Decolonising the Curatorial: A Visit to Framer Framed

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Decolonizing the Curatorial
By Elinor Gittins

In the final week of the course, ‘Curating the Moving Image’, we discuss the norms of Western curation and the way these traditions have been disrupted. When thinking about the term ‘decolonise’, we might ask, how does the process of decolonising curation differ from the genre of postcolonial curation? To me, the difference seems to be temporal. Where the prefix post- suggests a timeframe that comes after the event, the prefix de- suggest that a process is ongoing. This might explain why there is growing interest in the ideas expressed in decolonial theory. Curator Irit Rogoff describes the problem with postcolonial theory as follows: “You can never have the right stance or ethical posture. Instead, you are mired in it, you’re part of it, you’re deeply implicated in in it […] we are living out the postcolonial, all of us, across the world” (33). On the other hand, a decolonial movement imagines a more active stance.

The idea of decoloniality stems from an emerging Latin American movement, which seeks to make clear that inequalities shaped by colonisation are perpetuated today by Western imperialism and globalisation. According to Anibal Quijano, the practice of decoloniality is a search for “social liberation from all power that is organised as inequality, discrimination, exploitation and domination” (178). These ideas have spread beyond Latin America, creating movements around the world that aim to decolonise various institutions by delinking them from Eurocentric thought.

Elena Filipovic points out that “we are more conscious in recent decades that modernity is a construct that has suppressed, obscured or transformed whole cultural histories and their producers” (49). In Amsterdam, several groups are forming to strengthen these ideas. The University of Colour is a group that fights for a greater balance in the demographics and curriculum of the university, which should include non-Eurocentric perspectives. Another local movement is called Decolonize the Museum. They make “an effort to confront the colonial ideas and practices present in ethnographic museums up until this day.” The critique comes from the groups whose heritage has been put on display in museums, but who themselves do not feel to be the target group of the exhibitions. I will now discuss an exhibition space in Amsterdam which actively searches for postcolonial curatorial practices.

Framer Framed is a small room, situated in the Tolhuistuin, which holds concerts and others events, and has a popular restaurant attached. Framer Framed was started as an initiative to deliberate contemporary curatorial practices, specifically in relation to politics of representation. In other words, while considering the way some individuals tend to stand in for others. In line with the pattern of modernity that Filipovic describes, the curators aim to overcome the “shortcomings of modernist definitions that constitute the foundation of their respective institutions”. The title, Framer Framed, is inspired by Vietnamese filmmaker, Trinh T. Minh-ha, whose films refuse to adopt an ethnographic gaze. In other words, she refuses to speak for subjects through her camera. The curation practices in this space could be seen to disrupt Western traditions to some extent.

The current exhibition at Framer Framed is called Voices Outside the Echo Chamber: Questioning Myths, Facts and Framings of Migration. An echo chamber is an enclosed space that reverberates sounds. As the use of this metaphor suggests, by listening to voices outside of the echo chamber, the exhibition is interested in obscured or oppressed histories. Katayoun Arian, the curator, is wary of so-called echo chambers in which “individuals intensify their world-views by surrounding themselves with information that corroborates and echoes back their own beliefs”. Whilst attending the exhibition, I felt that many of the installations convey a sensation of anger, outrage and exhaustion. Several of the artists adopt a satirical lens to comment on current migration discourses. Two of the installations which made an effective use of the moving image where The Negotiation by Kaya Behkalam and Azin Feizabadi, and Condecoración by Daniela Ortiz.

The screen for The Negotiation is not directly noticeable when walking around the exhibition. Behind one of the walls is a black box created with the use of curtains. Inside, the film shows a group of actors in their own black box space, a set that is meant to resemble the UN Security council. The actors stage a round table meeting around an unnamed crisis. The actors move around the space, exploring the borders between fact and fiction, between the individual and the collective. There is a visible cutting up of the round table, which is missing a segment. This interruption in the shape could be linked to similar interruptions that Framer Framed makes in the form of their own exhibition. The space itself could be described as a white cube, a form which Filipovic is critical of. But there are breaks in the architecture caused by random walls and corners. In other words, the cube is not really a cube. Could both the video installation and the room itself be seen to experiment with the traditional Western forms which Filipovic hopes to see transform?

Gittins

‘The Negotiation’ by Kaya Behkalam and Azin Feizabadi

In the video component of Condecoración, Ortiz is shown slapping a white sculpture. Her piece is introduced as a commentary on the invisibility of the migratory control system in Europe. The sculpture is an attempt to make visible one of the responsible individuals, since it is a replication of the current Executive Director of FRONTEX (a migratory control agency). As the viewer continues on from the video installation, they are confronted by the damaged sculpture from the video.  Ortiz is one of the artists who will come to speak about her research as part of the dialogue series organised by the curators, further allowing for a confrontation for the audience.

Gittins2

‘Condecoración’ by Daniela Ortiz

According to Filipovic, “the aesthetic and intellectual premises on which an exhibition is based […] need to be more fully articulated in the forms exhibitions take” (58). It would seem that, in order to be decolonised, an exhibition must become inherently political. How can the message of an exhibition better be articulated? Voices Outside the Echo Chamber works hard to live on outside the curated space, by providing an abundance of paper components for the visitor to take home (such as a mock-up of a newspaper or a list of the employees at FRONTEX). By taking a piece of the art home, the visitor is more likely to continue thinking about the message. Filipovic finds that a curator can be described as a political activist (50). In my understanding, the most desired result of decolonised curatorial practices, is to politically activate the visitor.

Sources
‘Curating/Curatorial: A Conversation between Irit Rogoff and Beatrice von Bismarck’. In Beatrice von Bismarck, Jörn Schafaff and Thomas Weski, eds.Cultures of the Curatorial. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2012. 21-38.
Filipovic, Elena. ‘The Global White Cube’. oncurating.org, issue 22. April 2014. 45-63.
Minh-ha, Trinh T. Framer Framed. New York: Routledge, 1992.
Quijano, Anibal. ‘Coloniality and Modernity/Rationality’. Cultural Studies, 21:2-3. April 2007. 168-178.

 

The Exhibition: Suriname-Nederland 40 jaar later

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Decolonizing the Curatorial
By Floor Wijers

13224144_1230100120356366_819899459_o
During this course we learned a lot about different aspects of curatorial activities. The topic of this week, decolonizing the colonial, connects a couple of earlier topics we discussed in class. It locates itself between curating galleries and festivals, but is more concerned about the minorities and their participation within these events.

