ARTIST IN FOCUS: Robert Kramer

In the context of Courtisane Festival 2023 (Gent, 29 March – 2 April 2023). Curated by Stoffel Debuysere.

“For me, at the beginning of every film, there is always virtually nothing. You could carve this on my headstone. That is my conception of political cinema. Something can be done with even the most minuscule fragment of life; an ideal to be reconstruc­ted. This supposes constant movement, an entire existence being on the alert. Staying face to face with the world, head held high, without trembling, no matter what.”

He liked the word ‘trajet’. The connotation of the English ‘trajectory’ was way too mechanical for him – alluding too much to the trajectory of a bullet, for example. For Kramer, the French word, on the other hand, sounded very much in tune with a human scale of movement, with the coming and goings, dwellings and wanderings that define most of our lives’ paths. A word that’s more than apt for a filmmaker who was always on the move. Whether by choice or necessity, he was always the traveller who, seemingly, never fitted anywhere – always looking for ways of living differently, following his taste for adversity and complexity. How could his films, then, be anything but the expression of this restless search?

Growing up, he lived in two worlds. As a doctor’s son, he was set in a comfortable scene. And even then, he was already an outsider. Wherever he looked seemed foreign to him. A mysterious fiction that had to be deciphered at all costs. He could never shed the feeling that a war was raging. “Survival is at stake,” he said, “and our dreams are the first to go.” For a while though, dreams were flaring up like flames. To Robert Kramer, the experience of the 1960s remained the touchstone for his life and work, the moment when his ‘trajet’ really took off: first as a journalist in Latin-America and a community worker in Newark, later as a filmmaker and a member of the Newsreel Collective. Again and again, Kramer sought out the battlegrounds: in Venezuela, Vietnam, Angola, but also closer to home, in the heart of the radical movements challenging the American political structures, which he portrayed so well in Ice (1969). Time and again, he found himself committed to the search for adverse communities, of which he himself depicted the breakdown in Milestones (1975): an unsettling portrait of his ‘lost’ generation.

But filmmaking, for Kramer, remained. Filmmaking as yet another way of creating temporary communities to inhabit, the shelters and campsites that he so greatly needed. After moving to Europe in 1980, cinema would, more than ever, become his true habitat. Working from his base in Paris, he produced more than twenty films, varying in length, genre, medium and degree of achievement. Armed with his camera, Kramer not only kept on exploring the contours and edges of the world, but also of himself, as critical cartographer of a fast changing society, rebounding between private and public, interior and exterior, choice and necessity. The theme of ‘the return’ would become central to his work. The character of Doc, who first appeared in Ice played by Paul McIsaac, returns in both Doc’s Kingdom (1988) and Route One/USA (1989), which marked Kramer’s own return to the US after ten years of absence. Through this character, who is also his alter-ego, Kramer crafted diverging perspectives on his relation to what he left behind him, to that “what you are inevitably a part of and what you are forever outside.” He would also return to another ‘starting place’, the place that he first visited to make the Newsreel Collective’s People’s War (1969): Vietnam. In both Point de départ (1993) and Say Kom Sa (1998), he charts the country’s struggle through an uncertain and daunting past, present, and future. Yet another return would lead him to the city where his father was born, resulting in Berlin 10/90 (1990): an intimate dialogue with all the resonances that ‘Germany’ came to have, both in his family history and in global history.

Finally, the act of returning would also take the form of ‘feedback’, which was the original title of Notre nazi (1984). In this ‘behind the scenes’ film, Kramer ingeniously doubles up and problematizes the mise-en-scène of the film Wundkanal, with which its director, Thomas Harlan, attempted to exorcize a haunting past. But perhaps Kramer’s most personal form of feedback is Dear Doc (1990), a video letter addressed to his dear travel companion, in which he looks back on the creation of Doc’s Kingdom and Route One/USA. Returning, revisiting, going back – not home, but back: here’s the red thread running throughout this homage to a filmmaker whose ‘trajet’ is unlike any other.


