Black Sea

Short film

Updated 2 years ago
  • Medium

    Short film, colour, sound, 11’37”

For this work, the port city of Odessa on the Black Sea acted as a point of enquiry. I spent a period of time researching the rich synthesis of historical events and narratives that surround the sea and the city.

This film brings together 3 narrative spaces: The limestone mining network below the city of Odessa, which emerged in the late 19th century when the city rapidly grew into a Cosmopolitan city; the anoxic water of the Black Sea, where archeological artefacts are pristinely preserved because of the lack of oxygen; and the virtual space inside a spiral shell where a man and a woman are having a conversation.

The resulting work acts as an exploration of the transitional state between personal drives and appropriated behavioural patterns, creating a friction between time and events, both real and supposed. The work was created as part of the Chadwell Studio Award 2012-13, a year-long studio residency with Acme Studios, London.

The screening was accompanied by a text, written during my stay in Odessa.

A 5 min excerpt of the film:

The beginning.
A narration or a song.
When Law was one man in the village and imagination was not yet a word. 

The authority of a rock, the tyranny of the body. 

A certain density of material or an intensity of movement becomes a quality to be distinguished, an action to be judged.
Each moment encapsulated by an intimate eeriness, which evaporates as soon as it receives its name. 

The authority of the body of the Tyrant.

If she is a city, people will inhabit her.
Just like the absent presence of their touch, the site of this pain is ambiguous: her hands and lips are not the first to absorb the shock, it is the role of her eyes, her mind, a wanted version of herself.
Through various openings she is inundated by neural suggestions, travelling along meridians, establishing a cellular mirror-image within her body. 
Communicating surfaces, almost touching.
This mass of intimacy is no longer hers. 

Divide and rule, the democratic tyranny of the online body. 

If she is the body of land surrounding the Black Sea, where is her heart?
She needs more mass to fill the space. Her skin and flesh are separated in an uneven stretch.
She is the dark water. Her anoxic womb gives birth to pristine objects.
Frozen human gestures.
Time so dense that it sinks to the bottom of the sea.

About & CV

Maaike Anne Stevens is a visual artist based in Amsterdam and London. She works with text, image, installation and film. Her work has been shown at exhibitions and screenings worldwide, including at the Jerwood Space London (UK), the Austrian Filmmuseum (Vienna), Visions du Réel, Nyon (CH), IFFR Rotterdam (NL), The Art Gallery of Alberta (CA), and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Santiago (CL). Her work is part of the Victoria & Albert Museum permanent collection. Maaike is a graduate of Central St.Martins College of Art and Design (BA Fine Arts, 2008) and Goldsmiths College (MFA Fine Arts, 2012).



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About my work

I work with text, image, installation and film. A new work often starts with something small (linguistic) that grabs my attention: a sentence from a book, an image from the internet, a medical term. These words and images become part of a schematic approach in which encounters are organised between conflicting elements. This may be in the form of clashing materials, contradicting concepts, or by going through a process that gradually starts to undermine its origins. Through this process I want to focus attention on how language, established patterns of behaviour and social choreographies obscure a chaotic world of emotions and feelings, which at the same time define much of our lives. I am interested in the space and freedom generated by these collisions, which arise when there is a certain repetition, or shift in scale, or when the intimate is brought into contact with the public. They constitute a search for an alternative to the rational, dualistic world of Enlightenment thinking that colours so much of our Western world.

If you would like to know more about one of my pieces, or about my work in general, please don’t hesitate and get in touch.