The project seeks to explore the documentary as an art form capable of constructing and reshaping realities and histories. Encompassing cultural studies, philosophy, and diverse artistic practices, the festival accentuates the critical potential of documentary work and distinguishes it from today’s excessive production and distribution of visual documents.
New documentary practices are cross-disciplinary, dialectical and above all performative, regarding documentary as the staging of particular relationships between documents, authors and spectators. The second Berlin Documentary Forum sets out to present these new understandings of documentary in a program specially devised by international artists, filmmakers, cultural historians and theorists. A group exhibition of contemporary art entitled A Blind Spot and the launch of an experimental online project, issue zero, complement the four days of events at Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Peripheral Vision curated by Ben Russell will present a 7-part program of 20 contemporary video works.
Drawing from material gathered by the New York police videographer known as Johnny Esposito, cultural theorist Sylvère Lotringer looks at the different ways death is resurfacing in Western culture. Theatre director Rabih Mroué presents a “non-academic lecture” about the role of mobile phones and social media in the Syrian revolts. Harun Farocki's screening program looks at hybrid forms that obscure the boundaries between the contingency of documentary and the control of feature films.
Mexico-based film programmer Eduardo Thomas and Kyoto-based urban planner Günter Nitschke present research in their respective fields on the Japanese concept of “ma”, a structuring absence which challenges such binary distinctions as space/time, inside/outside and emptiness/fullness. In a lecture entitled "Objectifiction", artist and theorist Hito Steyerl examines how 3D technologies affect our notions of space and material reality.
In the exhibition A Blind Spot, curator Catherine David questions the indexical character ingrained in photography, showing works which address the openness and indeterminacy of images. Anthropologist Christopher Pinney analyzes photography’s “optical unconscious” on the basis of topics such as the illicit opium trade with China, which were occluded from official photographic histories of the city of Calcutta.
Filmmaker and theorist Florian Schneider reflects on the notion of cinematic continuity in relation to the historical continuity of colonialism and fascism. Filmmaker Eyal Sivan talks with cultural theorist Ella Shohat about the language and possibilities of montage in documentary work through the prism of Jean-Luc Godard’s films.
Among the many new pieces produced for the festival, artist Christine Meisner and composer William Tatge take the first Delta blues songs sung by black laborers to develop ideas of “abstract blues” in a video piece, here screened with a live concert by five musicians. Choreographer Eszter Salamon re-enacts interviews made with a woman from Southern Hungary who happens to share her name, revealing how personal hopes and desires transcend the stereotypes of class, age, geography and religion.
For all events and times, please download the programme as PDF.