The first article of Elina Felipovic, from this week, focuses on the different exhibition spaces. These places based on exposing art, like galleries, museums and biennales, all have an underlying ideology, which is constructed by western ideas of exhibiting art. One of the most important examples is the ‘white cube,’ which like the cinematic ‘black-box’ is aimed to distract the viewer from the outside world and give the art piece a neutral environment. To create more equal proportions, we have to listen more to the voice of people out of decolonized countries or minorities. Every time there is a gallery or exhibition it is arranged around white modern western notions and standards.

When Elinor and I discussed this week’s topic of decolonization in art, we came up with a couple of useful case studies and examples. The most obvious museum to approach is, in our eyes, the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, but we decided to choose for alternative options to be more original. So we searched for other exhibitions in less well-known museums or exposition spaces. Because I am living in Leiden, I looked into the program of the museum of Volkenkunde (an anthropological museum in Leiden.) I found out they had an exhibition about 40 years of decolonization of Suriname, and the relationship between the Netherlands and Suriname after the independence in 1975. This topic seemed ideal to dive deeper into, regarded this weeks theme. Elinor found an exposition space with an exhibition about migration, Voices outside the Echo Chamber, in the Tolhuistuin and organised by Framer Framed. In this way we could both approach the topic in different ways.

So I visited the exhibition Suriname-Nederland 40 jaar later, 1975-2015, in the Volkenkunde Leiden. This exhibition was a really small part of the museum space, there was only one room filled with TV-screens. These TV-screens showed different compilations of clips with historical polygon journals/ news shows. Around the room there where portraits of Surinamese and Dutch people who played important roles during the independency of Suriname. There where quotes of people who flew Suriname or who travelled back from the Netherlands to Suriname, it made clear that the independency caused disunity by the Surinamese people. Also it is important to take into consideration that the independency meant that the Netherlands broke all connections with the colony, their where a lot of negotiations between the Netherlands and Suriname about the costs of development and the involvement of the Netherlands to create a fresh start for Suriname after the decolonization.

The exhibition showed videos of these negotiations between ex-prime minister Joop den Uyl and the Surinamese government. The independency caused a big national feast, but there where also many people who where more sceptic about the events. After the videos about the declaration of independency, the exhibition focused on the aftermath of the liberation of Suriname. Without the authority of the Netherlands, Suriname became a little bit out of control; this led to a military coup of general Desi Bouterse, in 1980. One of the cruellest events in the history of Suriname took place during this period, the December murders in 1982. In Fort Zeelandia, headquarter of Desi Bouterse, 15 opponents of Bouters regime where tortured and shot to dead. This led to a lot of migration from Surinamese people who fled to neighbour country French-Guyana and the Netherlands.

Besides the videos, there was a lot of background information on signs, aligned with photographs capturing the events around the independency and the period afterwards. Also the exhibition showed a few artworks from Dutch artists in collaboration with Surinamese artists, but the main focus lay on the historical events. The situation regarding to contemporary art in Suriname is similar to the situation of India, as described by Geeta Kapur. There is less attention to modern art, and very few museums in Suriname; the ones that exist are based on historical events and the colonial past. In Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname, there are only three main museums, all focused on the history of the country, before and after the independency of Suriname from the Netherlands. Modern art is very exceptional and can only be found in special galleries, curated by rich people. Although the exhibition showed different point of views about the decolonization of Suriname, the current position of Suriname was underexposed.

The best way to pay attention to colonial and decolonization is to take into account different viewpoints. This makes it very difficult to create a neutral point of view, because colonial past and decolonization is experienced in very different ways. In both camps there are proponents and opponents. The most important thing I learned about this week’s topic and the exhibition in Volkenkunde, is that we have to create awareness to the different stores and underexposed decolonised countries. We have to listen more to the input of people of decolonized countries. We should give them a stage to carry out their side of the history and create spaces wherein they can express their feelings and creativity.

 

MoTA Museum of Transitory Art: museum beyond the walls

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curating 2.0
By Nadja Šičarov

Nadja1
MoTA Museum of Transitory Art is a non-profit organisation founded in 2007 in Ljubljana, Slovenia, which started as a programme of the CodeEp Cultural Association, an association established to explore fields of contemporary visual communication, electronic music and urban performance. MoTA describes itself as “a multidisciplinary platform dedicated to advancing the research, production and presentation of transitory, experimental, and live art forms”. Instead of realising its programme in a permanent physical exposition space, MoTA exists as artists – and curators – run alternative organisation which takes place in various virtual and real spaces. Its main activities are based on funding artists’ residencies, amongst a realization of a broad variety of projects, festivals, performances, and symposia.

Nadja2

The transformation of art of the last century has been tending towards the novelty – after modern and contemporary art, new media art came to existence as the consequence of cultural practice that arose with new media technologies. As with any other novelty, new artistic practices were reflected noticeably in modifying existing exposition models. For Boris Groys a museum “is not so much the space for the representation of art history as a machine to produce and stage the new art of today—in other words, to produce “today” as such. In this sense the museum produces, for the first time, the effect of presence, of looking alive.[1] However, transitory art is refusing terminology that tends towards the new, such as modern, contemporary or new media art, but rather remains a subject of transition from one artistic form to another and the convergence of analogue and digital. According to these specificities, the establishment of a museum which explores the conceptual and contextual boundaries of art examines the museological model of the future. Yet the notion of a museum in transition is not quite unknown. Sarah Cook and Beryl Graham wrote that the emergence of new media art has undoubtedly adjusted institutional models of presentation due to the technically variable nature of artworks.[2] After having followed the on-going technological shifts in museum practices for a few decades, it is now time to address how transitory art might extend these modifications. Is the landscape of coexisting digital and material culture able to reshape museological structure, ordinarily based on site-specificity, collecting, preservation, presentation and distribution?

Nadja3

From historical perspectives, museums have traditionally played a role of a hierarchical institution that delivers the artists’ works from its collection to the audience through curated exhibitions and performances. However, Frieling suggested that the process of exhibiting a collection should be rather understood as an “expanded performance” where the artist, the institution and the public are equally engaged in the production of art, based on either material objects, digitally- or participatory-based experience.[3] For this type of experience, the performance is not dependent on the physical museum – it can extend beyond the walls of the site-located institution and be performed on a variety of online platforms or as temporal events.