Thanks to Keja Ho Kramer, Ricardo Matos Cabo, Céline Paini (Les Films D’Ici), Diana Vidrascu & Pip Chodorov (Re:Voir), Matthieu Grimault (Cinémathèque Française), Hugo Masson (Documentaire sur grand écran)


Route One/USA
Robert Kramer, UK, FR, IT, 1989, DCP, 255′, English spoken

In September 1987, Robert Kramer returned to the US after a decade of self-imposed exile, where he spent five months filming along Route One, which connects Canada to Key West in Florida. In 1936, it was the most travelled route in the world, meanwhile it runs alongside superhighways and through suburbs – a thin strip of tarmac that cuts through all the old dreams of a nation. Together with fellow traveller Doc (Paul McIsaac), Kramer enters a succession of private worlds that steadily reveal themselves to the camera: from a Native American reservation in Maine to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, from a Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter to a sermon at an evangelical church. The grittiness of Kramer’s earlier militant work has given way to a casual mise en scène, with a fluid camera moving amidst ever-changing characters. Rarely did a filmmaker so fearlessly tread the fault lines between documentary and fiction, between inside and outside, to the point where the film almost breaks in half.

“There is a structure that is almost the same for all the films: you arrive in the middle of something, and lots of elements are given to you. It’s fragmentary, chaotic, you get a lot of signs, a lot of little things to work with. As you go along, it starts to fall into place. I think it’s a very accurate reflection of how my mind works. In the beginning, films are like a vast area, a geography. They are populated with people. Places are extremely impor­tant. And I don’t know where I’m going.”


Doc’s Kingdom
Robert Kramer, FR, PT, 1988, 35mm, 90′, English spoken

Twenty years after Doc first appears in Kramer’s film Ice, as the leader of a mythical underground revolutionary organisation played by Paul McIsaac, his character returns here as a disillusioned former activist who practices medicine as a way to stay true to his beliefs. After a stint in Africa, he ended up in Lisbon, where he divides his time between the local hospital and his lonely cottage on the docks. “Go home,” says the local café owner (played by filmmaker João César Monteiro). But Doc no longer knows a home. His past catches up with him when his son (a young Vincent Gallo) visits him from the US. A prelude to Route One/USA that draws inspiration from one of the filmmaker’s favourite books, Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano, and reverts back to some of Kramer’s main themes: “the US, a home, a homeland, of which you are inevitably a part and of which you are forever outside.”

“I am very attached to the idea of geography. Most often, for me, places come before people. Starting with Doc’s Kingdom, what was an important formal idea was the idea of the trajet, a very beautiful word that doesn’t exist in English. It was this idea of filming bodies moving through spaces that interested me. I never liked travellings, very concretely: I couldn’t stand the idea of placing the rails. It seemed to me that it was an incredible pain to lay fifty meters of rails in order to accompany a character. The question was also: how to move in a space in a reasonable length of time, which does not become unbearable?”

Dear Doc
Robert Kramer, US, FR, 1990, video, 35′, English spoken

A video letter addressed to Kramer’s fellow traveller and accomplice, Paul McIsaac, aka Doc, the main character in Doc’s Kingdom and Route One/USA. This candid letter, written, filmed and composed after the editing of Route One/USA, expresses all the strength and density of a long-term friendship that would last.

“I’ve always been frightened of what you might call the Jonas Mekas syndrome, which means: ‘I totally embrace my subjec­tivity’. I had decided to go to the very end, I was going to say everything. Show everything, for once. And then, there’s every way to not even show what you thought you were going to show. I really wanted to reach another level. I wanted to do this by working twenty­four hours a day. You could also call it the Chris Marker syndrome. I was going to plunge into it com­pletely. I wasn’t going to answer the phone, go home, and I’d see what would happen. What did happen is
Dear Doc.”


