Friday, 30 September 2011

Eisenstein & Augustijnen

The Filmmuseum will screen Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin with live music on Sunday, October 9 at 4.15 PM.  Eric will attend (Sven is unfortunately otherwise engaged) and will meet students at 4.05. This activity is voluntary, but it's warmly recommended! An official part of our curriculum, on the other hand, is our Saturday, October 15 meeting with Sven Augustijnen. De Appel will show an exhibition centered around his new film Spectres. We can watch the 4 PM screening, and afterwards we will have a discussion with Sven A.

This is the announcement of the film's first exhibition, at WIELS in Brussels:

"In collaboration with Kunstenfestivaldesarts, WIELS presents Belgian artist Sven Augustijnen's new project around his feature film Spectres (102 min). Augustijnen has gained national and international recognition for his films describing the cultural specificity of familiar places, such as the Royal Park or the Mont des Arts neighbourhood, both in Brussels. Renowned as a subtle chronicler of the city, Augustijnen here establishes a link between its current vocation as administrative capital of Europe and its colonial past. This documentary film essay recalls one of the darkest chapters in the decolonisation of the Belgian Congo: the events which lead to the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, Congo's first democratically elected prime minister.

"In Spectres the main thread of the story is constructed in the form of a voyage, a typical Augustijnen method. The main character is Jacques Brassinne de La Buissière, a former high-ranking civil servant and protagonist in the political and humanitarian 'thriller' that unfurled after the hasty decolonisation decision, the transfer of power and the subsequent conflicts, up to and including the imprisonment and execution of Patrice Lumumba on 17 January 1961. He acts simultaneously as guide, commentator and symbolic figure, and we follow him through many crucial historical sites and symbolical moments. In the course of these peregrinations, questions arise about the manifest and hidden motivations behind the historic events of a still largely unresolved past, issues that continue to haunt past and present. These events have shaped a relationship fraught with difficulties between Congo and its old colonial power, recently expressed during a parliamentary committee of inquiry into the responsibility for the assassination and on the occasion of the commemorations marking the transfer of power, as well as in the intentions of Lumumba's immediate family to bring proceedings against those involved where they are still alive.

"Through this 'travelogue' Brassinne advances the arguments he has developed over thirty years and addressed during meetings and commemorations with the last survivors, all of them witnesses or family members of the main protagonists. The 'construction' of the story is brought into question and the process of the film becomes a means of exorcising the spirits that emerge between the folds of the stories and their rectifications.

"In addition to the film, the exhibition presents different objects from Brassinne's personal archive: photos from various trips during the 1960s and 1980s to 'real' places of execution, historical objects and audio footage. A substantial book comprising reference documents, photos and explanatory text accompanies the exhibition." 

An article by Jan Verwoert on Sven Augustijnen can be found here. A short TV report on Spectres is here. Images: still from Spectres; audience watching the film at Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen.

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