Witch’s Cradle Outtakes

Maya Deren

USA, 1943
10 minutes, B&W, silent
Available formats: 16mm / DVD / Digibeta tape / SD Digital file

MAYA DEREN made Witchs Cradle in 1943 but never released it. It was photographed in an environment based on Marcel Duchamps string work for the New York Surrealistic exhibition of 1942.. Since no copy of Witchs Cradle as yet turned up, this assemblage of Derens outtakes , including a very brief image of Duchamp himself, constitutes what little we presently know of this complex film which seems to have assimilated Duchamps string gesture to Derens interest in witchcraft – Anthology Film Archives.
My films might be called poetic referring to the attitude towards these meanings. If philosophy is concerned with understanding the meaning of reality, then poetry – and art in general – is a celebration, a singing of values and meanings. I refer also to the structure of the films – a logic of ideas and qualities, rather than of causes and events.
My films might be called choreographic, referring to the design and stylisation of movement which confers ritual dimension upon functional motion – just as simple speech is made into song when affirmation of intensification on a higher level is intended. My films might be called experimental, referring to the use of the medium itself. In these films, the camera is not an observant, recording eye in the customary fashion. The full dynamics and expressive potentials of the total medium are ardently dedicated to creating the most accurate metaphor for the meaning.
In setting out to communicate principles, rather than to relay particulars,and in creating a metaphor which is true to the idea rather than the history of experience of any one of several individuals, I am addressing myself not to any particular group but to a special area and definite faculty in every or any man – to that part of him which creates myths, invents divinities and ponders, for no particular purpose whatsoever, on the nature of things.
[…] I am content if, on those rare occasions whose truth can be stated only in poetry, you will perhaps recall an image, even only the aura of my films. And what more could I possibly ask, as an artist, than that your most precious visions, however rare, assume, sometimes, the forms of my images. – MAYA DEREN , from A Statement of Principles.