This essay traces the theorization of interwar animation through period analogies with painting and dance, paying special attention to the valorization of concepts such as dematerialization and embodiment, which metaphors of visual music and physical kinesthesis were used to promote. Beginning in 1919, and exemplified by her feature-length film Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (1926), Lotte Reiniger directed numerous silhouette films animated in an ornate style that embraced decorative materiality. This aesthetic set her in uneasy relation to the avant-garde, whose strenuous attempts to distance abstraction from ornament took the form of absolute film, and were screened together at the Absolute film Matinee of 1925. However, their claims for aesthetic integrity were staked on territory these artists largely had in common. By adopting a feminist approach that examines networks of collaboration, publication, and artistic production in Weimar Berlin, this essay reveals Reiniger as an early proponent of haptic cinema in interwar Europe and one of animation's earliest and most perceptive theorists.
Visual Music and Kinetic Ornaments: Lotte Reiniger and the Animation Avant-Garde in Weimar Berlin
Katherine Rochester is the director of curatorial research at VIA Art Fund and a specialist in German modernism, contemporary art, and film. She has held fellowships at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and at the Getty Research Institute, and her scholarship has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). She is the editor, with Lou Cantor, of Intersubjectivity Volume II: Scripting the Human (Sternberg Press, 2018). She holds a BA from Grinnell College and an MA and PhD from Bryn Mawr College.
- Views Icon Views
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Katherine Rochester; Visual Music and Kinetic Ornaments: Lotte Reiniger and the Animation Avant-Garde in Weimar Berlin. Feminist Media Histories 1 January 2021; 7 (1): 115–146. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2021.7.1.115
Download citation file: