Thinking with Dub Cinema Reader

For the programme Thinking with Dub Cinema, curated with Kodwo Eshun and Louis Henderson in the context of Courtisane festival 2024 (27 – 31 March) and the the research project Echoes of Dissent (KASK & Conservatory / School of Arts Gent), we compiled a reader which can be found here.


1. Sylvia Wynter, ‘A Dream Deferred: Will the Condemned Rasta Fari ever Return to Africa?”,
Tropic, October 1960.
2. Orlando Patterson, ‘The Dance Invasion’, New Society, 15 September 1966.
3. Paul Bradshaw, Vivien Goldman, Penny Reel, ‘Hail Brethren And Sistren: A Big Big Sound System
Splashdown’, New Musical Express, 21 February 1981.
4. Cedric Robinson, ‘An inventory of contemporary Black politics’, Emergency 2, January 1984.
5. Greg Tate, ‘Never Mind the Sex Pistols, Here Comes Sankofa’, The Village Voice, 30 August 1988.
6. Louis Chude-Sokei, ‘Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber: reggae, technology and the diaspora process’,
Bob Marley Lecture, Institute of Caribbean Studies, Reggae Studies Unit, University of the West
Indies, November 1997.
7. Howard Slater, ‘Graveyard And Ballroom: A Factory Records Scrapbook’, Break/Flow 2, 1999.
8. Ian Penman, ‘Garvey’s Ghost > K L A N G! < Heidegger’s Geist’, 3rd International Conference on Film Scores and Sound Design, July 2000. 9. Okwui Enwezor, ‘Coalition Building: Black Audio Film Collective and Transnational Post-colonialism’, in: The Ghosts of Songs. The Film Art of the Black Audio Film Collective, Kodwo Eshun & Anjalika
Sagar (eds.), Liverpool: Liverpool University Press and FACT, 2007.
10. Paul Gilroy, ’ Bad to Worse’, In: Isaac Julien: Riot, Isaac Julien et al (eds.), New York: Museum of
Modern Art, 2013.
11. Jodi Brooks, ‘Invisibility’s Beat: Ralph Ellison, Rhythm, and Cinema’s Blind Field’, in: Off Beat:
Pluralizing Rhythm
, Hoogstad, JH (ed.), Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013.
12. Trevor Mathison & Claudette Johnson Talk “Dirty” Sound & The Black Audio Film Collective,
Something Curated, 22 August 2022.
13. Stefano Harney & Fred Moten, ‘The Terror and the Time’, ASAP Journal, August 2022.
14. Natascha Sadr Haghighian, What I Do Not Recognize Yet, Now at This Very Moment, Berlin:
Harun Farocki Institute, 2023.

The Politics of the Soundtrack

By Nina Power

An attempt to assemble critical pieces approaching cinema “from the standpoint of sound”. This article was published on Mute on 31 March 2010.

Was there a golden age of the film soundtrack? One might reach for Ennio Morricone (at least until the late 1980s) or the ’70s and ’80s records Popul Vuh made for Werner Herzog’s most memorable films, Aguirre, Nosferatu and Cobra Verde. Even if much of the concept has gone out of ‘conceptual’ film-making and the soundtracks that accompany them, there are nevertheless highlights here and there. We could point to David Lynch, John Carpenter or Howard Shore’s brittle and claustrophobic music for Cronenberg’s Crash (1997), or Ed Tomney’s tense and millennial compositions for Todd Haynes’ Safe (1995) as proof that film and sound can be more than whatever bland indie love-songs the studio’s marketing manager has been listening to on his iPod. The soundtrack to Andrea Arnold’s recent Fish Tank does something interesting with the diegetic, with its muffled sounds and tinny music players – indeed, much of the film is about recorded music and its playback, from the tiny speakers that Mia dances to in an empty room to the CD player leading her to her doom in the strip-club.

