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(R)EVOLUTION IN GREECE: Michael Mantas’ “Receta” for the Avant-Garde

It is a cinematic breakthrough that perhaps could only come from the monk.  Michael Manta’s Receta expands the vocabulary of film to fold the personal journey into the universal quest for transcendence.

lisaMike Mantas enacts his inner monk on a spiritual journey in his “Receta”.

While this is no small feat, the surprise is how it achieves this quantum leap into the timeless; in real time by way of interweaving the making of homemade cheese into political documentary about his ancestral Greece during the violent uprisings anticipating the Trump era of nationalist revolutions.

As writer, director and producer of his own mythology transforming his identity from queer monk to avant-garde Greek-Canadian filmmaker, Mike Mantas‘ layered interweaving of autobiographical…

family-archeologuy …the mythical…

mythical …documentary of the Greek uprising…

xarchia …and political narrative of ego repression…

docu …absorbing the the long-repressed Shadow

shadow …by means of a multicultural tapestry of Queer identity on a sea journey…

boat …to absorb the transgender Aquarian icon…

goddess …is coded with the newly arising icon of the hieros gamos via the extraordinary face of Mina Orfanou as the Goddess Eurynome.

Evoking the hero’s journey of our time of dislocation, Mantas, a trained actor, self-performs the marriage of polarities (masculine and feminine)…cheesw ….by means of mastering a Greek recipe for cheese created in real time…

Diametrically in opposition to the externalization of the “male gaze” …

manneqjuin …coded through the killer stare of the nude female store mannequins…

sea …melds symbol and gesture to herald a 360 perspective symbolized by the trangender figure holding a utility geometry of holism: an umbrella.

The outward projection of the psyche’s inner struggle for union takes place through the eye of Mantas’ vintage camera in which the analog camera serves as recurring motif…

camera …for the physicality of filmmaking in which the gesture with the camera is an apparatus of personal excavation…

mobious… a metaphor of Heideggerian Being in which interior is reflected in the exterior…

Such a richly multilayered narrative texture utilising the Shadow as container for the embrace of the iternal feminine is new to cinema.

box“Receta” has a metal lock box as metahpor of the Philosopher’s Stone storing the coded psyche.

Upsetting the hierarchical linear time measured in quantity, Mantas infuses kairos — the unexpected moment of the quantum leap– into film as a measure of the qualitative…

Melding analog and digital by means of the symbolic and performative, Receta constructs the organic source of film, celluloid, into the Mobius strip as it overcomes the binary dualism of the subjective/objective…


Receta proclaims a bold new era of cinema marrying subjective/objective through the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  By challenging the viewer as participant in the quest for unity, the real/surreal seamlessly blend personal and universal narrative..

thirdeye The Third Eye is among the rich iconography in “Receta” for the paradigm leap into the Third.

Mantas’ Greek birthname is Chronopoulos.  Not surprisingly, this enterprising filmmaker has made his destiny in digging so deep as to establish the visual language of a new art for(u)m at the intersection of Chronos and Kairos…

door …by means of opening new Doors of Perception.

While making unconventional demands for a whole brain participation to absorb multidimensional narrative, the rewards of learning Mike Mantas’ Receta are well worth the effort.


CARU CONFERENCE, BROOKS OXFORD UNIVERSITY, 3 December 2016.  Dr. Streitfeld's presentation "EXCAVATING THE TEMPLAR TREASURE: Re/SEARCHING THE HIEROS GAMOS IN CRITICAL AND ARTISTIC PRACTICE", 15:00 (R) with the Aquarian Moon on the MC lined up with the composite ascendent for Hughes Payans/Lisa Streitfeld (Center) and the Alchemy of Love: Hieros Gamos performance under the 20 January 2008 ecllipse (left).

CARU CONFERENCE, BROOKS OXFORD UNIVERSITY, 3 December 2016. Dr. Streitfeld’s presentation “EXCAVATING THE TEMPLAR TREASURE: Re/SEARCHING THE HIEROS GAMOS IN CRITICAL AND ARTISTIC PRACTICE”, 15:00 (R) with the Aquarian Moon on the MC lined up with the composite ascendent for Hughes Payans/Lisa Streitfeld (Center) and the Alchemy of Love: Hieros Gamos performance under the 20 January 2008 ecllipse (left).

