SEEING BETWEEN THE LINES
March 1—15
Curator: Dmitry Frolov
With each passing year, humanity is becoming ever more interconnected, and the pandemic provides clear confirmation of this fact. This process raises more and more questions about the nature of global society. What language is best suited for use in navigating the global space? How to find a way to communicate on an equal footing with Others? Is it possible to learn how to talk about difficult issues in the histories of peoples associated with traumatic collective experiences? How should we get to know another culture, feel compassion or become part of a political struggle? "Seeing Between the Lines" is an online film screening programme of works that address these questions in an attempt to feel around for a platform for dialogue and exchange.

"In any language and linguistic creations there remains in addition to what can be conveyed something that cannot be communicated", as the German philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote in his 1921 essay The Translator's Task. But there is no condemnation in these words. On the contrary, Benjamin believed that the global languages "are not strangers to one another" and are "apart from all historical relationships, interrelated in what they want to express". He connected the translator's task not so much with the literal reproduction of meaning, but with the search for such an intermediate space in which the original would be brought back to life, flourish and be made richer, and the native language, under the influence of a foreign idiom, expands its own boundaries. In order to discover this space, the translator's intention must be directed towards the "integrating many tongues into one true language".

Benjamin's ideas influenced postcolonial theory and were further developed at the end of the 20th century by the American researcher of Indian origins Homi Bhabha in his theory of cultural difference. He rejected the logic of the diversity of predetermined static cultures in a homogeneous space. As with languages in Benjamin, culture, nation or ethnos, according to Baba, are always mobile and manifest themselves in the act of utterance, i.e. through words, speech, or images. It follows from this that resistance to the colonial regime may be understood as a negotiated process: "Cultural difference marks the establishment of new forms of meaning, and strategies of identification, through processes of negotiation where no discursive authority can be established without revealing the difference of itself." From Homi Bhabha's point of view, translation contains space for dissent and dialogue, as well as the potential for the renewal of culture.

In addition to its linguistic meaning, the word "translation" or perevod has another meaning in Russian, also associated with a certain degree of movement. We refer here to both space and society (transferring money to another country or an employee to a new position), as well as to time (referring to the sezonny perevod, literally "seasonal translation", otherwise known as "daylight savings time", or else to switching between different geographical time zones). But it seems that in the field of these connotations, the practice of translation can also lead to that third intermediate space, within which something new can arise in the process of negotiation or comparison. The skill of the translator lies in his ability to see with eyes other than his own and grasp the elusive flow of life. It remains an open question as to how such a skill is to be learnt on the everyday level. Might study not be required for this at all, but rather that we unlearn instead?


The experimental films comprising the programme touch upon, either directly or implicitly, the concepts of (cultural) translation and its visual representation, as well as issues of postcolonial knowledge.


The order in which to watch them is left to the discretion of the viewer.

Dmitry Frolov (b. 1988, Kaliningrad) is a curator and researcher in the field of film and video art. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in Cultural Studies from the Russian State University for the Humanities and a master's in Film Programming and Curating from Birkbeck, University of London. He completed the intensive "Museum Curating Now" course at the Tate Britain museum, as well as a three-month internship at the video art production studio Film and Video Umbrella (London, UK). He has been published in Spectate, Colta.ru, Syg.ma, and various other publications. He worked as chief editor for the Kultura channel's documentary film studio, as well as for Moskino as director of the Fakel cinema theatre and deputy head of the special projects department. Since 2017 he has served as curator at the Moscow International Experimental Film Festival (MIEFF), and since 2021 as curator of the film programme at the Pushkin House Cultural Centre (London).

Sea of Clouds

George Clark
UK. 2016. 16 min

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Sea of Clouds is structured around an interview with contemporary artist Chen Chieh-Jen. The film explores the relationship of cinema, landscape and rural life and the layered histories of these sites as places of self-organisation and resistance. Built around the question of translation and the relationship of what we hear to what we see, the film follow's Chen's retelling of the farmer's tradition of using film screenings as means of covert political assembly during the Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan.

Sunday's Best

Larry Achiampong
UK. 2016. 16 min


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Sunday's Best is a film and installation comprised of vivid audio and images of praise and worship sessions in a Ghanaian community church, married with the comparatively stark interiors of a traditional Catholic church. Documented across a number of sites in London, the work considers how belief systems within the African diaspora are inflected by colonial histories. In particular, the relationship with Christian imperialism and its impact on Achiampong's tribe (the Ashanti). Sunday's Best is an attempt to unbraid and reconcile the incongruence between western and non-western faith practices and the remains of history, nostalgia and trauma.

In Comparison

Harun Farocki
Germany. 2008. 61 min


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Bricks are the resonating foundations of society. Bricks are simply very long-playing records. Like records, they appear in series, but every brick is slightly different – not just another brick in the wall. Bricks create spaces, organise social relations and store knowledge about social structures. They resonate in a way that tells us if they are any good. Bricks form the basic sound of our societies, but we haven't yet learned to listen to them. Farocki's film lets our eyes and ears consider different traditions of brick production in comparison – and not in competition, not as a clash of cultures. Farocki shows us various brick production sites in their colours, movements and sounds. Farocki shows sites of brick production in their colours, movements and sounds. Brick burning, brick carrying, bricklaying, bricks on bricks, no voice-over. 20 inter-titles in 60 minutes tell us something about the temporality of brick-making processes. The film shows us that certain modes of production require their own duration and that differences between cultures can be shown in brick time.

DIT LEARN

Laure Prouvost
Belgium. 2017. 16 min


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In 'DIT LEARN' (using the French for speak, thus pronounced 'de-learn' in English), the viewer is enticed into an abstract, pre-verbal condition from which to rediscover the learning of language, words and their associated meanings. With a fast-paced procession of objects and images, an accompanying aural and written narrative directly implicates the viewer. "YOU ARE 6 MINUTES LATE... YOU ARE GOING TO DIT-LEARN" Simultaneously, a crypto-classification system emerges and now anthropomorphised, objects become aware of their own purpose and function within the film and conventional systems of linguistics and representation are challenged.

Apiyemiyekî?

Ana Vaz
Brazil, France, the Netherlands, Portugal. 2019. 27 min


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Apiyemiyekî? is a cinematographic portrait that departs from Brazilian educator and indigenous rights militant Egydio Schwade's archive — Casa da Cultura de Urubuí — found in his home at Presidente Figueiredo (Amazonas), where over 3.000 drawings made by the Waimiri-Atroari, a people native to the Brazilian Amazon, during their first literacy process are currently kept. The drawings document and construct a collective visual memory from their learning process, perspective and territory while attesting to a series of violent attacks they were submitted to during the Military Dictatorship in Brazil.

Dislocation Blues

Sky Hopinka
USA. 2017. 17 min


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An incomplete and imperfect portrait of reflections from Standing Rock. Cleo Keahna recounts his experiences entering, being at, and leaving the camp and the difficulties and the reluctance in looking back with a clear and critical eye. Terry Running Wild describes what his camp is like, and what he hopes it will become.