Week 46/2023

However diverse, the screenings in this week’s selection share a concern with dealing with the past, its representation, its reverberation in the present, the role images play in the construction of history, their possibilities, their shortcomings. 

A double bill on Monday in Art Cinema OFFOFF features Broken View by Hannes Verhoustraete, an essay film on the magic lantern and Belgian colonial propaganda. Like all media technology, this predecessor of the modern slide projector was a means to many ends and proved most effective in the construction of a colonial mindset. Exploring the tension between aesthetic experience and historical consciousness, the film attempts a deconstruction of the colonial gaze with its own construction of associations. Accompanying the film, Floris Vanhoof’s performance Fossil Locomotion, the “imaginary motion studies of my family's fossil collection”, touches the same media-archaeological nerve and offers its own perspective on the nexus between technology and historiography, technique, and poetics.  

On Friday, a program in the Brussels Art Film Festival also offers two films exploring the relationship between images and history. Milena Trivier’s Algorithms of Beauty explores the limits of human perception and image technology. In 1772, Mary Delaney “invented a new way of imitating flowers” with paper and scissors. Trivier’s essay film connects these exquisitely hand-crafted flowers to the eerily similar images of flowers produced by artificial intelligence, making time fold back on itself in twenty minutes. In Deborah Stratman’s mid-length Last Things, the inanimate world takes central stage. Michael Sicinski writes, “Rocks ‘remember’ without the burden of consciousness.” 

Derek Jarman’s The Last of England, a furious hymn decrying Thatcherism, screens at KASKcinema on Sunday. Jarman writes: “What do you see in those heavy waters? I ask. […] Lies flowing through the national grid, and bribery. All’s normal then? Yes. Where’s hope? The little white lies have carried her off beyond the cabbage patch.”

This Week