Cowards Bend the Knee

Guy Maddin

One long peep is enough to to see this unique and naughty installation. Each of the ten peepholes is filled with action and heated moments of violence and carnivorous sexuality.

A firstofitskind, tenpart peephole installation jampacked with enough kinetically photographed action to seem like a neverending cliffhanger, Cowards Bend the Knee is a Feuillade serial ultracondensed and blenderised. If fiction is sometimes barely disguised autobiography, Cowards Bend the Knee is its mirror image, twisted and poisoned wishfulfillment: the mythomaniacal Maddin casts `himself' as a hockey sniper made lilylivered by mother and daughter femme fatales, and resurrects his father as the team's radio broadcaster and his own romantic antagonist. Set in a shadowsuffused hockey arena and a Mabuselike beauty salonslashabortion clinic lined with twoway mirrors, the plot drips with the Grecian formula, as sordid family secrets spawn unintentional murder most foul. Veering into penny dreadful territory with the introduction of a vengeful ghost and uncontrollable extremities as windows into the unconscious, one recalls Hands of Orlac; Maddin fixates on his characters' groping and fisting expressionist paws, bathing them in ethereal light and chopping them into dazzling, irisheavy micromontages. Room to pant is provided by slomo replays, alternately poignant and explosive: lurid, frenzied moments of impulsive violence and carnivorous sexuality lend this bewitchingly onanistic work easily devoured in one voyeuristic standing the sublime naughtiness of an antique handcranked skin flick.Maddin: `A lovingly selfloathing peek at myself, but only as I would have enough courage to look through a cracked glass made foggy by hairspray.' (M.P.)Cowards Bend the Knee is presented in the foyer of the Rotterdamse Schouwburg.Commisioned, organised and circulated by: The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto.Curated by Philip Monk.The installation is complemented by a fictionalised autobiographical screenplay by Guy Maddin: Cowards Bend the Knee, edited by Philip Monk, published by Toronto: The Power Plant@Harbourfront Centre.

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