Commissioned by Fondazione Prada to filmmakers, artists, intellectuals and scholars, the 8 visual essays comprised in “Finite Rants” will be published on a monthly basis. The first authors include German director and writer Alexander Kluge, Japanese photographer Satoshi Fujiwara, French director Bertrand Bonello, and Swiss economist Christian Marazzi.
As stated by avant-garde director Hans Richter in 1940, the film or video essay is a form of expression capable of creating “images for mental notions” and of portraying concepts. Starting from Richter's ideas, some later theorists identify specific traits in the video essay, such as creative freedom, complexity, reflexivity, the crossing of film genres and the transgression of linguistic conventions. “Finite Rants” aims to test the versatility of the visual essay in expressing thought images and demonstrate its relevance in contemporary visual production. According to the two curators, “this project further develops Richter's intuitions starting from the assumption that, due to the natural evolutionary condition of the cinematographic fact and its contamination with forms of information, visual material and capillary distribution of Image Capture supports, today more than ever it is necessary to search for what can be defined as ‘Formatless Dogma’, in support of a visual production without restrictions".
The aesthetic and theoretical roots of “Finite Rants” can be traced back to the experimental work La Jetée (1962) by French author Chris Marker. Defined by its creator as “photo- roman”, La Jetée is described by its voice-over as “the story of a man obsessed with an image of his childhood”. According to writer J.G. Ballard, “this strange and poetic film, a fusion of science fiction, psychological fable and photomontage, creates in its unique way a series of bizarre images of the inner landscapes of time”. The authors of “Finite Rants” are therefore invited to confront themselves with a radical model of cinematic experimentation such as La Jetée, a fragmentary and dispersive story, consisting of a single short film sequence and a succession of static frames, which questions the very idea of cinema, understood as a set of moving images.
Following a process of creative collaboration between the authors and Fondazione Prada, the visual contributions featured in “Finite Rants” analyze social, political and cultural issues that have emerged in our present time and are normally addressed by the media with a documentary approach. Through the creation, editing and post-production of raw, heterogeneous and diverse images and visual materials, the authors are able to express personal visions and poetics that involve the viewer in an active and reflective role. “Finite Rants” is part of a historical moment of crisis of the traditional film industry and the proliferation of digital tools that record reality with an apparently neutral and mechanical method. This project questions the current dynamics of production, distribution and reception of images, trying to invent new ways of writing or rewriting reality from a subjective and deliberately partial perspective, practicing a marginal and hybrid genre like video essay.
Satoshi Fujiwara / Alexander Kluge Warewolves Playoffs, 2020. Video still
Bertrand Bonello Nocturama, 2016. Video still. Credit: Carole Bethuel
Finite Rants. Photo by Satoshi Fujiwara
La jetée by Chris Marker, 1962. Video still
La jetée by Chris Marker, 1962. Video still
Following a method that its authors compare to an alchemical process, Satoshi Fujiwara and Alexander Kluge’s visual essay Warewolves Playoffs activates an experimentation that crosses the boundaries between cinema and photography. Actions of aggression, isolation and accumulation of images create a new narrative that invests the notions of time, speed and transformation. In contrast to Marker's work, where the power of memory is fixed in the frame, in Fujiwara and Kluge's video essay the images are decontextualized, deconstructed and stratified to create a dark atmosphere far from the standards of traditional cinema. Their work is the result of a long-distance collaboration that sees the Japanese photographer tries to experiment the video format for the first time, reworking original elements and films by the German director.
In a personal reinterpretation of contemporary Europe, director Bertrand Bonello reworks the last minutes of his 2016 film Nocturama, which documents the logistical operations and the organization of terrorist attacks in Paris by a group of teenagers. Bonello's project is an ideal challenge to the canons of arthouse cinema, a true genre and production threshold of the French film industry. Starting with Où en êtes-vous?, a video commissioned by the Centre Pompidou in 2014 and conceived as a letter to his then eleven-year-old daughter, the director makes a new work. For “Finite Rants” he produces a visual essay titled Where are you now? (Number 2), altering the final sequence of Nocturama and completely modifying the soundtrack, like a remix or a sort of sound recut, through sound archives, new music, silences and chaos, as if this video essay was a second letter written for his now seventeen- year-old daughter.
As part of an imaginary pan-European information broadcast, Christian Marazzi addresses issues related to the economic, financial and social implications of the current health emergency, such as the management of public and private debts, financial market fluctuations and social conflicts. In his visual essay the setting, visual and sound interventions emphasize the ambivalent value of economic discourse, able to predict and anticipate future scenarios or, on the contrary, to generate possible errors of evaluation. The continuous variation of these predictions triggers a reflection on the graphic representation of economic trends and the relative methods of reading the data, capable of influencing the economic debate and the political choices.
FEATURED IMAGE Satoshi Fujiwara / Alexander Kluge Warewolves Playoffs, 2020. Video still
For her first exhibition in France, Wu Tsang has transformed Lafayette Anticipations into a hybrid space that summons the worlds of the night and the sacred. Through this metamorphosis, the visitor is immersed in a mysterious atmosphere where recent and earlier works by the American artist are brought together.