The Visible Secret Language of Identical Twins

The Quay Brothers

Like identical twins who invent a verbal language of their own, Philadelphia-born filmmakers  Stephen and Timothy Quay, working since the late 1970s in Atelier Konick, their London studio, have created a unique and very beautiful visual language of puppetry and stop-motion animation and which has evolved to encompass two live-action features.

The Museum of Modern Art will open a complete retrospective of the film and video work of the Quay Brothers, opening on August 9 and continuing with twice-monthly screenings through January 7, 2013.

The film series accompanies the gallery exhibition, “Quay Brothers: On Deciphering the Pharmacist’s Prescription for Lip-Reading Puppets,” running from August 12 through January 7, 2013.  The Quays have been extraordinarily prolific and the exhibition includes set design and projections for operas, theater and concerts, site-specific pieces based on the work of Bartók and Kafka, graphic design, calligraphy and drawings.

And in the spirit of all-Quay-all-the-time, for home viewing Film Forum has a special offer on a two DVD set, “Phantom Museums,” from Zeitgeist Films,  a collection of 13 of the Quay Brothers’ short films, including four from the hypnotic “Stille Nacht” series.  (The song from “Stille Nacht II (Are We Still Married?),” 1992, has sporadically played in my head for decades and I have no objections.)

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