kuroneko (1968) showing tonight in cape town

Showing tonight at 20h15 at Labia on Orange, in association with the Good Film Society.

In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. From Kaneto Shindo, director of the terror classic Onibaba, Kuroneko (Black Cat) is a spectacularly eerie twilight tale with a shocking feminist angle, evoked through ghostly special effects and mindblowingly awesome visuals.

Maitland McDonagh on Kuroneko: The Mark of the Cat
Scratch the surface of a contemporary J-horror classic like Ringu (1998) or any of the Ju-on films (2000–03) and you’ll glimpse Yabu no naka no kuroneko (Black Cat from the Grove), released in the U.S. as simply Kuroneko (1968). Shot in shimmering, widescreen black and white and suffused with an unsettling eroticism, Kaneto Shindo’s elegant nightmare of earthbound violence and otherworldly revenge wasn’t the first film to be rooted in Japanese folk stories about onryo, the vengeful spirits of those who were abused in life, usually women, whose rage is so great it can’t be contained.

The Ghost of Yotsuya (Nobuo Nakagawa, 1959) and Kwaidan (Masaki Kobayashi, 1965) both preceded it, and other classics of Japan’s golden age of filmmaking—notably Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu (1953)—featured female spirits. And supernatural cats had appeared in Black Cat Mansion (Nakagawa, 1958) and The Ghost Cat of Otama Pond (Yoshihiro Ishikawa, 1960). But Shindo drew those threads together and wove them into Kuroneko’s unprecedentedly unnerving women, whose descendents are now many, and into a terrifically spooky story whose resonance extends beyond the satisfying chill of an exotic campfire tale and whose wrenching psychological anguish transcends specific cultural traditions…

… Western folklore regularly puts cats in general, and black cats in particular, in league with witches and other dark forces, but Japanese folktales are more ambiguous, starting with the fact that, while all felines are suspected of being more than handy mousers and cute house pets, they allow for two kinds of supernatural cats, the manekineko and the bakeneko. Anyone who has eaten in a Japanese restaurant knows what a manekineko looks like: perched somewhere near the cash register, it sits with one paw raised in greeting and the other resting on a coin, benevolently beckoning good fortune to come on in and stay awhile—Hello, Hello Kitty! Thebakeneko, by contrast, is kissing cousin to the shape-shifting fox (kitsune) and the sly, mischievous tanuki (a small, scruffily kawaii canid native to East Asia): none are inherently evil, but all are capable of using their supernatural knack for mimicking other creatures—including human beings—to stir up trouble. That said, the fact that bakeneko often eat the person whose form they’ve taken suggests they’re less amusing and more alarming than their fellow shapeshifters, and the shadow of feline malevolence lurks in Kuroneko’s fog-swirled gloom.

Read more of Maitland McDonagh’s article, which discusses the historical context of this horror masterpiece, HERE.

the long wait – part one

Powerful street art by Faith47

Faith47 – The Long Wait – Part One

“miners are waiting for justice. workers are waiting for a living wage.
people are waiting for service delivery. refugees are waiting for assistance.
men are waiting for jobs. we are all waiting for an honest politician.

“so many people are waiting for others to do things first. to take the blame.
to do things for them. to take the fall. to build the country. to admit defeat.
there has been so much waiting in this country that much time has been lost…”it is the first instalment of my solo exhibition, fragments of a burnt history, which will soon unfold at the david krut gallery in johannesburg on november the 8th 2012.”

poems for pussy riot e-book coming soon!

This just in from English PEN:

We are delighted to announce the publication of CATECHISM: POEMS FOR PUSSY RIOT, edited by Mark Burnhope, Sarah Crewe & Sophie Mayer.

There will be ePUB, Kindle and PDF versions available on this page from 00:01hrs on Monday 1st October 2012.

The book is distributed on the ‘Pay What You Think It’s Worth’ model popularised by Radiohead and others. We recommend £5, but any amount is welcome. All revenue will go to the Pussy Riot Legal fund, and the English PEN Writers at Risk Programme.

Get it HERE!

FLEURMACH EDITOR’S NOTE: The e-book will contain a poem by Fleurmach contributor Michelle McGrane  (Peony Moon).

sofia coppola – from “the virgin suicides” (1999)


So much has been said about the girls over the years. But we have never found an answer. It didn’t matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls… but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn’t heard us calling… still do not hear us, up here in the tree house with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them from out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time… and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together…

From Cecilia Lisbon’s diary:

Lux lost it over Kevin Haines, the garbage man. She’d wake up at five in the morning
and hang out on the front steps – like it wasn’t completely obvious.

