Friday September 30th I will give a combined keynote lecture and film screening, in the framework of a conference organised at the Goethe University by the ANKK, organised by Jochen Sander, chief curator at the Städel Museum. The lecture is entitled Seeing History: In Praise of Anachronism, Folly, and Creative Research. I make a case for anachronism and a tool to understand things not “as they realy were” but as how things from the past make sense to us today. At the same time, I make the case for film making as a form of research, and seek to persuade the audience that film can do something documentation cannot (even if also vice versa) The lecture is an element in an ongoing dialogue with Jochen, who is a professor at the Goethe Universiteit and curator at the Städel.
Jochen curated an exquisite exhibition of medium-size paintings from the Dutch and Flemish collection of the Städel, at the outrageously contemporary Guggenheim Bilbao museum, and he instigated the idea that the museum commissioned me to make a video essay as a gloss. With my long-term colleague and collaborator Michelle Williams Gamaker, we made a three-screen video installation. Irreverently, we flipped the exhibition’s primary masterpiece, Vermeer’s geographer, around, so that he could look up and listen to Sissi, a clinically diagnosed “schizophrenic” victim of parental abuse who has things to say about time.The installation presented together, in dialogue, the paintings from the seventeenth century and elements from the film I will see Friday evening, which is in turn based on a “theoretical fiction” by French psychoanalyst Françoise Davoine. We made the installation by editing the old paintings, allegedly still images, together with the contemporary moving images, both among the three screens and in the temporal sequence, and thus put movement into the paintings to engage a dialogue about time.
After the lecture and discussion, we will watch the film A Long History of Madness and see anachronism at work there. I am very excited about this opportunity to make the academic and artistic activities I have been involved in for the past few years, hang together.