Hope is a Chain of Submission (Part II)
“Hope is a chain of submission”: this sentence that amounts to a manifesto resonates forcefully in Marion Scemama’s essay on David Wojnarowicz. The quotation is drawn from The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem, a flagship book for an entire youth that could not surrender to the inertia of the mighty and sought in liberty as in love that which is the most subversive.
This phrase affects and innerves the ensemble of this selection that I wished to focus on complex works, in-between worlds, neither documentaries nor fictions, outlining the counter-portrait of an ongoing revolution.
Beyond any attempt at an aggregation (formal, generational..), it can be read as the ongoing motion of an insurrection of bodies, voices, desire and violence, political writing. All these pieces undergo in various ways the experience of chaos, of a world that is never given, pervaded with the tensions of revolt and the living, sex and thought, inhabited with rabid figures.
Because we had to wonder how to see anew or show these film experiments that muster the concepts of rage, love, struggle, disappearance, and through them contemplate the contemporariness of the crisis as the site of a non-linear formulation of a historic collective time.
Wonder how our most present-day representations belong to these tales of disruption and continuity, of orphan youths that refuse the legacy of the past, that situate themselves somewhere in post-history where the very notion of future may merely have been cancelled.
“Why is our life ruled by discontent, by anguish, by the fear of war, by war? To answer that question, I wrote this film without following a chronology or even a logic. But merely my political reasons and my poetic feeling.” Pier Paolo Pasolini
A film cursed even by its author, La Rabbia does not take sides between rage and love, with the hope that only the revolution can save the past. A film poem built out of images from newsreels, from the death of the father of the Italian Christian Democracy, Alcide De Gasperi (1954), to that of Marilyn Monroe (1962), world history goes by, accompanied by Pasolini’s torrential commentary faced with the dilution of the utopias of the Resistance in the post-war period.
The filmmaker rarely proved himself so prophetic. Globalization? “When all the peasants and the craftsmen will be dead, when industry will have made the cycle of production and consumption ineluctable, then our history will come to an end.” The birth of television? “We’re experimenting the means to divide the truth by opposing humiliating irony to every ideal, jokes to tragedy, murderers’ common sense to the excesses of the humble.”
We know about the hatred surrounding the filmmaker in his lifetime. Reviled for his ideas, derided for his homosexuality, the target of “the common sense of murderers”, Pasolini declared in 1966: “For me the ideal angry man is Socrates. There is no more sublime anger. (…) A tramp who wandered from one gym to another in Athens and its suburbs.”
Pasolini was assassinated during the night of November 2 to 3 on the beach of Ostia in the suburbs of Rome.
Rome, November 1st and 2nd 1975, the multiplied film by Lili Raynaud-Dewar rightly goes back over the circumstances of Pasolini’s murder, inspired and influenced by several documentary or fictional sources, mounted around Abel Ferrara’s biopic, Pasolini (2014), a true play of mirrors between the great ghost of neoliberal Europe and the incandescent filmmaker. Out of those last non elucidated hours that had already led to multiple suppositions, Lili Reynaud-Dewar unfolds a system with several voices, several bodies, that avoids the temptation to totalize a story that does not let itself be grasped. The effects of repetition, inherent to the artist’s oeuvre, call to mind the unfinished character of one of Pasolini’s most gripping texts, Petrolio, a prophetic fable-novel about power, the state and sex, that in its time condemned the destruction of the planet and natural resources by the global economic powers. In the shifting of languages, between historic periods, and variations of incarnation, of interpretation by different friends and accomplices, from disassociation to possession, Lili Reynaud-Dewar offers a delightful performative experience that reveals the workings of an on-going post-production, that never writes “The End”.
Between 2000 and 2004 the writer Guillaume Dustan made 17 films with his small DV camera in hand. They speak of love, sex, drugs, clubbing, philosophy. They extend his literary and political project, an autofiction he qualified as auto-pornographic, that literally encapsulated the generation of the 90s, always looking for new forms of life and language.
