Thursday, January 23

Akerman and Space-Time by Ella Harris, Eve Marguerite and Keifer Taylor

An ongoing collaborative research project on space and time in Chantal Akerman's films between Ella Harris, Eve Marguerite Allen and Keifer Taylor.

Spaces of Refraction - Ella Harris

Three Geographical Encounters


1.       The site is defined by relations of proximity between points or elements”

2.       “one could describe, via its network of relations, the closed or semi-closed sites of rest—the house, the bedroom, the bed, et cetera. But among all these sites, I am interested in certain ones that have the curious property of being in relation with all the other sites, but in such a way as to suspect, neutralize, or invent the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reflect.”

(Foucault, Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias and Utopias)   

The mirror is a semi-real/semi-unreal site. It is real because it takes up a literal portion of spacetime, it occupies an actual site in a given room. However, the mirror is also virtual because it has the potential to take on countless images, and unreal because it shows things where they are not. In ostensibly displaying you in your own real site the mirror actually transports your image over there – reframing it in a curious elsewhere, where it is given a new site and takes on a whole new set of relations and therefore characteristics, changing your image before you have a chance to catch it. The mirror is therefore a not a space of reflection: its surface is one which refracts, bends and distorts what it shows by a process of theft and motion, taking what is and transfiguring it into something else, in its passage via the virtual.

For Foucault, there are certain spaces, which he names ‘heterotopias’, that function like mirrors, in that their relations with other sites have a transformative effect. The relational connections that heterotopias have with other sites are not relations of affirmation or propping up, a neighbourly proximity that secures each’s place – they are relations of questioning and destabilisation; relations which cast a critical light upon all spaces and their relations.  As Foucault suggests, even the most seemingly circumscribed of sites, ‘the house, the bedroom, the bed’ can have this transformative power.

Akerman’s early work demonstrates a fixation on the interiority of precisely these places, the bed, the bedroom and the apartment. This is spelled out in La Chambre but more acutely explored in Je Tu Il Elle and Saute Ma Ville and 15/8.

La Chambre - Eve Marguerite Allen

Tuesday, January 14

The Virtues of Boredom by Jessica Fletcher

The Virtues of Boredom 

Films as diverse as Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975), Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte (2010) and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011) can be linked through their denial of immediate visual or narrative gratification, indeed by their apparent determination to bore their viewer. They can be off-putting and antagonistic towards their audience, but their insistence on boredom is arguably intrinsic to their epic scopes.

Friday, January 3

Spot Light on North Korea Part Two by Ella Harris and Eve Marguerite Allen

Spot Light on North Korea Part Two: The View from the West

Since the death of Kim Jong-il in 2011, North Korean cinema has received a surge of interest. The facts and fictions surrounding the North Korean cultural propaganda industries are as dark as they are bizarre. This three part article interrogates the construction and the function of the myths surrounding North Korea's global image by examining the film produced there. 

The ‘Othering’ of North Korea

The West’s recent fascination with North Korean cinema is perhaps unsurprising given that films are one of the only things that regularly manage to escape the country’s tightly maintained borders. Despite constant attempts, few people successfully ‘defect’ from North Korea and images of real life in the country are limited to what can be glimpsed from the border zones with the South, or related by those who have managed to flee. In an age of near total communication, life inside North Korea is perhaps the globalised world’s best kept secret; endlessly discussed but barely understood. So it is fascinatingly peculiar when from the depths of this sinister black hole what greets us is kitsch, B-movie Godzilla rip-offs executive-directed by Kim Jong-il.