Confounding Expectations: The Forgotten Space. A Film by Allan Sekula & No_l Burch

Aperture at The New School Mon 5 Dec 2011 8.00PM-10.00PM The New School, Tishman Auditorium
66 West 12th Street
Free admission
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The Aperture Foundation, the Vera List Center for Art and Politics, and the Photography program at Parsons The New School for Design present a special screening of The Forgotten Space, a film by Allan Sekula and Noël Burch. The evening concludes with a conversation with Sekula, scholar Kristin Ross, and independent film curator Chi-hui Yang.

The Forgotten Space follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains, and trucks; listening to workers, engineers, planners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. We visit displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China—whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle. In Bilbao, we discover the most sophisticated expression of the belief that the maritime economy, and the sea itself, are somehow obsolete.

A range of materials is used: descriptive documentary, interviews, archive stills and footage, and clips from old movies. The result is an essayistic, visual documentary about one of the most important processes that affects us today. The Forgotten Space is based on Sekulas book Fish Story (1995), seeking to understand and describe the contemporary maritime world in relation to the complex, symbolic legacy of the sea.

Kristin Ross, Professor of Comparative Literature, Arts & Science, New York University
Allan Sekula, photographer and filmmaker
Chi-hui Yang, film programmer, lecturer and writer

Born in 1932 in San Francisco, California, Noël Burch has been living in France since 1951. He graduated from the Institut des Hautes Études Cinèmatographiques in 1954. While primarily known for his theoretical writings, he has always positioned himself as a filmmaker and has directed over twenty titles, mostly documentaries.

Burch has been publishing since the 1960s. Among his numerous publications are his first and best known book Theory of Film Practice (1973) and To the Distant Observer: Form and Meaning in Japanese Cinema (1979), which remains the most robust history of Japanese cinema written by a Westerner.

From 1967 to 1972, he collaborated with Janine Bazin and Andrè S. Labarthe for the celebrated series, Cinèastes de Notre Temps, and directed seven programs which are considered to have renewed the "film-maker portrait" in the heroic years of French public television. It was during that same period that Burch was co-founder and director of the Institut de Formation Cin_matographique, an alternative film school associating theory and practice.

Kristin Ross is Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University. Her first book, The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune (1988; reissued, 2008) examined left political culture of the late 19th century. Her cultural history of the French 1950s, Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture (1995), won the Laurence Wylie award for French cultural studies and a Critics Choice award; it has been published in France under the title Rouler plus vite, laver plus blanc (2006). May '68 and Its Afterlives (2002), a study of French memory of the political upheavals of the 1960s, was published in France as Mai 68 et ses vies antérieures (2005; re-issued, 2010). A volume of essays she co-edited entitled Anti-americanism was published in 2004. She is the translator of Jacques Rancières Le Maître ignorant (The Ignorant Schoolmaster, 1991), and of several essays by Jacques Rancière and Alain Badiou.

Born in 1951 in Erie, Pennsylvania, Allan Sekula's works with photographic sequences, written texts, slide shows, and sound recordings have traveled a path close to cinema, sometimes referring to specific films since the early 1970s. However, with the exception of a few video works from the early seventies and early eighties, he has stayed away from the moving image. This changed in 2001, with the first work that Sekula was willing to call a film, Tsukiji, a "city symphony" set in Tokyo's giant fish market.

Sekula's books include Photography against the Grain (1984); Dismal Science (1999); Performance Under Working Conditions (2003); Titanic's Wake (2003); and Polonia and Other Fables (2009). These works range from the theory and history of photography to studies of family life in the grip of the military industrial complex.

Chi-hui Yang is a film programmer, lecturer and writer based in New York. As a guest curator, Yang has presented film and video series at film festivals and events internationally, including the 2011 MoMA Documentary Fortnight; 2008 Robert Flaherty Film Seminar (The Age of Migration); Seattle International Film Festival; Washington D.C. International Film Festival; and Barcelona Asian Film Festival. From 2000—2010 he was the Director and Programmer of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, the largest showcase of its kind in the United States. Yang is also the programmer of Cinema Asian America, a new on-demand service offered by Comcast, and is currently a visiting scholar at NYU's Center for Media, Culture and History.