Anemic Cinema

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Anemic Cinema cover of Little Review 1925

Anemic Cinema or Anémic Cinéma (1926) is a Dada/surrealist experimental film by Rrose Sélavy (the alter ego of Marcel Duchamp) made in collaboration with Man Ray and Marc Allégret in 1926.

The film is composed in alternating static camera shots of rotating/whirling animated drawings disks — which Duchamp called Rotoreliefs — inscribed with puns and alliterations in French. The text, which spirals in a counterclockwise motion, suggests erotic scenarios and the words, if read aloud, produce repetitive patterns of sounds that lead to scatological or obscene associations in reference to pulsating human sexual activity.[1]

The film premiered in a private screening in Paris in late-August 1926 and was acquired by MoMA in 1938, the first Duchamp work to enter the collection.[2]

To make Anémic Cinéma, Duchamp filmed spinning painted designs he made on flat cardboard circles while they spun on a phonograph turntable. When spinning, the flat disks appeared three-dimensional.

Duchamp had a commercial printer run off 500 sets of six of the designs and set up a booth at a 1935 Paris inventors' show to sell them. The venture was a financial disaster, but some optical scientists thought they might be of use in restoring three-dimensional sight to people with one eye.[3]

Rotoreliefs texts[edit]

  • "Bains de gros thé pour grains de beauté sans trop de bengué." (Bengay was invented in France by Dr. Jules Bengué)
  • "L'enfant qui tète est un souffleur de chair chaude et n'aime pas le chou-fleur de serre-chaude."
  • "Si je te donne un sou, me donneras-tu une paire de ciseaux?"
  • "On demande des moustiques domestiques (demi-stock) pour la cure d'azote sur la Côte d'Azur."
  • "Inceste ou passion de famille, à coups trop tirés."
  • "Esquivons les ecchymoses des Esquimaux aux mots exquis."
  • "Avez-vous déjà mis la moëlle de l'épée dans le poêle de l'aimée?"
  • "Parmi nos articles de quincaillerie paresseuse, nous recommandons le robinet qui s'arrête de couler quand on ne l'écoute pas."
  • "L'aspirant habite Javel et moi j'avais l'habite en spirale."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Affron, Mathew. The Essential Duchamp, Yale University Press (2018), p. 85
  2. ^ Affron, Mathew. The Essential Duchamp, Yale University Press (2018), p. 86
  3. ^ Calvin Tomkins, Duchamp: A Biography (1996), pages 301–303.

External links[edit]