Point de départ (Starting Place)
Robert Kramer, FR, 1993, 35mm to digital, 90′, French, English and Vietnamese spoken, English subtitles

More than 20 years after People’s War, which shaped his commitment against US war policy, Kramer returns to his starting point: Vietnam. “This was,” says Kramer, “what I knew, what I was interested in, what I was most invested in, where I had already made another film. I wondered how they could see things there: having paid such a price, being given the chance to participate in the New World Economy at gunpoint on the terms of the New World Order. It was either that, or disappear into oblivion, like Cuba.” Point de départ is an attempt to connect an immutable past with an irrefutable present. In Hanoi, despite economic transformations, the revolutions of the past half century live on in the memories of those who lived through them, people such as Kramer’s former guide from 1969, who has since translated Don Quixote, or a tightrope walker in the national circus who balances away the ghost of lost hope, or a man who took photos of B52s and another who lost his fingers shooting them down. But also activist Linda Evans, who was part of the crew that filmed People’s War and was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1985. “You can see my film as a mourning process for the ideas that put Linda in prison. My ideas are in prison.”

“Many of the ideas that some people died for have been forgotten. It is necessary to read through the pages of recent history. The ‘starting place’ is really after the film. It is now. I could have made this film in another place. The most important thing was not to talk particularly or exclusively about Vietnam, but was, above all, this idea of ‘starting place.’ Because that’s the way things are, we have to start out from a look at what we have experienced over the last thirty years.”

Say Kom Sa
Robert Kramer, FR, 1998, video, 19′, French spoken, English subtitles

In 1997, Kramer visited Vietnam for the third time and shot this film, concluding his ‘Vietnam Trilogy’. His DV camera observes the accelerated transformation of society into the free-market capitalist system and the things that are about to be forgotten and lost in the process. The intimate travel diary turns into a deep meditation on globalisation and the filmmaker’s point of view.

“In the apartment, there are gifts from old friends in Vietnam: reminders of a different history. But the time is now, 1998: The ‘market economy’, that’s our common fate. A construction­site on the edges of ‘West lake’ in Hanoi. This lake in the centre of Hanoi is being gradually walled in by huge modern hotels. The village ist disappearing. Everybody knows: It’s just a matter of money now. Who’s rich and who’s poor, who can and who can’t. That is how it is: ‘C’est comme ça …’ ”


Berlin 10/90
Robert Kramer, US, FR, 1990, video, 64′, English spoken

This film is part of the television series Live, curated by Philippe Grandrieux, conceived as a series of 14 episodes, each consisting of a single 60-minute long take, filmed on Hi8 video, without additional text, sound or post-production. Kramer’s contribution was shot in Berlin, his father’s birthplace, on 25 October 1990. Seated in the bathroom of his flat, he dialogues with images of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Gulf War, and confronts his own hauntings. “Berlin has a lot to do with that idea of returning, going back to my father and a certain idea of the family past,” he says.

“They called this TV series Live, and it was offered up with a lot of old­sounding words what came out of the period of ‘Cinéma Verité’ or ‘Direct Cinema.’ Throughout there was the assumption that a camera running continuously can somehow access ‘the real.’ I don’t think that I realize how much I was moving in another direction or for how long. I was, for better or worse, involved in a very complicated dialogue between myself then­and­there in Berlin, and the many dif­ferent connections that I have, inevitably, with Germany. You could say, a dialogue between myself and the reverberation that ‘Germany’ has become.”

Les yeux l’un de l’autre (I’ll Be Your Eyes, You’ll Be Mine)
Keja Ho Kramer & Stephen Dwoskin, US, FR, 2006, video, 47′, English spoken

A poetic ode that takes on the narrative framework of an afterthought: a detective, Keja Ho K., goes in search of a phantom, Robert Kramer. Together with Stephen Dwoskin, with whom Kramer exchanged video letters for years, Keja Ho creates an imaginary dialogue based on images from Kramer’s archive, fuelled by numerous memories and imbued with everything that would be close to his heart: the act of sharing, and the obligation to think for ourselves and to never betray our dreams.

