Search PennSound

Abigail Child


(12 min, sound, color.)

In collaboration with Gary Sullivan and Mehboob Khan's AAN

A reshaping of Mehboob Khan's classic Bollywood feature AAN into a comic and disturbing study of class and sexuality. Formal play and poetic subtitles deconstruct the narrative to locate the sub-version: the princess becomes the maid, the maid becomes queen. MIRROR WORLD wrenches narrative causality, and discovers with digital printing, ways to wreck havoc on our perceptions of the world. Hypnotic and beautiful: you cannot turn away.

Conceived, directed and edited by Abigail Child 2006

PREMIERE: NY Film Festival 2006, October. EUROPEAN PREMIERE: Rotterdam Festival, January 2007. Other Showings: Ann Arbor Film Festival 07; Agassiz House, Radcliffe Institute; Black Maria Film Festival-Directors Citation; "Feminisms: Film, Video, Politics" Conference at U. of Harford; Harvard University Film Archive Retrospective (Fall 07); UCLA Poetry and Film Conference (07). Hong Kong Film Festival.


Perils (1986) Part IV of the series Is This What You Were Born For?

Film. (16 mm, b/w, sound, 5 min.)

Mayhem (1987) Part VI of this series Is This What You Were Born For?

Film. (16 mm, b/w, sound, 20 min.)

Mercy (1989) Part VII of the series Is This What You Were Born For?

Film. (l6mm, color, sound, 10 min.)

"Abigail Child's series IS THIS WHAT YOU WERE BORN FOR? is one of the most assured and important projects to have emerged over the last decade. Constructing from and subverting a wide galaxy of source materials, these films are archeological digs into the very stuff, the conceptions, we are born into. Child decomposes the materials and gestures that would compose us. The films are charged with a startling and playful musicality and poetic and rigorous compression. Each image and sound cuts deep and works over time containing hidden and unhidden detonations working against the manufactured ambush that images have in store. Agile dances through treacherous debris, they negotiate an obstacle course of polar anatomies zig-zagging with corkscrew twists and nuclear splits -- a gambol against the hazards.

Detournments, deviations, disruptions, allures. Can aggression be sumptuous? These films are volatile and they have bite. Here the subliminal cannot caress, it comes out with its hands up, the smile wiped from its face. The accelerated velocity of these films doesn't create an alternate camouflage. At this speed viewer passivity is unsafe and active viewing is a necessary pleasure. We are provoked to get up to speed, to be resourceful, dance, break step. These films put a spin on things. Shift the coordinates. The peripheries relocate to the core drawn by the centrifugal force of the editing. Posing a threat to threatening poses these frictions erupt with new clarity."

MARK MCELHATTEN Associate Curator of Film and Video American Museum of the Moving Image -- 1990 [currently curator of AVANTGARDE VISIONS, New York Film Festival]

This PennSound resource is edited by Danny Snelson. These films are being made available for noncommercial and educational use only. © 2008 Abigail Child. Used with permission of Abigail Child. Distributed by PennSound.