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Nina Danino
All of Nina Danino's films concentrate a complex connection of ideas, images and illusions into tightly filmed, edited and performed works that create an intense and emotional effect in the mind.

Her films have a material presence. She is keen to make the viewer aware that they are watching a film, a projection that is happening in time and space in which the film comes into presence before the eyes. The physical properties of film are exploited to the full, whether in the crystalline quality of the images in Temenos or the swirling hand-held camerawork and saturated colours of Stabat Mater. Although her films are not narratively driven, Danino is concerned about progression. She leads the viewer through an experience of gathering intensity, but always, returns them to an earthy reality, whether in the city in Temenos or the cemetery in Now I am Yours. Nevertheless, the experience of the film transports the viewer to a place transformed, seen with new eyes.

As a filmmaker, Danino is unusual in her privileging of the voice. She sees the voice immediate and pure, unencumbered by material form. She performs the voice-over in all her films, describing her own experiences and thoughts, and quoting from others- visionaries, poets, writers. Combined with that are vocal performances by established sound artists.

Religious experience permeates the majority of Nina Danino's later films. They are imbued with a Catholic understanding of spirituality, but whether it is the Marian visionaries in Temenos or St Teresa in Now I am Yours, the transcendental experiences are personalised through the experience of the women themselves. Here, the strictly conformist Catholic interpretation breaks down and the power and pleasure of the women shine through. They are visionaries, their apparitions and thoughts cannot be controlled but instead carry them to another realm of fulfilment and abandonment. The way that Danino portrays St Teresa with close-ups on the mouth and figure reclining backwards, there is no doubt that she is experiencing sexual ecstasy. Her body, as well as her mind is penetrated by the divine. This is jouisance- performed excess, a physical response to the performance of the camera and the performance of the voice.

Disruption is a key theme in Danino's work. She disrupts the image though her structured editing, at once giving it presence and absence through the cut. She interrupts the dominance of the image though the intervention of sound that distracts the viewer from the tyranny of the visual. Her work is about traversing boundaries between present and absent subjects, known and unknowable experiences, defined and undefined spaces, rational and irrational understandings, and, of course, the ultimate boundary, that between life and death. At the heart of her work is a struggle, a yearning to grasp the ungraspable. Her films present an irresistible allure to follow them into the realm of angels, at whatever cost.

Helen de Witt
Still from Now I am Yours by Nina Danino, 1993
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