Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Gil Wolman

L'Anticoncept

60 minutes of absolutely the most hard ass minimal film you’re likely to see, projected onto a weather balloon and accompanied by the inspired poetic rant of a visionary Frenchman. 

 

Wolman was a poet, communist, agent provocateur in 50’s and 60’s France and original member of Isidore Isou’s Lettrisme movement, from which he broke in the 60’s en route to joining the Situationsists and Guy Debord (in case you don’t know about these movements, they’re two of the principle, radical underground art movements of 20th Century Europe, kinda like the people’s popular front of Dada). Along with one of our favorite sound poets Francois Dufrene, Wolman founded The Megapneumes, a super aggressive moment in the birthing of experimental sound poetry. As Henri Chopin wrote, “Historically Wolman was our source, since he overpassed the phonetic poem made of letters.” And Dufrene, “Since the early 1950s Wolman and I were always together in the same fights. Wolman is the poet of the breath, the breath that he opposed to the letter of Isou, and whose influence was decisive for the evolution of the ultra-lettrism? It's the breath that creates the poem: rhythm and scream, the scream until now inexpressed in poetry; scream of joy, of love, of anguish, of horror, of hate, but scream.”

 

Premiered on 11th February 1952, and immediately banned (the specific impetus for this ban is quite hard to pin down, although we warrant you can aver a guess as to it’s nature about 10 mins into this screening), the first experimental film by Gil J. Wolman titled L'Anticoncept, was divided into two sections: a non-narrative soundtrack, some kind of interior monologue including physiological noises, and a visual part built on the irregular alternation of black and white circles screened on a metereological balloon. A 'music of light' wetting the scene and producing a physical movement in the audience. Wolman wrote, “As the Megapneume units created a new sonority, this disintegration represents the transitory period and the beginning of a new amplification of the arts.”

 

Wolman was a truly radical figure in post-war France, who extended a personal exploration into creative expression that went way beyond established commercial, or even avant-garde forms of the time.  L’Anticoncept refutes narrative, image, traditional projection and the status quo in 60 minutes of angry exhalation, and re-imagines film as a political, abstract artform created not from some poetic muse or attempt at representation, but built up of distinct units and intervals: the human breath, the filmic pulse, difference and repetition. Courtesy of the collection of Centre Pompidou, Paris 

  • L'Anticoncept Edit (with subtitles)

    Credits / license
    • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

  • Benedict Drew Bursts the L'Anticoncept Balloon after the Screening