Status Anxiety, or Missing the Pictures: Film Performativity in the Museum Space

20 January 2011, 12:00 - 14:00

CRASSH Seminar Room

Dr Jenny Chamarette presents her work at the CRASSH Postdoctoral Research Seminar.

A light buffet lunch will be provided. Please contact Dr Anne Alexander to reserve a place.

Abstract

Anxieties about the preservation and archiving of film have existed for as long as film itself. However, as certain film technologies become obsolete, the desire to preserve and archive these technologies, and consequently to confer a determinate object status upon them because they are no longer changing – aligns this process of archiving film with the ostensible goals of museums: to preserve, to document, to exhibit. In this sense, museological studies and film studies share a common difficulty: they share an anxiety over the ontological status of the object in the museum, and the object of film.

When film installations and exhibitions enter the museum, that status anxiety of the film object, or of the object in the museum, is troubled again. Not only do film installations trouble prevailing notions  of cinematic space, but they also trouble the status of film as an object in the museum space, and, conversely, they trouble the status of the nonfilmic objects recuperated within the space of the installation.

As the burgeoning field of research into digital film technologies has noted, film performs differently when the spaces of its screening are redistributed. Furthermore, when shifted into the concrete space of contemporary art museums and public institutions, film is both transformed by and is transformative of the space into which it enters. This paper explores the examples of as Jean-Luc Godard’s unpopular exhibition and film installations of 2006 in the Pompidou Centre in Paris, to explore the performative elasticity of film in the spaces of the public art institution. What it hopes to do then, is to suggest that the status anxiety provoked by film, far from being a distraction from issues of archiving and documentation, is perhaps constitutive of its performativity in the museum space, and consequently may shift the debates in object status, both for museology, and for film studies.