If we expand our cinematic categories a little, we can point to complex figures like Walter Murch, a ‘sound designer’ among other things, rather than a simple composer or hit song provider for the charts (film soundtracks are often simply understood as ‘secondary usage’, providing producers with additional sources of income). In early silent cinema, pianists were hired to drown out the mechanical whirring of the projectors and ramp up emotion; Murch revisits the noise of the machine in the famous scene in Apocalypse Now where helicopter blades become indiscernible from ceiling fans.(1)

But, for the most part, an ‘original soundtrack’ is the misnomer it always was, being neither the composite track of the film (the dialogue, the sound effects, the music) nor original, being comprised of whichever three-minute songs the studio/record label partnership wishes to promote. The apex, or really nadir, of this trend, which stretches all the way back to the beginning of the marketing of film soundtracks in the late ’40s and ’50s, was reached in Michael Winterbottom’s 9 Songs (2004) in which a boring couple have boring (but real!) sex to boring (but real!) songs by Elbow and Franz Ferdinand. The pop song as unifying revelation of a shared humanity features in Magnolia (1999), as the main characters coincidentally start singing Aimee Mann’s ‘Wise Up’, an inverse tribute of sorts to R.E.M’s video for ‘Everybody Hurts’, in which the song is a backdrop to the inner thoughts of bored car passengers, who ultimately get out of their vehicles and unite in a kind of mawkish tribute to collective misery. Music unifies, levels: it is essentially human. If there was ever a different time when the machine instead was integrated and posed as a question for cinematic sound, it could well have been the ’80s, in films like Assault on Precinct 13, The Running Man and Terminator, dystopian visions in which the future sounded as synthetic as the threats that might yet come to menace it.

As we move into a period we could characterise by ‘a revenge of the visual’, with 3D films increasingly regarded as the only thing that will entice people from their mini-cinemas at home, cinema music is increasingly modelled on one of two forms: the pop song iPod playlist or sub-John Williams gloopy orchestral oozing (Williams recently composed a short orchestral piece ‘Air and Simple Gifts’, referencing Aaron Copland, for Barack Obama’s inauguration). If every big-budget soundtrack starts to sound like Jurassic Park or Wagner without the quiet bits, that’s probably because it is. Adorno once perceptively claimed that most films ‘are advertisements for themselves’. Trailers are thus the truth of the film for which the film is the advert. Length becomes a secondary question. It comes as no surprise then to learn that trailers often use music from previous hit films as their soundtrack to create a pre-existing sense of familiarly.(2) When Adorno in ‘Commodity Music Analysed’ (1934-40), speaks of ‘archetypal cinema music’ (‘The birth of the Wurlitzer from the spirit of Faust’ as he puts it), he argues that it is this need for familiarity that characterises much music for cinema.(3) The musical means for covering over the sounds of the whirring projector were prepared by a pre-existing proclivity for a certain mix of sentiment and innovation:

It is doubtless true that towards the close of the nineteenth century the music that swept people off their feet did so because it combined drastic ideas with conventionality. In so doing it satisfied the demands of the cinema before cinema was invented.(4)

Commercial cinema’s desire to block out the machine, to smother the jolts and gaps between movement means that music is often seen as a kind of empathetic patch, a device to pretend that the frames and hyper-technicality are always put in the service of larger, smoother, humanitarian wholes. ‘Mickey-Mousing’, the practice of exactly matching music to image, may be something we associate with animation from half a century ago, but this often comic self-consciousness of the relation between the sound and image is far more radical than the surreptitious manipulation of familiar emotions that much of today’s cinematic music pursues.5 But mainstream cinema remains one of the few places where sounds and music could potentially afford to be brave: the tracks that Kubrick used for 2001: A Space Odysessy originally as a temporary placeholder for the real score, placed Ligeti in more homes than a thousand Radio 3 retrospectives would ever have done. Similarly, as Alex Ross notes:

On the weekend of February 19th, and for some weeks thereafter, millions of Americans will enjoy a program of Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, Lou Harrison, György Ligeti, Morton Feldman, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke, Nam June Paik, Ingram Marshall, and John Adams. This fairly bold lineup of composers, which would cause the average orchestra subscriber to flee in terror, appears on the soundtrack to Martin Scorsese’s film Shutter Island.(6)

Academic terminology has taken something of a strange optical turn in recent years with ‘visual culture’ and ‘visual theory’ becoming catch-all disciplines that cover elements of cultural studies, art theory and critical theory. This is not to say that there aren’t people working within this areas on sound, music or sonics, however. Take for example Susan Schuppli’s work on media machines that investigates, among other things ‘the missing or “silent” erasure of 18-½ minutes in Watergate Tape No. 342’ or Steve Goodman’s work on sonic warfare.(7) But we have to wonder why this stealthy academic privileging of the visual over other senses has come about.

