Monday 19 December 2016

Marco Scotini

Quotes from Marco Scotini's essay "The Government of Time and the Insurrections of Memories"

- "our time is that of a dislocated present, always out of time, disaggregated, fragmented into a thousand forms of mobility that are never unified. When faced with the crisis of the great dualisms (capital and labour, economy and politics, East and West) there is not the explosion of a multiplicity of stories that unexpectedly find themselves coexisting and the threat that capital is taking back ownership of all the times that have been freed"

- "the effect of the mediatisation of capitalist subjectivities (which cinema began) is, primarily, that of covering the immediate perception of reality with a layer of images-memories, of making strata of the present and the past coexist in a permanent doubling of time so that it becomes increasingly difficult to discern the real from the imaginary, the image of the the thing, the copy of the original, the use-value from the exchange value"

- "in the absence of a linear history, the archive also lives on a level of immanence. It acts as a contingent tool that requires being continuously de-archives and re-archived, without every providing anything that is definitively catalogued. The documentary, in the same way, does not expect to ratify any certainties within the ambit of the real but is called into question in order to raise doubts about that which has been documented, to question certainties. it's revival at the moment, within the ambit of contemporary art is able to decline its classical format in a multiplicity of ways"

Sunday 18 December 2016

Jane: a murder

I have been reading Maggie Nelson's book, Jane: a murder, which tells the story through a variety of narrative methods (poetry, journal entries, letters, etc.) of the murder of the author's aunt, Jane at age twenty-three.

Below is a passage that moved me, although the book in its entirety is indeed poignant.

Four Films by Jim Hubbard: Screening and Director Q&A

Last week I attended an event at the Cinema Museum in London which consisted of four films by and a Q&A with Jim Hubbard, which I found to be fascinating and important. The films addressed the work of ACT UP, an advocacy group dedicated to improving the lives of those with AIDS and included many scenes of crowds in streets and demonstrations relating to medication and awareness of both AIDS and LGBTQ rights. The answers Hubbard gave to the questions posed to him were gorgeous and I so enjoying just listening to him speak. Two things that I found interesting that arose during the discussion session include:

- that specific political events should fuel the agenda to forward activism and organised change

- the processing of film proposes an invisible duration that is present within cinema (making and viewing) that gets excluded from the screen. Hubbard suggested that links could be drawn between the physical movements necessary to process film and the abstract expressionist gesture and that there is something equally meditative about both

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Maggie Nelson, "The Argonauts"

Here are two quotes which I have come to love from Maggie Nelson's book "The Argonauts".

"You, reader, are alive today, reading this, because someone once adequately policed your mouth-exploring. In the face of this fact, Winnicott holds the relatively unsentimental position that we don't owe these people (often women, but by no means always) anything. But we do owe ourselves 'an intellectual recognition of the fact that at first we were (psychologically) absolutely dependent, and that absolutely means absolutely. Luckily we were met by early devotion."

"We bantered good-naturedly, yet somehow allowed ourselves to get polarized into a needless binary. That's what we both hate about fiction, or at least crappy fiction - it purports to provide occasions for thinking through complex issues, but really it has predetermined the positions, stuffed a narrative full of false choices, and hooked you on them, rendering you less able to see out, to get out."

Communion (Komunia) + Q&A at ICA London

Last night I went to see the UK premiere of Anna Zamecka's film 'Komunia' released this year at the ICA in London. The film was indeed beautifully shot, and her subjects, a family going through a difficult time both financially and interpersonally were each in their own way, gorgeous, charming and evocative. In the Q&A, Zamecka mentioned having had a script in mind as well as having a story line she wished to communicate about the 'adult-child' or having to grow up too fast.

None of the subjects (she used the word characters) ever acknowledged the camera and the editing was continuous to such an extant that it was easy to forget that one was watching a 'documentary'.

Some questions that arose when I thought about the film further:

- to what extent are documentary filmmakers ethically accountable for a self-reflexive and critical stance of their own involvement in the scenes in which they seek to represent? Further, to what extent  do they have a responsibility to acknowledge their presence in a literal way, beyond the assumed intimacy between the filmmaker and his/her subjects?

- in this way, to what extent does the camera and the presence of the filmmaker alter the 'performance' of the subjects (characters?), and as a result, should this be addressed within the film?

- what gets included within documentary? What should be included?

- to what level of involvement should a filmmaker introduce his/her input in or manipulations of scenes? How does a documentary filmmaker 'direct' if he/she is truly making a documentary? Is this present mainly in the editing process? How involved should a director be? Is it more honest to allow scenes to unfold before the camera rather than to follow a script in the making of a documentary film? Is this 'honesty' necessary?

- to what extent is documentary filmmaking opportunistic in its very nature of representing real people in real scenarios and as a consequence of making a film, to have one's name as author attached to the depiction of the lives of others? To what extent do you need to be opportunistic to produce good documentary - when you discover an important story, you follow it?

- how might documentary filmmaking serve to help its subjects especially if they are represented as dealing with some sort of hardship or economic difficulties?