Edge of Alchemy

2017 ⋅ 19:00 ⋅35mm to 4K ⋅ (excerpt)

Mary Pickford and Janet Gaynor, seamlessly appropriated from their early silent films, are cast into a surreal epic with an upending of the Frankenstein story and a contemporary undercurrent of hive collapse. In this handmade film, Stacey Steers selects sequences from early cinematic sources, prints the frames and re-contextualizes the action, allowing the ‘story’ assembled from appropriated images to evolve over time. She inserts her actors into newly imagined collage environments, built by hand from fragments of 19thcentury engravings and illustrations. Edge of Alchemy is the third film in a trilogy examining women’s inner worlds. Music by the Polish composer Lech Jankowski (Brothers Quay).

Steers’ labor-intensive project took five years to complete. The construction process is intuitive and organic: she Edge of Alchemy was completed with generous support from the Creative Capital Foundation and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation.

Edge of Alchemy is the epitome of Stacey Steers’ unique vision of collaged re-examination animations, an uncanny way to carry on in the great tradition of surrealist cinema. Max Ernst would refer to Lautréamont’s sewing machine and umbrella to define the structure of the surrealist painting as ‘a linking of two realities that by all appearances have nothing to link them, in a setting that by all appearances does not fit them.’ I would add, making it all feel so seamlessly inevitable and inexplicably right…the ‘feeling of form,’ as Suzanne K. Langer might have put it…” (Phil Solomon)