Nadja4
However, both institutions and artists can benefit from site specificity – for artists it represents the mode of avoiding individual participation in the art market, while institutions can use the reputation of a place as promotional tool for their activities.[4] In addition, long-term presentation in a location-based gallery gives artists recognition and offers them an opportunity for validation by academia and art criticism. This is particularly meaningful for artists that are practising new media art. Online platforms namely present virtual space for an unlimited distribution of web-based art, rather than it being selected by well-recognized curators. Thus the emergence of new media art hasn’t only increased the importance of a curator as an agent in the chain of the art market, but has also given museums the credibility of an agency that delivers refined and critically chosen works to a specified audience. In addition, institutional engagement with artists and distribution of their artworks allows for collaborative approach in the production phase as well. For example, apart from organizing multiple workshops and educational programs MoTA is running T.R.I.B.E., a network of residency spaces in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. Following this, one of the most crucial activities that MoTA is performing takes an important part in the production and distribution of artworks.

Nadja5
What results from establishing a museum that is a subject of convergence of new media art and contemporary art is the reconstruction of key concepts typical of a museum. Although the museum is not site-specific, it maintains some traditional parameters. The idea of a collection is being preserved through financial sponsorship and participation in production, while educational activities are held in a shape of the portal Artist Talk, an online platform for publishing and distribution of artist talks across Europe. In addition, in 2013 MoTA opened a new venue The MoTA Point, A Space for Art and Ideas, which performs a role of a working space for resident artists and workshops as well as a temporary exhibition space with the purpose to show works which are the result of continuous events at MoTA and will after the exposition continue to exist in virtual space or as temporal events. Taking these parameters into account, I believe MoTA is a significant example of a “museum that lives beyond the walls” which embodies the intersection of the established museological model and the nature of new transitory art.

[1] Groys, Boris. “On the New.” Artnodes December 2002. Artnodes online. Web. 7 May 2016.

[2] Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook. Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 211. Print.

[3] Frieling, Rudolf. “The Museum as Producer: Processing art and Performing a Collection.” New Collecting: Exhibiting and Audiences after New Media Art. Ed. Beryl Graham. Burlington: Ashgate, 2014. 156. Print.

[4] Ibid. 145.

Ceci n’est pas… – A thought on cinema and sight

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curation Histories, Curation Philosophies
By Lisanne van den Heuvel

René Margritte once said about his famous image of a pipe painted on canvas: ‘The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying![i] Of course, when we are looking at a painting we are in fact just looking at a carrier covered with paint. So, what is it than what we see when we as an audience sit down in our cosy seats at the cinema, the lights get dimmed and the film starts to play? This essay tries to illuminate on the hunger for people to go and watch representations of real life in light.

With his statement Margritte emphasises a point Maurice Denis stated 40 years earlier in 1890 when he said that ‘before a picture is subject matter, it is first of all a surface covered with lines and colors.’[ii] Brian O’Doherty describes the relation of illusionism in painting evolving to abstraction with its focus on the surface (covered with lines and colors) of the object and how this relates to the space and other objects with which the object is surrounded. He described the relation of illusionistic paintings to the space they were hanging before the twentieth century as entities excluding the wall: ‘For the easel picture is like a portable window that, once set on the wall, penetrates it with deep space [..] The wall itself is always recognized as limiting dept (you don’t walk trough it), just as corners and ceilings [..] limit size.’[iii] In this light, the illusionistic films that are screened in the cinema right now are probably comparable to a certain extent as how paintings were approached before the twentieth century. The walls surrounding the screens are denied by making them invisible by shutting the lights down. The screen itself must be as flat as possible so the screening can act as an ultimate window that penetrates it with deep space, with the dark space acting as a frame. How different would an experience in a cinema be if for example the screening was available on at least two walls and if the screen would not be flat and white?

To come back at Denis: what is a film than before it is subject matter? You could say that film is first of all a surface covered with light and the element of time is included, this definition would fit the analogical screening as well as a digital screening of film. Philippe- Alain Michaud explains in a dissertation ‘The movement of images’ how in the last decade many artists have been playing with these variables in film which include light, darkness, the cinematic apparatus, the screen, time, space, the place of the public.[iv] When he arrives at a section describing experimental art he mentions Paul Sharits production of ‘ Shutter Interface’ from 1975: ‘By using a modified projector with the shutter and the engaging claw removed, Paul Sharits produces a flow of colours with neither definition nor outline: the focus is no longer the ultimate end of the image, the film no longer appears as a discreet continuum of photograms, but a variant of the monochrome.’[v] (see fig 1.) This is what to my opinion what film can be in its truest form: (coloured) light on a flat surface without the element of time linked to a realistic narrative.

PaulSharits

Figure 1. Paul Sharits, Shutter Interface, 1975. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian, source: https://www.si.edu/tbma/hmsg_sharits.

So what is it than, that when we go to the cinema we would rather be overwhelmed by representations of life than to for example watch hours of abstract images of colours flickering, which would be the material essence of film. Why are we so attracted to the illustionistic image? Probably this is a subject of large content and that has sociological, historical and psychological aspects to it and unfortunately I cannot claim to have found the perfect answer to this question. However, I have found a blog in which Brett McCracken has vividly written why he thinks why we watch naturalistic movies: ‘Movies are different because they can capture, probe, explore the world in ways no other medium can.[..] Movies are visceral.’[vi] In fact he sais that when you are watching a‘naturalistic’ film, feelings are provoked and senses are stimulated in an intuitive manner.

In our cinematic event you will be challenged to be consciously aware of your senses in the cinema. In several ways we will be trying to evoke stimuli to let you experience the pivotal role your senses play in making a film more than light flickering on a screen. We will aim for letting you experience the subject matter and at the same time making you consciously aware of space, screen time, light and the filmic apparatus So in the end, hopefully, giving you a material -as well as a visceral experience.

[i] Torczyner, Harry. Margritte: Ideas and images. p.71.

[ii] O’Doherty, Brian. Inside the white cube: the ideology of the gallery space. P.22.

[iii] O’Doherty, Brian. Inside the white cube: the ideology of the gallery space. P.18.

[iv] Michaud, Philippe-Alain. The movement of images. 15-30.

