All posts tagged: documentary

Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary

Reviewed by Genne Speers, York University, Toronto. Pooja Rangan. Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary. Duke University Press. 2017. 254 pages. “What does endangered life do for documentary?” This critical, and often overlooked, question is the point of departure for Immediations The Humanitarian Impulse in Documentary. In this book, Pooja Rangan, Assistant Professor of English in Film and Media Studies at Amherst College, articulates the paradox of participatory documentary and the problematic of “giving voice to the voiceless.” Rangan argues that the humanitarian impulse of giving the camera to the other is an ideological act. The gift of the camera appears as an invitation to the dehumanized other to claim and take up their position as a member of the community of humanity, however it doesn’t go far enough to engage the problematics of how we define the community of humanity, or how we can expand what we conceive of as the human/e. Crucially, this question of how we conceive of the human/e presents itself as a core concern of this book (158). Rangan’s neologism, …

Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary

Review by Gwynne Fulton, Concordia University Malkowski, Jennifer. Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary. Durham: Duke University Press, 2017. 264 pp. In Dying in Full Detail: Mortality and Digital Documentary, Jennifer Malkowski, Professor of Film & Media Studies at Smith College, looks at the intersection of death (as a corporeal and physiological process) and documentary (as a genre and mode of representation) in the digital era. Malkowski’s critical reappraisal of documentary death interrogates the desire to represent death in “full detail,” from analogue photography and film through live-streaming of digital video on mobile platforms. The desire to capture death, Malkowski notes, has “attracted many cameras” (3). It has been variously subject to cultural taboo and fascination; it persists in many modes and across multiple media, serving shifting social and political functions. In “Looking at War,” Susan Sontag registers 1945 as a pivotal turning point in representations of “death in the making.”1 New mobile lightweight technologies registered the brutal cost of modern warfare as never before, impelling debate about the incredible risk and imperious ethical necessity …

Performing the Document in Francis Alÿs’s Re-enactments (2001)

Written By Emily Rose Lyver-Harris On November 4, 2000, Francis Alÿs illegally purchased a gun from a shop in downtown Mexico City. [1] He then left the shop, loaded gun in hand, and walked through the streets of the city. Twelve and a half minutes later, Alÿs was pursued by the police – he was quickly apprehended, pinned against the police car, searched, and taken away for his arrest. This event constituted the first part of Alÿs’s Re-enactments (2001) – a work in which the artist sought to execute a performance and then carefully recreate it based on the documentation of the performance. The script was simple: he was to buy the gun and move through the streets until something occurred to interrupt him. Alÿs’s initial performance, from his first grasp of the gun until his arrest, was filmed by his collaborator, artist Rafael Ortega, and this footage became the basis for the performance’s reproduction. Alÿs and Ortega replicated the initial performance the same day, a project only possible because Alÿs managed to evade punishment for his …

La Orquesta Sinfonica Infantil de la Universidad Autonoma de Ciudad Juarez

“My name is Angie. I’m eight years old and I am playing the bass violin. The bass violin has four strings. It’s a really big violin that can be used to do this,” as she demonstrates by playing. This is the first captioned line of a short documentary in Spanish titled Cornflakes: Desayuno en Juárez (Cornflakes: Breakfast in Juárez). In the scene that follows, we see Angie, Cornflakes’ protagonist, sitting against a green wall holding the bass violin, taller and wider than her eight-year old frame, telling us how many strings the instrument has. She looks down with concentration to pluck each with the petite fingers of her right hand. With each sound, she offers a description: “One is called ‘Sol,’ another ‘Rey,’ another ‘La,’ another, ‘Mi.’” The scene ends with Angie’s pronouncement: “that’s how my life began” [Fig. 1]. Angie is one of 195 youth musicians in La Orquesta Sinfónica Infantil de la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ), the Children’s Symphony Orchestra of the University of Juárez. Over the course of an academic …