Deferred homecoming in Johan Grimonprez' Shadow World

Hillen, S. (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentationTalk or presentation at a conference



Most of Johan Grimonprez’ documentaries - Dial H-i-s-t-o-r-y (1997), Double Take (2010) and Shadow World (2016) – use old footage from the eighties and the nineties in contrast with more recent material. In the first part of our essay, we present his early documentaries, with Svetlana Boym, as a case of reflective nostalgia as the artist enjoys distance in itself. In the later work, Shadow World (2016), the joy experienced during the play with sources and editing receives a critical undertone. This undertone is mainly discursive.
In Zuhause. Die Suche nach dem Ort, an dem wir leben wollen (2017) Daniel Schreiber helps us to deepen the focus on the use of the past in Grimonprez’ documentaries. He pleads for a more truthful way of approaching the concept of homecoming on the modernist art scene. More than being a conservative, nationalist notion, homecoming stands in a global society at the crossroad of a number of oppositions uniting the television set nearby to the universal images displayed on it.
We show, in the last part, how Shadow World opens up, with its sources, editing and discursive confrontations, contradictory questions that cannot be answered easily. In this sense the notion of home is everything except an easily readable arena. The pleasure of a nostalgic narrative on television recalling the past is balanced in Grimonprez’ documentary by means of a historical counter-narrative. On one hand the affective charges of the past are limited to familiar images on television, adapted literature and more essayistic work in prose. On the other the past has no affective affinities with the present. And yet, we have to keep it in mind to remember how the economic disaster of arm trade once started.
Period8 Jun 2017
Held atUniversity of Bristol, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionInternational