More than fifty years after the death of experimental filmmaker Maya Deren on 13 October 1961, this essay attempts to grapple with her complex legacy. While numerous scholars have already provided in-depth studies of Deren's films, writings, and biography, this article seeks to take several new approaches to the subject. First, it examines Deren's afterlife on the Internet (or “Virtual Maya”), exploring various categories of relation to her work: transmission, reconstruction, and recreation. Second, it explores Deren's shape shifting, or her ability to continually transform herself in a contradictory manner throughout her lifetime — from poet, to political activist, to filmmaker, to anthropologist, and so on. Third, it investigates Deren's ethnicity — her status as a Russian immigrant Jew, a characterization about which she had great ambivalence. Fourth, it examines her early writings as a poet, an aspect of her career that has been both dismissed and ignored yet that has great relevance to her films. Fifth, it argues for Deren's recognition as a design and fashion icon and theorist. Finally, the article discusses Barbara Hammer's film Maya Deren's Sink (US, 2011), an homage to Deren that revisits the places in which she lived and the people whom she encountered.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.