RAW Académie Session 7 directed by artist and filmmaker Eric Baudelaire, was focused on film. New ways to see, to hear and to share, to help us question the urgencies of the present, not so much to explain them but to question ourselves in the face of them. Seven weeks to reflect on the relationship between film and actuality, between images and events, between art and the real.
While a shared definition of what constitutes the real eludes us, we have imagined this session with a great love for those who devote themselves, in various ways, to trying to grasp it, to studying its mechanisms, or simply to shining a light on a sliver of it. The faculty of Session 7 was made up of fellow travelers who shared these concerns, and were engaged in reflecting on the real with variable doses of fiction, invention, imagination and observation.
A passage from Samuel Beckett comes to mind: “… there will be a new form and (…) this form will be of such a type that it admits the chaos and does not try to say that the chaos is really something else. The form and the chaos remain separate… That is why the form itself becomes a preoccupation, because it exists as a problem separate from the material it accommodates. To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.”
Today, the word mess as a synonym for the word real seems as prescient as ever. What matters about Beckett’s formulation, what feels urgent and relevant about it in the current moment, is that it doesn’t speak of a task to reveal the mess, or deconstruct the mess – it speaks of a need to accommodate it in a form, so that we may find new ways to relate to it, whatever that form may be.
Throughout the Académie, we discussed the potentialities of images and sounds. Together, we watched a film a day: films authored by, and films that have inspired the visiting faculty. We considered film as a means of resistance, a tool to generate new critical forms, material and ideas, a medium for creating a common experience. We juxtaposed fictions that have documentary tendencies with documents that open fictional spaces, and instigate a dialogue between them. We inhabited the space between story and history. We discussed expanded practices, beyond film and projections: convening other artworks, archives, performances and discussions into the exhibition space, working with printed matter, inventing new models of interaction between artist, audience and material.
Images for our times was structured around rituals and repetition. Each day began with a screening, followed by a walk. A perambulation through the city of Dakar towards a new location where we sat and discussed what was screened. The program was not production focused, but fellows were encouraged to work on small projects, make images in Dakar, and share them with the fellows during dedicated weekly viewing sessions.
The curriculum was shaped each week by the visiting faculty members: filmmakers and artists John Akomfrah, Mati Diop, Alain Gomis, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Alfredo Jaar, Naeem Mohaiemen, curator and writer Rasha Salti and film scholar Nicole Brenez.
Through the screenings, the walks and the discussions, RAW Académie Session 7 reflected on a cinema that searches for new forms to accommodate the real, with the conviction that a form can create a community of circumstance. A community that exists because of the form, a community that thinks about problems that the observed real poses. What remains important is experiencing a sensation together, experiencing a non-fragmented continuity together. Thinking anew our sense of time as we reflect about the mess. Affirming an urgency to rethink our experience of time.
This session was open to filmmakers and artists interested in working with moving images, as well as film programmers, curators, researchers, and art historians with a commitment to the moving image.
Eric Baudelaire (b. 1973) is an artist and filmmaker based in Paris, France. After training as a political scientist, Baudelaire established himself as a visual artist with a research-based practice incorporating photography, printmaking and video. Since 2010, filmmaking has become central to his work. His feature films Also Known As Jihadi (2017), Letters to Max (2014), The Ugly One (2013) and The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi and 27 Years Without Images (2011) have circulated widely in film festivals (including Locarno, Toronto, New York, FID Marseille and Rotterdam film festivals). When shown within exhibitions, Baudelaire’s films are part of broad installations that include works on paper, performance, publications and public programs, in projects such as APRÈS at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and The Secession Sessions, which traveled to the Berkeley Art Museum, Bétonsalon in Paris, Bergen Kunsthall and Sharjah Biennial 12. Baudelaire has had monographic exhibitions at the Witte de With (Rotterdam) the Fridericianum (Kassel) the Beirut Art Center, Gasworks (London) and the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and has participated in the 2017 Whitney Biennale, the 2014 Yokohama Triennale, Mediacity Seoul 2014, and the 2012 Taipei Biennial. His work is in the collections of the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, the MACBA in Barcelona, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and M+ in Hong Kong.
Public lectures Calendar
Images for our Times
RAW Académie Session 7
Friday November 1st at 8:00pm
Un film dramatique (2019) by Eric Baudelaire
What are we making together? This question is the concern of the students of the cinema group of the Dora Maar (93) middle school and Eric Baudelaire, who has accompanied them since their entrance in the school. To answer that question - political since it engages representations of power, of social violence and of identity - is for them to start a search for a form that can do justice to the singularity of each of them, but also to the spirit of the group. What are me making together, if it is neither fiction nor documentary? A dramatic film, perhaps, which showcases the ways in which time works on bodies and discourse, but also the possibility for each to speak in their own name while filming for others, and to become along with Baudelaire, co-authors of a film, that is, already the subjects of their own lives.
Wednesday November 6th at 6:00pm
RAW Material Company
Public lecture with Khalil Joreige
The Lebanese Civil Wars collapsed the binary between fiction and documentary for violence affects representations, images and narrations. In the specific context of post-war Beirut, what was real seemed sometimes implausible, and the possibility of fiction was put into question.
It is so difficult to define the "real." Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige are constantly looking for its manifestations, symptoms and appearances. What interests us is what is alive, what is close to “life”. So when they speak of the real, of reality, of fiction, they are in fact speaking of trying to make images or narrations they can believe in, trying to show what is invisible, or impossible to see...
