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#4- 28: Make film politically

Oliver Ressler /// “More visibility to activist practices…”

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I began to make films because of I was interested in forms that allow the presentation of artwork beyond the boundaries of art, a field I sometimes find restrictive. The majority of my films could be understood as attempts to afford more visibility to activist practices and social movements by describing actions, organizational forms, possibilities of agency, and underlying theories from the perspectives of the protagonists involved. Since my films do not take a “neutral” stance, they are often accused of being “partisan,” and this is something people often hold against me. However, I doubt that this “neutral” stance is even possible, since the very definition of “neutrality” derives from social power relations.

film_07.jpg

I began to make films because of I was interested in forms that allow the presentation of artwork beyond the boundaries of art, a field I sometimes find restrictive. The majority of my films could be understood as attempts to afford more visibility to activist practices and social movements by describing actions, organizational forms, possibilities of agency, and underlying theories from the perspectives of the protagonists involved. Since my films do not take a “neutral” stance, they are often accused of being “partisan,” and this is something people often hold against me. However, I doubt that this “neutral” stance is even possible, since the very definition of “neutrality” derives from social power relations.

While the choice of interlocutors is influenced by the desire to transfer contents into a film, an equally important aspect is to provide certain people with a strong, self-confident position of the speaker, thus supporting their political concerns and activities. The protagonists speak in produced settings, opening a space of communication and public. A number of my films pursue the conceptual approach of using interview outtakes as the sole carrier of information, consciously leaving out voice-over commentary and bridge texts, producing the film with nothing more than the montage of these outtakes. This method gives some spectators the unintended impression that the interlocutors’ statements are overdetermined, and that the film does not question their positions enough.

The complex visual encryption of works by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin deconstruct cinematic conventions in an experimental way, betraying an unshakeable belief in the audience’s capacity to see. My own work affords the spoken word with this central position. My cinematic language, on the contrary, is more restrained, because it is my intention to make my films accessible to non-experts, allowing the protagonists whose cooperation and knowledge makes the films possible in the first place to read the films, and to use them in their political work. I am optimistic enough to believe that film is an excellent medium to deliver arguments for social change, and maybe even to support revolutionary processes as long as there are movements open to the arguments they make.

Oliver Ressler has realized exhibition projects and works in public space. In collaboration with Dario Azzellini, he has made two films on the Bolivarian process in Venezuela, and three films on the anti-capitalist movement, the last of which (“What Would It Mean To Win?”) is currently being completed in collaboration with Zanny Begg. www.ressler.at

 

 

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