The screening of the film El Mar La Mar with the lecture and the discussion.
El Mar La Mar / Joshua Bonnett, J. P. Sniadecki / USA 2017 / 94 min – The movie captures the landscape of the Sonoran desert, located on the U.S.-Mexico border. Long observational shots of nature taken on 16mm film by Joshua Bonnett offer a meditation on the medium of moving-image and are mixed with the documentary approach of J. P. Sniadecki, a collaborator with the Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab team. Authors engaged in this initiative focus on experimenting with the aesthetics of moving-image in relation to an ethnographic research. El Mar La Mar is anchored in this very approach, which allows viewers to immerse themselves in the unmerciful and highly politicized landscape.
The event starts with a lecture by the British film theoretician Erika Balsom, followed by a debate with the documentarist and film theoretician Andrea Slováková and the moving-image artist Lucie Rosenfeldová. The discussion is hosted by the film theoretician and archivist Matěj Strnad.
The discussion aims to analyze how contemporary artists and filmmakers deal with the problematic ability of video to represent reality. The current debate, concerned with the “post-truth world”, echoes the ambiguous boundary between the fictional and factual reality that impacts the relationship between the documentary image and the concept of truth.
In her essay, Reality-Based Community, from 2017, Erika Balsom outlines the development of documentary strategies in art since the 1990s, and how the observation mode amidst the self-reflecting streams of documentarism turned into something quite unacceptable. Balsom attempts to return legitimacy to observation strategies. One of the main motives in her thought is the question of whether it is not rather counter-productive – in this time of epistemological uncertainty, when the possibilities of sharing the truth are constantly challenged – to subvert the relationship with reality through artistic approaches. She poses the question of whether the turn to reality, the restoration of faith in the picture, and working with it without ostentatiously subversive maneuvering is perhaps a better solution to the crisis of the post-truth world, at least for the limited community of the art world.