Mothlight – Stan Brakhage

Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight (1963) was made from collaging insects, leaves, and other detritus between two strips of perforated tape.

‘Here is a film that I made out of a deep grief. The grief is my business in a way, but the grief was helpful in squeezing the little film out of me, that I said “these crazy moths are flying into the candlelight, and burning themselves to death, and that’s what’s happening to me. I don’t have enough money to make these films, and … I’m not feeding my children properly, because of these damn films, you know. And I’m burning up here … What can I do?” I’m feeling the full horror of some kind of immolation, in a way.’

‘Over the lightbulbs there’s all these dead moth wings, and I … hate that. Such a sadness; there must surely be something to do with that. I tenderly picked them out and start pasting them onto a strip of film, to try to … give them life again, to animate them again, to try to put them into some sort of life through the motion picture machine.’


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