Curated screening programme that Argos, centre for art and media (Brussels) presents at BIM – Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento, with Vincent Meessen’s Vita Nova (2009).
Vincent Meessen‘s Vita Nova will be screened as part of Politically Today, a curated screening program in three parts that Argos, centre for art and media (Brussels) presents at BIM – Bienal de la Imagen en Movimiento in Buenos Aires. Each programme presents recent films from the Argos collection in which the filmmakers politically engage on contemporary socio-political matters.
The films mostly start from a reflection about what has happened in the second half of the 20th century, however the aim is neither to establish a hierarchy or inventory. Rather we face different modi operandi in which audiovisual artists investigate our recent past in order to question the present times. Through the presented films, we see how first-hand or intimate experiences are often linked to the Great History, how media and archival material contributed to shape our collective memories and perceptions, and ultimately how most of the questions raised in the past are still unsolved today.
Historically, the turning point seems to be the period starting from the end of the Fifties to the early Seventies when the decolonization embraced the entire African continent and the process of European integration (e.g. the Merger Treaty in 1967) and globalization have accelerated. The artistic production of that period – let only think about figures like, among others, Jean Rouch, Chris Marker or Jean-Luc Godard – is also of a great influence for the practices of the presented artists. Furthermore, the post-68 political and philosophical debates, both in cinema and visual arts, shape the current manners of making films and thinking in terms of moving images. In those years the notion of “global village” introduced by Marshall McLuhan became reality: this ability to connect, show images and trade ideas instantly amongst the nations of the world probably finds its most iconic example in the TV live broadcast of Neil Armstrong’s walk on the Moon on Monday July 21st 1969.
Today artists are beyond this enchantment, they dig for relevant informations and make a critical use of those audiovisual sources without forgetting to question production techniques. Yet Politically Today doesn’t indulge in nostalgia for a period that most of the artists presented in the programs haven’t experienced. Instead, these films show how contemporary film makers reap the rewards of those intellectual and aesthetic researches. All in all what is necessary today is, while we are still learning from the past, to be actively engaged and to look towards the future. Dissecting historical facts becomes therefore a way to claim new narrativities, alternative positions and independent discourses.
In 1970 Jean-Luc Godard published a now legendary article in the review Afterimage entitled “What is to be done ?”. In the article Godard argued about the difference between making political films and making films politically. Reading it today, the article stills gives an astonishing account of the vehemence of the debate at that time. It documents the matters at stake, it reminds us of the references and lexicon employed and ultimately it testimonies the way the problems were thought and formulated. However, Godard spoke about a fact that remains relevant today, as he pointed out how political engagement goes beyond the chosen subject and concerns the entire chain of production of the film, as well as its methods and aesthetic approach.
In this respect, without completing all possibilities, the films in this program are interesting examples of how artists today conceive of strategies and imagine ways and platforms to finance and realize their audiovisual works. This autonomy allows them to tackle relevant but controversial topics in a very peculiar manner. Furthermore, they unveil hidden structures of power in history, in European policy, in intellectual debates, in cinematographic representation and even in film making. By using challenging aesthetics, each film moves from very Eurocentric points of view or concerns to reverse perspectives which blur certainties and frames of reference. There is an investigative approach that serves as a hidden leitmotif of the program. However, the aim is not simply to denounce, but rather to raise awareness in the viewers by suggesting that they should always look at things critically and question the so-called matters of facts.
Programme on November 4, 2018:
Vincent Meessen – Vita Nova (2009)
Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson – Lobbyists (2009)
An van. Dienderen – LILI (2015)
Herman Asselberghs – For Now (2017)
With films by Herman Asselberghs, Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson, Rob Jacobs & Anne Reijniers, Vincent Meessen, Miguel Peres dos Santos, Edurne Rubio, Shelly Silver, Sarah Vanagt & Katrien Vermeire, and An van Dienderen.
read more on the website of Argos
read more about Vita Nova in a Vdrome interview between Cuauhtémoc Medina and Vincent Meessen