Montage in a Single Shot

10 December 2021, 12:00:00 am

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Session Convenors

Dr Giles Fielke, University of Melbourne
Dr Ivan Cerecina, University of Sydney

Session Moderators

Dr Giles Fielke, University of Melbourne
Dr Ivan Cerecina, University of Sydney

Session Speakers

Dr Chari Larsson, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University
Dr Ivan Cerecina, University of Sydney
Dr Giles Fielke, University of Melbourne

This panel examines the place of filmic montage as a mode of art historical inquiry, focussing on the re-distribution of still images from the history of art via processes for the assembly of images. Following recent re-evaluations of the term’s valence by the likes of Georges Didi-Huberman, Nicole Brenez, and Harun Farocki, filmic montage is posited here as an aesthetic and historiographical gesture that suggests both conflict within and kinship between fragments of visual culture. It frames cinema’s interventions into art history in terms of a mid-20th-century tradition of montage as a theory and practice, elucidated in particular by Ernst Jünger, Bertolt Brecht, Walter Benjamin and André Malraux. There, across art books, didactic texts and so-called ‘image primers’ [Bilderfibeln], is an attempt to bridge the constitutive blank between photomontage, collage, and filmic montage, placing the latter within an art historical lineage concerned with the mechanical dynamism of images. This session tests the impact of these cross-medial provocations on montage from midway through the previous century in more contemporary filmmaking and film exhibition practices. This session looks in detail at the way montage operates in the work of Georges Didi-Huberman, Alain Resnais, Andre Malreux, and Ernst Jünger.

PAPER #1
Didi-Huberman and and the Strasbourg Circle

PRESENTER
Dr Chari Larsson, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University

What is montage for art historian Georges Didi-Huberman? Since the early 2000s, Didi-Huberman has moved montage to the fore of his research project. The opening montage sequence of Chris Marker’s film Le fond de l’air est rouge (1977) is a particularly helpful entry point to Didi-Huberman’s theorisation of montage. The sequence is not measured in terms of absence or lack, but instead understood as a generative and productive mode of image creation. This paper will argue that Didi-Huberman’s treatment of montage as an epistemological, literary, and visual form of knowledge production is indebted to the Strasbourg circle of Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy. I will contend that montage was taken up by the circle as part of a broader rethinking of what representation might be.

PAPER #2
The Politics of Montage in Post-war France: Resnais, Malraux and the Animation of Culture

PRESENTER
Dr Ivan Cerecina, University of Sydney

This paper examines a set of diverse cultural projects undertaken in post-war France – art documentaries, art books, art pedagogy – and draws them together under the auspices of a common method: montage. It draws parallels between the processes of fragmenting and assembling cultural forms across André Malraux’s Le musée imaginaire (1947), Alain Resnais’ Guernica (1950), and the activities of post-war popular education organisations such as Peuple et culture. In so doing, it argues for the existence of a shared cultural politics of montage in this period of French history, in which the breaking down and reconstitution of images and texts becomes a means to ‘re-animate’ culture for new audiences in post-war France. It makes a case for Resnais’ art documentaries as particularly politicised outgrowths of this moment of cultural reconstruction, reading his later art documentaries as attempts to identify newly emergent political significations of paintings in light of the threat of a renascent post-war European fascism. It argues thus for montage as a privileged method in post-war France for re-reading and revising the country’s relationship to the cultural forms of the past, as well as a way of negotiating the place of these forms in the country’s political horizons.

PAPER #3
Weimar Effects: Ernst Jünger’s Entomic Montage

PRESENTER
Dr Giles Fielke, University of Melbourne

Argentinian writer and director, Edgardo Cozarinsky, debuted a feature-length film titled La guerre d’un seul homme at the 20th New York Film Festival in 1982. It relies on actuality footage of World War II and in particular the German occupation of France, using the wartime diaries of German Officer Ernst Jünger as the voice-over for structuring the narrative. Jünger’s intense interest and theorisation of photography and film during the interwar period, prior to Hitler’s Machtergreifung in 1933, is examined through what I have called Jünger’s "entomic montage" with reference to Cozarinsky’s film. It also bears thinking about the dominant theories of montage from the Weimar era, which have since been used to cover over Jünger’s pioneering efforts. No doubt because his Weimar writings were an influence on German fascism and because of his participation in the atrocities of World War II. Elaborating on what Marcus Paul Bullock writes in an article for the New German Critique in 1993, that “Cozarinsky sees a clear connection between Jünger’s fascination with modes of seeing and being seen,” this paper argues the “cold consciousness” Jünger noted in the mechanical gaze of the camera, in 1932, is today a distinct feature of contemporary time.

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Biographies

Dr Giles Fielke, University of Melbourne 

Giles Fielke teaches art history at Monash University and the University of Melbourne, where completed his PhD on the work of artist-filmmaker Hollis Frampton in 2019 at the University of Melbourne. He is the editor of Index Journal of Art and Memo Review.


Dr Ivan Cerecina, University of Sydney

Dr Ivan Cerecina teaches Film Studies at The University of Sydney, where he also completed a PhD on montage in post-war French film. He has been a Research Fellow at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and a laureate of the City of Paris’ International Artists and Writers Residency Program.


Dr Chari Larsson, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University

Dr Chari Larsson lectures on modern and contemporary art at Queensland College of Art, Griffith University. Larsson’s research focuses on theories of images and representation. She is especially interested in investigating how the legacies of the philosophies known in the Anglophone world as poststructuralism are being negotiated by the current generation of scholars working in France today in the field of image studies. Her book Didi-Huberman and the image was published by Manchester University Press in 2020.