“Working on I’ll Be Your Eyes, You’ll Be Mine was a way of being with you in the splendor of all the contradictions… it was also my relationship to the world, a reflection on how we work and take a point of view, try to be in the world in our own way. I met a wonderful friend of ours on this trip, Steve Dwoskin. I wanted to tell you how important this sharing with Steve was for me and how amazing it was to enter into the arrangement of ‘parts and pieces’ with him. Feeling this great connection in the work… the world of metaphor and symbolism, sculpting images, working with pixels as pigment, extensions of thought seeping into the computer canvas; amazing minds breaking through boundaries. How can I express how grateful I am to be on this walk, how sweet it has been (and always will be) to have known you and to have benefited so fully from your marvellous gift… Oh, Dad, you gave us so much freedom, and how hard that responsibility is… ”


Notre nazi
Robert Kramer, DE, FR, 1984, video, 114′, English spoken

This gripping portrait was shot during the filming of Thomas Harlan’s Wundkanal, in which Alfred Filbert, a former Gestapo officer, plays an ex-Nazi kidnapped by a terrorist organisation. Kramer observes how Harlan – whose father, Veit Harlan, directed the infamous anti-Semitic propaganda film Jud Süß – gradually adopts the enemy’s methods in an attempt to come to terms with his past. Thus becoming, as it were, his own worst enemy. It is the story of two German generations, and also of an observant outsider, Kramer, who didn’t experience any of that history but said he felt connected to it in an abstract way through his Jewishness. He himself labelled the film “a really alive attempt to get inside an enigma.” With his camera, Kramer approaches and stalks Filbert as an unbreakable and opaque block of history that seethes at the centre of the dark film studio and of everyone’s attention. “My film is perhaps another fiction: the story of a certain T., son of the greatest Nazi filmmaker, and himself a film director. All his life he has tried to undo his past. Today he is shooting a fiction film, he has given the main role to a Nazi war criminal who is more or less the same age. By this act T. releases a whole torrent of unforeseeable energy which sweeps the set and even more than the set.”

“For me, the film is fundamentally about the question of judgment, about the complexity of a situation. On the one hand, we have Veit Harlan’s son, obsessed with his past and having such an understandable need to disassociate himself from that past and confront it within himself. It shakes up this strangely solid and integrated old man, who we know from the start is guilty of the worst we can imagine. And me, once again, an involved observer on camera. The film goes down some paths that lead nowhere. I’m not sure any of them lead anywhere. But they all revolve around the question of judgment: who has the right to judge? What are the right ways to judge?”

ARTIST IN FOCUS: Trinh T. Minh-ha

In the context of the Courtisane festival 2023 (29 March – 2 April). Curated by Stoffel Debuysere.

“Patriarchy and hegemony. Not really two, not one either. My history, my story, is the history of the First World/Third World, dominant/oppressed, man/woman relationship.. When speaking about the Master, I am necessarily speaking about both Him and the West. Patriarchy and hegemony. From orthodox to progressive patriarchy, from direct colonization to indirect, subtly pervasive hegemony, things have been much refined, but the road is still long and the fight still goes on.”

“I do not intend to speak about; just speak nearby.” With these words, spoken in her debut film, Reassemblage (1982), Trinh T. Minh-ha describes the attitude she adopts throughout her oeuvre. An attitude characterized by an aversion to institutional authority and expertise, and instead grounded in embodied experience and self-reflection. A way of positioning herself in relation to the world that expresses itself in all aspects of her films: verbally, musically, visually. For example, in Reassemblage, the first of two films she made in West Africa, she exposes the transformations that inevitably take place when attempting to put the impossible experience of ‘what’ comprises Senegalese culture into cinematic form. That same urge to break down patterns of expectation and challenge the interpretive claims of authoritarian forms is also found in her writing. Her influential book Woman, Native, Other (1989, in French version: Femme, indigène, autre, Paris: B42, 2022 ), for instance, is primarily a questioning of the contradictory imperatives faced by the ‘I’, as a ‘Third World woman’, in creating and critiquing the role of creator and intellectual across literature, anthropology and the arts.

