THE SCREEN OF THE SKY: POLIA AND BLASTEMA, DIN OF CELESTIAL BIRDS & BEGOTTEN
26 March 2023 - 18h30
In 1989, filmmaker E. Elias Merhige made Begotten, a sui generis epic revered by connoisseurs of both avant-garde and genre cinema. Described by Susan Sontag as “one of the ten most important films of modern times”, it plunges spectators into a surrealistic and sometimes horrific world of profane and sacred ritual. Shot on reversal 16mm black and white film and elaborately processed using homemade optical printers, it embraces the material aspect of celluloid film: grain, contrast, and physical degradation.
While Begotten led to both music videos and mainstream feature films (Shadow of the Vampire, Suspect Zero), Merhige returned to his experimental roots with Din of Celestial Birds, a cosmic continuation of Begotten, this time using a combination of analogue and digital filmmaking techniques.
With Polia and Blastema, Merhige completes his epic trinity. In the psychedelic tradition of 2001 – A Space Odyssey and Altered States, he draws on sci-fi and opera to create a wordless creation myth, full of desolate hellscapes, materials both organic and inorganic, as well as primal scenes of a universe coming into being. Featuring the visual imagination of David Wexler, mastermind behind the live performances of Flying Lotus, The Weeknd, and The Glitch Mob, as well as music by visual artist and composer Gavin Gamboa, Polia and Blastema is an audio-visual tour de force like no other.
For the first time, Offscreen presents these ground-breaking works as three stages of a cosmic trip. Adapted for the 360-degree format, spectators will be able to experience this galaxy of dramas under one of the largest dome screens in Europe: Brussels Planetarium.