Sunday, December 4, 2011

Passion (1982) and the Representation of Artwork

Within Godard’s Passion (1982) is the presentation of the camera and the representation of the artwork. Godard suggests not only an internalized critical approach to the creation of film/video, or meta-film, but also draws relations between art history and cinema. Certain scenes depict the ‘staging’ of art history, from Goya to Rembrandt. The montage displays camera crews webbing through stages of art history, interacting and moving. Abstract moving-images painted through the application of tenebriso of a studio, rather than in 2-Dimensional space. It is in this sense that the subject-actor-director exists within the artwork rather than as a distant creator.  Though, the staging of the scene within the studio becomes an abstract(ed) space that is framed by the lighting equipment (which Godard reveals at the beginning of this montage).

Douglas Morrey reflects on this presentation in the biography “Jean-Luc Godard”, “Alain Bergala has suggested a kind of visual noise in Godard’s films… writing about Passion, he describes “l’ extraordinaire réseau de brouillages et de discordances calculées” [an extraordinary system of scrambled fragments and calculated conflicts], that Godard places between us and the images of a very pure beauty that we find in the film (such as the images of nature and the reproduction of paintings)” (Morrey, 157). It is in this sense that the scrambled, and calculated visualization of noise reflects upon the abstracted nature of Godard’s sequence. The stage actor is alienated from the camera to the radical extent, playing the role of an immobile subject that has also been abstracted from the space of the everyday. Though, even within Passion Godard suggests the difficulty of working with active subjects, commonly displaying the rebellion of workers, actors, and a comedic reflection on the director attempting to follow uncontrolled environments.

One might be quick to attach a highly alienated subject matter, that of an execution in Goya's "Third of May" (1808) with the alienated actor on the stage (or that of the abstracted studio space)- though, I would argue that Godard is careful in his formal 'staging' within these sequences. Within this particular scene, the camera focuses upon a man who stands in the background without revealing his face, a presence that must not be over looked. The subject within the work covers his eyes, directs them away from both the muskets and the camera- they are redirected from form (reproduction), and redirected into contemplation (artwork). One cannot confront history without revealing (or experiencing) its form of expression.

Jay Bowe

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