Wednesday 8 March 2017, 12:19am
Close-Up Film Centre
97 Sclater Street
London E1 6HR
“Since nature is uncomfortable, violent, we resort to architecture. We build monuments, houses, whole cities… And suddenly, it seems legitimate to rape the earth, to extract what we need from it. To construct a place and make it a home. A fortress where we cultivate our affections.” (Concrete Affection)
Concrete Futures brings together films that deal with fiction and imagination, inviting encounters with speculative futures, which are nonetheless grafted onto the present ‘documentary’ moment that haunts them. Images as documents and as drivers of the imagination, Serbian, Angolan, and Spanish cityscapes are connected in a type of speculative haunting.
This haunting is expressed in the superimposition of images of construction and evacuation, of tearing down and rebuilding. By tearing down or leaving behind, old sites are revealed. And by rebuilding, one does not construct anew but instead returns to the terrains that already were there. In that sense, no conquering – symbolic or concrete – of lands or, for that matter, of our imaginations and affections, will ever be truly a form of building but instead remains haunted by its own violence. – Mihaela Brebenel
Selected by Mihaela Brebenel, Minou Norouzi and Nikolaus Perneczky in association with the Whitechapel Gallery symposium Object! On the Documentary as Art.
Composed of various quotes – belonging to political speeches that emphasize the iconoclasm of art and architecture – the film creates an original conversation between four characters. A Nation Builder, a Pragmatist, a Conservationist and an Artist/Architect become a reflection of ideological deliberation facing a practical scruple. Including words drawn from Reagan’s speech on the Berlin Wall, Prince Charles’ 1984 address at RIBA and Isis bloggers’ proclamation on the demolition of temples, Tear Down and Rebuild uses rhetoric that endorses demolition as a necessary process to aid the creation of new displays for ensuing nation-states or ideological positions.
Inspired by Polish journalist and writer Rychard Kapuscinsky’s book , “Another Day of Life – Angola 1975”, Concrete Affection – Zopo Lady is a portrait of the Angolan capital Luanda, using as a reference the historical period when the city was completely abandoned by the thousands of inhabitants (mainly Portuguese and white Angolans), as a consequence of Angola independence in 1975, followed by a long-term civil war. The narrator tells of the painful decision to leave the city where he lived his whole life. But the impossibility of affections for a woman torments him and undermines his plans to escape. Concrete Affection is an intimate and personal perspective on the relation between space and collective memory confronted by the vital and mandatory need to emigrate.
In a voice-over Stan Brakhage articulates his resentments about the use of computers for art production and in general. This commentary is contrasted by video imagery turning more and more abstract until it bursts into a sea of square pixels. The video is an ironic illustration of Brakhage’s views as these “defunct” images reveal a kind of beauty of their own.
Androids Dream is an experimental film set in 2052 combining scifi, thriller, fiction and non-fiction, and sticking to the conventions of a 70s B movie filmed on 16 mm. It is a film that imagines a future all too similar to the ruins, in this case touristic ruins, of our present. The fictional film only breaks away at very specific moments: every time an android is killed and we “see” their implanted fake memories. And in those implanted memories we get a sense of my memories: my house in Spain, my family, and my friends. The documentary footage reappears or cuts in, although it has always been beneath the futuristic plot. And below the documentary footage we find the evasion, the plot of science fiction, in a game of alternating sets of associations and correspondences. – Ion de Sosa