"BOEM! or Experimental media archaeological reflections on re-enactment and “crazy” avant-garde performances as part of media history"

Date: 27 Aug. 2024
Time: 4.30 - 5.30 pm
Location: TBA

Having argued earlier that hands-on re-enactments with historical media objects offer a method to re-sensitize researchers to the sensory, expressive and performative potential of media; moreover, that artists provide exquisite models for such re-enactments (Doing Experimental Media Archaeology: Theory), Annie van den Oever will focus on the question of how hands-on interactions with old media technologies can be used as a method to comprehend historical media performances, the experiences they offered, and the historical contexts in which they occurred. 

The lecture will zoom in on two examples: recent so-called “lecture performances” by the Joburg-based artist William Kentridge, who re-enacts avant-garde performances as an artist media archaeologist; and the “crazy” performances of the historical avant-gardists themselves, mimicking the highly exciting early film shows to great effect. These shows were often crazy performances in their own right. Being modelled after the magic lantern shows, they were swiftly popularised all over Europe. The Russian Futurists successfully provoked their live audiences with what came to be known as performances by “raskals,” accompanied by stunningly aggressive manifestos, such as “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste,” from December 1912. They moved centre stage with great turmoil in 1913, when the “general craze about the cinema” reached its peak in Russia (Yuri Tsivian). Not unimportant: Viktor Shklovsky broke away from tradition and presented his modern art theory in this very context: in Petersburg in 1913 in a cabaret called The Stray Dog. 


The lecture will close with a note on the Antwerp avant-garde poet Paul van Ostaijen.

About Annie van den Oever

​​Annie van den Oever is Associate Professor of Film and Head of the Film Archive at the University of Groningen and Associated Senior Researcher at the University of Johannesburg. Her research focuses on the epistemological and methodological challenges of doing new film history and experimental media archaeology, theories of technology, the European avant-gardes, and the aesthetics of the grotesque. She is a founding editor of Necsus and the book series The Key Debates published by Amsterdam University Press.