Review by Michael Witt
Miguel Duarte’s Grammatology of the Nymph offers a set of five interrelated poetic audiovisual studies exploring the representation of the female body in two monumental non-normative works of art history, Warburg’s Mnemosyne and Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma. Very little in-depth comparative work has been conducted on these two projects to date, let alone in experimental audiovisual form. Duarte’s ambitious series of exploratory voyages into the two projects charts and examines numerous points of similarity and convergence, and opens avenues for further work. It is a dense piece dealing with two seminal projects that rewards close attention and multiple viewings.
From a formal perspective, Duarte employs a wide range of creative-critical audiovisual tools, which vary considerably from one study (or ‘variation’) to the next. His audiovisual intervention in and reworking of Godard’s dense montages offers an original way of entering into and opening up Histoire(s) du cinéma for questioning and comparative analysis. His strategy of isolating and animating fragments from Mnemosyne, and setting these in tension with sections of Histoire(s) du cinéma, offers a simple but highly effective way of foregrounding and exploring selected motifs and themes across the two projects. His achievement is to have devised an experimental audiovisual laboratory that enables the viewer to consider the two projects - and the representation of the female body within them – from the perspective of the other.