Born in Hanoi, Trinh T. Minh-ha emigrated to the US during the Vietnam War, where she studied music composition, ethnomusicology and French literature. Since the early 1980s, she has been problematising the forms of reductionism and essentialism that influence our self-image and worldview. By her own admission, her films are partly motivated by her experiences in former colonised Vietnam – experiences that she clearly recognised, shared and re-lived in Africa. These life experiences account for her decision to make films that point to the process of the construction of meaning, and to herself as an active element in that process. Her films are grounded in the question: why not approach a country, a people, a culture by starting with what comes with an image or with a name, like ‘Senegal’, but also ‘Vietnam’, ‘China’, or ‘Japan’? What exactly stands for, characterises and speaks to a cultural and political event? How does the medium of cinema allow one to show, tell and receive rather than merely represent? In other words, Trinh considers a given name or a recorded image not as finalities but as points of departure. In Shoot for the Contents (1991) and her latest film, What About China? (2022), she does not search for the ‘true’ face of China but probes beneath and with the surface of the country’s image – an image, determined by the media and other forms of information, that’s taken for granted in our daily relationship to the country.

The space in which Trinh T. Minh-ha works and creates is where she confronts and leaves behind the world of beaten paths and traffic regulations. She seeks the in-between spaces where established boundaries can be rearranged and shifted, including those of the ‘I’. In each of her films, rather than as a source, the ‘I’ is deployed as an open site where other manifestations of the ‘I’ can take up residence and incongruous elements can converge. In Surname Viet Given Name Nam (1989), she approaches Vietnamese culture in all its multiplicity without endorsing the legitimized subjectivity of the ‘insider’. Rather than constructing a single homogeneous perspective or an ‘unmediated’ personal account, she portrays culture through popular memory and oral traditions, primarily concerning Vietnamese women, while simultaneously addressing the politics of interviewing and the politics of translation. “Crisscrossing more than one occupied territory at a time,” she writes, “she remains perforce inappropriate/d – both inside and outside her own social positionings… A trajectory across variable praxes of difference, her (un)location is necessarily the shifting and contextual interval between arrested boundaries.”

In contrast to the endless discourse about a virtual boundlessness in a globalised world, Trinh T. Minh-ha unveils and punctures the separations and demarcations that define our place in and relationship to the world. “Reality is delicate,” she says in Reassemblage, and it is that constant, wavering probing of reality, filled with a passion called wonder, averse to claims of authenticity, authority or neutrality, that shows from her work the power to break out of our compartmentalised world.


In the context of this focus on the work of Trinh T. Minh-ha, we invited musician, author and curator David Toop to reflect on the sound work in her films. The resulting publication, titled Breath, rhythm, silence, resonance: listening beyond seeing in the films of Trinh T. Minh­ha, is the first publication in the Echoes of Dissent series, devoted to the politics of the soundtrack. This series is part of the research project of the same name within KASK & Conservatorium School of Arts Ghent.

Thanks to An van. Dienderen, Christophe Piette (CINEMATEK), Angelika Ramlow (Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst), Colleen O’Shea (Women Make Movies)

This program will be followed by a complete retro­spective dedicated to the films of Trinh T. Minh­ha at CINEMATEK in Brussels (


Reassemblage: From the Firelight to the Screen
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, 1982, 16mm, 40′

Reassemblage is Trinh T. Minh-ha’s first 16mm film, made after a three-year stay (1977-80) in Senegal, where she taught music at the Institut National des Arts in Dakar. It was during this stay that she had become aware of the hegemony of anthropological discourse in any attempt, by both local outsiders and insiders, to identify and capture the observed culture. This film is a response to the urgency she felt to question the anthropological apparatus, its essentialising constructs and colonial ethos. This also implied a questioning of her own position as a “hybrid insider”, as someone who shares a certain experience of colonialism but at the same time is no less considered an outsider than any European. Above all, the film is a response to a desire to “not simply mean”; a desire not to approach Senegalese culture by wrapping it in reductive constructions of meaning. Trinh subverts the conventions of cinematic representation by playing with repetition, non-synchronous sound and unstable camerawork that disrupt temporal and spatial continuity and invite viewers/listeners to assume their own relationship to the world that appears on screen.