Thomas Clerc, who largely contributed to its revising, in particular thanks to the publication of the complete works by P.O.L., says of him: “Dustan is one of the few leftist writers that refuse leftist gloom. He is Nietzschean, he puts pleasure at the heart of politics, the latter being an art of living better. It is through this that he joins up with an entire generation that discovered in autobiography the instrument of this personal and political liberation.”
In the midst of an already minority milieu Guilllaume Dustan occupied a marginal position: that of a raging, desperate, even morbid addiction. Today he occupies a central position for a whole new generation that delights in his films and his books, beyond identity issues and vain media controversies, as a direct speaking out, from a shared yet singular language, poetic and modern, resolutely alive.
— Stéphanie Moisdon
La Rabbia (1963)
Pier Paolo Pasolini
“The story of La Rabbia (Anger) begins in 1962 when Pasolini who had already made two films, Accattone (1961) and Mamma Roma (1962), received from a small producer, Gastone Ferranti, the proposal to make a documentary based on the newsreel archives of the Mondo Libero. Out of these 90 000 meters of film in which Pasolini discerned “the depressing parade of international indifference and the triumph of the most ordinary right-wing approach”, the filmmaker drew a series of images that he appropriated, reedited, making it the matrix of a personal film for which he wrote a text read in voiceover by the writer Giorgio Bassani and the painter Renato Guttoso.
Too far left? The producer Ferranti wanted to “rebalance” the film politically by asking the writer Giovanni Guareschi (1908-1968), author of Don Camillo, for the same work. La Rabbia, distributed by Warner Bros., was quickly withdrawn from the Italian screens. In 2001 the publication of Pasolini’s writings on film allowed the full written text for La Rabbia to reappear. It is far longer than the 1963 version and allows to grasp the extent of the cuts Pasolini accepted: the sixteen first sequences of De Gasperi’s funeral, as well as atomic bomb essays, the Korean war, and the birth of television.
Starting from the text, the filmmaker Giuseppe Bertolucci, director of the Bologna film library – the Pasolini Foundation headquarters –, and the critic Tatti Sanguineti set out to restore the work, finding all the missing images.
The images then had to be edited in the spirit of Pasolini to coincide with their commentary read by Bertolucci. This work led to sixteen minutes which, added to the part the filmmaker saved, make this film a major link in Pasolini’s oeuvre.”
Philippe Ridet, Le Monde, 27 October 2008
“If Eichmann could come up out of his grave and make a film, he would make one of this kind. Eichmann made this film through a third party (…). It is not only a “qualunquiste” film (the Italian expression is an equivalent of Poujadiste, conservative or reactionary, it is actually far worse. There is hatred of Americans, and the Nuremburg trials are described as revenge; talking about John Kennedy it only shows his wife as if he didn’t exist. There is hatred against Blacks. The only thing missing is saying they should all be put against a wall. There is a white girl who gives a flower to a black man and right away the commentator buries her under insults because of it. There is a hymn to parachutists, glorified as magnificent troops; there is an anticommunism that is not even that of the MSI but 1930s’ anticommunism. There is everything, racism, the Yellow peril, the typical approach of Fascist orators, the accumulation of unprovable facts (…)”
Pier Paolo Pasolini, Il Giorno, 13 April 1963
Rome, November 1st and 2nd 1975 (2021)
Presented in four films, 141 min
Rome, November 1st and 2nd 1975 is very freely inspired by Abel Ferrara’s biopic on the poet and filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini’s last day, and the novel Petrolio the poet was in the midst of writing at the time of his death and that came out seventeen years later, in 1992. Petrolio describes a character, Carlo, who when the novel begins is split in two antagonist and inseparable figures: an erotomane stirred by his sole sexual impulses and a passion for the cosmos, and an engineer striving for power in the political and financial circles of 1970s’ Italy. On several occasions in the course of Petrolio the two Carlos change sexes.
Filmed over an eight-month period in Rome at the Villa Medici, and then in Japan during the Okayama Art Summit, curated by Pierre Huyghe, Rome, November 1st and 2nd 1975 brings together actors who are close collaborators, students, friends of Lili Reynaud-Dewar or members of her family. One after another all these protagonists perform the same tragic, intensely political events, in the same settings, under the same lights, following identical, or almost identical, scenarios.
