Film archives, militant memories and the future of struggles

Where do images come from? What do they want? What do they do? How are they produced and where do they circulate? Who are their authors, activators, annotators and owners? What do images need to flourish and be valorized? What kind of images count as militant? Is their act of bearing witness and providing evidence enough to make them militant?

What kind of political space is the space of the archive? Is it national, local or international(ist)? Can images activate the future rather than just ‘taxidermically’ (Rony) capture the past? Can cinema not only be reflexive of the condition of life under capitalism but also attempt to change them? We will discuss how it feels to create images in context of civil conflict and political repression – the personal risks, legal consequences, ethical pressures but also the aesthetic and relational possibilities associated with producing militant images. We will then try to pinpoint the value of activist images, going beyond the dead, abstract and commercial Eurocentric political and aesthetic categories, and looking for modes of address that reflect the relational point of view of the subaltern political subjectivities of our time. We will discuss the epistemology and aesthetics of realism, often associated with the male, western gaze, whether the documentary mode is more militant or ethic than fictional representations or whether these two registers can work together. We will ask how the militant tradition of third cinema can be reactivated in the current context of post-truth, hyper-mediation and techno-acceleration. We will touch upon the poetic of melodrama, associated with subaltern voices; the political possibilities of online archives, the idea of filmmaking as a political craft, and the material and immaterial resources that are needed to bring the militant imagination from the peripheries to the centre. We will start with an exchange. We will give you some texts and you will give us some images. We will start our first iteration by building together a mode of address to develop a common knowledge and vision of militant image. 

Suggested texts:

  1. Azoulay, Ariella. 2011. “Getting Rid of the Distinction between the Aesthetic and the Political.” Theory, Culture & Society 27 (7–8): 239–262. 
  2. Getino, Octavio. 2011. ‘The Cinema as Political Fact’. Third Text 25 (1): 41–53. 
  3. Lorde, Audrey. Poetry is not a luxury.
  4. Ögüt Ahmet and Florian Malzacher, 2016. How can we imagine a school culture based on solidarity? 
  5. PAD.MA. 10 Theses on Archive.
  6. Rizk, Philip. 2018. 858-No archive is innocent.
  7. WHW (What, How and for Whom). Really Useful Knowledge.