She wrote his name in marker on all her underwear. Mom found them and bleached out the Kevins.
Lux was crying on her bed all day.

The trees like lungs filling with air.
My sister, the mean one, pulling my hair.


And so we started to learn about their lives, coming to hold collective memories of times we hadn’t experienced.

We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind dreamy… so you ended up knowing
what colours went together.

We knew the girls were really women in disguise… that they understood love and even death… and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.

We knew that they knew everything about us. And that we couldn’t fathom them at all.

Screenplay based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides.

marie chouinard compagnie – bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS

An astonishing piece, created for the Venice Biennale’s International Festival of Contemporary Dance, Italy, 2005 by Canadian dancer, choreographer and dance company director Marie Chouinard, OC (born 14 May 1955). Some excerpts from the performance at Place des Arts, Montreal, 2007:

In this work by Marie Chouinard, the company’s ten dancers execute variations on the exercise of freedom. Often, the dancers appear on points: on one, two, and even four at a time. In a spectroscopy of the gesture, we also see them using different devices – crutches, rope, prostheses, horizontal bars, and harnesses – which at times liberate their movements, at others fetter it, and at still others create it.

This use of accessories gives rise to unusual bodily shapes and gestural dynamics and opens onto a universe of meticulous and playful explorations in which solos, duos, trios and group work, in their labour, pleasure and invention, echo the human condition.

An aesthete beyond norms, Marie Chouinard presents her ideas on the way the indefinableness of the Other and the flagrancy of Beauty brush up against one another through an interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Subtle and extravagant, sumptuous and wild, the work’s movements plumb the insoluble mystery of the body, of the living being.

Watch the whole performance >

a portrait of hans bellmer, by unica zurn (1965)

HANS BELLMER: The female body…is like an endless sentence that invites us to rearrange it, so that its real meaning becomes clear through a series of endless anagrams. (1)

UNICA ZÜRN: If woman is to put into form the ‘ule’ [Greek: matter] that she is, she must not cut herself off from it nor leave it to maternity, but succeed in creating with that primary material that she is […] Otherwise, she risks using or reusing what man has already put into forms, especially about her, risks remaking what has already been made, and losing herself in that labyrinth. (2)

A Portrait of Hans Bellmer
Unica Zurn, 1965

(1) Webb P.& Short R., Hans Bellmer (New York: Quartet Books, 1985). Cited in: Miranda Argyle, “Hans Bellmer and The Games of the Doll” (Online Publication, 2004).
(2) Quote cited in: Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Gardex by Susan Rubin Suleiman (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990). 

review by sound fix records (brooklyn)

From time to time a local artist sans record label will come in with a self-released album that blows us away. This is one of those times! Ella Joyce Buckley is a native of South Africa now based in Brooklyn, and the music on her lovely hand-made CD, Blood Finds No Sea, is an enthralling example of how much more a songwriter can be than just a person with songs and an instrument. Existing equally in the acoustic (as in, played instruments — a range of them) and electronic, Blood Finds No Sea is dramatic, intense and, in the most luminous way, Goth as hell. You can imagine her right at home on 4AD in the mid-’80s, when Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance were mixing shimmeringly bright colors into darkness (and elsewhere, Danielle Dax was at her best). With vast creativity, Buckley manipulates her  gorgeous vocals into choirs, housefuls of spirits even, while strings both plucked and bowed ebb and swell, and keys poke holes in the darkness. The title track spires upward, like Tolkien’s elvish national anthem (oh, just indulge me), with Buckley’s double-tracked vox fixed in place while the music ascends around her. “Sister” features Buckley’s most extravagant vocal, with a plucked violin (I think?) leading into a howling mix of percussion and electronics. Buckley’s arranging skills are advanced — you could easily picture her scoring theater works (besides films), and perhaps she already does. For now, there is this CD, and it comes highly recommended.