It is a little as if the ‘attempt to interpose a human coating between the reeled-off pictures and the spectators’ that Adorno and Eisler recognised was the purpose of most film music, has infected the entire study of cinematic culture.8 The tacked-on role of the composer for cinema that Adorno and Eisler deplored, a kind of last-minute annoyance from the standpoint of the budget, has become the occlusion of the sonic in the contemporary understanding of culture in general – the reactionary stereoscopic tendency, a kind of re-visting of the 1950s in the 2010s, proving those covers of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle correct. The photo, J. R. Eyerman’s ‘3D glasses’ taken in 1952 for Life, was captured at the screening of ‘Bwana Devil’, the first full length colour 3-D motion picture, a film about British railway workers in Kenya being eaten by lions. Its tagline was ‘A lion in your lap! A lover in your arms!’ As Cameron’s Avatar demonstrates, the closer you get to a pure celebration of vision, the less the music and the script matter; a comparison of the first 3D film and the biggest most recent version may well be worthwhile less for their technical similarities but for the similarity of their colonial content. James Horner’s soundtrack for Avatar – a mix of dramatic timpani rolls, ambient environmental lift-music and belligerent folderol (from ‘Pure Spirits Of the Forest’ to ‘Gathering All The Na’vi Clans For Battle’), plus Leona Lewis – is aural soup for muddy and dubious narration to drown in. Where once the music may have covered over the whirring of new and frightening mechanisms, now the soundtrack disguises little more than the banality of the script – plots which nevertheless seek to assure us of our fundamental intentional human goodness, even if everything we do is actually wrong and vicious.

As Esther Leslie puts the relation between music and image in Adorno’s conception of cinematic music:

Adorno wrote of how in film, music lends the cinematic vision a veneer of humanity, a semblance of liveliness, by masking the whir of the projector in the background, the proof that we exist under the sway of mechanization. Without it, we are blankly exposed to our counterparts, the two-dimensional shadows that cavort on screen. (9)

Increasingly film music seeks to lend humanity itself a veneer of the cinematic, an eco-friendly soundtrack to dampen the fears of the antagonisms and asymmetries of everyday existence. Coupled with the painful loudness of Dolby surround sound and the brutal atonality of sounds of cinematic violence – explosions, car crashes, gun shots – the modern cinematic ear is trained for nothing less than the sickening, yet omnipresent, combination of cruelty and fake humanism that characterises contemporary life.


(1) ‘As soon as movies lasted more than a couple of minutes, owners of nickelodeons hired pianists to drown the noise of the hand-cranked projectors and give an extra emotional dimension to the celluloid product.’ Philip French, ‘From the Sound of Silents to Hollywood’s Golden Composers’.

(2) See here for a list of frequently used tracks across films. Thanks to Daniel Trilling for this point, and for his comments on the piece more generally.

(3) Theodor Adorno, ‘Commodity Music Analysed’, Quasi una Fantasia, trans. by Rodney Livingstone London: Verso, 1992, p. 37

(4) Ibid., p. 42.

(5) See the rather smart parody of both Avatar and Mickey Mouse in a recent episode of the Simpsons (2115), when Bart and Homer see a 3D version of an Itchy and Scratchy film called: ‘Koyaanis-Scraachy: Death out of Balance’.

(6) Alex Ross, ‘Lo and Behold!’, New Yorker.

(7) For more on Susan Schuppli, see here. For more on sonic warfare, see Steven Goodman, Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect and the Ecology of Fear, London: MIT, 2009.

(8) Theodor Adorno and Hanns Eisler, Composing for the Films, London: Contium, 2005, p.59.

(9) Esther Leslie, ‘From Stillness to Movement and Back: Cartoon Theory Today’, Radical Philosophy, May/June 2006.

ARTIST IN FOCUS: Lisandro Alonso

8 – 16 NOVEMBER, 2018, CINEMATEK, BRUSSELS. An initiative of CINEMATEK, Cinea and Courtisane, in collaboration with the Embassy of Argentina in Brussels and Instituto Cervantes. Curated by Céline Brouwez & Stoffel Debuysere.

