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Mere Recording - Lecture by Erika Balsom

Images Festival
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“Mere” Recording? Documentary, Contemporary Art, and the Orthodoxy of Ecstatic Truth
Lecture by Erika Balsom
Sunday, April 15, 3:00PM
Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave.

Co-presented in partnership with University of Toronto Cinema Studies Institute

At least since Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 11 in 2002, documentary practices have been a prominent feature of contemporary art. But what idea of documentary has emerged from this context? This talk will propose that the denigration of surface appearances—a phobia of the descriptive capacities of “mere” recording—is a key characteristic of the documentary turn in contemporary art. This line of argumentation proposes that the best access to reality occurs through artifice, and casts observational documentary as a bad object that naively indulges in illusory transparency and uncreative copying. The talk will also situate these arguments within a longer history of attacks on the mechanical reproduction of phenomenal reality in the intersecting histories of art and film, and, through a discussion of recent artists’ practices that assert the primacy of lens-based capture, will question the continuing viability of these arguments today, in our era of “alternative facts.”



Erika Balsom is senior lecturer in Film Studies at King’s College London and the author of After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video in Circulation. She has contributed to publications including Grey Room, e-flux, and Artforum and is the winner of the 2018 Kovács Essay Award for “Instant Failure: Polaroid’s
Polavision, 1977–80.”



Established in 1987, the Images Festival is the largest festival in North America for experimental and independent film, video and other time-based media. Images Festival is excited to announce its 31st edition, taking place from April 12 - 20, 2018 across Toronto. Focusing on local, national, and international contemporary moving image culture, Images Festival continues to present vanguard projects across cinematic, exhibition, and live platforms.

Images Festival acknowledges the generous support from our public funders. The Canada Council for the Arts | Conseil des Arts du Canada, Ontario Arts Council - Conseil des arts de l'Ontario, Toronto Arts Council, the Department of Canadian Heritage, Telefilm Canada, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and TD Bank.