Excavating the Templar Treasure:

Re/Searching the Hieros Gamos in Artistic & Critical Practice


Lisa Paul Streitfeld

The disclosure of the elusive Templar Treasure was the unexpected outcome of an entangled relationship between “re-search” and artistic/critical practice of the hieros gamos. There is much to know about how “The Sacred Marriage Rites” transmitted via unearthed cunneiform tablets were honored in ancient Mesopotamia. Yet full Heideggerian disclosure of Being required a unity of inner exploration and outer research in a New Media practice exploding the boundaries between art, literature, criticism and curation. This presentation demonstrates the alchemical process by which this icon publically entered the body of the artist in January 2008 to guide research through the duration of the eight-year Venus cycle to the Templar Treasure in 2015. Along the way, the 2012 phenomenology of the “eternal return” of the 1882 Venus Transit of the Sun disclosed the archaeology of Nietzsche’s hieros gamos rites with Salome birthing the Ubermensch as the divine marriage of heaven and earth. The presentation concludes with a short interactive performance. Performance Link:

BREAKING DOWN BOUNDARIES: Toby Ashraf’s Astounding Berlin Art Film Festival

Toby Ashraf, the wunderkind Founder and Director of the Berlin Art Film Festival, who recently introduced a Mitte screening of ART GIRLS, the Berlin avant-garde multimedia feature film that crystallises the ever-present origin of a global movement centered in Berlin.

Still refreshingly raw as it appeals to audience participation for self-definition, the experimental (“Post Migration”) forms of categorization pioneered by the BAFF serve as a catalyst for a (R)evolution that is actively being shaped in its second year.

Ashraf’s brainchild is newly exploding the boundaries between art gallery and cinema, establishing a dialectic of integration along the way.

Ashraf lured the German actress Anne Ratte-Polle (above) to lend her star wattage to the 5 December “Nightsongs” kick-off charging through the border guards stipulating that art films be shown exclusively in galleries (for profit).

The BAFF screens films about Berlin. And what a subject! The communal space was chock full of electric shocks, which merely began with the focus on pioneering German female artists such as Helke Sander, Ulrike Ottinger and Isa Genzken.

During its 10-13 December run, the festival succeeded in characterizing the city that has become the world center of a new art movement encapsulating an icon personified in the flesh by the late American scene maker/artist Brian Tennessee Claflin, whose resurrection of the age of gender liberation in his club Pork surfed the collapse of the quantum wave in Berlin.

Tellingly, the brilliantly articulated multisensory ontology by the late American artist has branded the upstart BAFF as a pioneer upturning the cultural stasis represented by gallery walls shielding elite-bound art from communal ritual engagement found in the public theatre.

Signifier of a new movement on the funky borders in a name: Moviemento Kino had two small theatres and a circular cafe providing many avenues…

Kottbusser Damm 22 signifying Kreuzkölln as the Berlin cutting edge reminiscent of lower Broadway in Manhattan.

…of homage to the post-gender figure of Brian Tennessee Claflin…

In his memorial installation echoing the silver Andy Warhol Factory, complete with a video loop of “Trash,” Ashraf recollects Brian inspiring him to jump into the surfgeist by taking his clothes off at Pork. The East Village-style club engaged erotic play to satirize the Berliner predilection for having open sexual intercourse in clubs with strangers.

The quest for holism as the 21st century ontology in Claflin’s “Moths Around a Flame” establishes the symbol of light in the darkness of the after-postmodern tension between the opposites. (film still copyright of the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation).

…whose 3 minute multimedia ontology premiering at the BAFF blends image and words into a transcendent symbol of light.

The mythology of transcendence in a flame: scaling high and low society to no society through Claflin’s auto-epic “falling in love again” with Berlin’s gender-bending idol, Marlene Dietrich (film still copyright of the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation).

Travis Jeppesen and Michael Rade (l-r) of the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation shepherd the passage of their friend’s multimedia production into the film festival premiere; they explained that “Moth’s Around a Flame” was made to accompany a performance, and this is the first time it is being shown as a stand-alone work. (photo by Daniel Lathwesen for BAFF).

We suddenly realize how rare it is to experience how the piece of a holistic work of art reflects the integrity of its entirety. This BAFF epiphany–that artists surfing the wave into a new paradigm discard the holistic Art-I-Fact as the homo generator phenomenology of their (a)wake(ning)–points to an essential requirement for contemporary art: to flaunt the disciplinary boundaries regulated by the academy. Indeed, even MoMAis acknowledging a newfound readiness to break down the hierarchies of institutional art classification.

