Aesthetics of Resistance: Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art

Aesthetics of Resistance

Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art

Aesthetics of Resistance: Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art

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December 2022–March 2023
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e-flux Screening Room
172 Classon Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

With Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, Pedro Costa, Harun Farocki, Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle, Louis Henderson, Laura Huertas Millán, Deimantas Narkevičius, Rosalind Nashashibi, Uriel Orlow, Matt Peterson, Matías Piñeiro, Martha Rosler, Keith Sanborn, Oraib Toukan, Ana Vaz, Clemens von Wendermeyer, Nele Wohlatz, and more to be announced

Curated by Lukas Brasiskis

“What we try to explore are things that are outside ourselves. We address ourselves to texts that offer us resistance. We try to test them out; we make audiovisual objects out of them, which consist of movements, movements within a visual frame, movements of light and sound.”
—Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub

e-flux Screening Room presents Aesthetics of Resistance: Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art, a four-part series of screenings and discussions inspired by the works of the French filmmaker duo Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub.

The series is conceived as a way of initiating discussion about the reverberations of Straub-Huillet's ideas in contemporary moving-image art. “The aesthetics of resistance”—a concept associated with Straub and Huillet as well as with Peter Weiss—is defined here as an opposition to both: the spectacularization and the uniformization of complex issues. In contrast to the idea of political filmmaking as the production of closed and easy to identify narratives that aim at instilling consensus among audiences, this series showcases works by artists and filmmakers who openly and audaciously examine the political potential of the film form and of post-dramatic storytelling. The screenings and discussions in this series will scrutinize ways of reenacting the past in the present; performing the archeology of historical texts; treating landscape as a depository of traces of colonialism and class tensions; making films together with local communities; and pushing the limits of the direct use of voice and sound; among other politically motivated strategies of filmmaking that bear either direct or indirect lineage from, or function as parallel vectors to, the works by Straub-Huillet. 

Aesthetics of Resistance: Straub-Huillet and Contemporary Moving-Image Art unfolds in four, multi-day chapters taking place at e-flux Screening Room from December 2022 through March 2023, each consisting of screenings of works by contemporary artists and filmmakers, and a screening of a select film by Straub-Huillet, accompanied by discussions.

I. In the Present, the Scripted Past Is Performed
Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 6pm and 8pm: Double feature and discussion: Straub-Huillet and Matías Piñeiro
Saturday, December 3, 2022 at 5pm: Screening and discussion: Clemens Von Wedemeyer
Tuesday, December 6, 2022 at 7pm: Screening and discussion: Louis Henderson, Keith Sanborn, Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle, and Rosalind Nashashibi

Between the words written in the past and the bodies reciting them in the presence of a camera, an abyss widens. The voices of the readers serve neither to psychologize them nor to take over the place in which they are heard. Rather than the model of narrative chronology, the films and videos presented in this chapter depend on the model of productive dissociation, which does not need to establish the perceptual solidity of space in linear time. Offscreen is nearly entirely represented by what is onscreen. The ruins and traumas of the past are absorbed into the modern setting, texts of the past are appropriated by the bodies through speech. There is no exterior to what one sees. The characters are not shown as fictional constructs. They reenact historical texts over the cacophony of everyday life, separating what the narrative was about from what it is now. Following Straub-Huillet’s pursuit of radical materialism, the artists and filmmakers featured in this chapter do not tell stories about the past that are typically based on temporally situated flashbacks and flashforwards; instead, relying on direct images and sounds and aesthetically struggling with the texts they attempt to reenact, they bring history to life in the present.

II. Colonial Histories and Landscapes to Be Deciphered
January 24–29, 2023 [detailed program forthcoming]

III. On Communities, Labor, and Class Relations
February 16–21, 2023 [detailed program forthcoming]

IV. Films to Be Made and Unmade
March 7–11, 2023 [detailed program forthcoming]

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.

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–For elevator access, please RSVP to The building has a freight elevator which leads into the e-flux office space. Entrance to the elevator is nearest to 180 Classon Ave (a garage door). We have a ramp for the steps within the space.         
–e-flux has an ADA-compliant bathroom. There are no steps between the Screening Room and this bathroom.



Double feature and discussion: Straub-Huillet and Matías Piñeiro
December 1, 2022, 6pm and 8pm
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Screening and discussion: Clemens Von Wedemeyer
December 3, 2022, 5pm
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Screening and discussion: Louis Henderson, Keith Sanborn, Liam Gillick and Anton Vidokle, and Rosalind Nashashibi
December 6, 2022
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For over four decades, the films of Danièle Huillet (1936–2006) and Jean-Marie Straub (1933-2022) have been woven into the history of modern cinema as a continuous thread. While both were French, they worked mostly in Germany and Italy, and made two dozen films between 1963 and 2006. Their films, often adapted from theatrical or literary works, are distinguished by their deliberate use of Brechtian distancing techniques and strong Marxist political overtones. Aesthetically their work has been described as austere with minimal camera movements, long takes, simple, stark settings and restrained acting performances. Rare documents of aesthetic and political resistance to the world’s conditions, their works are characteristic of a great lyrical beauty and radical social formulas. when regarded today, Huillet and Straub’s oeuvre is an always fresh, exciting, and inimitable succession of films on history, painting, nature, politics, music, language, bodies, rhythms, and forms.

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