Friday November 8th at 8:00pm
Je veux voir (2008) by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige
July 2006. Another war breaks out in Lebanon. A war which comes to break the hopes of peace in the next generation.
We do not know what to write, what stories to tell, what images to show. We ask ourselves “what can film do?”
This question, we decided to ask it truly. We go to Beyrouth with an “icon”, an actress who represents film for us, Catherine Deneuve. She will meet our actor, Rabih Mroué.
Together, they will drive through the regions devastated by the conflict.
Through their presence, their meetings, we hope to recover a beauty that our eyes cannot see anymore.
An unpredictable, unexpected adventure begins...
Wedsnesday November 13th at 6:00pm
RAW Material Company
Public lecture with Alain Gomis
“Images, thoughts, and so on, by whom, for whom?
Taking to bring elsewhere? Testifying to elsewhere?”
Alain Gomis wonders about the international and the local. He invites us to think about an artistic production that transcends language and cultural barriers. The director proposes a creative process which takes into account our differences and thus creates a common language.
Alain Gomis is the founder of the Yennenga center which focuses on training, creation and diffusion in the fields of cinematography and audiovisual content. He invites us to think about artists’ transmission and the necessity to be well rooted in one’s context.
Thursday November 14th at 8:00pm
Otona no miru ehon - Umarete wa mita keredo / I Was Born, But... (1932) by Yasujirō Ozu
A family and their two young boys, Keiji and Ryoichi, move to a new neighborhood in the Tokyo suburbs. The boys, bullied by a gang of kids, skip school. The teacher informs their father who makes them go back to class so that they can become “important people.” The boys, with the help of an older boy, join the local gang as lowly new kids and emerge as natural leaders after defeating a bully. While visiting the home of their father's boss, the brothers witness the ridicule their father has endured to please his superior. This leads to a great family fight. Angry and embarrassed, the boys find their naive ideas about power being challenged. They decide to rebel by going on a hunger strike because “if becoming someone important means bowing to a boss, then what is the point?”
Wednesday November 27th at 6:00pm
RAW Material Company
Public lecture with John Akomfrah
John Akomfrah is a seminal figure in Black British Cinema and forerunner in digital cinematography. He was a founding figure in the influential cine cultural group Black Audio Film Collective which was dedicated to exploring questions of Black British identity, race and class through film and media. His practice focuses on memory, the post-colonial as well as the realities and experiences of migration globally.
Friday November 29th at 8:00pm
Handsworth Songs (1986) and The Stuart Hall Project (2013) by John Akomfrah
Documentary examining the 1985 riots in London and Birmingham's Handsworth district that erupted in reaction to the repressive policing of black communities.
The Stuart Hall Project
Stuart Hall is one of the most influential and esteemed cultural theorists of a generation. A thinker and commentator, his peers include other giants of political commentary such as Noam Chomsky, Susan Sontag, Alan Ginsberg, Michel Foucault and Gore Vidal. This documentary takes the viewer on a roller coaster ride through the upheavals, struggles and turning points that made the 20th century the century of campaigning, and of global political and cultural change.
Wednesday December 4th at 6:00pm
RAW Material Company
Public lecture with Alfredo Jaar
“I will not act in the world before understanding the world” - Alfredo Jaar
According to Alfredo Jaar, there is a huge gap between reality and its possible representations but the role of the artist is to try different strategies for representation which can help to communicate on these different realities.
In this conference, he will share his artistic practice and its inspirations.
Alfredo Jaar is a conceptual artist, architect, and filmmaker who lives and works in New York. Jaar has realized more than seventy public interventions around the world. His works are very often political and deals with sensitive subjects, such as the Rwandan genocide, environmental pollution in Nigeria or problems around immigration between the U.S. and Mexico.
Friday December 6th at 8:00pm
Film screening followed by a discussion with Alfredo Jaar
Wednesday December 11th at 8:00pm
Tripoli Cancelled (2017) by Naeem Mohaiemen
A man follows a daily routine of walking, smoking, writing letters, staging scenes, and reading from a weathered copy of the British children’s classic Watership Down. Gradually, we learn that his home for the last decade is an abandoned airport, and witness his cycle of routine and realization. But is he a prisoner, or is it a voluntary home? There are no guards or fences, only a few mannequins in Olympic Airlines uniform, Melina Mercouri and Boney M songs, and letters to his wife that mix fantasy and despair. The film is shot in the Eero Saarinen designed International Terminal (built 1969, closed in 2001) of Ellinikon Airport in Greece. The script is loosely inspired by Mohaiemen’s father, who was stranded in this same Athens airport for nine days in 1977, after losing his passport on a Bangladesh-India flight. Tripoli Cancelled is also a requiem for an expansive post-war architecture, that in the future may not exist. Commissioned by documenta 14.
Friday December 13th at 8:00pm
Film screening within the Partcours 8 programme
Atlantique (2019) by Mati Diop
In a popular suburb of Dakar, workers on the construction site of a futuristic tower, without pay for months, decide to leave the country by the ocean for a better future. Among them is Souleiman, the lover of Ada, promised to another. Days later, a fire ruins Ada's wedding and a mysterious fever starts to spread among the girls in the neighborhood. Issa, a young police officer, starts to investigate, unaware that the spirits of the drowned men have returned. While some of them have come for revenge, Souleiman has returned to say goodbye to Ada.
This screening will be followed by a discussion with Mati Diop, Ken Bugul and Angèle Assie Diabang.