‘Godard as Curator’ ran from November to December 2014.
Curated by John Bloomfield and Alexander Graham as the Screen Shadows Group.
Godard as Curator
14th November–7th December
Birkbeck and TATE Modern
Birkbeck University and The Screen Shadows Group invite you to a series of workshops considering Godard’s practice as a form of curation.
From the beginning Godard’s work has been characterised by ‘a play of allusion within and between texts ’. Is this simply a modernist tactic or is there a more conservative, classical imperative at its heart? At different times Godard might reference or quote films, books, paintings and pieces of music in order to build arguments, reform canons or to simply make tastes. Beginning with the ultra dense montage of Histoire(s) du Cinéma, these workshops will consider at what point quotation and citation become curation, and what the stakes might be for such a shift.
Histoire(s) du Cinéma (1988-1998)
Friday 14th November – 2.30pm-4.30pm – Birkbeck
In episode 3b: Une Vague Nouvelle, Godard recalls how one evening ‘nous nous rendîmes chez Henri Langlois… et alors la lumière fut’. This sequence references Langlois’s famous stewardship of the Cinémathèque Française and mythologises his programming method. Just as Eisenstein montaged attractions, Langlois montaged whole films. In Histoire(s), the double or triple bill, the building block of any repertory cinema’s programming, is also the building block of Godard’s discursive method as quotations are montaged dialectically. Langlois is privileged alongside Eisenstein, as Godard recognises the antecedents of his video-enabled dialectical montage in curatorial method as much as soviet montage aesthetics.
Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
Friday 28th November – 2.30pm-4.30pm – Birkbeck
In the realm of sound, Pierrot Le Fou begins with the pointedly authoritative reading of a passage from Elie Faure’s critical analysis of the treatment of objects and light in the painting of Velázquez. From this moment onwards, Godard suffuses the visual realm of this transitional film with a critique of cinematic and genre conventions that, for the first time in his cinema, is wholly anchored in just such an exhibitive, art-historical discourse as this first-quoted text. From diverse literary (re)citations to intercut shots of paintings and illustrations, as well as the associative colour schemes that permeate the film, this early example of a multi-format curatorial impulse in Godard’s practice sets the romanticism of a reflexive narrative framework against a personal and political strategy for the deconstruction of ideological images in art. Through the film’s embedding of art objects in its diegesis and the foregrounded performativity of its literary references, Godard challenges us to ask how cinema works to sublimate, contaminate and reshape the constructions of meaning that have become attached to pre-existing artistic forms.
Read the Ciné-Tourist’s excellent essay here.
Voyage(s) en utopie, Jean-Luc Godard, 1946-2006 (2006)
Saturday 6th December – 2.30pm-4.30pm – Birkbeck
In 2006 a much-anticipated exhibition at Le Centre Pompidou was prefaced with the following notice.
‘The Pompidou Centre decided not to carry out the exhibition project entitled “Collage(s) de France. Archaeology of the Cinema”, because of artistic, technical and financial difficulties that it presented, and to replace it by another project entitled “Travel(s) in Utopia, JLG, 1946–2006, In Search of a Lost Theorem”.
Consisting of collages, sculptures and moving image installations drawing on films from People on Sunday to Black Hawk Down,
Voyage(s) en Utopie blurred the lines between a filmmaking, artistic and curatorial practice, while also foregrounding the problems of collaborating with a huge and complex government funded organisation. Transposing the concerns of a film like Le Mepris to the medium of the exhibition, it announced itself as an act of institutional critique: an exhibition about a failed exhibition and the difficulties of exhibition making.
For this session we will be joined by Olivier Bohler and Céline Gailleurd, ahead of a screening of their film about the exhibition, Le Désordre Exposé, at TATE Modern the following day.
Screening of Le Désordre Exposé (2012)
Sunday 7th December – 3pm – TATE Modern
The UK premiere of Olivier Bohler and Céline Gailleurd’s essay film Jean-Luc Godard, Le Désordre Exposé / Disorder Exposed. The film retraces Jean-Luc Godard’s notorious exhibition at the Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou in Paris between 11 May – 14 August 2006. The film and following discussion will reflect on the exhibition Voyage(s) en utopie, Jean-Luc Godard 1946–2006 in the context of Godard’s work, and reconsider his films in the framework and history of curatorial practice. In the film we are led by André S. Labarthe, former Cahiers du Cinéma critic and actor in Godard’s Vivre Sa Vie, who guides us through archival footage, television interviews and partial reconstructions of the Pompidou exhibition. Bohler and Gailleurd’s film proposes a new approach to Godard’s work as an attempt to curate a history of cinema through literature, art and politics.
Read the programme notes here.
Followed by a discussion between the filmmakers and Michael Witt, author of Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian (Indiana University Press, 2013), Reader in Cinema Studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Film and Audiovisual Cultures at the University of Roehampton.