Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art & Art History

First Advisor

Lynda Klich

Second Advisor

Maria A. Pelizzari

Academic Program Adviser

Maria A. Pelizzari


Harry Smith’s Film No. 18, Mahagonny, 1970 – 1980, is a transmutation of the original Brecht-Weill opera, The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, a 1930, into a feature-length experimental film. This paper shows how the original opera and Duchamp's The Large Glass prove inherent to Smith’s double-pronged homage to both original works of art. The failure in the opera narrative and the chance shattering of The Large Glass inform Smith’s complex methodology to approach and spatialize cinema. Harry Smith’s use of the tools of the screening apparatus are traced in order to study Mahagonny in detail. The film exemplifies his practice of making works of art that extend outside their parameters, in this case, the screen. Through this analysis of Mahagonny, the specific differences between film, artifact, stage, appropriation, and art object fall apart.



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