Friday, 29 November 2019

The Inequality, Culture and Difference research seminar series is proud to present…
Re-enactment and Critical History
Angelos Koutsoukaris, University of Leeds
Wednesday 13th November, 1-2pm MAE101 – ALL WELCOME!

Reenactment as a mode on inquiry about the past and as an artistic practice has recently become prevalent. Reenactments of the American civil war, of WWI and WWII have turned to tourist attractions in the USA. Reenactment is also an in important mode of practice in television but also in theatre and performance art with many experimental groups, such as the Wooster group, re-enacting past performances by theatre practitioners such as Jerzy Grotowski, but also documented events like the infamous Town Hall affair that took place in 1971 in New York. In cinema, recent films like The Act of Killing (2012), The Look of Silence (2012) and Theatre of War (2018) extend a cinematic tradition of reenactment firmly rooted in the works of Jean Rouch, Errol Morris, and Peter Watkins. 
In this paper, I intend to join the scholarly conversation on documentary reenactment going beyond the memory studies debates that have become prevalent in the academy in the past three decades. I am interested in thinking about reenactment as a mode of inquiry and practice that is not just in service of commemorating victims from the past. Instead, I want to look at how reenactment can enable us to recover untold stories from the past with the view to troubling linear approaches to history rooted in the Enlightenment paradigm.

Angelos Koutsourakis is a University Academic Fellow in World Cinema. He is the author of Rethinking Brechtian Film Theory and Cinema (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), Politics as Form in Lars von Trier (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013) and the co-editor of The Cinema of Theo Angelopoulos (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015). He is currently co-editing (with Thomas Austin) Cinema of Crisis: Film and Contemporary Europe (Edinburgh University Press, 2020).

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Translating Girlhood in Mustang (2015): Locations of Style, Political Context and Audience Reception

Image result for mustang 2015 filmAs part of the conference "Female Agency and Subjectivity in Film and Television", which took place at Istanbul Bilgi University (April 11-13, 2018),  Cüneyt Çakırlar presented his paper in the panel "Translating Girlhood in Mustang (2015)" with Özlem Güçlü (MMGSU) and Elif Akçalı (Kadir Has University). 

Focusing on the Turkey-born French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s debut film Mustang (2015), the panel explored diverse modes of critical analysis to locate the film’s national and transnational framings of gender politics. Mustang tells the story of five orphaned sisters living with their grandmother and uncle in a remote Turkish village. Focusing on these five characters’ rapport with the conservative and segregated gender order in which these girls are “trained for” and forced into arranged marriages, this unconventional coming-of-age story capitalises upon solidarity, agency and resistance rather than a defeatist drama of spectacular victimhood. However, the film has received differing reviews: while the international reviews were celebrating it as a feminist text of rebellion and female empowerment, the local (i.e. Turkey-based) reviews were more sceptical of the film’s engagement with the national political context. The panel questioned the functions of film style, the political context of cinema, and audience reception in locating Mustang’s ideological operations in terms of national politics, (trans)national feminism, and the theoretical frameworks of national/transnational cinemas. Özlem Güçlü argued that Mustang’s formulation of female agency and subjectivity can be considered as exemplary of new female narratives in the contemporary cinema of Turkey. Cüneyt Çakırlar focused on the film’s formal/stylistic choices and the extent to which these choices reify a transnational feminist accent while undermining the local intricacies of gender politics. Finally, Elif Akçalı discussed the differences in the film’s reception by critically exploring local and international reviews of the film.        

Friday, 11 January 2019

Soufiane Ababri's solo show at The PILL, Istanbul

Following his solo show, Here is a Strange and Bitter Crop, which was on display at the Space in London last year, the French-Moroccan artist Soufiane Ababri has recently launched an exhibition of his recent work at the gallery The PILL (Istanbul & Paris) titled Memories of a Solitary Cruise (10 January - 23 February 2019). Through his use of the spectacular scene of traditional Turkish wrestling, Ababri's project intervenes into the racialised and sexualised modes of Orientalism. Exploring male friendship and homoeroticism in Arab and Middle Eastern cultures through the intersections of race, gender and sexuality, Ababri's art of appropriation creates a productive friction by depicting Arab or "Oriental" with the aesthetic tools of Western canons/masters of homoerotic arts.

The gallery commissioned Cüneyt Çakırlar to author a piece that introduces Ababri's art practice to the Istanbul audience. The English version of Çakırlar's piece can be accessed from this link. The Turkish translation has recently been published in Manifold.