By My Illness (Part 1)
Stephen Dwoskin is a giant of European experimental cinema, but his forty-year voyage of exploratory, highly personal filmmaking is sadly little-known in many countries beyond parts of Europe.
Using a hybrid of narrative, documentary and abstract forms, his work often centres on the body and sexuality. His own body, crippled by polio early in life, is prominent.
Alongside this raw, confronting exposure of physical experience is an extraordinary attention to filmic aesthetics. Dwoskin compares his works to paintings or poems, which proceed via tightly woven audio-visual associations.
Intoxicated By My Illness, in which images photographed by several people are extensively superimposed, loosely and dreamily tracks a phase in Dwoskin's recent life that took him from medical examination to intensive care.
Mostly it is a reverie about erotic fantasy – especially the excruciating, poignant ambiguity of bodily sensation strung out between intense pain and exquisite pleasure, between the figures of the nurse who might be imagined as a bondage mistress, and the bondage mistress who touches the dominated body in the most tender way imaginable.
Dwoskin periodically overlays known movie music in order to ironically foreground his own self-dramatisation, all the while drawing us into a rare and precious intimacy in extremis.
Intoxicated By My Illness is a modern masterpiece.
© Adrian Martin June 2002