PRINT April 1996


The acquisition of life is by the process of animation itself.
The Brothers Quay, 1986

THE ANIMATED PUPPET WORLDS of the Brothers Quay have entranced art cinephiles since 1979. Seemingly made by miniature shadow-fairies rather than the actual tall humans the Quays are, their films—Nocturna Artificialia, 1979, The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, 1984, Street of Crocodiles, 1986, Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies, 1987—and music videos, including the award-winning “Sledgehammer” for Peter Gabriel, take us eyeball and eardrum through fantastically handcrafted architecturally impossible visions of lost modernity. Deeply intellectual, their work is suffused with moodiness, patterned after the writers who inspire them: Franz Kafka, Bruno Schultz, and the Swiss novelist Robert Walser, whose Jakob von Gunten, 1908, served as the armature for their first live-action and full-length feature film, Institute Benjamenta, which premiered at New York’s Film Forum in March.

Institute Benjamenta—

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