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The Cinematic Bodies of Eastern Europe and RussiaBetween Pain and Pleasure$
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Ewa Mazierska, Matilda Mroz, and Elzbieta Ostrowska

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474405140

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474405140.001.0001

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The ‘Chemistry’ of Art(ifice) and Life: Embodied Paintings in East European Cinema

The ‘Chemistry’ of Art(ifice) and Life: Embodied Paintings in East European Cinema

(p.239) Chapter 12 The ‘Chemistry’ of Art(ifice) and Life: Embodied Paintings in East European Cinema
The Cinematic Bodies of Eastern Europe and Russia

Ágnes Pethő

Edinburgh University Press

The essay focuses on the manifold uses and re-conceptualization of the tableau vivant in recent East European cinema through several examples from Hungarian and Russian films directed by György Pálfi, Kornél Mundruczó, Benedek Fliegauf, Béla Tarr, and Andrei Zvyagintsev. The tableau vivant in these films is not conceived primarily as an embodiment of a painting, the introduction of ‘the real into the image’ (Brigitte Peucker), but it appears more like the objectification of bodies as images, and something that we can associate with what Mario Perniola considers the ‘sex appeal of the inorganic’. The author discusses the case of the paradoxical ‘cadaverous’ tableaux vivants (among them the recurring cinematic paraphrases of Mantegna’s Dead Christ), in which a live body is displayed as a corpse, or the other way round, a corpse is presented as an embodied picture, or an object of art made of flesh. By repeatedly showing us bodies dying into art, and ideas reified as images, these films present us with uncanny rituals of ‘becoming an image’, with a yearning for a reintegration into something universal and lasting, and can be viewed in the context of the reconstructive tendencies of contemporary post-postmodern art.

Keywords:   tableau vivant, embodied picture, paraphrases of Mantegna’s Dead Christ, György Pálfi, Andrei Zvyagintsev

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