The encounter with the unexpected is what we have come to expect from art to move us through the crisis of uncertainty into the Third Space–out of the quantitative linear time and into the qualitative kairos magical interaction between past, present and future.

This provocation is what Ashraf–in his multiple roles as master of ceremonies, interpreter, moderator, organizer, juggler of formats and who knows what else–is bringing to the picture both big and small. He has grouped films of completely different formats and lengths together under topics like “Feminist Frontiers”– which singlehandedly revived Heike Sander’s 4 minute 1967 Subjectivity as a classic quest to break down the boundary between subject/object that Germans understand better than anyone, due to their highly structured rules of grammar.

But this was mere prelude to the late Saturday night explosion when the intimate theater was electrified by the entrance of Susanne Sachße in unobtrusive guerilla garb…

…all the better to shine her inner radiance. The German actress brought a full doze of erotic consciousness to the festival with her simple rational for taking on the challenging but risky role that made her an underground sensation: women, she said, who got to have sex in film had to be crazy and/or have demented relationships with their father. (photo by Bart Sammut).

“The Revolution is my boyfriend!” While creating one of the most enigmatic naked female characters in film, Bruce LaBruce’s 2004 “The Raspberry Reich” ingeniously makes use of the political slogan to weave revolutionary text/image into Wilhelm Reich’s theory of the orgasm, thereby breaking down boundaries between heterosexual/homosexual, as well as art cinema and porn. (film still).


Susan Sachße and Jürgen Brüning had an astonishingly frank discussion with the audience. The star exclaimed how unprepared she was for the reaction, her friends asking “are you going to do porn now?” With a shared gleeful erotic innocence, Brüning revealed his surprise at being sued a million dollars for violating the copyright of Alberto Korda’s famed Che Guevara portrait, which served as wallpaper to a stark correlation between masturbation and gunplay.

The sequential Sunday sessions, “On Architecture” and “Germany Revised,” ordered the archeology of Berlin’s transition into a global (blessedly non-mercantile) art center through the literal gap of the no-man’s land surrounding the Berlin Wall, the Third space, or dead zone between East and West.

Ashraf placed his heart right into the center of his creation by introducing the film catalyzing his move to Berlin: Thomas Arsian’s 1991 student film “On the Margins” (1991) depicting the dead zone in its stark barren landscape as the symbol of Berlin’s uncertain future (LPS photo).

Subsequently, the director’s uncanny organizational skills elevated Hito Steyeri’s The Empty Center into a classic of cultural deconstruction. The 1998 documentary excavated the archeology surrounding the battle between immigrant labor and the German unions during the corporate reconstruction of Potsdammer Platz. The outcome of this courageous discursive plunge through the Derridian gap of Berlin’s empty center was an alarming exposé of a repeating German pattern of third world labor exploitation.

The twin pillar to this pioneering BAFF signaling around the centre was “Post Migration: Filming Immigrants and Refugees.” This Saturday afternoon section gave voice and vision to the outsider struggling for dignity and space in a city that is newly redefining itself through the hard work of reconciliation/integration.

If the festival itself was a paradigm leap into qualitative time, where a 3 minute projection carries the ontological heft of a new gender-free epoch–other films made explicit by design that to be authentically cutting edge means being “in the moment.” The most innovative example was Safe Space, when the dialogue leapt, like the renegade electron, right off the onscreen during the roll of credits to ignite the participation of the audience…

Zora Rux with her actors discussing Safe Space/Geschuetzter Raum, a fictional film that brilliantly captures, in an economical 15 minutes, the Third as the safe space to create new thought structures via a cultural clash instigated by a rape in a Berlin immigration camp.

… “We are the new generation,” proclaimed Rux, a 27-year old student from the Deutsche Film-und Fernsehakademie Berlin (dffb) whose breakout short film has been presented in nearly a hundred festivals.The discussion spilled over into Sunday panel: “Imagining: Refugees and Migrants on film.”

Denize Sertkol, German naturalized daughter of Turkish immigrants, talks about her “outsider” motivation for “KIss Me, Germany,” one of her two art installation videos in “Germany, Revised.” The afternoon theater screening opened up a dialogue about scale in presentation between the gallery and cinema (LPS photo).