“My approach is one which avoids any sure­ness of signification. In most anthropological presentations, the establishing of connections between signs and the deciphering of cultural codes is flattened out by the voice of knowledge, the voice of factual truth. This is reflected, in films, in the omniscience of the cinematography and the editing as well as the commentary and/ or the “talking­head” strategy. The strategies of Reassemblage question the anthropological knowledge of the “other,” the way anthropol­ogists look at and present foreign cultures through media, here film… The critical work in Reassemblage […] is not simply aimed at the anthropologist, but also at the missionary, the Peace Corps volunteer, the tourist, and last but not least at myself as onlooker.”

Surname Viet Given Name Nam
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, 1989, 16mm, 108′

“A Vietnamese woman making a film on Vietnamese women: What could sound more familiar and correct in today’s context of cultural diversity and liberal pluralism?” And yet, says Trinh T. Minh-ha, self-representation and representation is a responsibility one cannot afford to merely reject. In order to break away from that kind of authorized subjectivity, she chose for a number of itineraries that would allow her to show “the culture” without endorsing the insider’s authority. This was largely done by avoiding the so-called factual historical information that one easily gets in history books on Vietnam, and by working with the more slippery realms of oral tradition and popular memory: the songs, sayings, proverbs that expose women’s condition; the stories that people remember of the historical heroines of Vietnam; and the life stories of contemporary Vietnamese women. In parallel, Trinh T. Minh-ha also emphasises the politics of the interview by drawing on a series of interviews that had been conducted in Vietnam by another woman of the Vietnamese diaspora (Mai Thu Van), translated and published in French, re-translated into English by herself, and then re-enacted in the film. In this way, both the role of translation in film and the role of film as a form of translation are problematised.

“It’s not a return in a physical sense, but a return in the sense that I made my two previous films in Africa before making Surname Viet – a film in which I have finally been able to come to terms with Vietnam or with a national identity; a film focusing on Vietnamese women or on female identity and difference. That’s why it was extremely important for me not to approach it from a legitimized “insider’s” point of view, but rather from a number of spaces locating me somewhere between an insider and an outsider. Spaces manifested, for example, in the acknowledgment of the media­tor’s role; in the multiplicity of translation, of the “you” referred to by the interviewees, and of first­person narratives; and in the exposing of the politics of interviews involved.”

Shoot for the Contents
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, 1991, 16mm, 102′

This film by Trinh T. Minh-ha, whose title partly refers to a Chinese guessing game, reflects on Mao’s famous statement: “Let a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend.” It offers simultaneously an excursion into the maze of allegorical designations and narratives in China and a reflection on questions of power and change, politics and culture, as reflected by the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Contrary to conventional expectations of “authenticity”, Trinh T. Minh-ha offers to the viewer a wide range of what one can call “border people”, who are right at the edge of being an outsider and an insider to the culture. Testimonies of artists, philosophers and cultural workers are interwoven with female voices, Chinese popular songs and classical music, and sayings of Mao and Confucius. Video images emulate the gestures of calligraphy and contrast with film footage of rural China and stylized interviews. Like traditional Chinese opera, Trinh’s film unfolds through “bold omissions and minute depictions” to render “the real in the illusory and the illusory in the real.” Exploring color, rhythm and the changing relationship between ear and eye, this meditative documentary realizes on screen the shifts of interpretation in contemporary Chinese culture and politics.

