(RE:) Image-ining African experimental ethnographic film: insights from the surrealist movement and contemporary African philosophy on the ethnological importance of montage
(Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales/Aarhus)
Paper short abstract:
The proposed paper explores the ways in which contemporary African experimental ethnographic film is informed by the surrealist movement and contemporary African philosophy in order to understand how practices of montage challenge and reconstruct contemporary anthropological categories and understanding.
Paper long abstract:
The proposed paper explores the ways in which contemporary African experimental ethnographic film is informed by a political aesthetic first proposed in the surrealist manifestos of the 1920's and further developed ideologically by contemporary African philosophers. By focusing particularly on the process of montage as a site of aesthetic and anthropological importance, the paper focuses on the overlapping ideas of Antonin Artaud and Franz Fanon and the importance of this overlap in further developing a theoretical context to analyze and understand the ways in which avant-garde art, ethnographic film, and African philosophy exist in symbiotic relationships. Aesthetic practices of rupture, polyphony, and narrative and alternative representations of time, history, and memory remain ideological categories and cinematographic choices frequently employed but rarely interrogated in the context of their importance to the field of postcolonial African visual studies. This paper articulates how this interrogation leads to an understanding of the concrete ways in which the practice of montage invites a deconstruction of what Decerteau identified as spatial practices in contemporary ethnography; by distinguishing linearity from truth, the analysis of the use of montage in contemporary experimental ethnographic film points to the ways in which these practices place in dialogue cultural processes in a visual manifestation of Bakhtin's notion of heteroglossia. Hartog's idea of the regime d'historicite is put into question with serious philosophical and methodological consequences for the field of anthropology and African studies enumerated in the conclusion of the paper.
Transcultural montage: the uses of filmic montage in conveying diversity and mutuality