[v] Michaud, Philippe-Alain. The movement of images. 23.

[vi] McCracken, Brett. Why do we watch movies? 2015. Souce: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/film/why-do-we-watch-movies

 

 

 

Figure 1. Paul Sharits, Shutter Interface, 1975. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian, source: https://www.si.edu/tbma/hmsg_sharits.

 

Power and Protocol: Problematising control over the digital and producing media art on the deep web

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curating 2.0
By Alex Jost

The transferral of media art to the digital domain is fraught with problems. Are we dealing with a reduction in complexity of works? What might be lost in the conversion process? How does curation of a digital archive handle the variability and seriality inherent to a great deal of media art?

A start is made to answering these kinds of questions by Cosetta Saba in her article ‘Media Art and the Digital Archive’ (2013) [1]. It is a text concerned with the 1 epistemological implications of digitisation; how is our experience and knowledge of media art affected by digital archiving? The crux of this matter resides in the ontological complication of the artwork. Information objects are created out of artworks’ documentation, and their dissemination to the consumer is problematised by issues such as dead links and incomplete or inaccurate metadata. The need for constant maintenance via cyclical monitoring programs is clear. Saba’s survey of these inherent complications of digitisation goes into depth concerning protocol: the methods by which data is organised, channeled and distributed online. Herein we identify the narrative­forming jigsaw piece in a distributed network. Is the Internet really a place of unrestricted freedom? Through the silent dimension of protocol, says Saba, we really find power at work. Says Wolfgang Ernst “this power is analogous to the power of media, which depends on the fact that media hide and dissimulate their technological apparatus through their content, which is an effect of their interface.”[2]

What about digital­born media works? What if a work’s procedure and metadata coincide in the same operative field? The distinction between a works data and metadata then implodes[3]. The case I shall present here illustrates this implosion. On 3 the esoterically named http://0100101110101101.org/ we find the work of New York based Italian artists Eva and Franco Mattes. Commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices (link), Dark Content (2015) is described as “A series of videos about internet content moderators: the extraordinarily significant, yet elusive, individuals who determine how much breast is too much breast for Instagram, or are tasked with scrubbing photos of Osama bin Laden from search engines.” Accessing the videos is not as simple as visiting the website, however. Further instructions: “New episodes are released periodically only on the Darknet. To watch them download the Tor Browser and go to http://5cqzpj5d6ljxqsj7.onion

Alex

‘I would prefer not to give my name’ Dark Content (2015), Eva and Franco Mattes

The first question, to my mind, is how does one go about archiving a work like the video series Dark Content? The experience of the work is irrevocably entangled with what for most viewers may well be their first time using the ‘deep’ or ‘dark’ web via the Tor browser. Given the media coverage this side of the Internet has conjured over the last few years, through things like trade of illicit goods and services, one’s first forays in the Tor browser are likely to produce an edginess to the experience that a regular visit to a regular website would do in a regular browser. The confessional descriptions given of working as web content moderators are delivered by animated people with uncanny facial movements and text­to­speech voices. This somewhat casts a veil of anonymity over Dark Content, rendering our viewing of the work, to a degree, complicit in something shadowy. The process of arriving at the work, and complicity upon arrival triangulate to form a unique inclusionary media art experience.

I would argue that this angle to experiencing Dark Content is fundamental to the work, and also fundamentally unarchivable. The reduction of the complexity of feeling is too extreme ­ by effectively making innocuous a work whose process is an invitation to the internet’s dark side, we lose too much meaning by folding the work into a neatly documented institutional page. As the volume of online­based media work with dark locales increases, must we discuss the potentialities of a dark archive?

Dark Content addresses the very topic of control via Internet protocol. The next time we encounter dead links online, the surprising lack of something where we expect it, we would do well to pause to consider if our desired destination was deleted for a purpose. Alex Galloway’s 2004 volume Protocol describes its subject, viewed as a whole, as “a distributed management system that allows control to exist within a heterogenous material milieu.”[4] I previously mentioned that exercising control over 4 data is a silent but power­demonstrating dimension to information flow discourse. An immaterial realm is demonstrated in Dark Content’s third episode ‘His Reign Stops Here’ to have a crushingly mundane material reality. The narrator describes the cubical style working environment at IAC, the parent company of Vimeo. Here he worked as a moderator in shifts of up to nine hours at a time, staring at two screens, reviewing videos that had been flagged for inappropriate content. An analogy is made to brick­and­mortar stores and businesses: in these establishments inappropriate or offensive language and behaviour leads to arrest ­ why is an online service any different? He describes his work as ‘keeping the peace’. And so Dark Content goes on, making quite material the work of those silent actors online whose presence is intangible but whose work carries a tremendous importance.

I’d encourage the reader to take the steps advised of downloading the Tor browser and following the link to the Dark Content series. A unique vantage point for awaits: reflecting on how information is organised online, and how difficult processes of forming an archive can be with works as involving and subversive as Dark Content.

[1] Saba, Cosetta. “Media Art and the Digital Archive” in Julia Noordegraaf et.al, eds. Preserving and Exhibiting Media Art: Challenges and Perspectives. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013. 101­-120.
[2] Ernst, Wolfgang. “Underway to the dual system. Classical Archives and/or Digital Memory” in Dieter Daniels and Gunther Reisinger eds. Netpioneers 1.0 Contextualizing Early Net­based Art. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010. 87.
[3] Ibid. 51.
[4]  Galloway, Alexander. Protocol. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004. xix & 7­8.

Machinima as a Sensorial Cinematic Apparatus

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curating 2.0
By George Barker

On the 24th May at the EYE Film museum the Curating the Moving Image students – of which I am one of – will be programming an evening with the intent to reveal “some of the sensuous iterations of moving image practices throughout their histories, and in doing so, reflect on changes and connections between apparatuses of the past and present”. In this short blog post, I will unveil the possibilities and difficulties behind one curatorial trajectory for the event by describing how a selection of Machinima films could well fit within the rubric of an exhibition that is entitled ‘Sensorium of Moving Image Apparatuses’.

Why Machinima?

