different. De Laborde herself admitted the two-year editing process largely consisted of her figuring out how to well and truly futz with FinalCut Pro to create the buzzing digital abstractions evident in both the 16 and 35mm prints circulating of this film. Created with condoms and various watercolour dyes, the plaster subjects – each no larger than De Laborde’s palm – take on the aura of obliterated asteroids, moon shards with curvatures that – under incessant red/purple gel lighting – give way to miniature eclipses, interplanetary glows that contain no nexus point, abstracted into oblivion with ever encroaching dissolves.

De Laborde’s formal training as a sculptor treats the film with an unfinished quality, a study in chipped plasters whose full forms never actualise onscreen. Each successive image is additionally cut short, a progression that is stunted by cuts, both formal and abstract. These cuts, however, eventuate in growth, a process in pruning that charts the multidirectional learning process of De Laborde creating her first film, her self-declared “first work of cinema”, a cinema without a beginning or end. 

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