[Editor's Note: Welcome to "I'm Short, Not Stupid," a weekly column focused on highlighting rare and obscure short films. Enjoy this flick (the video is at the bottom) and check back next week for another peculiar adventure in the art of short moving pictures.]
Now 35 years old, Suzan Pitt’s 20-minute mind-bending psychosexual drama Asparagus is just as shocking, imaginative, and adventurous as it was when it played before David Lynch’s Eraserhead. From its opening images, the filmmaker lays bare the idea of a female being controlled by sex, as a snake slithers down her leg and tongues out her name. Rife with sexual metaphors and phallic shapes, the film channels the energy of a pent-up housewife aching to get fucked. The lush cel animation, which was painstakingly drawn over five years, propels you into Pitt’s dreamlike narrative.
Following Carl Jung’s idea of images being pregnant, each new image expands in meaning based on what came before it. Associative logic is even employed in the animation style where scenes fold into themselves without any straight cuts. The no-faced protagonist flows effortlessly through her over-stuffed, ostentatious home filled with pussy shaped lights and red velvet curtains covering fields of big dick surrogating asparagus, leaving us to wonder, Why isn’t this woman masturbating right now? This may be due to the fact that the piece wisely and expertly explores identity, what it means to be an artist, reproduction, and sexuality—instead of succumbing to immediate passions. In fact, in one of the more rousing scenes, when the faceless character is trapped in a hall of mirrors of sorts, Pitt reinforces her struggle to overcome stagnation simply by utilizing different animation styles. When she finally breaks from the loop, she dons a mask and is able to exit her house. Of course one problem begets another, so instead of talking about the fact that this woman needs to put on a “mask” to go outside, I will just say that you should watch the film again. There’s always something beautiful and intelligent at work in Asparagus and I find something new upon every viewing. Pitt believes the film should be felt rather than strictly interpreted, so please leave comments on how you feel about fondling, shitting, and deep throating the asparagus dicks.
Suzan Pitt has had major exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of Art, the Holly Solomon Gallery in New York, and the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam. She has designed two operas in Germany which were the first to include animated images for the stage (Damnation of Faust and The Magic Flute). In addition, Pitt has created two large multi-media shows at the Venice Biennale and Harvard University. Pitt is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fulbright Scholar Award, three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a Rockefeller Fellowship. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Walker Art Center, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. To see more of Suzan's work, visit her website.
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Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at the Hamptons International Film Festival and screens for the Tribeca Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.