A term coined by Hugh Hancock in 1997, Machinima (a portmanteau of machine and cinema) are computer game narratives which are created in virtual reality within the boundaries of particular game engine systems and softwares. Rather rapidly the term became synonymous with often poorly realised fan-driven narrative films, although now the website which was initially built to house, collect and catalogue such works, Machinima.com, has an expanded concept of what the word itself constitutes; stating that it brings together “a community passionate about video games, animation, movies, TV, and the other endless forms of pop culture”. In a sense, Machinima allowed fans everywhere to become the author of their own gaming or cinematic vision, because of the ubiquity of the computer game apparatus as a household moving image making tool, holding a democratizing potential has been further noted by Elijah Horwatt. Yet Machinima do not only represent a certain shift in the apparatuses of moving image making but also in the sensorial relationships at play between the moving image maker, the image itself, and the spectator.

Of course there is a fundamental change in the relationship between created image and the creator evident in the production of Machinima that makes it different from a film camera. Here, real-time narratives unfold directly on the screen and moving images are made based on a sustained touch and movement of the apparatus (be it a computer game mouse or console controller) by the user. As it appears a tenant of our curatorial philosophy within this programme is slightly media archaeological – connecting apparatuses of the past and the present – machinima could well be connected to earlier apparatuses based on a similar touch-interaction, such as optical toy devices, the kinetoscope or mutoscope, so that our programme could expand more normative conceptions of a film dispositif where traditionally touch is excluded from the cinematic experience. Programming Machinima within the EYE as a means of educating the audience in expanded discourses surrounding the possible contemporary constitutions of cinema would find institutional footing, given that the film museum houses an Iphone in it’s Panorama exhibition as a ‘film device’. However, rather than use the word film, I would instead be cautious with semantics and instead introduce Machinima as a moving image apparatus, pertaining to Noel Carroll’s redefinition of film in light of the new media landscape that is outlined extensively in Theorizing the Moving Image.

Which Machinima?

Another reason to exhibit Machinima in this exhibition is that not only has it not (to my knowledge) been exhibited before at the EYE, but it is also not in the EYE’s catalogue and therefore it would be bringing a new example of a cinematic apparatus and aesthetic history to the museum space. If presenting Machinima moving images in the EYE as an introduction to the genre / movement / medium itself, I initially thought it fruitful to show the more populist works, such as that which is catalogued on Machinima.com, or perhaps even excerpts from BloodSpell, one of the longest Machinima films created using now antiquated computer programme systems and graphic engines.

PeggyAhwesh

Peggy Ahwesh, She Puppet, 2001

However, the series for this programme is entitled EYE on Art, so more experimental works such as Peggy Ahwesh’s She Puppet or the works of Phil Solomon, perhaps Last Days in a Lonely Place came to mind. Particularly, both of these moving images confront digital materiality and virtuality, encouraging haptic ruptures and breaks by exposing graphic glitches in the computer programme as the main character collides and merges with the scenery. Therefore, the works themselves in a way inculcate a phenomenological appreciation of digital surfaces within the viewer, and the work of Laura U.Marks, Jennifer Barker or Vivian Sobchack could be used as a theoretical framework from which to argue the sensorial potency of these more avant-garde Machinima film in particular.

Configuring Machinima within the ‘Sensorium of Moving Image Apparatuses’.

After having researched Machinima as a possibility for the programme, I also thought about how to present such works within a broader evening which wanted to touch upon a variety of apparatuses throughout moving image history, as well as looking at the senses. For this purpose, I thought it would be of interest to bring in a television screen and PlayStation 2 at the side of the cinema and have a student play Tomb Raider alongside She Puppet, or Grand Theft Auto alongside Last Days in a Lonely Place, thus ‘unveiling’ the apparatus technology alongside the work. So, this was my pitch to the curatorial team of students at the University of Amsterdam. Ultimately, we collectively decided that Machinima, although relevant to the evening programme, perhaps required too much contextualisation for the uninformed visitor and was too radical a departure from the rest of the filmworks to be included in this presentation. Indeed, perhaps a Machinima exhibition would be better suited outside of a cinema space regardless, in an environment where the viewer can themselves both simultaneously play the game and watch the machinima, in a 2 channel installation format.

Further Reading:
Elijah Horwatt, New Media Resistance, Machinima and the Avant Garde, Cineaction 73/74 (2008).

Jennifer Ng, Understanding Machinima: Essays on Filmmaking in Virtual Worlds (London: Bloomsbury, 2013).

 

 

Festival Cinéma Arabe and National Cinema

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curating for Festivals
By Sanne van Rijswijk

In the current film festival landscape of the Netherlands, it seems like there is a broad range of festivals that focus on the representation of international cinema, national cinema, different genres, minorities, etc. In Amsterdam alone, there is a large number of different film festivals organised each year. A few examples are Imagine Film Festival, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, World Cinema Amsterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Roze Filmdagen, CinemAsia Film Festival, and Festival Cinéma Arabe. One of the most important parts of a film festival is the program and each festival has a particular selection process of programming that raises particular questions on curating for festivals in relation to identity and politics. What is included and excluded and what are the consequences of these choices? In the text “Film Festivals, Programming, and the Building of a National Cinema,” Liz Czach explores the repercussions of programming choices of festivals and discusses the role that film festivals and programming play in the process of forming a national cinema. An interesting case study to reflect on Czach’s examination of film festivals, programming, and the concepts of “national cinema” and “film canon” is the film festival Cinéma Arabe. What does Cinéma Arabe contribute to the building of a national film canon of Arab film on an international scale?

FestivalCinemaArabe

This year, Festival Cinéma Arabe is organised for the 8th time, and takes place from 19 until 24 April at different locations in Amsterdam. The festival program offers a total of twenty-five short films, feature films, and documentaries and, in cooperation with cultural meeting place De Balie, the festival offers several debates, adding more layers to the programming. Although it may not be very surprising, Cinéma Arabe spends a great deal of attention to the challenges of living between two different cultures, and this theme is addressed, among other, in the opening film, the Dutch premiere of Fatima (Philippe Faucon, 2015). The film was awarded with three Césars and tells the story of the single mother, Fatima Elayoubi, who immigrated to France. Besides the challenges of migration the festival also deals with the disillusionment of the Arabic Spring, for example in the documentary trilogy about the three most influential presidents of Egypt, Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak, whom the director calls “modern pharaohs.” These films provide insight into the political power system in Egypt, where a new powerful authority constantly compromises the hope for democratic changes. The documentary The Tainted Veil (Ovidio Salazar, 2015) addresses the dilemma of wearing a headscarf and a debate following the documentary poses the question, is it a cultural custom or religious rule? Besides these thematically charged films, the festival also aims to show that humour is used in the Arab world as a means to make life more bearable by programming (black) comedy productions. Lastly, the festival also provides attention to the use of music in times of trouble, for example in the film I Open My Eyes (Leyla Bouzid, 2015). In conclusion, the film festival programming of Cinema Arabe tries to provide a thematically broad and relevant program of films that transport the visitor to other countries and cultures. This festival is interesting for its particular selection of films that relate to these well thought-out themes that seem to capture common challenges and issues in the Arab world. For more information on the film program visit http://www.cinemaarabe.nl.

