Lily Benson

The Filmballad of Mamadada


A playful and chaotic experiment that posits a return to a grand collective narrative via the postqueer populism of YouTube and crowdsourcing
– ART FORUM, 2013

The Filmballad of Mamadada tells the story of Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, long-forgotten member of the New York Dada movement. A radical poet, sculptor, model, and public provocateur, the Baroness defied the social and artistic codes of her time. As with many of her female contemporaries, the Baroness’ artistic legacy has been obscured, and in some instances appropriated into the oeuvres of much better known male peers. Accounts of her personal life and art practice are scarce and often conjectural.

In the summer of 2012, Lily Benson and Cassandra Guan recruited a group of forty-nine artists and filmmakers to produce a collectively-authored biopic about the Baroness in the hopes of re-situating the Baroness in the Dada canon. Each participant was invited to interpret a specific biographical fragment and create a filmic adaptation on their own terms. The results varied wildly in method and materials: from a re-contextualized Jane Fonda interview, to an animation depicting the effects of syphilis, to a reconstruction of a lost 16mm film by Duchamp and Man Ray. Benson and Guan then assembled the vignettes into a feature-length film, a process similar to the unfolding of an exquisite corpse. The final result is a gloriously troubled portrait of the historic figure, sourced from the manifold concerns and desires of contemporary feminist imaginary.

Contributors Include:
Leslie Allison, Animals, Raoul Anchondo, Mauricio Arango, Doug Ashford, Harold Batista, Gregory Benson, Lily Benson, Caitlin Berrigan, Clara Carter, Lea Cetera, Joanne K. Cheung, Abigail Childs, Abigail Colins, Katy Cool, Cecilia Corrigan, Graham Corrigan, Alex DeCarli, EASTER, Chitra Ganesh, Alex Golden, Cassandra Guan, Jorun Jonasson, Prudence Katze, Simone Krug, Joyce Lainé, William Lehman, Alexandra Lerman, Ming Lin, Thomas Love, Rob Lowe, Kirby Mages, Markues, Mores McWreath, Erin Jane Nelson, Anne Marte Overaa, Michala Paludan, Leah Pires, Sunita Prasad, Joanna Quigley, Will Rahilly, Amy Reid, Isaac Richard, Doron Sadja, Saki Sato, Frances Scholz, Dash Shaw, Sydney Shen, Beau Sievers, Shelly Silver, Ursula Sommer, Jim Strong, Aaron Vinton, and James N. Kienitz Wilkins.

For more information: www.mamadada.info