BOOK: THE MÈRE FOLLE PROJECT
Although we have not yet begun to undertake this, we aim to write a book, with photographs, anecdotes, and theoretical reflections, on what happened when we did this project. This book can contain thoughts about justice, madness, sanity, filmmaking, interpretation, representation, and other issues that came up along the way. One of these, for example, addresses the status of images.
There was a series of images that came out of reading. This 'coming out of reading' happened twice over. First, an author wrote a book in which she described images that came out of her own readings. Second, we read that book, and images'the same ones' different ones''came out of reading of her readings. Except for the cover image, a detail from Pieter Breughel the Elder's painting Dulle Griet (Mad Meg, 1562), representing women driven mad by war, there were no images in the material sense involved in the book. Yet, these written images were so strong that, after seeing them with our minds' eyes, we had to make them, as 'inter- or after-images' that were interpretants of the images evoked but not presented ' even though technically, the book was a theoretical treatise.
Objects, hence, also images, are active participants in the performance of analysis in that they enable reflection and speculation; they can contradict projections and wrong-headed interpretations (if the analyst lets them!), and thus constitute a theoretical object with philosophical relevance, whether materially embodied or not. Hence, reflecting 'from within', as maker, on how these processes work is an activity steeped in a larger cultural context.
Filmmaking is never something one does alone. For Mère folle, we had, for example, actors, both volunteers and professionals; help with script, camera, sound, translation; people who made a website. But most importantly, we made this film together. We have been collaborating since 2003, the beginning of Mieke's filmmaking, when Michelle was already a practicing (video) artist. Deciding together which images were most loyal to our respective interpretants was the most intense 'inter-ship'.
Second, there is another intense partnership involved, which bears on the status and the nature of the images. The film is a 'translation' of Françoise's book, in close collaboration with the author. The images she 'saw,' or had in mind, when she wrote her book are inevitably very different from the ones that ended up in the film. There are several layers of interpretation and imagination between the one and the other. This is compounded by the fact that the author plays herself; but only after the images have circulated, and we have transformed them, did they come back to the author, from the outside so to speak, who, playing her role, transformed them again. This is why the film images can only be 'inter-images,' with several temporal and visual layers separating the 'original' from the images in the film.
This is in line with a specific conception of the fundamental inter-temporality of images. Even a material painting has once existed in the artist's mind, and then came off on canvas much different. And that material painting subsequently keeps changing in each act of viewing projected upon it, with time, place, and social circumstance of its subsequent 'life' as a work of art. An image, in this sense, will always be in the process of 'becoming.'