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Themesicon: navigation pathArt and Cinematographyicon: navigation pathDeserts of the Political

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materials were being prepared for war; the desert served as the training ground. Antonioni and other directors adopted the principle of this desert geostrategy, although they did not consider the desert to be a testing ground for military weapons systems, but a testing ground for different concepts of life, which are themselves considered to be more or less explosive. The desert acted as laboratory promising a means by which civilizing notions of order and space could be deterritorialized, where experiments with existential, aesthetic, and social models could be carried out. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari differentiate between a «striated,» circumscribed space and a «smooth» one. The «smooth» space is the desert, the steppes, or the ocean, populated and occupied by nomads. «The nomads are there, on the land, wherever there forms a smooth space that gnaws, and tends to grow in all directions. The nomads inhabit these places; they remain in them, and they themselves make them grow, for it has been established that the nomads make the desert no less than they are made by it. They are vectors of deterritorialization.»[15]

Antonioni s Vision of the Political

A crucial transition occurs in «Zabriskie Point» at the moment when Daria Halprin meets one of the Native Americans. Just before the end of the film, Halprin encounters a Native American, a maid in the house


owned by the head of a real estate firm that specializes in building apartment houses in the desert the territory belonging to the Native American nomads. The glance she exchanges with the smiling woman in a housemaid s uniform marks one of the first significant moments in a process of politicization, which peaks in Halprin s ensuing, quasi-mystical vision of the spectacular explosion of a modern desert house. One could say that the protagonist, blessed with an ability to predict the future (and representing the film s counterculture target group), believed this building to be an outrage. The capitalist reterritorialization of the smooth desert space was an affront, and the fictitious explosion of the house was the radical, poetic, and logical consequence of this belief. Nothing hinders the identification with the desert and its nomadic population more than this kind of monument to a restrictive economy and colonial repression. According to Deleuze and Guattari, there are constant «mixtures» of various forms of existence among the «nomads,» the «migrants,» and the «settlers.» They describe this «mixture» as a process of «becoming settled,» or as «shifts of local nomadization.»[16] «Zabriskie Point» strives to 9nomadize : its main characters. Most noticeable is the metamorphosis of Daria, the daughter of the middle-class, who Antonioni sees as a neo-primitive child of nature in earth-toned leather. As she gradually retreats from her own origins, she is led to compassionately identify with the Native American

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