La Libertad: the title of Lisandro Alonso’s debut film can also be used as a fitting description for his approach to cinema, one that allows him to follow cinematic paths that aren’t paved with convention or certitude. Instead, The Argentinian filmmaker prefers to intuitively venture forward from the desolate hinterlands that he encounters on his travels to the outskirts of so-called “civilized” life: the endless barren pampas in La Libertad (2001), the swarming green jungle in Los muertos (2004), the frigid snow country of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in Liverpool (2008), the immense, surreal desert landscapes of the Patagonia region in Jauja (2014), and even the shadowy bowels of the Teatro San Martin in Buenos Aires in Fantasma (2006). Every film’s meticulously filmed setting plays a fundamental role as the backdrop to the wanderings of a solitary, taciturn figure, whose inner life and social history remain shrouded in mystery. The reticent figures drift through frontier places where different worlds come together, where nature and civilization meet, different eras collide, memory and history, fantasy and reality coincide and become entangled, giving Alonso’s cinema a fable-like dimension that seems to shift in complexity and density.

From the circularity of La Libertad’s portrayal of the Sisyphean life of a lumberjack and the linearity of an ex-con’s downriver homeward voyage in Los muertos to the tangential shift in point of view from a sailor to a farmer in Liverpool: for every new film, Alonso finds a new freedom, driven by a searching energy that leads him time and time again towards uncharted territories. His latest film, Jauja – the result of his first collaboration with a writer and professional actors – follows the ever-widening orbit his films have been tracing even further into the register of myth. Starting with a text that refers to a place in Inca folklore, a “mythological land” which men “tried to find but got lost on the way to that earthly paradise,” the film gradually mutates into a hypnotic, trance-like odyssey during which all boundaries between the real and the unreal dissolve. With every new venture, Alonso seems to ever more radically engage with the essential pursuit of his cinematic quest: to leap into the unknown in order to rediscover freedom.

Program on


In the context of the Courtisane Festival 2018 (28 March – 1 April, 2018). Curated by Stoffel Debuysere.

“I’ve sometimes been asked why I don’t have any thoughts or visions of a utopian country, a utopian world where everything will be good and we’ll all be good. I’d say that when you’re constantly confronted with the abomination of daily life, a paradox arises, since what we really have is nothing.

I do believe in something, and I call it ‘a day shall come’, and one day it will come. Well, probably it won’t come, because it has been ruined for us, for thousands of years it has always been destroyed. It won’t come, and I believe in it anyway. Because if I can’t believe in it anymore I can’t go on writing.”

— Ingeborg Bachmann

Es ist immer Krieg: haunting words borrowed from poet and writer Ingeborg Bachmann provide the subtitle for Annik Leroy’s newest film, TREMOR (2017). But the sentence also brings to bear a sentiment that runs through all of the work of this Brussels-based photographer and filmmaker: a sense of non-reconciliation, of refusing to resign oneself to the violences that permeate our daily lives. Leroy’s films remind us how histories of oppression and injustice keep on haunting the present, how their presence can not only be perceived in the scars ingrained in the physical landscapes that traverse contemporary Europe, but also reverberates in innumerable instances of violence and destruction that slip by with impunity. It’s those barely perceptible, brooding tremors that continually penetrate our everyday lives and interpersonal relationships, which can be felt throughout the films, videos and installations that Leroy has made since 1980; a variety of works that each in their own singular way encapsulate the words of Bachmann: “Here, in this society, there is always war, there’s no war and peace, there is only war.”

The dark passages of European history are always throbbing in Leroy’s work, starting with her first feature-length film, In der Dämmerstunde Berlin de l’aube à la nuit (1980), in which a solitary wandering through the old neighborhoods of the city of Berlin evokes a past of destruction and loss. Faceless ruins and deserted streets are the silent witnesses of a tragedy that has left a deep woundedness, one that finds resonance in fragments borrowed from the work of writers such as Gottfried Benn, Else Lasker-Schüler, Witold Gombrowicz and Peter Handke. Another journey filled with traces of the past, linking exterior to interior geographies, big to small histories, is recounted in Vers la mer (1999), this time following the Danube river from its source in Germany to its outlet into the Black Sea, connecting the soft landscapes of the Hungarian puszta to the borders with Vojvodina and Serbia, where turmoil and hatred raged along its shores. Over the course of many encounters, however, the river does not only reveal itself as a passive witness of an always present past, but also as an active force that, in its perpetual movement, comes to symbolise the organisation of a possible common space that defies boundaries and borders.