AsIOpenMyEyes

As I Open My Eyes (Leyla Bouzid, 2015)

The concept of “national cinema” is problematized in the current festival landscape, because most films nowadays are co-productions between many nations. The entire film festival Cinéma Arabe is a platform to showcase selections of Arab cinema, but do these selections play a role in the canon formation of cinema from the Arab world? According to the press release of the film festival, Cinéma Arabe offers an inside look into life in the Arab world by screening films from filmmakers that come from very diverse and dynamic regions. There are films screened from countries like Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Moreover, Cinéma Arabe wants to contribute to a more balanced conceptualisation of the Arab world and the Arab diaspora, especially in the Netherlands. Recurring themes of the film festival programme are the consequences of political turmoil, war and occupation, migration and identity, problems within the family, and the position of women. As the festival trailer shows, a remarkably large number of women’s portraits came to the fore in this year’s film program. Czach discusses the importance and challenges of programmer opinion and taste in film festival programming (83) in relation to the inevitable political nature of selecting films for a program that focuses on a particular nation. The curatorial choices made in the selection process for Cinéma Arabe need to be discussed in their relation to the undeniable political nature of programming for a film festival. A festival such as this is important because most of the films shown are not screened anywhere else in the Netherlands after the festival, and more importantly, some films are even banned from screenings in their home countries.

Bibliography
Czach, Liz. “Film Festivals, Programming, and the Building of a National Cinema.” The
Moving Image 4:1 (2004): 76–88.

National Cinema Canonization at Film Festivals in the Netherlands and Austria

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curating for Festivals
By Manuel Götz

Eröffnung-03-c-DiagonaleMaul
©Diagonale/Maul

This text aims to discuss notions of national cinema canonization through film festival programming, in comparison to curation employed by festivals striving towards an international film selection. In doing so I will look into the cinema of two countries, the Netherlands and Austria, and contrast the representative festivals, as both communities see their moving image output depicted in both national (Nederlands Film Festival, Diagonale Festival of Austrian Film) and international (IFFR International Film Festival Rotterdam, Viennale Vienna International Film Festival) festivals. I will delineate in how far the branding of films as symbolizing a state of a cinema of a specific country is appropriate in the age of globalization.

Liz Czach, when talking about the canonization of Canadian cinema writes, in quoting Christopher Gittings, a scholar on Canadian cinema that “[…] the delineation of a canon was a proof-positive that [Canada] had a national cinema.”[1] At the same time, and she stresses that throughout her piece, the establishment of a cinematic canon is an arbitrary and subjective process; one that, for film festivals, lies in the hand of a very few number of responsible individuals. An immediate question that comes to is if there would be no national cinema, if there would be no framing as such. Here, a look at the situation in the Netherlands proves to be illuminating.

The NFF, the festival for Dutch national cinema, already in their mission situate Dutch films in an international perspective, pinpointing them “between the local and the global”.[2] Due to the diversity of Dutch filmmakers, their manifold backgrounds, their different relationship to the country and the nature of their stay in the Netherlands, linking ‘Dutch national cinema’ to any geographic heritage does not function well, in that such a selection would leave aside important work that might have a very close connection to any instance of Dutch culture. This is true not only for the NFF, but also for example for the current Dutch media art exhibition at the EYE, where the curators decided the selection must be based on any connection of the filmmaker’s side to the Netherlands that should not be further defined.[3] Hence, for instance many of the represented artists only stayed in the country for their study and continued to live elsewhere after.

Furthermore, one could challenge the general necessity of Dutch national cinema programs at festivals. Considering that the cinemas in the country rarely show Dutch works in their everyday programming and the general movie consumption is coined by European and (for the most part) American films, where is the ‘critical capital’ Czach is talking about to be found in this example?[4] Furthermore, what is a Dutch production that is financed by money from transnational companies, as it is common practice for most contemporary productions? I believe, that, as she already suggests, the success of these programs is to be found in their assimilation, their inclusion in international selections, as therefore they are constructing a more representative framework.[5]

The situation in Austria is a slightly different one but still allows for comparison. While the Diagonale also embraces the fact that many ‘Austrian’ films are produced with foreign money, the geographic (and also institutional) backgrounds do play a role as selection criteria. In their mission, they state to strive towards a representative selection through selection of a few examples.[6] Hence, we see a program that displays diverse works (narrative, experimental, documentary, media art, expanded cinema) through a very narrow selection. It seems that an encompassing representation through a fraction is a paradox. This means that the films are not only a reflection of a certain quality, but at the same time possess the notion of standing for something bigger, ascribing them essentially a political character. I think this becomes complicated when for example considering (or not considering, as for the Diagonale and most other indigenous film festivals) amateur films as substantial players for the creation of national cinemas. For this film form, quality (as defined in relation to film language) does not work as a suitable tool for measurement. Auteur cinema is the opposite of amateur cinema. The latter have, in most cases, their initial function as personal memory rather than ‘film’ and create their statements rather quantitatively, through their sheer mass.

In both, the IFFR and the Viennale, we see national cinema embodied in an international perspective. While the Viennale has a program section entirely devoted to Austrian filmmaking, the IFFR does not and curates Dutch films and international films in direct contrast to each other.  Likewise, some Viennale awards (which does not have a main prize) are only awarded to Austrian films whereas the IFFR does not have an award reserved exclusively for Dutch films.

In the (declared) age of postnationalism, what is the path national film festivals should choose? Does this development call for an even tighter affirmation of the existence of national cinema canons or should they be found in a full assimilation in a globalized film world? It is clear that film festivals do possess a political power, one that should not be underestimated.  In that regard, they have to manage an area of conflict of a globalized economic market and national cultural agendas, imposed by government states. With quality as a tools of measurement abolished, this discussion requires the uttermost ethical care from the side of the curator.

