“Still Life With Woman and Four Objects”
4 min. B&W 16mm.1986
A film portrait that falls somewhere between a painting and a prose poem, a look at a woman’s daily routines and thoughts via an exploration of her as a “character”. By interweaving threads of history and fiction, the film is also a tribute to a real woman – Emma Goldman, 1986 .
2020 – 4k Digital Preservation by BB Optics.
In certain video works that employ techniques of appropriation and repetition, one can invert and rethink the soap’s televised woman and the format’s grammar of female interiority. Opening Lynne Sachs’s black-and-white experimental diaristic short Still Life with Woman and Four Objects (1986), for instance, is a tight close-up of a woman putting on a fall coat. We are immediately transported into an urban home with a female occupant—an introductory premise that is outwardly ripe for soap opera. As Sachs’s camera steadily studies the creases and folds of her subject’s clothing and her strands of hair, a voiceover announces: “Scene 1: Woman steps off curb and crosses street.” Sachs repeats the same shot, while the voiceover seemingly jumps ahead in time: “Scene 2: Holding a bag of groceries, she opens the front door of Blue Plymouth.” In its third repetition, there is further narrative disjuncture. The same woman puts on her coat as the voiceover narrator reveals her limitations, casually puzzled: “Scene 3: I can’t remember.” The muted recitation of screenplay directions both embraces and negates the lack of resolution of a TV soap. We are left wondering about the events that may have transpired in the protagonist’s life in the empty gaps of voiceover between scenes. However, Sachs’s repeated, naturalistic mundanity of domestic chores defies the desirous expectation—or the incomprehensible plot turn—that one historically expects of women’s melodrama. — “The Televisual Woman’s Hour” by Aaditya Aggarwal, Canyon Cinema Discovered