How can we rethink the documentary in art in terms of content, form and method? How can we be inspired by the paradox that as soon as you attempt to approach reality in a documentary way, it immediately evaporates and mutates? How can we take our responsibility for mechanisms that determine what can or may be observed, seen, heard, said, thought, made, or done? And how do documentary makers themselves deal with their own positions (of power) and blind spots?
Schedule of the Day
10:00 Opening & presentation of the Manifesto of The School of Speculative Documentary
10:30 Els Dietvorst Soulkeepers of the real – the camera as a tool to stimulate communication between the ‘Author’ and the ‘Other’ In her work, Els Dietvorst explores the thin line between art and everyday life, art and social empowerment, art as an autonomus creation and art as a collective creation. For her, art is a social process that stimulates communication, connects individuals, instigates conversation, acts critically and serves society. Starting from her meeting with Art-Coeur-Merci in 2006, a Cameroonian man who was living on the street in Brussels, she will reflect on breaking up the power relation between filmmaker and subject. Els Dietvorst is Belgian visual artist and filmmaker. She lives and works in Ireland.
11:15 Ho Rui An Death Drives and Coin Test China High-Speed Rail Videos Working primarily across the mediums of lecture, essay and film, the work of Ho Rui An probes into the shifting relations between image and power, focusing on the ways by which images are produced, circulate and disappear within contexts of globalism and governance. Drawing upon his ongoing engagement with vernacular cinema—moving images that gain form and currency through socially embedded acts of witnessing that exist outside the formalisms of cinema “proper”—this lecture considers two such instantiations of this seemingly untenable category. The first is the dashcam recording that has proliferated in recent years, as seen in the vast accumulation of crash footage—the most sensational of which feature speeding luxury sports cars—on the Internet, captured by cameras installed on dashboards the world over. The second, likewise attached to a moving vehicle, is the Coin Test China High-Speed Rail video, which shows a standing coin being balanced on the window ledge of one of China’s many high-speed trains to test the train’s stability. Reading these two optical-motor schemata against each other in the political present, the lecture examines the ways by which the discontents of late capitalism become observable, and by extension, are imagined as governable, not least by recourse to racialisation through the unstable figure of the Chinese capitalist subject. Ho Rui An is an artist and author based in Singapore and Berlin.
12:00 Rosine Mbakam The decolonisation of my cinematografic look In the social structure Rosine Mbakam grew up in, the image didn’t exist and the process of creating an image was not present in the collective unconsciousness. The only images she had came from her own imagination. The imagination has always been a means for expression, for breaking out, for resisting and protection. This imagination is strongly nourished by her family and its history, and her own history. The cinematic documentary came later as a way to create lines between all these elements. How to put this history in images? How to keep its singularity? How to integrate the documentary in my history and not the other way around? How to find a form that can liberate my imagination, my history, and that disengages from predestined codes? These question run through her creation process. Rosine Mbakam is a Cameroonian filmmaker, active in Brussels. Her work makes connections between the various realities in which she grew up and currently works.
13:00 - 14:00 Lunch
14:00 Eszter Salamon Melodrama Blurring the boundaries between reality and fiction Eszter Salamon interests in documentary reflects her desire to carve out a space of memory and history in empathy with female subjectivities. Several of her works focuses on feminist genealogies, transhistorical and trans-generational relations. Her practice of constructing new territories of imagination and new relationship to history and the future entails research, speculation, storytelling and various embodiment techniques. Her current interests go from encountering forgotten artistic movements and figures, investigate the intimate and political zone of the mother-daughter relationship andpoetically revive the history of feminism in Romania. In the frame of Speculative Documentary Salamon invites us to empathically jump into an episode taking place between 2012 and 2014 in the life of one of her homonymes, Dr. Krimerné Eszter Salamon, who lives in a village in South of Hungary. Eszter Salamon is a Hungarian choreographer and dancer. She lives and works in between Budapest and Brussels.
15:15 Helene Kazan Poetic Testimony The multi-media lecture/performance of Helene Kazan frames the many human expressions of living through violence; the chaotic nature of voicing evidence, or the poetics needed to express the experience of violence as: ‘poetic testimony’. Further, in line with feminist critical legal theory on the culturally ingrained and gendered modes of voicing evidence, that often exclude or render the human body invisible, this work questions the potential of poetic testimony, as a method for breaking the asymmetric power relations that existent in international law. Helene Kazan is an artist, curator and author based in London.
16:00 Said Reza Hosseini Adib & Mohammad Javad Mousavi Children of Moria Said Reza Hosseini Adib & Mohammad Javad Mousavi document life in various reception, detention and registration facilities that have been set up for asylum seekers. In their one minute short film Children of Moria they depict life in a Greek refugee camp from the perspective of the child. Said Reza Hosseini Adib & Mohammad Javad Mousavi are Afghan journalists, residing in Greece.
16:30 Arkadi Zaides In recent years Arkadi Zaides is focusing on something that could be named documentary choreography. As documentary theater, documentary choreography strives to include evidence from the ‘real’ being it documents, existing archives, documentary footage, interviews and testimonies and include them in the artistic work. These materials are not only points of departure, but they also become co-performers in the projects and shape their tone and aesthetics. While documentary theater is often text-based and uses the practice of verbatim (meaning "word for word"); repeating speeches, dialogues, proceedings, extracted from the reality with word-for-word accuracy, Zaides focuses on the movement aspect, highlighting the choreography that is happening in the social sphere and observes, analyzes, intervenes in it in his artistic work. In this talk, Zaides will discuss three of his recent works specifically focusing on the notion of the ‘border’. The border here is taken both literally (focusing on specific geographical border areas and identifying a particular choreography which emerges in these spaces) as well as metaphorically (exposing different types of discourses and apparatuses that are at work in relation to the figure of ‘the other’). Arkadi Zaides, choreographer who grew up in Belarus and Israel and lives in France.
17:45 Rebekka De Wit Tying up the manifesto with the speaker’s contribution, Rebekka De Wit reflects on the notion of speculative documentary. Rebekka De Wit is a theatre maker and writer living in Amsterdam.
19:30 Rosine Mbakam Les deux visages d’une femme Bamiléké (2016) A young woman who emigrated to Europe returns to the land of her birth, Cameroon. This film shows her reunion with her mother. 76 min | French/Bamileke, with English subtitles
The School of Speculative Documentary is an initiative of Belgian photographers Max Pinckers and Michiel De Cleene, theatremaker Thomas Bellinck and filmmaker An van Dienderen. Together, they founded a research group at the KASK in Ghent, which functions as an interdisciplinary meeting space to question the documentary act. During this symposium, the space will unfold in the Kaaistudios. Through artistic presentations and conversations, makers will talk about uncertainty and guesswork, to come to terms with the irreparable defects in their work and messy reality.
By & with An van. Dienderen, Max Pinckers, Michiel De Cleene, Thomas Bellinck. Supported by KASK/School of Arts (HoGent) and Kaaitheater / To Authenticity and Beyond!
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