Images Sometimes Tremble: Encounters with Durational Cinema

Curated Manifestos
'Images Sometimes Tremble: Video-Essays In The Age Of Telepolitics' hosted by The Otolith Group

In a contemporary context characterised by the resurgence in activist documentary and the turn towards documentary in contemporary artists moving image practice, Images Sometimes Tremble proposes an encounter with a more elusive tendency, one that exists within the domains of archive and poetics and between the zones of historicity and fabulation: the essay-film. Strangely overlooked by critics, this interstitial, tangential tendency has retained a persistent popularity with generations of artists across the world. Each work is accompanied by a presentation by theorists Kodwo Eshun, Nicole Wolf, Brian Holmes and Chris Berry that situate the work in a series of theoretical contexts that allow multiple entry points for discussion.

Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Group present a rare opportunity to see Videogramme einer Revolution (Videogrammes of a Revolution, Germany/Romania, 1992)by renowned essay- film maker Harun Farocki and media philosopher Andrei Ujica. The directors have assembled their account of the 1989 Romanian revolution from TV and amateur video footage of the events Videogramme reflects upon the emergence of a telepolitics in which the camera does not merely report but instead catalyses and participates in the production of a new political space that comes into existence before our ears and eyes.

A screening of Coco Fusco's Operation Atropos (2006) followed by lecture by Brian Holmes. The British debut of artists and critic Coco Fusco's latest video-work Operation Atropos promises to be a special event. With eager art students in tow, Fusco signs up for an intensive field course in U.S. military interrogation techniques. This demanding program involves an immersive simulation of the POW experience that makes for uneasy watching and raises difficult questions about the changing relations between femininity, militarization and the privatisation of torture.

A screening of Zhou Hongxiang's The Red Flag Flies, followed by lecture by Chris Berry. A rare opportunity to see Zhou HongXiang's extraordinary video-essay screened here in its full 70 minute version. The Red Flag Flies restages the Maoist tropes of the Cultural Revolution as a theatre of provocation. Maoist poems, slogans and icons are reworked as incongruous tableaux that move across time and place with dazzling iconoclasm. Neither narrative nor documentary, The Red Flag Flies is a series of rhythmically arranged episodes whose cumulative effect is defiantly singular.

Screenings of Amar Kanwar's A Season Outside (India, 1998) and To Remember (India, 2003) followed by lecture and discussion led by Nicole Wolf. Amar Kanwar achieved recognition when A Season Outside was screened at Documenta XI in 2002 to major acclaim. The film is a meditation on the poetics and politics of non-violence prompted by Kanwar's question: Can non-violence prevail in a context of persistent, intractable atrocity? Navigating between legends, anecdotes, memories of Partition in 1947 and government inquiries into Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of Satyagraha, this visual essay refuses to propose easy solutions. To Remember is a portrait of Birla House, the site of Mahatma Gandhi's assassination on January 30, 1948. Located in Delhi, Birla House has become a gallery and shrine attracting hundreds of visitors daily. This short silent film is an homage to Gandhi as well as the visitors who embody the spirit of his pacifist teachings. Against the backdrop of a surge in militant, Hindu nationalism, Kanwar's work is particularly telling. Clearly, the historical turn of events from non-violence to nuclear armament, suggest a deep ambivalence about Mahatma Gandhi's legacy.

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