Leroy’s investigation into violence and oppression as structural moments of both the public and the private spheres is at its most radical in the short videowork Cellule 719 (2006). Taking as point of departure an letter written by Rote Armee Fraktion member Ulrike Meinhof when she was incarcerated in solitary confinement, the video probes the inner world of a woman who, in total isolation, is at the mercy of her most private self. The physical and psychic experience of violence and oppression is also what resonates in the voices that populate TREMOR – the voices of poets and madmen, of a mother or a child. Guided by the words and articulations of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Fernando Nannetti, Sigmund Freud, Barbara Suckfüll and others, the film takes us from Stromboli to Rome, from Vienna to Vestmannaeyjar, tracing a sensory journey through desolate and devastated wastelands that bring to mind the last images of Pasolini’s Teorema, in which we see a naked man howling across volcanic slopes: images of madness and anguish, but also of possible redemption. Not coincidentally, it is the vision of Pasolini that is brought to bear on TREMOR’s ending, evoking the prophetic dream of a life reborn beyond reason. An ending that epitomizes an essential undertaking in Annik Leroy’s poetics: to counter the continuing history of war and violence with an utopia that Ingeborg Bachmann has proclaimed as “a day will come”.


In der Dämmerstunde Berlin de l’aube à la nuit
Annik Leroy, BE, 1980, 16mm, b&w, 67′,
French & German with English subtitles

“Two years have passed since my first trip to Berlin. This month of October shows me the picture of my loneliness. I can still hear the sound of my footsteps on the Landwehrkanal, their crunching, and then the silence, the silence of a city. These empty roads, whose desolation confuses me; a moment of love imprinted on my memory.” Paris – October 1980

“With this film I try to retrace my journey, my story through the ruins, neighbourhoods, and streets of Berlin. I filmed the dialogue that took place between the city and myself, the wanderings in the old neighbourhoods (Moabit, Kreuzberg, Wedding), places where you can still find most of the traces of the past, or rather what’s left of them.” (AL)

“The feeling of finding oneself back in Berlin, a year later, to end a story. Searching for a past that no longer exists; an emotion in this city, which, the longer I walk around, increasingly resembles others, a city like any other … Bahnhof Zoo, to come back here, take the train to Paris, and start all over.” Berlin – November 1980

Cellule 719
Annik Leroy, BE, 2006, video, b&w, 15′

There is hardly any image in Cellule 719: from time to time we see a glimpse of water, but otherwise the film is mainly black. The texts that appear on the screen in grey are from ‘Ein brief Ulrike Meinhofs aus dem Toten Trakt’, a letter written in 1972 by the RAF member Ulrike Meinhof, when she was just imprisoned. For Annik Leroy, this video project is only an intermediate stop in a longer process, a study of the historical RAF and, even more so, into the psychological mechanisms of terror, and the personality structure of a public figure who is left alone in complete isolation with her most private self. (Edwin Carels)

“The feeling that time and space are encapsulated within each other—

The feeling of being in a room of distorting mirrors—


Afterwards, terrifying euphoria that you’re hearing something—besides the acoustic difference between day and night”

— Ulrike Meinhof, 1972-1973


Vers la mer
Annik Leroy, BE, 1999, 16mm, b&w, 87′, various languages with English subtitles

Vers la mer is a documentary about and inspired by the Danube, the river of Mitteleuropa. The Danube, the only river of our continent that connects so many people as such a confusing mix. It is the route that links the West to the East, a myth as much as a reality, an epic towards the sea. A presence so strong, so dazzling, that it freezes the gaze and brings us back to a certain humility. A film that wants to situate itself between poetic reverie, historical and contemporary reality, encounters with those who live along the shores of the river. Will the river be the symbol of something else than itself?” (AL)

“Yet almost this river seems
to travel backwards and
I think it must come from
the East.
Much could
be said about this.”

— Friedrich Hölderlin, The Ister, 1803


TREMOR – Es ist immer Krieg
Annik Leroy, BE, 2017, 16mm, b&w, 92′, various languages with English subtitles

Es ist immer Krieg is the subtitle of TREMOR. Four words. An extremely short sentence from Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann, which evokes many interpretations. But for me, they stand for inner conflict and not being able to reconcile with the wars of the past or present. There are no images recorded in conflicts here, because it’s up to me to create my own images. All fascist powers interpellate me; they challenge me, and ensure that I cannot be irresponsible.” (AL)

“Since long have I pondered the question of where fascism has its origin. It is not born with the first bombs, neither through the terror one can describe in every newspaper … its origin lies in the relations between a man and a woman, and I have tried to say … in this society there is war permanently.” — Ingeborg Bachmann



