Skip to content
1981
Spectral Cinema and Contested Landscapes
  • ISSN: 2045-6298
  • E-ISSN: 2045-6301

Abstract

In this article, I look at environmental agency in Sven Augustijnen’s (2011) and Joshua Oppenheimer’s (2012). Both films are structured through re-enactments of political violence that involve perpetrators as protagonists. In this context, I study the traces of disruptions that exceed the agency of human makers and protagonists. I argue that landscapes can ‘ghost’ filmic re-enactments by refusing access or communication. Seen through the lens of decolonial theory, these spectral disobediences connect to the shadow side of rational thought and action. The environmental agencies in these films act as ghosts by pointing to different orders of remembering, resisting a singular view of contested sites of trauma. They push against the framing of truth as a document to be extracted by the camera. I conclude that environments can both store memories and prevent these memories from being retold in seemingly innocent ways. This refusal unfixes the traditional distance between filmmaker, protagonist and environment. It prompts viewers to seek layered truths and healing informed by accountability.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • AHRC (Award AH/R01275X/1)
Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1386/miraj_00119_1
2024-02-29
2024-07-16
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

References

  1. Augustijnen, Sven (2011), Spectres, Belgium: Auguste Orts.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Azoulay, Ariella (2019), Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism, London: Verso.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Berrebi, Sophie (2012), ‘Neither fish nor fowl, but real bodies: The films of Sven Augustijnen’, Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry, 31, pp. 8493.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Caruth, Cathy (1996), Unclaimed Experience: Trauma, Narrative, and History, Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Chen, Mel Y. (2012), Animacies: Biopolitics, Racial Mattering and Queer Affect, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Clark, Laurie B. (2015), ‘Ruined landscapes and residual architecture: Affect and palimpsest in trauma tourism’, Performance Research, 20:3, pp. 8393.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Crichlow, Walter (2013), ‘“It’s all about finding the right excuse” in Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing’, Film Quarterly, 67:2, pp. 3743.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Demaria, Cristina and Violi, Patrizia (2020), ‘The act of documenting: Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing’, Media, War & Conflict, 13:1, pp. 88104.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Demos, T. J. (2013), Return to the Postcolony: Specters of Colonialism in Contemporary Art, London: Sternberg Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Derrida, Jacques ([1994] 2012), Specters of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, London: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. De Witte, Ludo (1996), Crisis in Kongo: De rol van de Verenigde Naties, de regering-Eyskens en het Koningshuis in de omverwerping van Lumumba en de opkomst van Mobutu, Leuven: Van Halewyck.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. De Witte, Ludo (2001), The Assassination of Lumumba, London: Verso.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Escobar, Arturo (2020), Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Foucault, Michel ([1969] 2010), The Archaeology of Knowledge, New York: Vintage Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Hirsch, Joshua (2004), Afterimage: Film, Trauma, and the Holocaust, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Meneghetti, Mike (2016), ‘Self-exculpatory imaginings: Reenactment and observation in The Act of Killing’, Canadian Journal of Film Studies, 25:2, pp. 3961.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Mignolo, Walter and Vazquez, Rolando (2013), ‘Decolonial aestheSis: Colonial wounds/decolonial healings’, Social Text Online, 15 July, https://socialtextjournal.org/periscope_article/decolonial-aesthesis-colonial-woundsdecolonial-healings/. Accessed 26 November 2023.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Oppenheimer, Joshua (2012), The Act of Killing, Denmark: Final Cut for Real and DK Films.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Paramaditha, Intan (2013), ‘Tracing frictions in The Act of Killing’, Film Quarterly, 67:2, pp. 4449.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Peeren, Esther (2014), ‘Lumumba’s ghosts: Immaterial matters and matters immaterial in Sven Augustijnen’s Spectres’, Transformations: Journal of Media & Culture, 25, pp. 112, https://www.transformationsjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Peeren_Transformations25.pdf. Accessed 30 January 2024.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Sekula, Alan ([1983] 1987), ‘Reading an archive: Photography between labour and capital’, in B. Wallis (ed.), Blasted Allegories: An Anthology of Writing by Contemporary Artists, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 12134.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Simpson, Leanne B. (2014), ‘Land as pedagogy: Nishnaabeg intelligence and rebellious transformation’, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 3:3, pp. 125.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Sundberg, Juanita (2013), ‘Decolonizing posthumanist geographies’, Cultural Geographies, 21:1, pp. 3347.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Todd, Zoe (2016), ‘An indigenous feminist take on the ontological turn: “Ontology” is just another word for colonialism’, Journal of Historical Sociology, 29:1, pp. 422.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Tuck, Eve and Yang, K. Wayne (2012), ‘Decolonization is not a metaphor’, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 1:1, pp. 140.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Vanderbeeken, Robrecht (2012), ‘Documentary as anti-monument: On Spectres by Sven Augustijnen’, Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry, 31, pp. 94105.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Van der Kolk, Bessel (2014), The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, New York: Viking Press.
    [Google Scholar]
/content/journals/10.1386/miraj_00119_1
Loading
/content/journals/10.1386/miraj_00119_1
Loading

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): agency; ethics; haunting; healing; memory; post-traumatic cinema; refusal
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error