“Every work I realized, has been realized to transform my own consciousness. If I went to Africa to dive into a culture that was mostly unknown to me then, I went to China mainly because I was curious as to how I could depart from what I knew of Her. The prejudices that the Vietnamese carry vis­-a-­vis the Chinese are certainly historical and political. The past domination of Vietnam by China and the antagonistic relationship nurtured between the two nations have been weighing so heavily on the Vietnamese psyche that very often Vietnamese identity would be defined in counteraction to everything thought to be Chinese. And yet it suffices to look a bit harder at the Vietnamese culture – at its music, to mention a most explicit example – to realize how much it has inherited from both China and India.”

What About China?
Trinh T. Minh-ha, US, CN, 2022, DCP, 135′

In her newest film, the sonically striking What About China?, Hi8 footage shot in rural China from 1993-1994 is reframed thirty years later: first against China’s contradicting representation, histories, and futures, and second through the process of conversion from video to digital, where the transformation of low-res images creates ghostly animations on a canvas of multi-generational change. Pulsing against the surface of this inquiry is a theory of harmonics that takes the Hakka Roundhouse – a circular multi-family dwelling connected by common areas in the center – as its nexus. Trinh finds in this architecture, in the materials she uses to compose her film, and in the footage converted from video to digital a network of passageways: between society and nature, self and other, landscape and innerscape. The viewer is invited to steep themselves in these harmonics, both material and metaphor, to find associative flights from the polyrhythmic interaction of ideas, instruments, songs, text, moving and still images. We journey through these haunted, infinite scales, guided by voiceover readings by Xiaolu Guo, Xiao Yue Shang, Yi Zhong, and Trinh herself. Each offers a different entryway into the film’s polyvocal network of thought. One asks: “What exactly is disappearing? And why?” (Kim-Anh Schreiber)

“The notion of “speaking nearby” put forth in
Reassemblage has been realized differently with each film of mine. It’s a challenge for me every time I put it into practice. How do you speak nearby? It is in What About China? where this practice of speaking in proximity, rather than merely speaking for and about, is most comprehensive. Being closely related to China – China is an ancestral culture of Vietnam, where I was born – does not qualify me to speak about Her. Of greater fascination is how the film is positioned in relation to China, or how the Self is extended through a relationship with the Other.”

A conversation with Trinh T. Minh-ha

How can we think and speak about the notion of “speaking nearby,” which is a fundamental guiding principle throughout Trinh T. Minh-ha’s work? How does it relate to gestures of respect, wonder, love? How does it translate into the art form called cinema, verbally, musically, visually? These questions are the starting point for an extended conversation with Trinh T. Minh-ha.

“To keep the relation of language to vision open, one would have to take the difference between them as the very line of departure for speech and writing, rather than as an unfor­tunate obstacle to be overcome. The interval, creatively maintained, allows words to set in motion dormant energies and to offer, with the impasse, a passage from one space (visual, musical, verbal, mental, physical) to another. To prevent the passage from closing itself off and to preserve the infinity of the task of speaking nearby, a number of conversations developed around specific books and films and are further assembled in an interrelational space of detour. Just as the form a film takes in the creating process can acutely materialize what it says in content, the way a film is talked about can, when circum­stances allow in the encounter between interviewer(s) and interviewee, be keenly tuned to the way it is made.”

In the context of the research project Echoes of Dissent (KASK & Conservatory School of Arts)

Shadows of the Unseen / Movement Radio 25

25th episode of “Shadows of the Unseen” for movement_radio Athens. Aired February 2023

1. Delia Derbyshire, Elsa Stansfield, Circle of Light (from Circle of Light, Anthony Roland & Pamela Bone, 1972)
2. Nadine Byrne, Dream Family (from Dream Family, Nadine Byrne, 2011)
3. Arne Nordheim, Forum For The Arts (from Forum For The Arts, Pål Bang-Hansen, 1970)
4. Geir Jenssen, Nokas VI (from Nokas, Erik Skjoldbjærg, 2010)
5. Forbidden Overture (Man Parrish), Primal Overture (from Turned On, Steve Scott, 1982)
6. David Grubbs, Z Point (from Z Point, Angela Bulloch, 2001)
7. David Grubbs, Précipe (from Les invisibles,Thierry Jousse, 2005)
8. Noël Akchoté, Point-Zéro-Zéro (from Les invisibles,Thierry Jousse, 2005)
9. Oreledigneur, alpi (from alpi, Armin Linke, 2011)
10. Osanna, Variazone 5 (from Milano Calibro 9, Fernando Di Leo, 1972)
11. Ry Cooder, Jon Hassell, You Think It’s On Now (from Trespass, Walter Hill, 1992)

