Screening and discussion: Louis Henderson, Keith Sanborn, Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle, and Rosalind Nashashibi

Screening and discussion: Louis Henderson, Keith Sanborn, Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle, and Rosalind Nashashibi

Keith Sanborn, Auto-Icon or, Farther Uses of the Dead to the Living (still), 2022.

Aesthetics of Resistance

Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art

Screening and discussion: Louis Henderson, Keith Sanborn, Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle, and Rosalind Nashashibi

Admission starts at $5

December 6, 2022, 7pm
172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Join us at e-flux Screening Room on Tuesday, December 6 at 7pm for a screening of Louis Henderson’s Bring breath to the death of rocks (2018, 34 minutes), Keith Sanborn’s Auto-Icon or, Farther Uses of the Dead to the Living (2022, 7 minutes), Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle’s A Guiding Light (2010, 21 minutes), and Rosalind Nashashibi’s Carlo’s Vision (2011, 11 minutes), followed by a discussion with the artists.

The screening constitutes the third event of “In the Present, the Scripted Past Is Performed,” the first chapter of the four-part series Aesthetics of Resistance: Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art taking place at e-flux Screening Room in monthly chapters between December 2022 and March 2023. Read more on the series here.

Aesthetics of Resistance: Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art is produced and organized by e-flux, with the support of the German Film Office, an initiative of the Goethe-Institut and German Films.

Louis Henderson, Bring breath to the death of rocks
2018, 34 minutes
This is the first film in Henderson’s three-part Overture, whose narration takes place between two locations: France and Haiti—where a ghost story unfolds about the history of the Haitian revolution. Somewhat obscured and ignored throughout history, and considered minor to the revolutions of the USA and France, the Haitian Revolution was perhaps the only revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to truly live up to the Enlightenment ideals of the universal human rights of freedom and equality. The Revolution was initially led by a former slave who became an army general: François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture (1743-1803), also known as Toussaint L’Ouverture. Overture takes the viewer on a journey from the National Archives in France, to the frozen stratigraphic landscapes of the French Jura, and into the heart of a baroque-like limestone cave, eventually arriving in Haiti, where we come across a group of young actors rehearsing scenes from a Creole translation of Édouard Glissant’s play Monsieur Toussaint​. Travelling from the documents in the French National Archives to the prison cell in the Jura Mountains in which the manuscript was written, Bring breath to the death of rocks suggests an archaeology of the colonial history of France buried within its landscapes and institutions. Many millions of years ago the Jura was a tropical ocean, as it metamorphosed into the mountain range it is today it left behind large sedimented layers of time, forming the strata that fold along the horizon line today. If strati-graphy means the writing of strata, this film suggests a reading of strata in which the fossilized history of Louverture can be brought to life through a form of geologic haunting. Narrated with fragments from Louverture’s letters, Aimé Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, and a passage from the opera Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi, the film turns to baroque, epic, and tragic aesthetic forms as a way to speak of the escape and eventual journey of Louverture’s ghost through water, rock, and human bodies.

Keith Sanborn, Auto-Icon or, Farther Uses of the Dead to the Living
2022, 7 minutes
This work stages an encounter with Jeremy Bentham’s Auto-Icon, that is, his skeletal remains, padded out, and dressed in his customary attire, currently residing in a glass case in the Student Center of University College, London. Bentham, a devout materialist, nonetheless, contemplated his afterlife as a cultural and physical entity, in short: his reputation after his death. His project has the aspect of creating a first-degree relic, and yet he insists on it being only “quasi-sacred.” It is part of a series of Sanborn’s, which includes an encounter with Lenin’s auto-icon—his embalmed corpse, on view in his mausoleum in Red Square—as well as the contemplation of the filmmaker’s own mortality in the form of an extended gaze at the somnolent, yet living body of his own father, now 100 years old.

Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle, A Guiding Light
2010, 21 minutes
For A Guiding Light, Gillick and Vidokle invited artists Boško Blagojević, Noah Brehmer, Nadja Frank, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, and Danna Vajda, critic Tim Griffin, and curators Anna Colin and Shama Khanna to consider the curatorial premise of a large scale international art exhibition: the 8th Shanghai Biennale. The artists gathered these eight participants at a New York television studio, and, combining a curatorial text by Gao Shiming with a structural analysis of a 1952 episode of the television soap opera Guiding Light, staged a production that shifts between analysis and self-critique. Captured by several cameras, the film that results preserves the soap opera’s signature stage-blocking and cuts, while highlighting the differences and difficulties that we encounter when attempting to capture the potential of art today.