In the intimate cafe setting, a new consciousness broke through by means of the metaphysics–the Butterfly Effect and the Uncertainty Principle— that migrant filmmaking brings to the big picture.
“Syrians have to live in Uncertainty,” says Syrian refugee filmmaker Khaled Mzher (right) with the star, Ahmad Faraj, of his deeply moving and timely “WADA,” crystallizing the “Butterfly Effect” of their nation’s crisis from an interior focus. Khaled’s dffb student film was already selected as a standout in the San Sebastian Film Festival and is headed to Cannes in 2016. (LPS photo)

New paradigms require new languages. It was all too clear that the foundation for this (R)evolution has been laid by the Berlin Art Film Festival N2.

I, for one, can’t wait to see how the (R)evolution evolves in 2016.

The Brian Tennessee Claflin memorial at the BFF was created in conjunction with the Brian Tennessee Claflin Foundation and the SomoS exhibition of a newly discovered five-channel installation “The Five Senses”” in the late artist’s estate.

All images by LPS, or as credited, courtesy of the Berlin Art Film Festival. The stills from “Moths Around a Flame” courtesy of the Brian Tennesse Claflin Foundation. “Raspberry Reich” film stills courtesy of the Jürgen Brüning Filmproduktion. Movimiento Kino exterior photo courtesy of the owner, Iris.

Lisa Paul Streitfeld is a cultural critic and theorist based in Berlin, whose two decade dissemination of her art theory of the hieros gamos from the grassroots to the avant-garde entailed her forging a pathway between cinema and gallery. Her review of Brian Tennessee Claflin’s art appeared here: The Five Senses


The Steinmatte laboratory of European Graduate School overlooking the idyllic village of Saas Fee, Switzerland.

 The dice are thrown against the sky, with all the force of displacement of the alienator point, with their imperative points like lightning, forming ideal problem-constellations in the sky. They fall back to Earth with all the force of the victorious solutions which bring back the throw.––Deleuze (D&R: 284)

 There is an authentic irony to the topography of the European Graduate School (EGS) in the Swiss Alps overlooking the idyllic car-free village of Saas-Fee. The laboratory was established in 1998 to incubate Dr. Wolfgang Schirmacher’s pioneering field of Media Philosophy; that the director lured Jacques Derrida, the founder of the French deconstructionist to the mountain to lecture to a handful of early students is Saas-Fee legend, as is the death Theodor Adorno, founder of the Frankfurt School, in Visp, the disembarkation point for the contemporary philosopher’s alpine trek into a new constellation.

The stars did come out for the occasion: Slavoj Žižek (Slovenia); Giorgio Agamben (Italy); and Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière, Alain Badiou and Jean Baudrillard (France). And there too arrived the protégées of the European masters: Jacques Derrida (Avital Ronell, Christopher Fynsk, Geoffrey Bennington and Laurence Rickels) along with his son, Pierre Alféri; Jacques Lacan (Anne Dufourmantelle); and Michel Foucault’s last assistant (Thomas Zummer).

There was also space made for radical breakthrough: the American gender theorist Judith Butler and the Israeli artist/psychoanalyst/theorist Bracha L. Ettinger, whose M/Other Matrix theory inspired the popular film franchise, and more importantly, delivered the exiled feminine into the western philosophical tradition. There were innovators in the creative disciplines such as film (Peter Greenaway, Mike Figgis and Robert Bramkamp), literature (Judith Balso, Chris Kraus,Hélène Cixous and Jeffrey Eugenides) and visual art (Alessandro De Francesco).

Saas-Fee is the laboratory that birthed the media phenomenon known as Slavoj Žižek, a founding EGS professor whose comeraderie with Alain Badiou was the launching pad for the Slovenian philosopher’s revival of German idealism, thereby bringing continental philosophy into mainstream global discourse.

Yet, the authentic irony immediately distinguishing Saas-Free from the contrived irony of postmodernism in its death throes was not in the wide range of personalities gathering there, but the topography itself. Any short trek through the Swiss Alps will confront the wanderer with mystical symbols and signs embodied into the mountainous landscape; the gnome faces and witches leering out from their carved homes in rough hewn fences or trees are continual reminders of what has been left out of German idealism: the primordial energy. This occult shadow was so huge that it gave birth to the dark forces of the Holocaust personified through Hitler’s Hindu priestess and thirteen astrologers.