The Disquieting Image, Retracing the filmmaking of Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub
The Disquieting Image is a practice-led research project that began in 2016, which prompted my work with analogue film materials and joining the LaborBerlin artist-run film collective. As part of the research process, I have taken part in analogue film workshops, film archive study, and essayistic scriptwriting. At its core, this project stems from making and presenting five 16mm/digital films in response to Geschichtsunterricht (History Lessons), the 1972 film by Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub. By engaging with their “geological” approach to filmmaking, which involves taking into account the palimpsest of ignored or forgotten histories, I have developed a method of working with film materials using retracing as a way to think through making. The related concept of looping developed in the poet J.H. Prynne’s “The Plant Time Manifold Transcripts” of 1972, which I interpret in my work through the method of retracing, also provides a foundation for the research. Alongside I build on ideas drawn from playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht, and philosopher, cultural critic, and essayist Walter Benjamin’s dialectic practice of literary montage mobilized as a challenge to historical determinism, the idea of a temporal continuum, and faith in the continuity of progress, and also as a way to prioritize lesser-known histories. By interpreting these elements through my filmmaking and writing practice I explore how the current historical moment can become a living interaction with past events, which emerge as images.