[IFFR 2015] Salomé, Vanity Fables, and Beauty in Found Footage

by Anne Schumacher

IFFR 2015’s Vanity Fables program includes different reflections on the infallible beauty of the past. Beauty icons, vanity tables, sex idols – all five pieces of the program deal with the perfection of beauty in their own way. After several video essays and shorts, Abigail Child’s Salomé (2014) builds the climax of the program. It not only mirrors the topic of beauty, but it also beautifully presents footage. A part of Child’s Foreign Films series (which includes works combining poetry and found footage) Salomé combines several old film versions of an eponymous mythical character who stands for idealised beauty, female cruelty and sheer eroticism. Child collaborated with musician Frank London and poet Adeena Karasick to create this mythical sample.

A still from Abigail Childs' Salomé

A still from Abigail Childs’ Salomé

Salomé – the mythical character as well as the film – is Beauty itself. It does not merely show our film heritage’s treasures, but combines them so as to connect past and present, opening a new, far away mythical world. London’s music especially helps to convert a poetical sample of footage into a lyrical piece of beauty and perfection. As a viewer, it was a pleasure to watch Child’s Salomé at the IFFR’s Lantaren Venster – a 20-minute dream sequence of a fantastic found footage work.

Abigail Child is not the only one to impress with her work. The IFFR programmers of the Vanity Fables section did an equally convincing job, and the art-house movie theatre Lantaren Venster, with its modern architecture, offered the perfect place for this program. The combination of the five Vanity Fables pieces, among which were several video essays, seemed a pleasurable constellation. Each piece offers its own point of view, its unique approach and its own idea of beauty. They all treat footage in their own way and therefore form a visually striking contribution to IFFR’s Signals: Regained program. The Q&A after the program Abigail Child took part in, was an informative close-up of the individual works and was very well presented by the programmers.

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