Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Deren was born in Kiev, Ukraine. In 1922, after a series of anti-Semitic pogroms and because of her father's sympathies for Leon Trotsky, the family fled to Syracuse, New York. In 1928, she became a naturalized citizen. By 1935 she was very active in various socialist causes in the New York City.
In the early 1940s, Deren used some of the inheritance from her father to purchase a used 16mm Bolex camera. She used this camera to make her first and most well-known film, Meshes of the Afternoon (1943). Meshes of the Afternoon is recognized as a seminal American avant-garde film. It was in 1943 that she adopted the name Maya Deren.
Upon her return to New York City in 1943 her social circle included the likes of Andre Breton, Marcel Duchamp, John Cage, and Anais Nin. She continued making 16mm films such as "At Land" (1944) and "A Study in Choreography for Camera" (1945). In 1946 she was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship for "Creative Work in the Field of Motion Pictures." In 1947 she won the Grand Prix Internationale for 16mm experimental film at Cannes for Meshes of the Afternoon.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Deren became heavily involved in Haitian voodoo. Not only did she film many hours of voodoo ritual, but also participated in them. Her book on the subject, Divine Horsemen: the Living Gods of Haiti, is often considered a definitive source. The accompanying documentary was edited and produced after her death.
After her death, Deren allegedly appeared to poet James Merrill (1926-1995) and his partner David Jackson (?-2001) during sťances in which she spelled out ghostly messages through a ouija board. Deren is a character in Merrill's The Book of Ephraim (1976), the first book of the trilogy known as The Changing Light at Sandover (1982). James Merrill paid for the completion of several of Deren's films.
In 2001, Martina Kudlacek released a documentary about Deren, titled In the Mirror of Maya Deren.
- Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) with Alexander Hammid , music by Teiji Ito added 1959
- At Land (1944) photographed by Hella Heyman and Alexander Hammid
- A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945) with Talley Beatty
- Riual in Transfigured Time (1946) Choreographic collaboration with Frank Westbrook and Rita Christiani .
- Meditation on Violence (1948) performance by Chao-li Chi , Chinese flute and Haitian drums musical collage by Maya Deren
- The Very Eye of Night (1952-55) with Metropolitan Opera Ballet School and Antony Tudor, music by Teiji Ito
- The Witches' Cradle (1943) with Marcel Duchamp and Pajorita Matta
- Medusa (1949) With Jean Erdman
- Haitian Film Footage (1947-55) assembled by Teiji and Cherel Ito as Divine Horsemen, The Living Gods of Haiti
- Season of Strangers (1959) Haiku Film Project
- Ensemble for Sonambulists (1951)
- The Private Life of a Cat (1945) Alexander Hammid, Director
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