Rosalind Nashashibi, Carlo’s Vision
2011, 11 minutes
Carlo’s Vision is based on an episode in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s unfinished novel Petrolio that describes the vision experienced by Carlo, the protagonist of Petrolio. Rather than filming the vision exactly as it is described in the novel, Nashashibi has taken the protagonists and props and location from the early 1970s and imported them into the present day, in exactly the same location in 2011. The result is a mixture of observational documentary and fiction, in which Carlo is pulled along Rome’s Via Torpignattara on a director’s dolly, observing the long march of a young man, The Shit, and his fiancée Cinzia. Carlo is towed backwards by three gods, two speaking and one silent; with his back to them he can hear what they are thinking, their interior monologues. These prophetic figures provide an interpretation of what Carlo is witnessing, commenting on the past and present governance of Rome, and on class and sexuality as manipulated today by Italy’s power structures. Filmed on Rome’s Via Torpignattara in summer 2011, the vision experienced by Carlo is differentiated from reality by the use of color. Through these techniques, simultaneous layers of reality are described, and the magical friction of the film lies in the borders where simultaneous realities meet.

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Film, Literature, Performance
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Aesthetics of Resistance: Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art

Louis Henderson is a filmmaker and writer who experiments with different ways of working with people to address and question our current global condition defined by racial capitalism and the ever-present histories of the European colonial project. Henderson’s films and installations are shown regularly in various international film festivals, art museums, and biennials and are distributed by LUX and Video Data Bank. His writing has been published in both print and online in books and journals. At present, Henderson is a doctoral candidate at the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy. His research looks into the riverscapes of the East of England and Guyana through “spiral retellings” of the works of Wilson Harris and Nigel Henderson. He lives and works in Paris and Berlin, and is a member of the SWRG.

Keith Sanborn has been working in film, photography, digital media, and video since the late Pleistocene Age. His work has appeared at various festivals including Ostranenie, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Images Festival (Toronto), OVNI Barcelona, the International Film Festival Rotterdam, Hong Kong Videotage, the Alexandria Film Festival, EMAF, the New York Video Festival, and the Whitney Biennial. His work has been screened at various museums and media arts centers such as the Walker Art Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art New York, Anthology Film Archives, Chicago Filmmakers, the Pompidou Center, the Pacific Film Archive, and the San Francisco Cinematheque.

Liam Gillick is an artist based in New York. His work exposes the dysfunctional aspects of a modernist legacy in terms of abstraction and architecture when framed within a globalized, neo-liberal consensus, and extends into structural rethinking of the exhibition as a form. He has produced a number of short films since the late 2000s which address the construction of the creative persona in light of the enduring mutability of the contemporary artist as a cultural figure. Over the last twenty five years Gillick has also been a prolific writer and critic of contemporary art, contributing to Artforum, October, Frieze, and e-flux Journal. His book Industry and Intelligence: Contemporary Art Since 1820 was published by Columbia University Press in March 2016.

Anton Vidokle is an editor of e-flux journal and chief curator of the 14th Shanghai Biennale: Cosmos Cinema.

Rosalind Nashashibi is a London-based artist working in film and painting. Her films use both documentary and speculative languages, where real-life observations are merged with paintings, fictional, or sci-fi elements to propose models of collective living. Her paintings likewise operate on another level of subjective experience, they frame arenas or pools of potential where people or animals may appear, often in their own context of signs and apparitions that signal their position for the artist. Nashashibi has shown her works in Documenta 14, Manifesta 7, the Nordic Triennial, and Sharjah Biennial X. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2017 and won Beck’s Futures prize in 2003. She represented Scotland in the 52nd Venice Biennial. Her most recent solo shows include Vienna Secession, CAAC Seville, Chicago Art Institute and Kunstinstuut Melly, Rotterdam. She was National Gallery artist in residence 2020.

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