PRINT January 2016

Amy Taubin

Chantal Akerman, Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town), 1968, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 13 minutes. Chantal Akerman.

CHANTAL AKERMAN’S astonishing body of work begins and ends with explosions—deafening but unseen. In Saute ma ville (Blow Up My Town), the 1968 short film of which she was director and star, she concludes a manic series of household chores by turning on the gas, lighting a match, and blowing herself up along with her apartment—and, if you take the title literally, Brussels, where she was born and where she lived with her parents at the time. We see a freeze frame of a mirror reflection of eighteen-year-old Akerman, her head bent over the stove, waiting, as we wait, for the inevitable. The image goes black, followed seconds later by a series of booms, each louder than the one before. When the explosions stop, we hear Akerman humming the tune she had sung to herself during her absurdly energetic domestic routine, followed by her voice reciting the movie’s credits. Is the

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