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Ann Course
The specific potential of animated drawings, to suggest a constant flow of tranformation, remains unexploited by Ann Course. Nor does she obviously care much for a dialogue with the tradition of animation.

Firstly, Course is not an animator by definition. She is an artist who exhibits drawings, sculptures and objects made from such diverse materials as cardboard, wood or neon light. And videotape. The work of Ann Course is like an accumulation of notes in an emotional diary. The predominantly white spaces in her drawings function like a highly selective mirror that only reflects the most intimate urges and inner reactions of the artist. No space for a reflection on the past, or on the history of her own medium.

If any comparison with a historical predecessor would need to be imposed, then the best figure to refer to could be the European pioneer of drawn animation : Emile Cohl. He too was an artist who didn't like to limit himself to one medium or technique. In fact he is reputed to have expressed himself through caricature, photography, poetry, cycling, duels and practical jokes. More important than his sometimes-peculiar means of expression, was his attitude. Emile Cohl was associated first with the Hydropahtes, and then the Incoherents, two absurdist movements in Paris, prior to the Dadaists. When he discovered that Gaumont had unrightfully used one of his drawings for a film poster, he took on the challenge of creating his own trickfilms. He did it from scratch, with no budget. Nevertheless, his first work, Fantasmagorie (1908) remains one of the most inspired and uninhibited creations in the history of the animated film. The drawings are like stick figures, nearly as simple as those typical of a young child. But no matter how rudimentary the graphic style, the film is extremely rich in imagination, as there is a continuous flow of changing shapes, changing identities. Emile Cohl claimed the biggest freedom of expression, and - to his own commercial downfall - insisted on a completely independent method of production.

Although there is a big contrast between the feverish flow of transformations in the early films of Emile Cohl and the rigid, almost brutal accumulation of still drawings by Ann Course, both oeuvres are a demonstration of the same anarchic freedom of expression. Norman McClaren once defined animation as the art of the interval. It is not what happens within the frame which matters, but what is triggered in the mind of the viewer. Whilst this explains the optical illusion of movement and metamorphosis, the cumulative effect of strong impressions is even more important. The relentless adding up of crude, yet crucial symptoms of the human condition does not result in a logical conclusion or even narrative closure. Yet, the impact of such a wildly suggestive series of images is at the same time confronting and liberating, confusing and exciting. Even more than live action film; animation is the art of association, not only between the scenes or shots, but also between every consecutive frame. Only animation can make a singular nose turn into a credible character, like Alexander Alexeieff with his pinscreen-film The Nose. In their very peculiar way, the dissected body parts and free floating objects in Ann Course's universe are no less poignant and graphic.

Still from The Artist by Ann Course, in collaboration with Paul Clark, 2000
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