Unreformable

Artist Cinemas

Clip from Silvano Agosti, D’amore si vive (We Live of Love), 1983.

October 18, 2021
Unreformable
A new edition of Artist Cinemas convened by Adelita Husni Bey
October 18–November 28, 2021
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e-flux is very pleased to present Unreformable, an online program of films and texts put together by Adelita Husni Bey as the eighth edition of Artist Cinemas, a long-term series curated by artists for e-flux Video & Film.

Unreformable runs in six weekly episodes from October 18 through November 28, 2021, streaming a new film each week accompanied by a commissioned interview or response published in text form.

It features films by Silvano AgostiAndreas Hernandez, Khaled Jarrar, Sarah MinterAdriana Monti, and Narciso Ibáñez Serrador; in conversation with Adelita Husni BeyDora BudorChristina Chalmers and Lea MelandriOlivia Crough, and Ciarán Finlayson.

The program opens its first week with Silvano Agosti’s D’amore si vive (1983), accompanied by an interview with Agosti conducted by Husni Bey.

Follow the program here.

Program

“As for me, I have chosen: I will be on the side of crime. And I will help the children not win access to your houses, your factories, your schools, your laws, and sacraments, but to destroy them.”
—Jean Genet, The Criminal Child (1949)

Reflecting upon his time spent at Mettray, a youth correctional facility in France modeled on the German Rauhe Haus (Houses of thee Wild), Genet refuses penance, reform, assimilation, and reconciliation. In this short text written for radio, but censored and never aired, the poet rallies against bourgeois representations of criminality, which only function to reaffirm the morality of reform and the “goodness” of its jailers. 

The films in this program are held together by a refusal of innocence: a refusal of containment, of neutralization, and of a morality grounded in the exemplary goodness and docility of its subjects. The subjects of these films have been expropriated and some expropriate in return. In Quién puede matar a un niño?, Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s island is populated by children who kill adults and cops after being subjected to war. Through Lea Melandri’s “150 hours” course in Adriana Monti’s Scuola senza fine, a mother comes to understand herself as both warden of her child and prisoner of her own motherhood. Frank, the eight-year-old boy interviewed by Silvano Agosti in D’amore si vive, decries the world he was born into and declares “making love” as a clear-eyed act of defiance against the prison of salaried work he is yet to experience. In Sarah Minter’s Nadie es inocente, a group of teenage punks rebuke orders and the conscriptions of “normality.” Palestinian youth refuse an imposed and militarized border in Khaled Jarrar’s Infiltrators, just as members of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Andreas Hernandez’s Soil, Struggle and Justice refuse the expropriation of waged labor, dispossession, and poverty through occupying latifundios

If innocence is the precondition for care in liberal societies—whereby an imagined purity and passivity are necessary attributes of social cohesion and order, and unruly expressions of rage are immediately othered and violently repressed—then one has to be unthreatening in order to appeal to a liberal politics of recognition. Yet the subjects of these films commit criminal acts, oneirically and practically, against history, against their assigned roles, against super-exploitation and arbitrary confinement. For them, following Genet, the position of the unreformed is the only position.

I want to extend this argument as part of the process of a political education, where the practice of unlearning a subject’s place in the world unleashes a capacity for threat. The characters in these films fuck with what it means to be a mother, a farmer, a housewife, a child, a prisoner—for some, the consequences are harsher. As witnesses, voyeurs, or voleurs, the audience is an accomplice in the process of recasting, of carving an illicit place out of a classroom, a field, a kitchen, a border wall. 

This moment of mass grief, acompanied by a clear, mediatized unveiling of who can be subject to injury and who has the luxury of protection, has thrown a spanner in the reproduction of innocence as a metonym for cohesion. Within this era of decline and deceleration, I want to present narratives that challenge paradigms of purity as well as produce resistances based in expansive and illicit politics, and in adulteration, sensuality, and dirt. 

—Adelita Husni Bey

Episodes

Week #1: Monday, October 18–Sunday, October 24
Silvano Agosti, D’amore si vive (We Live of Love), 1983
93 minutes

In this documentary composed of interviews and initially produced for television as a nine-hour series, Agosti interrogates his subjects about love from behind the camera, often depicting those socially denied eroticism and sexuality, such as children. Reminiscent of Pasolini’s Comizi d’amore (Love Meetings) yet more visceral, Agosti’s film is both empathic and voyeuristic.

Week #2: Monday, October 25–Sunday, October 31
Adriana Monti, Scuola senza fine (School Without End), 1983
40 minutes

A group of women following the worker-union-sponsored “150 hours” course to complete their secondary school education are mentored by feminist, activist, and writer Lea Melandri. Adriana Monti follows the women as they reconsider their role as housewives and the effects of this type of political education on their self-narration. 

Week #3: Monday, November 1–Sunday, November 7
Sarah Minter, Nadie es inocente (No One is Innocent), 1987
57 minutes

An arresting portrait of the Mierdas Punks, a group of youths living in the outskirts of Mexico City who are devoted to the fringes and the “unacceptable.” Minter’s approach, intuitive and improvised, is reflected in the film which was written in collaboration with the group, as they venture around Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, otherwise known as “Neza York.”

Week #4: Monday, November 8–Sunday, November 14
Andreas Hernandez, Soil, Struggle and Justice, 2014
73 minutes

This documentary chronicles the history of the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, known in English as the Landless Workers Movement) in Brazil, offering a detailed account of their activities beginning with land occupation, land restoration, and a complex social system that includes continuous political formacion as its core principle.  

Week #5: Monday, November 15–Sunday, November 21
Narciso Ibáñez Serrador, ¿Quién puede matar a un niño (Who Can Kill a Child?), 1976
111 minutes

An English couple land on an island inhabited by children who have developed superpowers after having been subjected to war. The couple come to discover that the children have killed all the adults on the island and that they are next.

Week #6: Monday, November 22–Sunday, November 28, 2021
Khaled Jarrar, Infiltrators, 2012
70 minutes

Picturing the uncertain and tense search for a route across, under, or over the border wall, Palestinians seek to penetrate the highly militarized West Bank. Alternating between cigarette breaks, detours, waiting, and moving the film depicts the cunning, unnerving, and constant struggle to defy captivity and occupation. 

Adelita Husni-Bey is an artist and pedagogue invested in anarcho-collectivism, theater, and critical legal studies. She organizes workshops and produces publications, broadcasts, and exhibition work using non-competitive pedagogical models through the framework of contemporary art. Involving activists, architects, jurists, schoolchildren, spoken-word poets, actors, urbanists, physical therapists, students, and teachers, her work consists of making sites in which to practice collectively. Her work was part of the Italian pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, 2017, and her most recent solo exhibition was Maktspill, Kunsthall Bergen, 2020. She has participated in Trainings for the Not Yet, BAK, Utrecht, 2020, Being: New Photography 2018, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018; Dreamlands, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 2016; The Eighth Climate, 11th Gwangju Biennale, 2015; Really Useful Knowledge, Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, 2014. She is a 2020-2022 Vera List Center Fellow with a project centred on the radical changes in social relations brought about by responses to past and current pandemics. 

About Artist Cinemas
Artist Cinemas is a new e-flux platform focusing on exploring the moving image as understood by people who make film. It is informed by the vulnerability and enchantment of the artistic process—producing non-linear forms of knowledge and expertise that exist outside of academic or institutional frameworks. It will also acknowledge the circles of friendship and mutual inspiration that bind the artistic community. Over time this platform will trace new contours and produce different understandings of the moving image.

For more information, contact program@e-flux.com.

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