Image from the motion picture Because We Must Image from the motion picture Because We Must

The Films of Charles Atlas: Because We Must + SSS

Documentary, Experimental, Dance | 1989 | 58MIN

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Charles Atlas


Michael Clark
Marina Abramovic

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Because We Must (1989, 52MIN)

In Because We Must, Atlas continued his collaboration with British choreographer Michael Clark, the enfant terrible of the dance world in the 1980s. Based on an original stage production at Sadlers’ Wells Theatre in London, this is an ironic, irreverent work that is as entertaining as it is provocative. The extravagant stylization and burlesque humor that pervade the choreography, costuming and staging are mirrored by Atlas’ focus on the theatricality of the performance and the artifice of the behind-the-scenes narrative. Clark thumbs his nose at the conventions of “serious” dance, composing outrageously unexpected and inventive scenarios that include a nude dancer wielding a chain-saw and a psychedelic interlude, all exquisitely if ironically performed.

SSS (1989, 6MIN)

Marina Abramovic collaborated with videomaker Charles Atlas on this striking work of autobiographical performance. Abramovic delivers a monologue that traces a concise personal chronology. This brief narrative history, which references her past in the former Yugoslavia, her performance work, and her collaboration with and separation from Ulay, is intercut with images of Abramovic engaged in symbolic gestures and ritual acts—scrubbing her feet, staring like Medusa as snakes writhe on her head. Closing her litany with the phrase “time past, time present,” Abramovic invokes the personal and the mythological in a poignant affirmation of self.

Q&A with director Charles Atlas following screening.

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