Dóra Maurer: Proportions & Timing

Paper and Textile as Tools for Re-Measuring the Female Body

In: KronoScope
Carla Gabrí Department of Film Studies, University of Zürich Zürich Switzerland

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This paper aims at re-evaluating two of Hungarian artist Dóra Mauer’s films, the video work Proportions (1979) and the 16mm film Timing (1973/80). Both films follow a rigid structure. In Proportions, Maurer uses a paper roll to compare her own body measures repeatedly; in Timing, she repeatedly folds a white linen to compare the rhythm of her arm movements. Through her use of paper and the gesture of folding, the two films can be read as references to the very origin of the term format, as coined in early letterpress printing. When the notion of format is understood as a determination of a ratio and, as such, as an indexical reference to given social relationships (Summers, 2003), these films unfold sociocultural and political meanings. The present paper traces this spectrum of meaning through the pointed inclusion of historical discourses surrounding early motion studies, the art scene in socialist Hungary in the 1970s, and early time experiments before the advent of precision clocks.

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