References
[1]
Czach, Liz. “Film Festivals, Programming, and the Building of a National Cinema.” The Moving Image 4:1 (2004): p. 80.
[2] Missie & Visie. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2016, from https://www.filmfestival.nl/publiek/over-nff/missie-visie/, author’s translation.
[3] Opdam, C. (2016, March 4). Close-Up. Lecture presented at This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice at University of Amsterdam.
[4] Czach, p. 83.
[5] Czach, p. 83.
[6] Mission Statement. (n.d.). Retrieved April 25, 2016, from http://www.diagonale.at/, author’s translation.

 

Experiencing a Festival’s ‘taste’ in Film Selection and Organization

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curating for Festivals
By Feargal Agard

Oriented_038-1
On Wednesday, the ninth of December 2016, Amsterdam’s newest film festival addition finally launched. International Queer & Migrant film festival is the name and it was festively and proudly introduced with an affectionate speech from its founder Chris Belloni. After his speech was rewarded with a thunderous applause from the audience. The lights in the room slowly went dark as the screen began to portray Roy Dib’s fiction short film Mondial 2010 (2013), which is thematically a film about love and place. A Lebanese gay couple is seen who decided to take a road trip to Ramallah. The film is recorded with their camera as they chronicle their journey. Viewers are invited through the couple’s conversations into the universe of a fading city. Mondial 2010 was followed by Jake Witzenfeld’s feature length documentary film Oriented (2015). His documentary follows the lives of three gay Palestinian friends, which confronts their national and sexual identity as they live as legal residents in Tel Aviv and not with their family in Palestina. The ‘eye-opening’ and intriguing film screening ended with a Q & A session between the audience and the director Jake Witzenfeld who was present through Skype.

The festival opened with a geographically and politically interesting selection. A community is represented and given a voice that we otherwise would have never seen. Though, in creating this new and unique ‘Queer’ and ‘Migrant’ experience, what processes around decision-making, selection, criteria and politics are involved? How does the ‘taste’ of this festival’s programmer dominate the programming agenda? Is this ‘taste’ lead by aesthetics or politics?

In order to wholly understand the criteria on which this festival selects its films. We would have to be present throughout the whole selection process and ask the programmers and the ones who participate in the selection process to get an accurate representation of their decision-making. Unfortunately we are not able to do such fastidious work. On the website of the International Queer & Migrant Film Festival it does state the following requirements: Submissions should be of interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgendered, intersex people; Submissions should be related to queer, migrants or minorities; Submissions in languages other than English must be subtitled; Works in progress and rough cuts may be submitted, with the final cut being available for preview by end of July 2016. And on an interesting note, on the about page it states that “In most cases the films are made by filmmakers who are queer and migrant themselves”.

Author and former director of Queer festivals, Jamie June, writes in her article about the criteria and selection process for programming Queer film festivals. According to June’s research based on gathered information from a variety of Queer festivals. It is safe to assume that the Queer & Migrant festival also made use of a screening committee of maybe three to twelve people in the decision-making process. Next to that, she essentially defines what would be Queer enough as “lgbtq film, within the queer film festival context, is any film that is of interest to the lgbtq community and is likely to contain lgbtq content and characters, but is not necessarily made by a filmmaker that identifies as lgbtq” (June 2004, 2). It is not surprising to see that her definition is remarkably similar to that of the Queer & migrant festival. It is a festival that focuses on a specific community, a minority community of you will, but this does not explicate whether films are chosen based on ‘taste’, aesthetically or politically. It must be kept in account that a film festival does not receive the exact amount of films that they will screen at a festival. Usually hundreds of films are submitted and a fraction of that will be shown. This makes it clear that the criteria shown on the website and defined by June are not enough. The criteria that is utilized during the screening committee’s sessions remain a mystery.

Scholar and theorist Elizabeth Czach discusses programming and the building of a national cinema in regard of film festival, which could be seen as a totally different subject. But she addresses international film festival programming in a relevant execution. First off she refers to critic and scholar Ruby Rich who in Czach’s opinion would call “the worship of ‘taste’ [that] dominates the international film festival circuit’s programming agenda” (Czach 2004, 84). Because she argues that there is a distinction between national and internatonal film festivals. Selection on ‘taste’ is downplayed at a national film festival as they value a political aspect. International festivals might be suspicious of the “notion of quality” (Czach 2004, 84). Which means that the programmer’s focus is aimed at “quality, value or good taste” (Czach 2004, 84). In essence aesthetics.

Czach might be right when it comes to mainstream national and international film festivals, but a Queer and Migrant film festival might be a special case. Though it’s focus is international, it presents a niche or small group that shares a general identity and not per se many identities, that is why you could position a Queer festival right in the middle. Why? Because the experience that the audience has at this festival is international and very political. Instead of international and full of quality and ‘taste’. The sense of a focus on aesthetics, quality or ‘taste’ is kind of absent. The film Mondial 2010 is aesthetically not pleasant as it is filmed without any mainstream cinematic aesthetically artful approaches. It is literally a home video taped event, but it contains a politically strong message. Oriented on the other hand is aesthetically beautiful. Although at times it does intermix with images filmed by the characters from their daily lives. Still, the political aspect of Oriented persists as the significant reason that exemplifies why this film was selected. The film discusses grave issues about queers who are migrants in a land that is almost constantly in conflict. In other words it would not have mattered if the films was recorded with the worst camera or smartphone quality or not, if the message serves the interest of the Queer and Migrant community it. The only way that ‘taste’ forms this festival would be in a politically, but ethical form.

Bibliography
Czach, Elizabeth. “Film festivals, Programming, and the Building of a National Cinema.” The Moving Image. Volume 4, Number 1. University of Minnesota Press, Spring 2004. Pp.76-88. Article.
June, Jamie. “Defining Queer: The Criteria and Selection Process for Programming Queer Film Festivals.” CultureWork. A Periodic Broadside for Arts and Culture Workers. Volume 8, Number 2. University of oregon Press. January 2004. Pp. 1-5. Article.

