Posted by: Sally Ingraham | April 29, 2009

On a Phantom Limb

AndrewsLast night – a rare Tuesday night free from the theatre – I attended the Maine premier of Nancy Andrews’ new film, On a Phantom Limb. Andrews is a faculty member at College of the Atlantic here in Bar Harbor, where she teaches video and performance arts. She’s been making films for over 20 years, and she recently received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

That’s about all I knew about her, and so with my boyfriend in tow, I arrived at the Gates Center on the COA campus and took a seat among students and other members of the community, ready for anything.

The evening began with some lovely improvisational saxophone music played by John Cooper – another faculty member and local composer – which was followed by a live performance piece by Laure Drogoul. Using black lights and a green light of some type to cast crazy shadows on the wall, she sang Ground Control to Major Tom and created a rather other-worldly atmosphere.

Afterward a Bugs Bunny cartoon made everyone giggle, and then Drogoul returned with another piece, the music of which I wasn’t familiar with, that involved her wrapping her head up like a mummy. Interesting stuff…!

Finally Andrews’ film was shown. Combining live action, drawings, and animation in a collage-like effect, she wove a dark tale about a woman who undergoes serious surgery which saves her life, but transforms her into a half bird, half human – a bird-woman. Perhaps a statement about the so called wonders of science there – granting the gift of life but at what cost? There were allusions to Frankenstein and Poe, cyborgs were mentioned and telekinetics was attempted.

The film was very abstract, with a fine balance between nightmarish and humorous. I liked the animated sequences, and the sped up drawings. I’m always fascinated by the creativity of people, and the different ways they tell their stories. I wouldn’t say that I wholly understood what Andrews was saying, but I certainly enjoyed the experience of trying to work it out.

Makes me want to pull out my little video camera again and play with moving images. I’m sure Andrews, being a teacher, would be pleased to hear that. 🙂

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