Media Arts Program

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Co-sponsored/co-presented by:
The National Endowment for The Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for The Visual Arts

Zoe Beloff

Charming Augustine

Presented at:

screening at 8 pm
installation on view 1-4 PM and immediately before the film presentation

Charming Augustine by Zoe Beloff

Zoe Beloff returns to Hallwalls to present her latest film Charming Augustine, preceded by two short films that influenced her thinking on the film. Also on view will be Zoe Beloff's and Eric Muzzy's 3D slide/audio installation Silo Dreams.

Charming Augustine is an experimental narrative based on the case of a young patient, Augustine. The film is inspired by series of photographs and texts on hysteria published by the great insane asylum in Paris in the 1880s under the title of the Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière. The film explores connections between attempts to document the subject's mental states and the prehistory of narrative film. The role of the motion studies by Marey and Muybridge in the birth of cinema is well known. However while they attempted to study the mechanics of the body, the doctors at the Salpêtrière, working with similar cameras, aimed to unlock the secrets of their patients' minds. Charming Augustine shows how patients like Augustine supplied the psychic drive that would come to flower in the works of D.W. Griffith.

Silo Dreams
3-D Slide/audio installation by Zoe Beloff and Eric Muzzy

The project was inspired by a quote from the German architect Eric Mendelsohn written after his visit to Buffalo grain elevators in 1924, "I took photographs like mad. Everything else so far now seemed to have been shaped interim to my silo dreams. Everything else was merely a beginning." Only now we view them as through the wrong end of a telescope, great Roschard blots conjuring the ruins of industry, utopian modernism, wreckage piled upon wreckage at the end of the 20th century.

Artist's statement:
"Two portraits of women suffering from hysteria that very much influenced my thinking about Charming Augustine. One is purportedly fact and the other one fiction yet I believe these distinctions are not as clear cut as they might appear at first sight. The films open up questions about what we believe cinema can reveal about the unconscious."

directed by Doctor Cornelius C. Wholey
14 minutes B/W Silent 1923

Made by a psychoanalyst in Pittsburgh, the film attempts to show his patient performing her various personalities and at the same time demonstrate that her performance was unconscious and unprovoked. Here is the doctor's own introduction:

Screen presentation
"Characters" or Dissociated States, Appearing in a Case of Multiple Personality
Susie: The most fully developed secondary personality
Jack: A male member of the multiple personality group
Mrs. X : (Apparently) the primary, or original personality
"The Baby": Mrs. X in regression to the mental age of one year.

directed by D. W. Griffith
10 minutes B/W silent 1912

In this film Blanche Sweet gives the most beautiful and moving portrayal of a women descending into delirium that I have ever seen in cinema. The scenes where she speaks to people only she can see are remarkably close to descriptions of hysterical patients of that era.

For more information about Zoe and her work, please visit

Some publications related to this event:
April, 2006 - 2006