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Film-making as intervention: The performative turn and the political avant-garde
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science, Contexts and Cultural Boundaries (KK).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0068-8063
2011 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Artists like Isaac Julien or John Akomfrah, founding member of the legendary Black Audio Film Collective, have recently made increasing use of the gallery space and the art circuits. John Akomfrah's The Genome Chronicles and Mnemosyne were created and exhibited as film installations, and so were most of Isaac Julien's recent works, e.g. Fantôme Créole, True North and Baltimore. Yet, even more striking is the fact that Handsworth Songs, the 1986 filmic essay by the Black Audio Film Collective, initially commissioned for television (Channel 4), 25 years after its premiere has experienced a renaissance when it was screened at the renown international art exhibition documenta XI. Recently, Tate Britain has acquired the piece for its collections, which in turn has been shown as a temporary video installation. What impact does the shift from the black box to the white cube have for Black British avant-garde film-making? I argue that the changed modes of distribution and exhibition are closely connected to a reconceptualisation of the works (Eshun 2011, Brunow 2011). This, in turn, has consequences for the auteur-status of the artists and, subsequently, the canonisation of their films and installations. I suggest that Handsworth Songs, while previously being classified as a 'documentary' (Corner 1996) and as a representation of a pre-given reality, should be perceived as a mediation on memory, colonialism and historiography. In creating a collage of archive footage, photographs and tableaux vivants, the film reflects on the ontology of the image and the racifying structures inherent in photography and the filmic apparatus. In the paper I will analyse the film’s aesthetic politics while taking a closer look at the use of intermediality and self-reflexivity as a means to transgress the notion of representation in favour of a performative turn towards the notion of film-making as intervention.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
Keyword [en]
avant-garde cinema, intermediality, self-reflexivity, intertextuality, film
Keyword [sv]
film, intermedialitet, intertextualitet
National Category
Studies on Film
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-16520OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hh-16520DiVA: diva2:452387
Conference
Media Acts. The 10th international conference of the Nordic Society for Intermedial Studies (NorSIS)at the Department of Art and Media Studies at NTNU, Trondheim, 26-28 October, 2011
Available from: 2011-10-29 Created: 2011-10-29 Last updated: 2015-05-04Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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  • vancouver
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Language
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