Filmography
Oriented. Dir. Jake Witzenfeld. Perf. Khader Abu Seif, Fadi Daeem, Naeem Jiryes, David Paerl, Nagham Yacoub. Conch Studios. 2015. Film.
Mondial 2010. Dir. Roy Dib. Perf. Ziad Chakaroun, Abed Kobeissy. Lebanese Film Festival. 2013. Film.

Between the cinema and the gallery: film festivals as sites for ‘experimental’ curating

In preparation for the May 24 Research Lab A Sensorium of Cinematic Apparatuses, the students of the UvA MA seminar Curating the Moving Image reflect in their blog posts on a particular aspect of the themes in the required theoretical readings or on the development of the curated EYE on Art evening.

Curation for Festivals
By Ilse van der Spoel

As already explored in texts “Film Festivals, Programming and the Building of a National Cinema” by Liz Czach and “Supporting art cinema at a time of commercialization: Principles and practices, the case of the International Film Festival Rotterdam” by Marijke de Valck, film festivals could be considered institutional mechanisms that can contribute to “the formation of a national cinema” (Czach), as well as the establishment of international networks and co-production markets (de Valck). Additionally, as Jamie June describes in her text “Defining Queer: The Criteria and Selection Process for Programming Queer Film Festivals”, specialized or niche festivals focusing specifically on LGBTQ-related selection criteria and films can also serve to empower underrepresented groups and minorities.

However, none of these texts specifically address examples of programmes or scrutinise the actual selection, programming and presentation of films, but seem instead to focus more on various functions that can be ascribed to festivals, which in turn are admittedly related to or stem from these programmes. While this is important for discussion, I feel that one important aspect is left out from this debate on festivals is the practice of curating and programming itself and specifically in relation to how festivals can be sites for experimentation as well, not only with providing platforms for experimental or innovative films (on a cinematic level), which Marijke de Valck writes about[1], but perhaps by presenting or exhibiting works in innovative ways as well.

Erika Balsom has written extensively about the relationship between moving images and the exhibition modes of the institutions of cinema and the gallery, for example in “A cinema in the gallery, a cinema in ruins” and in her book Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art[2]. Balsom reflects on the difference between the cinema and the gallery space, and how moving images have found their way into galleries as the institution of cinema found itself in a crisis facing the “digital future” that lay ahead[3]. Festivals could be considered as spaces or sites where these institutions of cinema and institutions of the gallery come together, incorporating presentation modes in both black box and white cube spaces[4] and utilizing both types of spaces with regular projections in cinemas, but also installations, video art, performances and projections in a white cube exhibition mode. The International Film Festival Rotterdam for example, which I will use as my main point of reference here, three cinemas in Rotterdam are used for film projection, but there are often also collaborations with museums and art institutions, such as V2 and Witte de With Centre for Contemporary Art in 2015.

Sometimes the tension between these two types of presentation modes can also serve to present works within a different context than they were “initiated”, by presenting black box works in a white cube space or the other way around, but at the same time, festivals also offer the extra possibility of finding ways of presenting works outside of these boundaries as well, for example through black box/white cube exhibition space in a building that not had that purpose before. This was done for example also at IFFR 2015, with Sarah Vanagt’s installation In Waking Hours (1632 – 1852 – 1978) at Mauritsweg 40, which was an empty house up for sale in the centre of Rotterdam. This building never had the “purpose” of being a gallery space, but with this installation (consisting of three works) presented on multiple floors of the house, did temporarily become one and worked very well together with the works, as they reflected on human perception in historical domestic settings.

Ilse
Source

Another way of doing so is working with sites of the festival that are already part of it. At IFFR 2015 for example a thematic programme about duration, sleep and global capitalism titled 24/7, consisting of 30 installations, performances and several short film programmes, took place mostly in hotels. Hotels are already tied to the festival, as the festival needs to accommodate their thousands of international guests, and now also became a “visible” part of the festival through the use of their rooms for screening short film compilations, presenting installations and hosting performances. Also the lobby and hallways were used to present works, such as Martin John Callanan’s Departure of All, which is a screen of real time departure flights from all over the world, and integrated very well in the space of the hotel lobby.

Though in these examples perhaps aspects of the black box/white cube models are still invoked, by sometimes darkening the space, providing benches to sit on and in case of paintings and projection, having a white wall to project or hang the work on, there is also another layer at play, which is the site-specific and ephemeral or temporal aspects of these spaces that adds to ‘other’ or new ways of experiencing moving images: lying on the bed in a hotel room to watch a film within the framework of a festival is an intimate experience and one that makes you unsure of the codes of conduct, very different from the gallery or the cinema. Festivals therefore are not only sites for innovation by presenting innovative films and video works in a black box or white cube setting, but can also be considered sites of experimentation on a level of film exhibition: the ephemeral or temporal nature of festivals allows for this experimentation and the very nature of festivals themselves, rushing through the city from one film to the next, already allows for a different experience of moving images in itself: the way visitors use spaces throughout the city and which “routes” they take is different and therefore interesting to consider in curating. In turn, considering festivals as a site for curatorial experimentation can also invoke new ways to think about presenting moving images within cinemas, film institutions and gallery spaces as well and is therefore an interesting phenomenon to consider in relation to curating, film experience and modes of exhibition, requiring much further research in the future.

[1] As she states in her article “In Rotterdam, popular terms are “authentic, personal voice, talent, auteur, innovative, original,l topical, urgent and local roots” and “the festival focuses on first and second feature filmmakers for its Tiger Award Competition and its othe flagship programme, called “Bright Future” has a taste fort he “idosyncratic, strong-willed and talented newcomers” (47).

[2] As Erika Balsom argues in the introduction of her book, artists in the 1990s have claimed “the gallery space as a space to investigate film history” (Balsom, 10) and this ‘explosion’ of moving images in contemporary art “constitutes a primary site at which notions of cinema have been renegotiated and redefined in recent decades” (11).

[3] She explains: “For many video artists, the cinema had long been primarily understood as a great exemplar of the mindlessness of the culture industries, something to be refused and dismantled”. In the 1990s this changed, as many artists “adopted a markedly different attitude towards it than many of their forebears. As new, synthetic images foretold a digital future in which the hegemonic position of cinema would be definitely compromised, spaces of intervention opened up to reevaluate what cinema once was” (Balsom, 180).

[4] For further reference, Brian O’Doherty writes about the white cube and the black box in his article “Notes on the Gallery Space” from the book Inside the White Cube. The Ideology of the Gallery.