Review from Sound Fix Records – 44 Berry St., Brooklyn New York 11211 – (718) 388-8090 | Williamsburg’s Independent Record store

suspended sentence (2009)

my menstrual blood does not “run”.
it’s too viscous.
it builds up behind the bottleneck of my cervix until the weight of
sloughed-off lining gets too heavy to contain,
then it blurts out
in thick, slimy strands of not-baby,
a cosmic disappointment
smelling of fresh death.
sometimes crimson, still almost fecund,
sometimes older and blacker, a nauseating cousin of bile,
blended with albumen, like broken egg white, like frogspawn frustrated.

inside my insides,
god’s scraping a blunt teaspoon round and round,
clearing the walls of my womb for another hit-and-miss next month.

on a heavy day,
pulling out an incontinent tampon,
i sit there on the loo,
toilet paper wrapped round my fingers,
trying to abbreviate the sentence of clots
my lips are drooling into the toilet bowl water.
it’s not a lake, it’s a suspension,
a hanging paragraph of placental full-stops that goes on and on,
and i wipe and shove in another wad of cotton to staunch the ooze for
another few hours of outer peace.

one day, sometime in my forties or fifties
i’ll be paroled,
retired from service.
god will give up on my body
and that will be the end of that.
it’s irrelevant what anyone else wants.

my cunt is me, but it’s also beyond me,
ordained for a purpose beyond my control,
just like your cock is you, but it’s also beyond you,
ordained for a purpose beyond your control.
mostly we are blasphemous.

the obsession with looking into cunts, like the obsession with hard cocks,
is an ontological obsession with discovering and controlling our cosmic origins,
an expression of our raging, impossible desire for omnipotence.
and indeed pornographic images ARE redundant in that they hold no
physical power to alter the workings of sex
those closeups of fucking are nothing more than flat reproductions of
ten centimetres of Life’s copy machine  –
mostly they are over-man-ipulated and bear little resemblance to real
bodies interacting.
porn is the simulacral fantasy of ruling the universe.

I wrote this in 2009 as a comment on this piece:


the art of hannah wilke: ‘feminist narcissism’ and the reclamation of the erotic body

The politics of inclusion that shaped feminist discourse in the 1960s and 1970s spawned a legacy of body-based performance art, much of which was associated with women artists who used their own face as a subject of continual exploration. The self- imaging of women artists such as the provocative American artist Hannah Wilke was frequently attacked and dismissed by art critics as being indulgent exercises in narcissism that only served to reinforce the objectification of the female body. The charge of narcissism leveled on Wilke and her work may have been warranted, however, this should not be considered as a pejorative. Rather, the narcissism of Wilke can be viewed as a shrewd feminist tactic of self-objectification aimed at reclaiming the eroticized female body from the exclusive domain of male sexual desire. The ‘self-love’ of narcissism is a necessary component to this reclaiming of the body and the assertion of a female erotic will as being distinct from that of the male artist. Wilke wielded her narcissistic self-love as a powerful tool of critique, defiantly placing her own image into the hallowed halls of the male-dominated art institution.

The term “narcissism” derives from the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, a beautiful but arrogant youth who cruelly spurned the love of his admirers. For his cruelty, he was cursed by the goddess Nemesis and fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. The doomed Narcissus pined away for his unattainable lover – the image of his own self – and literally died as a result of his amorous longing.

Sigmund Freud bestowed the name of this mythic Greek youth upon his psychoanalytic theory of narcissism, a theory that describes normal personality development. According to Freud, the self-love of narcissism is a normal complement to the development of a healthy ego. Whereas a certain amount of narcissism is desirable, an excess of self-love is considered dysfunctional and indicative of pathology. This latter definition of narcissism, the one of pathological self-absorption, has cast our current understanding of narcissism in a negative light and reinforced the use of the term as a pejorative.

The psychoanalytic theories of Freud suggest that negative or pathological narcissism is a specifically female perversion. Art critic Amelia Jones writes that “[d]rawing loosely on Freud’s definitions – which connect narcissism to both a stage of development and to a form of homosexual neurosis – narcissism has come in everyday parlance to mean simply a kind of “self-love” epitomized through woman’s obsession with her own appearance.” Hence, the charges of narcissism leveled on Hannah Wilke were attempts by the critics to summarily dismiss her work as mere manifestations of a woman’s obsessive self-love and infer, according to Jones, that Wilke’s art was not “successfully feminist.”

