Maya Deren


October 20, 2021

Maya Deren, pseudonym of Eleonora Derenkowsky (Kiev, Ukraine, April 29, 1917 - New York, October 13, 1961) was one of the leading filmmakers of American experimental cinema in the 1940s. films are inspired by surrealism and psychoanalysis. His work has an important theoretical background, which he developed in various essay texts, including An Anagram of Ideas on Art, Form, and Film (1946). Deren was also a choreographer, dancer, poet, and photographer, and spent a long period of her life studying voodoo rituals in Haiti. He created continuous movement through physical space and time, with the ability to turn his vision into a current of consciousness, mainly with works such as Meshes of the afternoon (1943), Portrait of Carol Janeway (1943), At Land (1944), A study in Coreography for Camera (1945), The Very Eye of Night (1948) or Mediation on Violence (1952-1959).


Born in 1917 in the city of Kiev, Ukraine, Eleonora Derenkowsky arrived in the United States in 1922 with her father, a psychiatrist, and her mother, an artist, who fled after a series of pogroms. anti-Semites and for his father's sympathies for Lev Trotsky. They arrived in Syracuse, New York. The father shortened the family name to Deren shortly after arriving in the city. He joined the body of psychiatrists at the State Institute for the Feeble-Minded in Syracuse. Her mother moved to Paris to stay with her other daughter, while Maya attended the League of Nations School in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1930 to 1933. In 1928 she became a citizen of the United States. he began his studies in Journalism and Political Science at the University of Syracuse, where he joined the Trotskyist Young People's Socialist League. Through the League of Young Socialists he met Gregory Bardacke, whom he would marry at the age of 18 years. After graduating in 1935 he moved to New York City. She and her husband became protagonists of various social causes in the city. Deren graduated from New York University and later separated from Gregory in 1939. He began a master's degree in English literature at the New School for Social Research and completed it at Smith College. After graduating he returned to "New York's Greenwich Village" where he worked as a freelancer. In 1941 she became the personal secretary of the choreographer Katherine Dunham, at the end of the tour the dance company stopped in Hollywood. This was where Deren met Alexander Hackenschmied, a well-known Czech photographer and cameraman, who would become her second husband in 1942. Hackenschmid flew to Czechoslovakia after Hitler's advance. He changed his name, at Deren's request, to Alexander Hammid (pseudonym Sasha) because Deren thought Hackenschmid sounded very Jewish, and he wasn't. Two years later, in 1943, Deren directed his first film with Alexander Hammid: Meshes of the Afternoon. He decided to change his name to "Maya", as for Buddhists it means "illusion". In Greek mythology, she translated as "messenger of the gods." She wrote Theory of Cinema and distributed her films, traveling through the United States, Cuba, and Canada. He used the lecture-demonstration format to present his ideas about cinema and relied on voodoo, the interrelationship of magic, science, and religion, as he well showed in his shorts. He married Teiji Ito in 1960, until his death on October 13, 1961 in New York.

Professional career

She was a writer of prose, poetry and political essays, and a passionate about dance and photography; but above all, it was a filmmaker ("amateur", as she liked to say, in the sense of "lover") who had a way

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