Shadows of the Unseen / Movement Radio 24

24th episode of “Shadows of the Unseen” for movement_radio Athens. Aired January 2023

1. Excerpt from α Ori (Maurice Luijten, 2022)
2. Ben Frost, The Burning World (from Broken Spectre, Richard Mosse & Trevor Tweeten, 2018 – 2022)
3. The Young Gods, In C Part 1 (for Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands, Peter Mettler, 2009)
4. Schneider TM, Credits (from Remainder, Omer Fast, 2015)
5. Excerpts from What Happened Was (Tom Noonan, 1994)
6. Oliver Coates, Gliders peace of mind (from Aftersun, Charlotte Wells, 2022)
7. Mark Jenkin, Enys Part 3 (from Enys Men, Mark Jenkin, 2022)
8. John Carroll Kirby, Phoebe’s Theme (from Cryptozoo, Dash Shaw, 2021)
9. John Natchez, End Credits (from Luzzu, Alex Camilleri, 2021)
10. Oliver Coates, Ocean > Rave (from Aftersun, Charlotte Wells, 2022)
11. The Young Gods, In C Part 2 (for Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands, Peter Mettler, 2009)
12. Luis David Aguilar, Anónimo cotidiano (from Anónimo cotidiano, Jorge Rey, 1979)
13. Jacqueline Nova, Montaje electroacústico (from Camilo el cura guerrillero, Francisco Norden, 1974)
14. Mark Jenkin, Bleujen + Enys Part 1 (from Enys Men, Mark Jenkin, 2022)

Shadows of the Unseen / Movement Radio 23

23rd episode of “Shadows of the Unseen” for movement_radio Athens. Aired December 2022

1. Animal Collective, Shelter to Inez (from The Inspection, Elegance Bratton, 2022)
2. Coil, Journey to Avebury (from Journey to Avebury, Derek Jarman, 1971, reworked 1995)
3. Melvin Gibbs, Inner Chamber (from AGHDRA, Arthur Jafa, 2021)
4. Giovanni Fusco, Vittorio Gelmetti, Astrale (from Il deserto rosso, Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964)
5. Max Eastley, David Toop, Hydrophone (from Water Wrackets, Peter Greenaway, 1995)
6. Sidney Sager and The Ambrosian Singers, Dai Casts the Bones (from Children of the Stones TV series, Peter Graham Scott, 1976)
7. Joshua Bonneta, Innse Gall (from The Two Sights, Joshua Bonneta, 2020)
8. Matthew Herbert, Reunion (from The Wonder, Sebastián Leliois, 2022)
9. Lawrence Lek, Oliver Coates, Dragons (from Unreal Estate, Lawrence Lek, 2015)
10. Sidney Sager and The Ambrosian Singers, Narrowing Circle (from Children of the Stones TV series, Peter Graham Scott, 1976)
11. Matthew Herbert, Calling (from The Wonder, Sebastián Leliois, 2022)
12. Einsturzende Neubauten, Beauty + Berlin Babylon (from Berlin Babylon TV series, Tom Tykwer, Achim von Borries, Hendrik Handloegten, 2017)
13. Popul Vuh, Through Pains to Heaven (from Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht, Werner Herzog, 1979)
14. Mireille Kyrou, La chute d’Icare (from La chute d’Icare, Gérard Patris, 1965)
15. Lubos Fiser, Mirrors + Victoria’s Darkest Moments (from Morgiana, Juraj Herz, 1972)
16. Oliver Coates, Ending (from Aftersun, Charlotte Wells, 2022)