|July 15–August 15, 2023|
|Before Law is pleased to present Second Natures, an online film program and text by Another Gaze from July 15–August 15, 2023.
Conceived by artists Sharlene Bamboat and Alexis Kyle Mitchell, Before Law is a research site for practitioners invested in interspecies relations and the legal frameworks that seek to organize, discipline, and control them.
In Second Natures, guest programmers Another Gaze bring together two films by Czech writer-director duo Pavel Juráček and Jan Schmidt, to explore the doubled nature of the on-screen animal.
The program includes their short film Joseph Kilián (Postava k podpírání, 1963), which follows a man in his attempts to return a cat he obtained from a cat rental company. When the company’s storefront mysteriously disappears, what ensues is a kafkaesque, bureaucratic nightmare with the officials who misdirect, berate, and bully the hapless protagonist as he carries the cat from one institution to the next. Throughout the film, the cat is witness to a fundamentally human farce; no longer companion nor commodity, but the innocent and alien observer of a system that has long since exceeded itself.
Something similar is at play in the program’s second film, the 1967 feature Late August at the Hotel Ozone (Konec srpna v Hotelu Ozone), a post-apocalyptic drama about a band of semi-feral young women who wander a desolate landscape bereft of other humans. They are led by an older, wiser woman with dreams of recovering something of the lost world that stands at odds with the younger, brutish and more violent in the group. We see the cruel exploits of these followers as they kill a snake and, a stray dog, dynamite fish from a river, and rip apart a cow with their knives. In the absurdity of these violent acts, and perhaps more so by the evident pleasure taken in committing them, rises the impossibility of founding the old world anew.
The central role of animals in both films intensifies an estrangement from what we see. The animals are never acting. They are distant and distancing. As Jonathan Burt writes, “the animal image is a form of rupture in the field of representation”—one that also ruptures our reading of what is happening on-screen.
Another Gaze (Missouri Williams & Daniella Shreir) was founded in 2016 to provide a nuanced forum for discussion about women as filmmakers, filmic subjects, and spectators.
Before Law is a web project by artist-duo Bamboat | Mitchell exploring the interconnectedness of beings and the legal frameworks that seek to organize, discipline, and control them.
Second Natures is co-presented by Images Festival; and supported by The Canada Council for the Arts.