𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐂𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐃𝐞𝐦𝐨𝐧𝐬

Ivy Ma (HK), Aifric Prior Beliere (IE) and Alona Rodeh (IL)

curated by Stanislaw Welbel (PL)

 9 September – 8 October, 2022

The exhibition title is inspired by a lost silent film directed by Georges Méliès at the end of 19th Century. It was not only one of the first horror movies but also a production which featured novel at that time cinematographic techniques, such as multiple exposure for the first time in the history. The short movie is only known to contemporary film scholars from descriptions and catalogues. It was realized in the fashion of a so -called trick film – a popular genre in the early days of cinema. These short films were sporting innovative special effects, which enabled the creation of early sci-fi, fantasy, ghost, and horror stories. The original title of the movie (French: La Caverne Maudite) could also be translated as the cursed cave. Version with the word “demons” is more open for interpretation as historically demons did not always had negative, diabolic connotations. In Ancient Greek Daimons were supernatural entities, powerful beings – operating between the worlds and realities, the word comes from the root which stand for dividing.

The cave – the gallery space is split in two: dark and bright, loud and silent. In the first room one can watch short animations by Alona Rodeh. These short films depict supernatural events which occur in quite mundane circumstances. Produced in CGI, without the use of an actual film camera clips are strangely realistic. The technique enables it to depict impossible actions in which animated objects activate and move by themselves in an uncanny way. The cinematic experience of desolated city night is altered by a soundtrack synchronized with the film, creating an impression of a music video, in which objects are acting by themselves, performing with no humans in the sight.

Works by Ivy Ma in the other room, are juxtaposed on several levels with Alona’s videos. Three pieces took as their starting points, three different classical movies:  Diamonds of the Night, dir. Jan Němec, 1964, Czechoslovakia, An Angel at My Table, dir. Jane Campion, 1990, New Zeleand and Early Summer, dir. Yasujirō Ozu, 1951, Japan. Ivy chose fragments of movies and remade them into her pieces. They all show either people or fragments of bodies, are silent, almost monochromatic and humble. On the other hand fragments of movies she selected and based her work on are almost films within the films, like a dream within a dream. They are uncanny, dark or melancholic, symbolic, depicting tensions or harmony between the realities – life and death, youth and old age, present and the past, memory and action, sadness and joy.

The cave from the title refers not only to the character of the space, in the basement of the Cinema ARTA, but also reminds the Allegory of the Cave or Plato’s Cave. In which the people in the cave observe reality as the shadow-play on the wall. I like to think about it also as about a prefiguration of the cinema.

Another element in the Cave of the Demons, is the sound piece by Aifric Prior Beliere. It could be understood as a soundtrack for the entire exhibition. Fragments, pieces, chunks and particles are common denominators for the works within the show. The soundscape created by Aifric is made out of bits and pieces of music, field recordings, found footage, conversations and compositions. It is placed so that the visitors can listen to it either before entering or after they have seen the visual part of the exhibition. The logic of its structure is to prepare or to sum up the experience, it is also assumed that not all the visitors would listen the whole loop of the sound piece. In this way actually, several people would have different experience of the show, inducted by the different sound fragments.  The shattered experience of the sound piece touches on another important aspect of the show, suggested by reference to the lost horror movie – loss and longing. The desolated, night city landscapes depicted in Alona’s animations, the film scenes – studied, deconstructed and painted in Ivy’s work are both in the same time sullen and charming. They focus on tiny bits, scraps of a bigger picture, which even if beautiful evokes melancholy, such as in the scene from the Early Summer, when the older couple who sees a free flying balloon in the sunny sky immediately associate it with loss and grief. 

Maybe one day, in a flea market somewhere, or in some film archive in a wrongly labeled can, someone will find the 20 meters of celluloid tape with La Caverne Maudite by Méliès. Until then we have to imagine it and knowing it is a horror we would envision it as dark and scary as we can handle and as funny and playful as trick films usually are and as much as we can invent.  

The exhibition will be accompanied by a screening of Diamonds of the Night at the Cinema ARTA. The movie is based on a partially autobiographical novel Darkness Casts No Shadow by Arnošt Lustig. The film is very dark, bleak, visually striking and suspenseful.  It depicts a story of two boys who escaped a train to concentration camp and are chased by Germans. It is a black and white, new wave, experimental film which blurs different visions, time lines, and realities. Often depicting seemingly same scenes but with variations and different endings.

The exhibition is part of the project 𝘊𝘰𝘭𝘭𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭 𝘌𝘯𝘥𝘦𝘢𝘷𝘰𝘳𝘴, carried out by Lateral ArtSpace in 2022. Cultural project co-financed by the National Cultural Fund Administration. The project does not necessarily represent the position of the National Cultural Fund Administration. AFCN is not responsible for the content of the project or how the project results can be used. These are entirely the responsibility of the beneficiary of the funding.