Barbara Loden, US, 1970, DCP, colour, 102′

“I believe there is a miracle in Wanda. Usually there is a distance between representation and text, between subject and action. Here, this distance is completely annulled. There is an immediate and definitive coincidence between Barbara Loden and Wanda … This miracle, for me, is not in the acting. It’s because she seems more truly herself in the film – I didn’t know her personally – than she could have been in life. She’s more authentic in the film than in life. That’s completely miraculous.”
— Marguerite Duras

The only feature film American actress Barbara Loden ever wrote and directed tells the story of a young woman adrift in rust-belt Pennsylvania in the company of a smalltime crook. “I made Wanda as a way of confirming my own existence,” Loden said. She described Wanda as a woman who “doesn’t know what she wants but she knows what she doesn’t want … life is a mystery to her, and she’s trying the best thing she can, which is just to drop out. A lot of people do this and they become very passive. We have this kind of person in our society who lets everything walk over them.”

Verj (End)
Artavazd Pelechian, AM, 1992, 35mm, b&w, 8′

Pelechian transforms footage from a train ride into a metaphor for the shape of life. Early images of faces on the train give way to landscape, a journey through a black tunnel, and a final emergence into pure white light.

Notes on courtisane (3)

What is a festival but a way of being together? Please don’t take this the wrong way: we do not want to rekindle the great flowerings of communalism that came with the era of hippies and bohemians in the 1960s and early 1970s. Holding hands and singing roaring chants of freedom and harmony? No, this is not the time for the kinds of new age utopianism that tend to advance a collective and contemplative withdrawal from the meaningless chaos of the world. Besides, there’s already plenty of European-style Buddhism to go round, whether it is pursued by taking up yoga, birdwatching or botany, or by reading step-by-step guides on how to reclaim the inner child. And there’s already more than enough babbling and blathering on the bliss and comfort of local community lifestyles and the empowerment of citizens as merry prosumers to last us a lifetime. We are not promising you a rose garden, and neither are we claiming to be some kind of bastion of resistance that could offer a safe haven from all the rubbish and rubble that keeps coming our way.

But isn’t cinema meant to be a vehicle for escapism, you say. Isn’t the world of appearances shimmering in front of our eyes meant to sweep us away to another world, where we can dream of being somewhere else, someone other? Perhaps, but not only. We like to think there’s more to cinema than meets the eye. True enough, what is in front of you is merely a surface, it is not some portal to unknown destinies, from which we return with bloodshed eyes and newfangled convictions. The screen is not some membrane that is capable of producing new cerebral circuits and revitalizing the lost link between us and our world. It remains a surface, but one that allows for a process of exchange: between what we get to see and what we come to remember, the sounds and voices we hear and the dreams and hopes we foster, the apparitions before us and the world around us. We all hear, see, feel, “understand” a film in as much as we compose it into our own cinematic poem. Not that it comes easy, on the contrary: it takes work. But the work is yours to do, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. At the risk of sounding too corny: perhaps we can think of a festival as a vast collection of poems. In which case they are yours as much as they are anyones.

Cinema is something else too: it is a place, and it is a culture. There might not be much left, at least in comparison to the good ol’ days of cinephile glory, but what good would it do to drift into the melancholic morass of nostalgia? So we keep treading forward, one step at a time, not really blind but certainly not all-seeing either. Tentatively, sometimes carefully, sometimes impatiently, we’re groping our way towards something that never stops taking shape. Surely, there are various silhouettes and outlines we are imagining while we make headway. One of the things we love to do is to devise associations: for example, between the work of Pedro Costa and Thom Andersen, who come from very different backgrounds but seem to have so much in common; between Andersen’s Los Angeles Plays itself and the films of the L.A. Rebellion movement that feature in it; between Paul Robeson’s singing voice in Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep and his appearance in Oscar Micheaux’s Body & Soul, which will here be infused with new life by William Hooker; between Costa’s Horse Money and the music of Jakob Ullmann, both of which owe a great deal to Olivier Messiaen. But these are just some of the countless possible connections – or disconnections – that can be made within this festival program. To each one’s own resonances, as to each one’s poem.

So here we are, amongst this collection of poems, amidst this chamber of resonances. And since we are all here, perhaps we can ask ourselves: what is it that we can do together?

Written on the occasion of the courtisane festival 2015