The first scene is the full-length transcription of an interview Pasolini gave on the day he died to the journalist Furio Colombo for La Stampa, the second describes Pasolini’s last moments in the company of his lover Pino Pelosi, who accused himself of the assassination only to recant years later. Then the last scene attempts to represent the confusion and violence of the Italian intellectual’s assassination, for which those who were actually guilty were never sentenced or named, unless perhaps the victim himself in his novel Petrolio.
Songs in the key of moi (2000)
Vidéo DV, 33 min
Songs in the key of moi, more or less the same thing, a work on being a teenager. (G.D., Premier essai, 2005)
An autoportrait in the form of a playlist shot high on drugs one night that carries over to the next morning. He films his bedroom, his books, drawings by Hervé Gauchet, the tens of images hung on the wall, while playing music. We hear a voice, the only voice in the film: « hmm, I really should go out. »
When he wakes up, he puts the camera down and dances to Madam Butterfly by Malcolm McLaren.
SONGS (in the key of moi)
I Cannot Carry On, Dead Or Alive (1989)
Give it Back (That Love is Mine), Dead Or Alive (1989)
Rendez-vous dans l’espace, Telex (1998)
All Time, Archive (1996)
What A Difference A Day Makes (Cuando Vuelva A Tu Lado), Laura Fygi (2000)
Music (Calderone Anthem Mix), Madonna (2000)
Waltz Darling, Malcolm McLaren & The Bootzilla Orchestra (1989)
Pense à ta carrière, Les Rita Mitsouko (2000)
In Too Deep, Dead Or Alive (1985)
Madam Butterfly (Un Bel di Vedremo), Malcolm McLaren (1984)
« the dance = years of work to get to this point ± my brain’s dancing, never been so free »
Vidéo DV, 62 min
Nietzsche, a Jewish journalist, previous editor of BFM, comes to see me for a book on gays and we speak, I’m sat at Tim’s desk. (G.D., Premier essai, 2005)
Nietzsche, coming after Poubelle and Sorbelli, is the last of Dustan’s interview films. He is interviewed by the journalist Yves Derai, as part of the research for his book on gay power Le gay pouvoir : Enquête sur la République bleu blanc rose (2003). The film allows him to record a flow of political ideas that are both very much part of current events (the Socialist Party victory in the Paris mayoral elections, the impact of PACS (the French civil union law enacted in 1999), the 2002 elections, etc.) and anchored more specifically in a personal and Nietzschean outlook.
The one-hour interview format allows Dustan to express himself as he had never had the opportunity to do elsewhere. Notably, he revisits his dispute with Act Up, speaks about his relationship with the political left and local politics, philosophical liberalism and the notion of individualism.
A year earlier, Dustan published Génie Divin in which, among other things, he sets out his political « programme », including a series of short essays whose content in many ways marries well with this film.
In the Guillaume Dustan archives at the Institute of Contemporary Publishing Archives (IMEC) we came across this sentence that facilitates the understand and acceptance of some of the non-linear and always moving ways, those of spoken language, that he uses to deploy his reasoning: « This is how I am. And like that. And like that too, without contradiction. »
Vidéo DV, 29 min
Pietà, a romantic film with Tristan in Zurich. (G.D., Premier essai, 2005)
Filmed in Tristan’s new apartment and in the streets of the city.
« I think that something in my heart has opened up again, something to do with this boy, and love, and friendship… and brotherly love like this one. »
Pietà and Ratés are structured similarly, in the form of loops: Tristan sleeping, going out and coming back inside.
They supplement Nous (love no end) and Nous 2 to create the Series of Tristan, but instead of discussion, remarks, music and apartment noises, there’s silence, distant shouts, the humming of the city or the motorway…
This film is recorded over a film with another lover, the takes of which appear at the beginning and end.
See the retrospective of Guillaume Dustan’s films currently at Fri Art Kunsthalle. More information.