The art world ‘discovered’ the late Lebanese-American poet and painter Etel Adnan when she was in her eighties and ‘broke out’ with her painting straight into Documenta. It celebrated her wisdom and heritage in that sombre but hollow way the art market reveres older women.
After the Otolith Group met Adnan in Kassel, they filmed her reading her poetry. They trained the camera over her shoulder, showing neither her face nor the page. The result is a collection of abstract images of the seas and stars that is as meditative as it is affected.
Why should we listen to Adnan? Why these poems? Why now? There are no answers in the film. The only plausible explanation is that the exhibition is a private memorial for Adnan accessible only to members of the art world’s inner circle. And that’s a pity because Adnan’s ideas could be better shared with many others.