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El Cadáver

El Cadaver Exquisito:  Poster


















An “Exquisite Corpse” combines documentary, fiction and experimental film-making as it traverses the social and oneiric landscape of a region struggling between modernity and tradition. It explores ritual and performance from festivals to everyday life combining the real and the surreal, the fantastical and the banal, that which is vital and that which is purely entertainment. The reenactment of rituals within changing crowds and contexts illuminates the complex striving for understanding and for giving meaning to the small acts of everyday life. They also glimpse the need for release and catharsis. The myths, as torrid and exuberant as the geography, are often more concrete than reality and during the autopsy the corpse itself reveals something more repugnant than death, the submission of the living to it. This fantastical collective biography explores the psyche of an individual reflecting a multitude. It immerses into a dense mythological universe by narrating the life of a being in the process of unbeing, a character becoming a corpse.

El Cadáver Exquisito | Collaborations by Elric Kane

Every sin is the result of a collaboration.
- Lucius Annaeus Senecca

El Cadáver Exquisito
was a true collaboration and a blind one. From one artist’s hands to
another we discovered a film, formed from endless possibilities.
When Victor first approached me to edit the film I was excited but a little
hesitant as I was concerned it may be an ethnographic documentary about
El Salvador in the tradition of National Geographic, something that held
no interest to me. Having known Victor since art school I should have
known that this would have more in line with the phantasmagoric then it
does documentary.

After viewing hundreds of hours of seemingly random footage shot from his
multiple trips to El Salvador and art installations in New York I had a
moment of panic. Here was a good friend trusting in me to help create
his film and all I could think was ‘It sure is pretty’. That’s it. No
connections, story or themes leaped out at me - just an endless array of
imagery, which, the longer it rolled, the less capable to find the film
I felt. So I agreed to edit the film like a man flailing in the dark
for a light switch.


What I hadn’t counted on was that initial viewing of seemingly random
footage would begin to invade my unconscious and soon I was waking up
with memories of key images and strange connections that seemed less to
come from me than they did an unseen narrator. These connections really
began to guide us during the intensive editing period where I “slept” on
Victor’s couch, in and out of sleep where key roadblocks in our edit
were solved through this lucid dream state.


A key moment was waking up and being certain we could make a bus fly and
that this would propel us into the story. I imagine most directors would
raise an eyebrow at such a suggestion but Victor merely nodded and
replied “ Ok man, let’s try it.” These are key words for a successful
collaboration: we never lose when we ‘try’ something. Many times my
ideas failed or led us down the wrong road but ultimately this freedom
to experiment and trust our instincts led us to places I have never
discovered in my own work. A strange and compelling sequence of images
and ideas that seemed unimaginable just weeks earlier began to emerge.


Our collaboration reminded me of Jodorowsky’s film ‘Santa Sangre’ where a
limbless mother used her son’s hands to create her art. Victor hired me
to edit the film but he was the one with the technical expertise. I had
always been a director and so I became the director of the edit and he
became my hands. As a stranger in a strange land he was also my guide. I
was editing a film in a foreign language about a culture that I was
unfamiliar with. In most cases this would be a terrible mistake but here
it gave me an objectivity to the footage and an outsider’s approach
that let me feel my way through it - to follow an emotional map rather
then a factual one with Victor’s knowledge as my safety net.


It’s rare that you get a chance to create in a collaboration that is
unscripted and only limited by your own ideas and limitations.
Creativity unchecked. So many films could have emerged from this
material but only one did. Our little sin.


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