Continue reading here

by margaret bertulli

I bleed
I bleed and I wonder
“Will this be the last time?”
I bleed, therefore I am
“What will it be like?
This cessation of menses?”
The unequivocal end of child-bearing.
And my womb, though childless,
Will it feel the end of possibility?
And then the unforeseen strength,
Promised by gender and age, will come.
The sureness, the wisdom,
The spirit to sing my songs.
I know this as all women before me have known.
We know this as we smile at the moon

`it is necessary for poetry to discard language´

Cabaret Voltaire, Zurich, 1916. Wearing a cardboard costume of blue, scarlet and gold, Hugo Ball is carried to the stage in darkness. As the lights go up, the audience of Swiss bourgeoisie, artists, intellectuals, and refugees from the carnage of WWI, is silent. Ball begins a priestly incantation: ‘gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri galassassa laulitalomini…’. The place to be, Spiegelgasse 1: simultaneous sound poems, noise music, ‘primitivist’ chants and drums, masked dancers, the absurd, the irrational, improvisation, chance, confrontation and cacophony. The lights dim. The audience responds with bewilderment and rage, and Ball disappears into the darkness. ‘It is necessary for poetry to discard language’, he writes,  ‘as painting has discarded the object’.

dada manifesto by hugo ball, zurich, july 14, 1916.

Dada is a new tendency in art. One can tell this from the fact that until now nobody knew anything about it, and tomorrow everyone in Zurich will be talking about it. Dada comes from the dictionary. It is terribly simple. In French it means “hobby horse”. In German it means “good-bye”, “Get off my back”, “Be seeing you sometime”. In Romanian: “Yes, indeed, you are right, that’s it. But of course, yes, definitely, right”. And so forth.

An International word. Just a word, and the word a movement. Very easy to understand. Quite terribly simple. To make of it an artistic tendency must mean that one is anticipating complications. Dada psychology, dada Germany cum indigestion and fog paroxysm, dada literature, dada bourgeoisie, and yourselves, honoured poets, who are always writing with words but never writing the word itself, who are always writing around the actual point. Dada world war without end, dada revolution without beginning, dada, you friends and also-poets, esteemed sirs, manufacturers, and evangelists. Dada Tzara, dada Huelsenbeck, dada m’dada, dada m’dada dada mhm, dada dera dada, dada Hue, dada Tza.

How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smacks of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanised, enervated? By saying dada. Dada is the world soul, dada is the pawnshop. Dada is the world’s best lily-milk soap. Dada Mr Rubiner, dada Mr Korrodi. Dada Mr Anastasius Lilienstein. In plain language: the hospitality of the Swiss is something to be profoundly appreciated. And in questions of aesthetics the key is quality.

I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it. Dada Johann Fuchsgang Goethe. Dada Stendhal. Dada Dalai Lama, Buddha, Bible, and Nietzsche. Dada m’dada. Dada mhm dada da. It’s a question of connections, and of loosening them up a bit to start with. I don’t want words that other people have invented. All the words are other people’s inventions. I want my own stuff, my own rhythm, and vowels and consonants too, matching the rhythm and all my own. If this pulsation is seven yards long, I want words for it that are seven yards long. Mr Schulz’s words are only two and a half centimetres long.

It will serve to show how articulated language comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat meows … Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn’t let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language, as if put there by stockbrokers’ hands, hands worn smooth by coins. I want the word where it ends and begins. Dada is the heart of words.

Each thing has its word, but the word has become a thing by itself. Why shouldn’t I find it? Why can’t a tree be called Pluplusch, and Pluplubasch when it has been raining? The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness, outside all the parrotry of your self-evident limitedness. The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance.

one morning by jamie heckert, 2006

One morning, not that long ago, I answered the door in my dressing gown
to the sight of a man from the energy company. He came to ask me why I had
chosen to switch suppliers. As I explained that I preferred one with a better
environmental policy, I slowly realised that not only did this guy have gorgeous
eyes, he was watching me closely. I went on to say, performing a bit for this
beautiful man, “Of course all corporations and really capitalism in general is bad
for the environment”. He agreed, his eyes glowing with excitement. But, what
could he do? He had a mortgage to pay. I’m not quite sure why, maybe I was
scared of the intensity of my attraction, but suddenly I found myself channeling
some broken record of anarchist propaganda and said, “We need resistance on
the inside, too.” That was it. His beautiful eyes looked away and the connection
was lost.
I feel grief remembering that morning; I would have liked to have listened
with empathy to both his desire for change and for security, to maintained that
beautiful sense of connection. Instead, I tried to recruit him. When I replay the
incident in my mind, it has a different ending. I ask him, “What would you like
to do?”